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A wonderful way to start the day

Most mornings I start my day by shuttling my Daughter and my Niece part way across the city to school. On our drive I tend to point out the clouds in the morning light and say something like “look at the texture in the sky today” or something to that effect (they are used to it by now). I then spend the rest of the ride quietly thinking “I don’t want to got to my desk just yet. I want to go make a photograph”.

Well this past week I lucked out and had the opportunity to act on my need for creativity. I had a phone call to make at 10:30 am but nothing before that, so I had a couple of hours to avoid work.

With that in mind I packed my camera, tripod and a few lenses into my car and after I deposited the girls at school I pointed my car towards one of our local Conservation Areas.

In Hamilton we are lucky to have a vast amount of conservation lands, owned and managed by the Hamilton Conservation Authority, to explore. This day’s destination was a small parcel (41 hectares) of passive area that has a numerous bird platforms as well as a small cascade waterfall and an easy trail loop to walk. However my destination this day was a stand of pines that I have driven past for years and always wanted to explore.

Although small (about 3 hectares), this stand of trees is an enchanting place. I entered by parting the draped boughs of the outermost trees and once inside it was like I was in  another world. The traffic sound from the nearby road all but disappeared and my senses sharpened to where I could hear the creaking of the trees as they swayed in the breeze and the occasional squirrel navigating its way from tree to tree along the bare lower branches of the inner growth.

I wandered about taking in the beautiful surroundings looking for that image I wanted to create. As I passed through the center on my way to the Eastern edge of the stand I saw it. There in front of me was the subject I came to capture, the sun. It was piercing its way into the depths of this wonderful space and I just had to bring a copy of it home with me.

I shot it from ground level and standing. I shot it tight, wide, in landscape and in portrait but the magic happened when I attached my fisheye lens. I tilted my camera up to where it could see the quiet sentinels stretching from the ground, reaching for sky. I made sure the sun was shining directly into my lens, set the aperture as small as possible to cause a star and squeezed off 3 frames.

I knew I had what I came for so I picked up, strolled around a little more, snapped a few more images and headed to my office to make that phone call.

What a great way to start the work day!

Post Processing

All of my images are initially downloaded from the memory card to my hard drive using Adobe Lightroom 4. This image is a three image HDR that combines -2EV, 0EV, +2EV to bring out the maximum amount of detail in the shadow and the highlight areas. The images were combined using Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro 2. After the image merge the image was saved back to Lightroom for some final adjustments to various colour values as well as to add a slight vignette.


  • Location: Mount Albion Conservation Area
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Opteka 8mm fisheye
  • Focal Length: 8mm
  • Aperture: f/22
  • Shutter Speed: .5 sec., 2 sec., 8 sec.
  • ISO: 100
  • Metering Mode: Pattern Metering
  • Tripod: Manfrotto 055CL
  • Manfrotto 486 RC2 ballhead

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