Nahanni National Park

As any regular readers will know I spent a few days in the Nahanni National Park last summer with some good friends. We were there purely to photography the impressive Virginia Falls and spent threes days hiking and canoeing to every possible vantage point.two men lift a canoe into the

We were there the weekend before the campground officially opened which meant we had the place to ourselves. Virginia Falls is just a short 15 minute walk from the sites and I made that trip almost every evening and morning if the light was playing nice. I was really surprised to see a large boardwalk to take you pretty much the whole way. Not what you’d expect in the middle of nowhere but then it is a popular canoe route and obviously it makes sense to go around the Falls! I’d be very grateful for a boardwalk if I had to lug my canoe and camping gear over a mile to get to the bottom of the Falls. Luckily we had no need to do this.

man walking along a boardwalk to Virginia Falls in the Nahanni National Park

It’s funny how we spent the weekend in and around Virginia Falls yet none of my favourite photographs from the trip have the falls in them. Every landscape photographer will tell you occasionally you think you’ve got the perfect shot, only for it to look terrible on screen later. Of course it works the other way round as well. The photograph of the South Nahanni River below is one of my favourites from the whole trip. Virginia Falls is just to the right of the image and I was waiting with fellow landscape photographer and friend Adam Hill for a shot he had in mind.

Unfortunately the light just wasn’t playing ball for it but we made the best of it as we were there already. The cloud was breaking up just enough to throw out some god beams and really add some drama to the sky. I used a neutral density filter to get the correct exposure with a really long shutter speed to give that nice soft flow to the water. I love the warm glow from the damp rocks in the river. For me, that makes the photo.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share with friends on whatever social media you’d like.

Evening glow on the South Nahanni River

 

 

 

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Moved!

I’ve moved to a new website. Check it out at www.seanpinnphoto.com

Cheers :-)

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Kakisa in the Northwest Territories

Last weekend I went out to Kakisa with Adam Hill in the hope of finding an Otter that had been seen in the area. We never found the Otter although Lady Evelyn Falls was covered in tracks from it. We weren’t disappointed though. We got some beautiful light over the falls and some incredible light in Kakisa itself. We were surprised to see the river under the falls completely frozen over, it rarely does on the Kakisa. frozen lady evelyn falls kakisa nwt winter

Adam carefully made his way round the ice to get closer to Lady Evelyn Falls so we could photograph it. It’s an incredible sight to see how the waterfall freezes. Everyone is different and each freezes differently every year. The dome on the right hand side of the falls is a sight to behold. You can see how big it is compared to Adam after several months of freezing spray although we didn’t get to close as you can hear the water rushing underneath the ice.

 

 

frozen lady evelyn falls kakisa nwt winter

Freezing spray has formed a giant dome under the falls.

frozen lady evelyn falls kakisa nwt winter

Northwest Territories 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After half hour or so we started to loose the light. To reach the falls is a steep scramble down the valley side and the sun was now disappearing behind the tree tops. We decided to head up to Kakisa itself and have a look around the edge of the lake. We timed it perfectly. The setting sun was just above the horizon the the steam fog was lifting off the river and lake. It was some of the best light I have ever photographed in.

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Ice fog from the open water near by clings to the trees and builds up

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An HDR of the sunset in Kakisa

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Adam Hill photographing in the Northwest Territories

 

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Year in Review

It’s funny how time goes. Looking back at this years photos there are some that I feel I took well over a year ago, yet I can’t believe another year has gone by already! And what a year it’s been. I managed to attend a workshop in Yellowknife where I got some of the only Aurora photographs of the year, had an incredible 3 days in the Nahanni National Park photographing Virginia Falls (already considering a return to explore more), spent 3 weeks travelling through the Rockies and got what I consider to be two of the best landscape photographs I have ever taken (again can’t wait to go back). 2013 also saw the birth of my daughter so it really couldn’t have gotten much better, although if the black bears could have been a little more photo friendly for me I wouldn’t have complained.

