Late winter rain | California

Sitting at my desk here in wintery Winnipeg, Manitoba, it is easy for me to get nostalgic for the winter landscape of my childhood in coastal Northern California. The wet, rainy season would often start in late October; gentle showers after a crackling dry summer would turn the golden-brown hills green in only a few weeks. After a month or two of frequent rain storms, the yellow wildflowers add their vivid colours to the lush landscape. By January, winter on the California coast is often the most vibrant season of the year.

Raindrops on a window, scattered across the late winter green and yellow of wildflower fields in coastal California

This image was captured recently while stranded in traffic on a highway blocked by downed trees and power-lines after a particularly gusty, dangerous winter storm. The wind blew heavy rain sideways across the green and yellow fields, and the raindrops on the car window created an interesting pattern in the foreground of an impressionistic scene.

As this image was captured with my phone camera, it is only available in smaller print sizes, but the bright pop of colour and the unexpected textural details make it a unique, beautiful image when printed. You can find this textural abstract and many more like it in my Small Prints Archive.

I am acclimating to the frosty, white snow and brown muck of Canadian winters, and I enjoy the shift in perspective that comes with experiencing the seasons in a new place, but I will always miss the emerald green landscape and cloudy skies of these California winters and I look forward to visiting during the rainy months. How does winter look where you are?

In full bloom, Paphiopedilum maudiae

While familiar in form to most of us, orchid flowers retain a sense of the profoundly exotic, especially those blooms of the Paphiopedilum variety.

These distinctive orchids have been collected from their forest floor and canopy habitats of Southeast Asia, and are now widely cultivated and hybridized. I have never managed to keep a Paphiopedilum maudiae orchid happy among my small houseplant and orchid collections, but I have been lucky to see many of these dramatic flowers at orchid shows and greenhouses.

This pair of fuzzy pink and chartruese lady slipper orchids are some of my favourites, with both stripes and spots in varying shades and petals bristling with tiny hairs; striking and delicate all at once.

I have collected many photos of orchid flowers over the years, and have gathered the most stunning specimens into a gallery of Orchidaceae images available as fine art prints. I have not had a chance to identify most the the specific orchid varieties, and if you are an orchid aficionado who is good at plant identification, I have a print-discount code for you in exchange for a few good taxa tips – leave a comment on this post if you’re interested!

  

 

Sunset Water Abstracts | Vancouver, BC

Pink sunset light mixes with dusky blue sky, reflected by softly rippling water where False Creek meets English Bay on a calm, quiet summer evening in Vancouver.

Abstract textural water; mixing shades of pink and blue as the calm ocean reflects a colourful sunset in Vancouver, British Columbia

I captured plenty of general postcard-sunset-scenes, with mountains in the distance or a silhouetted tree to compliment the colours, but I have been particularly pleased with these abstracted photos of the beautiful light skipping across small glassy waves.

Abstract textural water; mixing shades of pink and blue as the calm ocean reflects a colourful sunset in Vancouver, British Columbia

This series of blue, pink, and coral sunset water scenes has been added to my ‘Liquid Light’ collection, which highlights photos in which I’ve explored the movement, texture, and abstracted forms of light mixing with water in interesting ways.

Abstract textural water; mixing shades of pink and blue as the calm ocean reflects a colourful sunset in Vancouver, British Columbia

Often these dappled, fluid scenes remind me of impressionist paintings, and thanks to a particularly vivid sunset on an evening walk at the aptly named Sunset Beach Park, very little editing was necessary to highlight the contrasting and complimentary colours.

Abstract textural water; mixing shades of pink and blue as the calm ocean reflects a colourful sunset in Vancouver, British Columbia

As the light faded from the sky, the colours on the water slipped toward more muted, pastel shades. The form of the waves and sense of movement became more apparent as shadows deepened, and in editing I found that a wider, panoramic choice of cropping brought forward the subtle pattern and abstracted texture of the water’s surface.

Wider views of this sunset and other Vancouver, British Columbia scenes can be found in my archives, prints and licensing available.

Forest fog | Big Sur, California


Mysterious, dark, quiet; a grove of trees in the coastal mountains of Big Sur, full of mist and morning light. I’d arrived at the campsite after dark, chasing the sunset down the winding curves of Highway 1 and setting-up camp as stars appeared overhead. During the night, fog gathered along cliffs and settled into valleys, and I woke to find the forest shrouded in soft layers of light.

Camping on the California coast is often a damp, chilly affair, and this day was no exception. The warmth of a small fire, the coziness of a sleeping bag and a book, the sound of the nearby ocean all helped to pass the time. 

