Spectacular fall colours in the Toronto ravine

Spectacular fall colours in the Toronto ravine

Finally, a few new photos, including fall colours.

As promised, I’ve been working my way through the legions of photos I’ve taken over the years, looking for ones to play with. Most really aren’t worth keeping and I’ve been purging scads of mediocre and downright bad photos. I’m paring down to any that have potential and dumping the rest. That’s when I rediscovered about 20 I’d taken a few years ago and filed away for “future use”. These are shots from a walk in the ravine that runs along behind the David Balfour Park.  It was one of those postcard perfect fall days that produced some spectacular opportunities. Funny I forgot about them for so long because I’ve been looking for certain types of photos to use with the artistic filters in Photoshop. The filters are great, but you have to have the right shot or the effect looks contrived.

Fall colours on a sunny day

Fall colours in the Toronto Ravine

It’s hard to go wrong photographing the ravine

I used just a little dry brush, in Photoshop, to bump up the light effect on the trees. I didn’t want too much applied because I wanted the photo to look like a photo, not a painting, but give a hint of something more going on. The effect brought the leaves in the foreground out, giving them greater definition. That bright green spot up in the left was a leaf that flittered about and caught the light just as I snapped the shot. Because of the yellows and the way, the light hit the leaf, the green looks over saturated. I played around with removing it but decided to against it.

Slightly different photoshop affect

For the second one, I used smudge stick to bring out the intense light on the tree trunks. I tried the dry brush first, but the smudge filter did a better job in this case.  Second photo of yellow leaves in the ravine in Toronto

Analysing the photo attempt

Both effects are interesting and bring a different intensity to the photos. It was fun to play with for a change. I usually move straight on to HDR because there’s something about the high dynamic range that tweaks all the sweet spots in my brain. I gravitate to it like a moth to light.  But for something like the ravine, no. I fussed about with some HDR settings I like using but it destroyed the mood by creating a stark, cold mood. I even plunked a warming filter on them and then thought, nah, don’t bother. The warmth of the sun and long shadows were stripped out, so I went back to the original photos and did a bit of contrasting then applied the filters instead. Far better effect.

I have a few more I’m looking at, if you want to see them posted, drop me a line on FB, Twitter or down below in the comments field.  As always drop by Instagram to see photos that don’t always make the site. It’s turning into a weird glimpse into how my brain hopscotches around subjects.

An afternoon in the ravine – David Balfour Park bugs ‘n stuff

An afternoon in the ravine – David Balfour Park bugs ‘n stuff

Pottered around this afternoon in the ravine behind David Balfour Park. Lots of green and buggy things down there to enjoy. Far too many of the 2 legged creatures today using the paths so no chance of catching any wildlife. Still a nice day, all in all.

I’ve decided to save for a better camera in the fall. I’m currently using a Canon PowerShot SX130, which is a pretty decent point and shoot camera, but it’s frustrating if I want to set up a close up shot. The macro zoom sucks. I’ve given up on it. It takes forever to set up close ups and is severely restricted in how close (especially with macro) I can actually get. Second issue is the view screen. I can’t see close up very well so it’s kind of irritating setting up shots at weird angles because the screen is pretty much a big blur. I’m going to see if a Canon with a swivel view screen is in the budget. Also, the new camera must have a better colour balance – this is a MUST. I find the Powershot, although fun to use, often bleaches out colours. The greens are never quite right and lean more towards a bluish tint, which I’m constantly correcting with Photoshop. A proper DSLR camera will also let me pop filters onto the lens to compensate for intense sunshine. Hopefully cloud cover will come out with more depth.