The support I have received this year has been incredible. I’m really starting to see my business grow and I owe that to everybody reading my blog posts and following me on the various social media platforms. I’m really happy how my photography has developed over the past year. I am seeing images I would have never seen before and it makes a big difference to my work. I still have so much learn and I hope you’ll keep following me as I do. There’s nothing like hundreds of pairs of eyes scrutinizing your work to motivate you to do better.

I can’t wait to see what next year brings. Thank you very much everybody!

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Alexandra Falls Panorama in Hay River

I recently went for a nice walk between Alexandra Falls and Louise Falls near Hay River in the Northwest Territories. As a landscape photographer it can be a challenge to stay motivated in the NWT, especially when Hay River reaches highs of minus 30 and 5 hours of daylight. If I can’t travel anywhere this is my favourite place to go. Especially in Spring and Autumn when the falls change so much. In a couple of weeks they will be frozen solid and I can get up close and personal!

freezing water falls steaming in the cold, hay river, northwest territories

This image is comprised of 4 that I stitched together in Photoshop and people are always curious to know what it looked like straight out of the camera. Well below you can see all the images unprocessed. Few people realise just how much works goes on behind the camera before and after that button is pressed, just ask my wife how much of my “free time” is spent in front of the computer :-)

First there is all that time spent in photoshop, not to mention the huge amount sucked up with the online side of business these days. Ansel Adams is one of the greatest landscape photographers ever and I doubt you could find a photographer that doesn’t know his work. He once said “there are two parts to every photograph, taking it and making it perform”. Well at least it was something along those lines anyway. Photographers can make their images dance more than ever before, Ansel just had a darkroom, there is nothing we can’t do with our work now. It’s becoming extremely difficult to make your work out perform the next guy but it’s a challenge I love.

I thought the better I got in photoshop the less time I would spend there but that hasn’t been the case. The performance changes so fast now I spend just as much time learning new techniques as perfecting the old. It’s a never ending cycle but also one I hope doesn’t stop. Imagine how boring it would be to stop learning new things.

OK, enough babbling and onto the images. Here you can see all four images used to create the final version. It is worth pointing out after cropping the panorama to look how I wanted it to I could probably have just used three.

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Big difference eh! So what did I do? Well I started in Lightroom and knowing the falls was going to be the focal point of the image I worked on that. I made subtle adjustments to the exposure, vibrance, saturation and clarity and then did a little contrast work using the curves adjustment. Then I selected the other three images and synchronized the adjustments to all of them. Now it’s just a simple export into photoshop where it does its magic and stitches them into one image. Then I did some more work on selected parts of the image like the water and the rocks to bring out that colour as well as a little work on the sky to make the clouds bluer to match how they appeared when I was there. To be honest a relatively simple edit for me these days. Don’t worry if none of this makes sense. I am planning some more blogs and videos that will go into much more detail starting next year. Stay tuned and Merry Christmas!

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Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Qunu will be one busy place today as one of the greatest men ever to live is put to rest. It’s incredible to think what Nelson Mandela has achieved in his lifetime and after spending a few months in South Africa it’s incredible to see how much is still to be done. Life has undoubtedly been improved for many since the end of apartheid yet many South African towns still have a side where the majority of the white population lives and one where most of the black population lives. The gulf between these sides is often enormous.

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The National Planning Commission of South Africa still claims nearly half the population lives below the poverty line. An incredible amount considering the economic growth has continued to grow, unemployment is almost 25%, crime rates are high and much of the population still lacks access to infrastructure and basic services. It’s a daunting task and it’s easy to forget that it’s only been 20 years since the first truly democratic election in South Africa. I still find it hard to believe that it happened during my lifetime when it should have happened long before.

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Qunu will have been busier today than it it ever has. Some 4500 people attended the first part of Mandela’s funeral, the ANC government admitted they had been planning today for 8 years. They did after all have to combine a full state funeral with the traditional funeral his family wanted. There has been a phenomenal out pouring of sadness and grief and at the same time the news channels have been showing streets full of dancing people. Not mourning his passing but celebrating his life. Nelson Mandela May be gone but his message must never end.