Trees become ghostly figures as evening fog creeps into the coastal woods of Big Sur

As the sun settled again to the west, the early evening light filtered into the deeper, shadowy corners of the forest grove and campground, and I was able to capture this layered scene full of contrasts and soft tonality. The branches of the trees lend a sense of enclosed space; a cathedral of organic shapes and windows of light. Of all of my Big Sur experiences this moment  remains one of my favourites, full of the restorative, meditative mood I found present in that particular time and place.

This elegant, peaceful scene is available as a fine art print in my Black & White Prints collection. To see more Big Sur Photography, visit my Big Sur, California collection.

Time Will Tell

Aerial photographs of the earth abstracted below reveal the indelible passage of time. Some textures and formations have taken millennia to emerge through forces of nature, and some have been more recently caused by human activity; all speak to a landscape that does not soon forget its experiences.  I have begun to gather these visual studies of time into a series titled “Time Will Tell“.

I have always been fascinated by the stories told by hills, valleys and mountains when viewed from above, and I have been fortunate to be raised in the world of general aviation; small planes, piloted by my father provided many low-altitude opportunities to see both the larger landscape and the finer details, and on commercial flights I always choose a window seat.

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Aerial photography is particularly challenging, and I strive to convey a balanced sense of both distance and intimacy through the careful composition of each scene. Working around dirty window glass, atmospheric haze, and the constantly changing perspective force me to make quick photographic choices, and I find that my digital darkroom techniques are made more creative as I explore the mood, tonality and texture of each individual landscape. Throughout my archives I have more aerial landscape photos waiting to be edited, and I will continue adding to the “Time Will Tell” gallery and series for years to come as I gather more views from above; the wonderfully free, awestruck feeling of visually exploring vast, varied spaces from an aerial perspective is an experience that I will never tire of trying to capture.

 

Agave Study

Sharp red thorns, pale green leaves, catching and shaping the bright New Zealand sun in the Wellington Botanic Garden. The variety of geometric shapes and contrasting textures make an agave plant particularly appealing to photograph, and in this image I sought to balance the light and shadow throughout the frame, highlighting the repeating pattern of the scalloped and pointed agave leaves.

Wellington Botanic Gardens, New Zealand

This image is the newest print offering in my Botanical Prints gallery, available as a fine art archival print, GiclĂ©e Canvas Wrap or Bamboo mounted print. Every print is made to order and custom options are always available; for more information about my print production and finishing options, please visit my Fine Art Print Info page.

Monarch Butterfly Migration

During the warm sunny days of October, the trees of Big Sur and Pacific Grove welcome visitors who have traveled great distances to reach clusters of trees along the central California coast; monarch butterflies, with their flashing bold orange and black wings flitting from tree to tree bring an extra bit of magic to an already beautiful place.

 

Seeing one butterfly alone is a beautiful sight, but as the monarch butterflies congregate on mossy branches and in the boughs of cypress and eucalyptus trees, their gathering numbers create a stunning, delicate and lively tapestry of colour and movement.

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October is my favourite time of year to camp in Big Sur; one morning as the sun warmed the campsite I sat contemplating the beautiful light and quiet forest, a small group of monarch butterflies flitted through the lower branches overhead, dancing through patches of sunlight as they fed and rested. As their movement is rather unpredictable, I waited patiently as they moved in and out of focus and finally managed to capture the image below of a single butterfly in flight.

Over the years I have visited the spots known for congregations of migrating monarchs, and I have gathered all of my monarch butterfly photographs into one gallery, with many Monarch Butterfly Migration images available for licensing and as fine art prints.

Love at First Light | Venice, Italy

Arriving in Venice, Italy is no small task; by plane, train, or car, one must reach the edges of a more familiar modern landscape, and then step onto a boat that will draw one into a world both foreign and familiar. I was immediately entranced by the narrow passages, absence of cars, and sunlight cascading past crumbling walls, illuminating colours and textures that could only exist in a floating ancient city miraculously moored in a marshy, shimmering lagoon.

Everything you have heard about Venice is true. It is romantic, multi-faceted and incomparable. It can also be crowded – there is one other way to arrive in Venice, and that is on a cruise ship – as I work my way through a few other batches of photos from my Italian adventures, I will have some specific observations to offer about that particular mode of travel and the impact it has on these magical places.

I managed to avoid the masses of summer tourists simply by committing to a daily routine of picking a direction, and getting lost in the winding streets of the city. Around every corner interesting architecture, delicious food, and more inviting avenues awaited.

Off-the-beaten-path, grittier scenes could be found, although overall Venice is remarkably tidy, with clean streets and canals. Graffiti is a part of the urban Italian landscape, as it is all over the world, and in some instances it offered unique photographic opportunities.