I’m thinking of sticking with Canon and hopefully will find one in my bracket. Henry’s Cameras usually has a good selection of used DSLR and lenses. I also need read up on f stops. Fussing with it on the PowerShot seems to be a lesson in futility – does bugger all.  It’s pretty limited in what it can do. Oh and the biggy on my wish list? Better control over focus. I’m tired of the camera trying to pick the focal point. I end up with more blurry shots than I can count. I’d prefer to be able to manually focus. The Canon PowerShot says it has manual, but it’s more a glorified “point and we’ll help you focus” kind of focus. Also be nice if the ISO were a bit more sensitive so night photos would actually look decent. Lots of research to do. I’m a bit wobbly with the mechanics of DSLR cameras and the ins and outs of photography. Time to educate myself about fstops and iso settings so I know what I’m actually doing.

In the meantime, here are a couple of photos from today.

Photo of a moth on a thistle plant

It took me forever to catch this moth. Well, okay, not forever, but it felt like it. Taking a photograph of these little white moths is like trying to bottle a will-o-wisp. They flit about so quickly, plus my camera really does stink at close ups. Got a lot of great shots of blurry white spots on thistles! Want to see those?

No idea what this bug is, but he’s a beauty. Quite large too.

Unknown bug photographed in the ravineNot sure what it is. Could be a cicada. My bug identification isn’t that good. I’m an admirer of insects, but an amateur at identifying them.

This shot I call Incoming! For obvious reasons.

Photo of a bee landing on a thistle plantDidn’t even know the bee was in the shot until I got home and looked at the photos. Lucky shot. I took the photo because I liked the contrast between the greens, reds and white. The funny part is I had spent nearly 15 min trying to catch a shot of a bee on the plants and had, by this time, given up. I did get some great shots later, but it is a bit funny.

Still parsing through the photos and will share more this week. So enjoy. I’ll be loading more shots on my Instagram account, so pop over there to take a look https://www.instagram.com/bittergrounds2016/

Toronto ravine, Beltline Trail – May 2016  photography

Toronto ravine, Beltline Trail – May 2016 photography

I wandered down towards the ravine Saturday afternoon. I’m lucky I live right on the cusp of one of the big green lines that run through the city. Toronto is home to quite a number of ravines, which make for some excellent hiking and biking. If you come to TO as a tourist, it’s something you might want to investigate. You can always drop me a line and I’ll direct you to a few excellent websites about walking them.  The Beltline Trail (my small part of the Ravine) is an impressive swath of nature that cuts for 9km through the heart of Toronto, backing onto the David Balfour Park

It’s early yet, so not a lot of greenery cooking down in the ravine. A couple of bright warm days and that will all change. I took a couple of shots, but the sun was already hiding behind clouds by the time I motivated myself to go take a look. Alas my little smart phone doesn’t do a good job on landscapes, less so on glary/cloudy days. I’ll have to sit and fuss with it for awhile and see if I can figure out why landscapes look so washed out. HOWEVER … I am the proud owner of NIK filters and I’m not afraid to use them… sometimes I have to smack my hands to stop from going over board.

Here’s one of the paths down to the Ravine from the David Balfour Park:

Ravine Toronto 2016 edited with NIK plugins

Hovering your mouse shows how dreadful the photo looked before I filtered it. I didn’t do much, just increased the contrast a bit, adjusted the light and tinkered with the shadows. Took that nasty haze right off. I did a few other adjustments to bring up the wooden fence a bit more, but I can’t remember what I did. Sorry, I usually write this stuff down, but I was watching tv and just screwing around. I thought I’d have to chuck all the photos and was really surprised by how well NIK repaired them.

I especially love black and white photographs. I often convert photos to create different moods. The NIK SilverEfex plugin offers a lot of great adjustments for fans of B&W, including the type of paper you want to emulate. I tend towards the Ilford papers the most. I promise to pay closer attention next time and let you know what I’ve done. In the meantime enjoy this utterly over the top edit job:

Ravine Toronto 2016 Black and white shot

Read more: see BlogTOs great page on top ravines in Toronto – http://www.blogto.com/sports_play/2014/09/the_top_5_ravines_in_toronto/