painting and photographic works

Posts tagged “trees

End of September Photos

Here are a selection of my favorite photos taken on September 30, 2018 in Edmonton’s river valley.






In a January Fog

While not unheard of, foggy days in Edmonton are also not very common. This last weekend in Edmonton was however one of those times – a fog  just heavy enough to hide the far side of the river valley and flatten out depth. The high humidly and sub-zero temperature resulted in a delightful, frosty coating on the trees.

Combining the fog, frost and late afternoon/early-evening light lead to these moody,  black and white images:


Frosty Thorns


Poles in a Frosty Landscape


The Five


Three, with Frosty Wires


Rowland Bend

West Coast Trees (Painting Series)

In my previous blog post I shared a series of my landscape paintings of scenes from Canada’s west coast.  Again, these were painted around 1992, in fact these paintings were intermingled with the more open coastal scenes done during the same period.


“Candles in the Rain”, acrylic on hardboard, 51 by 61 cm, 1992


“Red Trees”, acrylic on hardboard, 36 by 38 cm, 1992


“Red Path and Trees (study)”, acrylic on hardboard, 51 by 61 cm, 1992


“In the Darkness Grows”, acrylic on hardboard, 36 by 38 cm, 1992


“Together”, acrylic on canvas, 51 by 61 cm, 1992

West Coast (a Painting Series)

In around 1992 after visits to Canada’s west coast (particularly the Gulf Islands), I produced, perhaps my favorite series of paintings. This collection featured trees(and/or driftwood), shorelines and often active skies. My works at this time may show signs of influence from the paintings of Emily Carr.


“Bending to the Sky”, acrylic on hardboard, 61 by 61 cm, 1992


“Windswept”, acrylic on hardboard, 51 by 61 cm, 1992


“Red Leaning”, acrylic on hardboard, 12 by 15 cm, 1992


“Waiting on Island View Beach”, acrylic on canvas, 61 by 76 cm, 1992


“Turning Sky”, acrylic on canvas, 61 by 61 cm, 1992

The North (Painting Series)

In 2009, I painted a series inspired by a train trip from Toronto to Edmonton in December of 2008. The first day and a half of the trip covered southern and northern (northwest) Ontario (actually not very far north in terms of Canada’s geography but feeling very far removed compared to the Toronto region). I took many photos of the rugged terrain of the Canadian Shield to use as  reference images for paintings. As a series this is one of my personal favorites. Here are the key works:


“Evening from the Canadian”, oil on canvas, 61 by 122 cm (24×48″), 2009


“Leaning”, oil on canvas, 41 by 41 cm (16×16″), 2009


“Northern Survivor”, oil on canvas, 51 by 76 cm (20 x 30″), 2009


“Winter Sunrise on the Rails”, oil on canvas, 61 by 61 cm (24 x 24″), 2009


“December Sunset (Northern Ontario)”, oil on canvas, 61 by 61 cm (24×24″), 2009


“Leaning II”, oil on canvas, 61 by 61 cm (24×24″), 2009


“Northern Sunset Over Unknown Lake”, oil on canvas, 61 by 91 cm (24×36″), 2009

Usually Colorific, but Not This Time

Autumn is famous as the season of glorious displays of color, but that doesn’t have to be all that intrigues a photographer at this time of year. Here are some black and white images of what has caught my eye this early October:


Strong Verticals

Especially on a wet fall day the strong contrast of tree trunks makes for a dramatic image.


Near and Far


Wet Corner


Reaching Upward

The autumn season is also when the river  is at its lowest level, exposing sandbar “beaches” not normally seen. And those beaches reveal some interesting forms, very suited to black and white (or mostly monochromatic) presentation:


Sandy Beach


Waves in the Sand


Under the Bridge


Verticals and Horizontals

The above photos were all taken October 1st and 2nd (2016), in the river valley in Edmonton, Canada.

Spring Arrives – in Black and White

Perhaps I should say “winter departs” – somehow spring doesn’t feel imminent until color returns to the landscape. While there was the bit of exposed green moss or grass and blue sky as I hiked Edmonton’s river valley, for the most part everything is a shade of grey or brown.

That said, here are 5 photos that “don’t need no stinking color” to look interesting:




Ravine Path – Shady and Slippery


Slope and Sky


Nothing but Sticks


Spring Sky over a Late-winter Valley

These images were taken in Edmonton’s Dawson Park on 2016 March 25th.

Trees of Late-Winter

Here is a little collection of photos of trees, taken on the last day of winter (2016 March 19) in Edmonton.


