Seeing Elk Island National Park in Black and White | Part II

by on October 22, 2017

I had originally blogged part one over 2.5 years ago (crazy, eh?), and since I had only added a few images at the time, I thought I would include more this go around. Most of these images have never seen the light of day until recently, as I kept them hidden on the hard drive, which is kind of pointless, isn’t it? I always encourage others to share their work, and I am a huge proponent of printing images. This means I need to keep doing both myself …

It’s no secret Elk Island National Park is beautiful. There is so much to do and to see, and the colours almost swarm around you at times. It’s spectacular, really. There is also another side of Elk Island National Park: the black and white side. Moody, perhaps. Honest. Flawed. But just as beautiful.

Shooting and editing black and white is tricky because it seems to be an area of photography where many have extra strong opinions: either black and white is a quick fix for rubbish work or it’s simply for the fine art sold for very large numbers of cash. I believe neither to be true. I don’t like saving an image in post, and I certainly don’t subscribe to the latter either. I feel black and white photography can not only help tell a story, but it can help showcase imperfections in a new light. Imperfections in the scenery around you; imperfections of the moment, if you will, and imperfections of the photographer. We do not live in a glossy world, so why do so many feel our images always have to be glossy? I like the idea of flawed perfection. It gives me an opportunity to not only tell some different stories, but also to come up with many more when I look at the black and white work of others. Some images + edits I won’t like in a year, and others I will find a new appreciation for. This is the beauty of photography … it allows the photographer to evolve and by doing so, we may learn to see differently. This is never a bad thing.

Barren tree trunk during an early spring morning at Elk Island National Park, Alberta landscape.

Shadows of barren winter trees fall across the sparking snow during a mid-winter morning at Elk Island National Park, black and white fine art Alberta landscape.

Assorted trees covered during a pea-soup foggy autumn morning at Elk Island National Park.

The annual bison rut in full swing with plains bison bulls (bison bison bison), wallowing and kicking up a dust storm during a late summer evening at Elk Island National Park, Alberta wildlife environmental portrait.

Astotin Lake Islands during a light foggy, autumn sunrise at Elk Island National Park, black and white Alberta landscapes.

Black and white landscape of trees and clouds at Elk Island.

Assorted trees covered during a pea-soup foggy autumn morning at Elk Island National Park.

Black and white lone tree along a gravel road during a pea-soup foggy autumn morning at Elk Island National Park.

Pea-soup foggy morning at Elk Island National Park, black and white Alberta landscape.

Two young plains bison bulls (bison bison bison) are sparring during the annual bison rut, extirpated wildlife.


Bits and bites:

In post: whilst some of these images were edited long ago, they were all edited with a mix of Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 and VSCO presets as a starting point. Because Google has chosen not to update the software anymore (Google acquired Nik in 2012), many Mac users have said the Nik software no longer works for them; so far I am having no issues with it on my 2015 MacBook Pro and macOS Sierra. I suppose I’ll have to look elsewhere for a replacement when Nik flatlines once and for all. Perhaps on1 B&W Premium. Who knows. Until then, I will hope my Nik software lasts me for a little longer.

Update: 10.25.17 – DxO Labs has acquired Nik from Google (yee-haw) and have plans to have a new version ready to roll by mid-2018. So many questions, such as will those of us who paid full price for Nik Software all those years ago (before Google got their hands on them) have a discounted rate for an upgrade? Will they finally look at supporting Fuji Trans-X sensor cameras for (RAF) raw support? For now, those who have not downloaded the software can do so for free (current, yet oddly outdated version only) via their site, Nik’s new home.


Original post, part 1: Seeing Elk Island National Park in Black and White | Part I

Printing and framing: since I am asked this a couple times a month, photographers – if you are looking for a printer, one of the best is Lewis from Precision Imaging. Top notch work, great chap, plus he is cool as all hell. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, he has opened up my mind when it comes to printing and I look forward to many more years of making prints. He serves locations all over, not just in Edmonton. Hope this helps.

Latest episode of Shutter Time With Sid and Mac podcast: Episode 170 | Visual Cleansing with Olaf Sztaba It’s a fantastic episode as Olaf is rather amazing and is so interesting to talk with and we always love having him on the show.

Audio: I have been doing a lot of editing of late, and working on BTS stuff with my site, which I will be putting into play down the road. In the past, besides music and podcasts, I would more often than not listen to Netflix movies or shows I’ve seen multiple times as I edit for some background noise, but these days I am sticking with music. I try to edit in a completely dark environment except for the light of the monitor and nothing more, which is why I stopped having Netflix on – too much distracting light. Lately, the music I cannot get enough of is the classics (chaps such as Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr., Crosby, Astaire, etc.). I have been a fan of the classics since I was a kiddie, but now as I am getting older, I appreciate it even more. Funny how being in your 40s can somewhat alter your tastes, at least it has been for me. Right now, my music of choice is Dean Martin. Swoon. When I listen to these classics, I don’t worry about stress outside of my edit cave (borrowing that nickname from my best friend). I just focus on the editing, enjoy the music and nothing more.


Time for more Dino and work.


See you in the field!


Photographer. Podcaster on hiatus. Edmonton Oilers lovah. Cinematic Star Wars fan. Fond of wildlife conservation, animal rescue orgs, and all things Johnny Cash. Gen X. 

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