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Nature’s Paintbrush


During late summer and early autumn, I like to try my hand at a bit of abstract photography. The array of autumn colour combined with the distortion of shapes and lines in ponds and lake reflections can lead to some pleasing results especially when you photograph imperfect surfaces. I look for surfaces with a few ripples to produce an abstract effect. To arrive at my final product, I crop the reflection from the original print, rotate the image one hundred and eighty degrees so that the scene doesn’t appear upside down and finally enhance the colour. When I used to shoot slide film before the days of digital, my preferred film was Fuji Velvia, a film that produced vibrant, saturated colours so I often try to duplicate this effect by enhancing the colours in Photoshop.

Algonquin Park with its annual display of fall colours combined with a myriad of lakes and ponds is the perfect destination for this kind of photography. In the picture below, the lake had a fairly smooth surface resulting in an image with little distortion.

Lake of Two Rivers reflection

More ripples on the surface of the water produces greater distortion resulting in an abstract final product.

Medley of Colours

Don’t ignore our local area, however. It may not have the quantity of ponds and lakes for pleasing reflections, but opportunities also abound. McCarsten’s Lake, part of Mono Cliffs Provincial Park in the Town of Mono is a favourite rest stop for hikers hiking the McCarsten’s Lake Side Trail. This picturesque lake produces spectacular autumn colours.

McCarsten’s Lake reflection

Other small ponds located along the Bruce Trail in Mono Cliffs also offer opportunities as illustrated in this image reflection of birch trees.

Birches at Mono Cliffs

The photograph below was taken at the Quarryside Nature Reserve, an old sandstone quarry west of Inglewood, that is now owned and managed by the Bruce Trail Conservancy. Quarryside is an excellent example of how nature heals itself. The shallow ponds that have formed in the old quarries provide wonderful reflections. This one with the vertical reflections of birch trees accompanied by the greens, yellows, oranges, and reds in the background is one of my favourites.

Quarryside Nature Reserve

My final picture of a Great Egret springing into flight was taken in early September, so it’s the only one that isn’t an autumn image. I’m including it because it’s probably my favourite reflection of all. During the shutdown that was a result of COVID, the Caledon Trailway became my “photo studio”. The pond on the north side of the trail just east of Gore Road is one of the best sites for pond reflections anywhere, especially if you arrive first thing in the morning when the sun is at your back and the water is fairly calm.

Springing into Flight

Whether you use a cell phone or a more sophisticated camera, this type of photography is easy and you can create your own art using nature’s paintbrush.

Note: If you are interested in purchasing any of Gary’s photography you will find his contact info on the right sidebar.

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