Greenless Golden Path


Tangle to the Sky


Under the Spruce, Between the Fairways


Character Tree


Gnarled Trunk and Twiggy Shadows


Way Up



Moodier in Black and White

Here are some photos taken on the same outing as my hike last Sunday in Edmonton’s  Mill Creek Ravine – but taking out the color the images have a much moodier feel.


Spring Slope


Stairs and a Patch of Snow


Trunk on a Diagonal


All Quiet Under the Bridge


Tangled Slope


and as a bonus, a black and white image from beside the river in Edmonton’s Louise McKinney Park:


Promenade Beside the Ice

Snow and Shadows

A New Year’s Eve afternoon walk in Edmonton’s river valley revealed interesting patterns made by snow and ice, trees and the sun.


Blue Diagonals


Alien Icescape


Foot Paths




Crystalline Edge




Like Flakes

Nature Softened

Here are some recent abstract photos of natural subjects. The edges have been softened and blurred by varying amounts of camera movement during an extended exposure (a couple of seconds).

Landscape H

Landscape H



Tree 16290

Tree 16290

Dream Front

Dream Front

Landscape V

Landscape V

Spring Sneaks In (Part 2)

Here are some more photos from Edmonton’s river valley on the first weekend of April, showing the transition to spring.

For the eyes starved of color over the months of winter, the faint golden glow of the uncovered grasses and the rosy haze of the Dogwood twigs in the distance, is a feast for the eyes.

Snowy Path

Snowy Path

Rosy Haze

Rosy Haze

Path to the Blue Forest

Path to the Blue Forest

Subtle Color

Subtle Color

Melting Path

Melting Path

Spring Sneaks In (Part 1)

As April arrives in this part of the world (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), spring continues its advance. Although it will be a good month longer until the bare trees will burst into leaf, the snow (even that which fell in the last week) is mostly melted and there is something in the air that warms the soul and brings a smile to my face.

Today while out walking in Edmonton’s river valley I caught these images, these hints of life to come:

Shrubs and Sticks

Shrubs and Sticks

Path to Spring

Path to Spring

Tracks in the Mud

Tracks in the Mud

Slow Spring

Slow Spring

Spring Sky

Spring Sky

Spirit of Spring Landscapes

As the snow quickly receded from the spring landscape this week, I strove to capture the essence of the season in photographs.

Dark Forest


Abstract Landscape 403-044


Spring Thaw


Before the Greening


White Woods

These photos were captured March 27th 2012 in Buena Vista Park in Edmonton using a neutral density filter, a 2-second exposure and various intentional camera motion during the exposure. These images are part of my collection of reference photos for an abstract painting series.

Trees, Snow and Ice – Mid-February Black and White

This past week (middle of February 2012) I have been drawn back to black and white nature photos as I wandered the ravines and river valley in Edmonton. Here are five of my favorite images:

Tall and Bare

Fallen Logs Across the Creek

Black and White Trunks

Shadows Across Frozen Creek

Against the Sun

Do you have a favorite amongst these image? If so, which one and why?

Northern Winter (Black and White, Part 2)

A continuation of an earlier post sharing some black and white landscape photos taken in January/February 2012 in the Edmonton river valley

Open Water and Ducks

Blue on Blue in Black and White

Stairs in the Valley

Grasses, Trees and a Cloud

Beautiful Trail

Winter – Naturally Black and White

Of course there can be color in the winter landscape, you just might have to look a little harder for it. In this post though don’t strain yourself looking for color as I am featuring 5 black and white photos. Although there has not been a lot of snow in Edmonton in this winter of 2011/12 there has still been enough to keep the ground basically white. On the day I took these images the sun was out and the sky was deep blue – which with a color filter in the black and white conversion, yielded a deep dark sky on some images.

Packed Snow Field

Two and the Forest


Reach to the Sky

Frozen Bend in the River

Technical Notes: The photos in this group  were all taken in the early afternoon on January 7th, 2012, near Laurier Park in Edmonton. I used a Nikon D80 with a 18-55 lens and a polarizing filter. Post processing including conversion to black and white was done with the Capture NX2 software.

It’s All in the Wrist

I frequently have been achieving “painterly”, abstract effects on my photos through the use of intentional camera motion. By using a neutral density filter I am able to shoot at a  2 to 4 second shutter speed which allows me plenty of time to move the camera about, effectively painting with the available light upon my camera sensor. In general the effect is to soften edges and blur the image  but depending on the type of motion, different results can be achieved.

Here was the basic scene  (i.e regular shutter speed, no motion) that I used for the following demonstration:

Woods in Winter (normal exposure)

In this next image of the same scene I used a 4-second exposure and moved the camera vertically – more like tipping it forward and back using my wrists. This type of motion tends to preserve the vertical elements of the picture, such as tree trunks.