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The View from Little Beehive near Lake Louise

Earlier this summer I spent three weeks driving through the Rockies with my family. It was an incredible trip and I am desperate to see it in winter and spend a few days backcountry camping with my camera. Still, it’s not bad in summer either. I think this is my favourite rockies photograph of the trip. We had spent the afternoon hiking up to Agnes Lake and enjoyed a nice cup of tea at the teahouse dropped onto the mountain side. I now strongly feel every cup of tea should come with a mountain view but I’m having some trouble working out the logistics of that one.landscape photography in the canadian rockies lake louise teahouse at Lake Agnes

After refreshing with a good cuppa we decided to risk the rather black rain clouds heading our way and keep going up to Little Beehive lookout. If you ever make it to Lake Agnes it’s well worth the extra 20 minute climb to the lookout. Apparently not many people do though.

Turned out we did get a little wet but luckily most of the rain went around either side of the peak we were on and then the cloud broke up to throw some beautiful light out over the rockies just at the right time! I love being out in bad weather with my camera. As long as you can keep it dry and force yourself to stay out long enough your sure to get some interesting light. As a landscape photographer thats what I want. Find the light first and then work on a composition to capture it.

Little Beehive ViewpointAs the rain moved across us the sun caught the drops at just the right angle for a beautiful rainbow across the valley floor. This image is actually the view from Little Beehive. The other was shot on my way backdown to meet up with the path for my return to Lake Louise. There is a little tiny hut on the top of the hill where the yellow trees end but I have no idea what it’s for. The little strip of water is Lake Agnes with the teahouse being behind the hill on the right.

Feel free to share with your friends via the social media links below!

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Hay River Sunset Photography

Last weekend I was sitting inside around 4 30 in the afternoon thinking it was about time to walk the dog. Question was to take the camera or not? I couldn’t really tell what the light was doing from my house but I could see the snow on the rooftops basking in a warm orange glow. Worth getting the camera out.

HDR focus stacked photograph of the town of Hay River over looking the frozen river at sunset

Of course it always takes longer than you think to get ready in a Northern winter so by the time I got out there the sun was setting, it was a quick dash down to the river to search for a shot.

I knew I wanted the town in the distance with that intense orange sunset. I needed an object in the foreground to help create the sense of distance to the town you feel when actually standing there. I tried a few exposures using a log similar to the one in this image but it wasn’t strong enough. It needed more and then I saw the those beautiful red rose hips that are all around Hay River. Perfect.

It also gave me the perfect opportunity to attempt a technique I’ve been wanting to try for ages. I wanted to combine focus stacking and HDR. It actually turned out to be simpler than I thought and only required two images although next time I think I can improve it by using more. I focused on the berries and exposed for them and then one for the buildings and exposed for the sky. Then I just had to blend them together in photoshop which ended up having about 8 layers of various edits to get the final look.

Below you can see the two images I used to create the final Sunset over Hay River.

Feel free to share and check out my facebook page if you want a chance to win a Buffalo DC-3 print on metal!

Cheers

Firery Sunset

Firery Sunset

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Remembrance Day

world war two dc 3 airplane from d-day still flying with Buffalo Airways

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Hay River Art Show

Next Thursday a group of Hay River photographers are getting together and putting on an art show. The finest photographers in town all have 3 images each on display as well as offering plenty of free and delicious cupcakes! It’s the second time we’ve done this and last year was a fantastic success which saw far more people at the show than any of us expected. Lets hope it’s the same again this year.

We will be holding the event in She Cakes the Cake, a little cafe on the other side of the tracks here in town. If you’ve never been it’s worth coming over just to experience the cafe. It’s by far the best in town with great coffee, tea and amazing treats (which are free by the way on Thursday!)

So if you have a fews moments on the 14th please stop by, look at some beautiful art, hang out with a good coffee and some great friends on a cold winters night.

Please feel free to share this post to let others know.

Cheers

PS did I mention the free cupcakes?

poster for the upcoming Hay River Photographers Art Show

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