Staying in a palazzo on the Grand Canal afforded me central access to many different districts of the city, and even within a short distance from the palazzo gates, the variety of cafes, restaurants, shops and sights was abundant. In the evening, the canal glittered with golden light as boats plied romantic sunset waters; I could have sat by the ornate windows and watched the passing gondolas for hours.

From a photographic perspective, Venice is astounding, and of the hundreds of images captured over the course of three days there, I still have many more to edit. See more of my photos from Venice, Italy here, where fine art prints and licensing are also available.

I will be sharing more images and thoughts on this special city, as it was such a remarkable and photogenic experience. I am already thinking about my next visit to Venice, and would love to hear in the comments if you have ever visited and what you might recommend I explore when I return!

Transitional Light | Manitoba, Canada

Spring and autumn are rich with photographic inspiration, contrasted in blooming flowers and fresh growth or colourful falling leaves. However, my favourite aspect of these two transitional seasons is the same for both; a shift in the light, imbued with a sense of fleeting, golden time. It never fails to take my breath away, especially as summer slips into fall, and as the sun passes across the sky each day, a little lower in autumn or a little higher in spring, it casts a mood unique to these phases of declination.

These particular photos were captured in the early spring, just before sunset as the warm sunlight filtered through the cool shadows of a forest still waking from winter. I was drawn to the contrast between the bluish tone of the tree trunks and bright bursts of yellow-green leaves caught in the evening glow. Even though this is a springtime scene, it struck an autumnal, contemplative note as I stood in the fading light, trying to capture a sense of the transitional light and layers shifting before my eyes.

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These images are available as fine art prints in my Riding Mountain, Manitoba gallery – as some of the images are unconventionally cropped, please contact me directly for custom sizing options.

Pukekura Park | New Plymouth, New Zealand

Over the years travelling has taught me a few important lessons; I will always pack more than I end up needing, the journey is usually just as remarkable as the destination, and never, ever pass up the chance to spend a few hours in a local botanical garden.

Pukekura Park in New Plymouth, on the west coast of the Taranaki region of New Zealand’s northern island, is a lush jungle of foliage and water. I visited on a quiet Saturday morning in April, and enjoyed wandering the paths as they looped around lakes, past a waterfall, and across the beautiful red Poet’s Bridge, which dates back to 1884.

In some sections of the park, it is easy to forget that one is actually in a bustling small city; the size of the trees and depth of the fern-filled groves were captivating and invited leisurely exploration.

Emerging from a trail through one of these dense forests, a large lily-covered pond is revealed where bright blue Australasian swamphens foraged across the lily pads.

Displayed on the water is a sculpture titled ‘Aotearoa’ by Michael Smithers; Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand, meaning “land of the long white cloud”. A few days after visiting the gardens, while driving south to Wellington from New Plymouth, I saw the namesake beautiful rolling white line of clouds stretch across the landscape.

View more photos from my Pukekura Park, New Zealand experience in my archives, with selected images available for prints and licensing.

Delphinium Rain

Summer gardens here in Saskatchewan are abundant with flowers, and these pale blue and lavender delphinium blooms are from a volunteer plant in the one flower bed I have managed to tend this past year. It is a surprise every spring, as having not planted it, I easily forget that such a lovely plant is hiding, dormant between the chives and tulip bulbs all winter.

This particular stem of soft petals was broken by a heavy summer downpour during an afternoon thunderstorm. I looked out the kitchen window and saw it drooping heavily, and after the lightning subsided, went outside to see if it could be salvaged. The stalk was torn nearly through, and the flowers were drenched in rain. I cut the spike free, gently shook most of the water off, and put the two foot tall tower of pastel blooms in a vase.

The clearing storm provided soft, diffused light and seeing how some tiny waterdrops still clung to the flower petals, I ran inside for my camera. This was a wonderful opportunity to use my macro extension tubes, and the exercise of shooting manually, leaning in and out ever so slightly to perfect the plane of focus, was an enjoyable reminder of the photographic techniques I learned when shooting film decades ago.

A selection of these lovely summer flowers have been added to my fine art prints gallery titled Bloom and the entire collection of rain-soaked delphinium blossoms can be found in the APK Photography archive gallery Flowers & Plants.

Liquid Light

While on a walk through the coastal forest of Mendocino County in California, I came upon a quietly running clear stream. Sunlight filtered through the trees above, illuminating the rippling water as it passed over smooth, multicoloured stones, creating ribbons of light across the shadowy stream-bed. I only shot two frames of this spot, close and abstracted in black and white to emphasize the tone and texture of the contrasting liquid and hard rocky surfaces. A fluid moment in time brought to life by the shimmering motion of light through water.

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This fine art print can be found at apkphotography.com and is featured in both my Black & White and Liquid Light galleries; custom print sizes and styles are always available, please inquire!

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