Woods in Winter (Abstraction I)

In this second image (again a 4 second exposure) I moved the camera rapidly in a horizontal fashion throughout the exposure. The effect is to soften, to blur those vertical edges. If there were a strong horizontal element it would of course have been reinforced. I like this motion for a landscape with a definite horizon line.

Woods in Winter (Abstraction II)

In this final variation I incorporated both vertical and horizontal motion – rapidly moving the camera back and forth horizontally for a couple of seconds, then moving it up and down for the last two seconds. The edges are soft and I like the grid like texture that results

Woods in Winter (Abstraction III)

Another of my standard “tricks”/requirements with these long exposures with camera motion is to increase the contrast and color saturation during post processing. Here, for example is tha last image straight out of the camera:

Woods in Winter (Abstraction III - un processed)

First Snow – Abstracted Landscape Photos

Today (2011 November 12) Edmonton had its first (and unusually late) snow of the season. While there are many thing about the snow I am not a fan of, I have been looking forward to applying  the camera-motion abstraction technique that I’ve been playing with in recent months, to the snowy landscape. Here are some of my first results:

Abstract Landscape 326-379

Abstract Landscape 325-383

Abstract Landscape 326-390

Abstract Landscape 326-397

Abstract Landscape 326-410

As with my previous photos in this style, the original intent was to give me reference images for paintings. However, so far I have not been able to create a painting that I like as much as or better than the photo (which is okay – for now).

My basic technique in this style is to use a neutral density filter to allow me to get a 2 second exposure. During the exposure I move/shake/vibrate the camera around vigorously. Post processing usually is required to increase contrast and color saturation.

Photos in the Rain

You might think that rain and photography don’t mix – I did. First there is just the hassle of  trying to keep your camera dry or your lens unspectled. Today I decided I was going out with my camera (Nikon D80) and just tucked it under my rain jacket, pulling it out only for a quick shot. I also mad a point of keeping the lens pointed down when not in use to minimize the possibility of raindrops striking it.

Perhaps a bigger deterrent to taking the camera out is the fear that there will not be anything to take a picture of. The environment looks very devoid of  color – just grey and green everywhere. Also it is relatively dark so one is forced to resort to higher ISO and/or lower f-stops for handheld shots. Or….one couldchange their approach.

Today, that is what I did. I decided I would deliberately go with slow shutter speeds – like around 1/4 second! I wasn’t going to worry about holding the camera steady. In fact I was planning to deliberately move it during the exposure ( a technique I have been playing with recently). I thought this approach was quite successful. I captured a number of images that I was quite happy with. In fact, I think the camera motion added signifcantly to reinforcing the feeling of rain – the directionality and blurring.

Rainy Street

Stairs in the Rain

Forest in the Rain

Fence Posts in the Rain

Dawson Park in the Rain

Winter Barks (part 1)

With the wrong mindset one could think that there is little to see or photograph in a winter landscape – snow covers just about everything, the trees are bare except the evergreens which seem to be so dark and have little “green”  However, when I slow down and look around, as I recently did while hiking the trails in Edmonton’s river valley, I see wonderful colors and patterns such as these, on the trunk of trees:


Birch Bark

Blue Lichen

A Touch of Yellow


Stripped of Bark

Watch for a continuation of my observations and photos in Part 2.

Northern Winter Landscape

There is something about that winter landscape that I find particularly suited to black and white photography. There is not a lot of color to start with, so going completely hue-less really can accentuate some great forms and compositions.

This set of photos were taken on January 5th (2010) in Edmonton, Canada *

Frozen River


Little Bridge


I think this last photo has some potential as a reference for a painting. I will play around a bit with the composition and clear out some of the busy-ness. I often like to start a painting with a black and white photo as a reference, particularly when I want to be free and expressionistic with the color.


*specifically, the location was the trail on the northside of the North Saskatchewan River between the Capilano bridge and the 50th Street footbridge

A Winter’s Stroll

Join me, through a few photos, on a walk through the natural environment of Edmonton’s river valley, on New Years Eve 2010. I was out for an hour or so in the early afternoon. The sun came out and was brilliant but not enough to save from being bundled up against the -17C temperature. Although it was a bit frustrating at times trying to find the shutter through my mitts I did manage to take all of my photos without removing them and exposing my hands.

suspected beaver damage

Snow on Tilted Trunk

Low Winter Sun

Two Tall

Winter Berries

A Touch of Gold

No Picnics Today