A Sunny Day at the TMA

Even though spring seems to have been put on hold, beautiful sunny days will not be wasted around here. It was on the colder side today, but there was no wind to speak of, and that made for a very nice hiking day. The map above shows the route I took at the Quirke Tailings Management Area, which is north of Elliot Lake, at the point where hwy 108 turns into hwy 639.

The main roads had been clear and dry for a while now, so I was able to get out of town a bit on this hike. However, what could be a significant snow event is headed our way, and conditions will be changing soon.

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The Quirke TMA is a large, very open, and relatively flat site, so it’s a pleasure to walk it on a nice sunny day, especially if you’re wanting to stay in the sun for its warmth. As you can see from this picture, there are no other tracks on this road, so I’m all alone today.

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I knew that they plow the roads in here, so deep snow was not an issue, although there was some light snow on the roads today.

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I’ve been playing around with different cameras, and processing software and therefore you will notice some differences in the pictures of this post. I’m not really one for ‘enhancing’ the pictures that I take, and I find that software such as PhotoShop, Lightroom, or many others, are much too complicated, and are more appreciated by those who prefer an artistic approach, rather than just sticking to reality.

My main objective when taking pictures is to present the actual scene that I observed, as closely as possible. However, cameras do not see things the same way that the human eye sees them and, due to that, a certain amount of processing must be done, in order to represent, as closely as possible, what my eyes saw. Still, I do not enjoy spending hours and hours processing photos on the computer, so, after trying out many of these well known processing softwares, I have to concede that they are all way too complicated for what I want.

I don’t care for ‘titles’ and I would never refer to myself as a ‘photographer’. Like I explained above, I take pictures to show where I’ve been, and what I saw, and I would like them to represent that as much as possible. So, to that end, I will still do some simple processing via the native Windows Live Photo Gallery, which I find has the simple tools required for the task at hand.

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I had some fun taking pictures of these tall grasses, against the beautiful blue background that I had today.

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I spent hours in Lightroom processing these photos, just to see what it could do but, in the end, I decided that it just wasn’t worth it, and I would much rather spend all that time out in the bush, exploring, than sitting inside, in front of the computer. So, even though I did process these in Lightroom, I went back to Windows Live Photo Gallery to redo them, because I didn’t like the Lightroom results.

Like a lot of things, photography is something that can be taken too seriously in life. I know that there are many photographers out there who devote all their time to ‘creating’ the best possible pictures, with all the latest, and very expensive, equipment. It reminds me of golf, when I see so much effort, and concentration, trying to get a little white ball into a hole in the ground. Really?

Sure, I like to get nice pictures, that represent the real scene, as best as possible, but there are certainly limits to which I will go. As I’ve always said, if I don’t enjoy something, I simply won’t do it, and I don’t enjoy overly processing the pictures that I take.

I don’t process videos in any way, they are straight out of the camera. Sometimes I might cut a piece out, if it’s too shaky, or something like that. I used to run videos through the YouTube software, but I stopped doing that because it reduces the quality somewhat.

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This is the picture that you could see, and hear, me taking during that video. It does represent, a little bit better, what I saw with my eyes, but I’m still tweaking my approach to processing, and how much of it I want to apply, without going overboard, or making a marathon out of it.

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Early into my hike, I came upon some tracks, in the fresh, undisturbed snow. These are, almost certainly, wolf tracks, and they are really fresh.

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It’s hard to tell, from this picture, that the wolf puts its rear paw into the track that the front paw made. This is one way to differentiate wolf tracks from dog tracks. All wild canines do this, in order to save energy. Also, there wasn’t a human footprint to be seen, except for mine, so this makes it unlikely to be a domestic dog. It was too big to be a fox, and there are no coyotes in this area.

I followed these tracks for a long time, and they took a very straight, and efficient, route, which is also indicative of a wolf. Domestic dogs tend to go all over the place, from side to side.

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Walking with the wolf.

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After a ways, some fox tracks jumped into the mix, although I think that it’s highly unlikely that the two were walking side by side down the road. The tracks were most likely made at different times, although they were both quite fresh. Eventually, the wolf tracks went off in a different direction, across a lake, and then into the bush.

In the summer time, I wouldn’t have even seen those tracks, so fresh snow does have its advantages. The wolf might have been in search of Elk, which usually favor this area in the warmer months. I guess the Elk are not back from their wintering grounds yet though. I didn’t see any Elk tracks today.

It was interesting to see these tracks anyway. I already got pictures of a wolf on one of my kayaking trips, but I would certainly welcome any other opportunities that should come my way.

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This is the only wildlife photo I was able to get today. I always see a Raven at this location, every time I come here. I don’t know if it’s the same one, or maybe part of a family. I would estimate that this Raven was more than one hundred yards from me, when I took this shot.

It’s also interesting to note that many of the wildlife pictures you might see elsewhere, were actually taken under artificial circumstances. It’s not so easy to approach any kind of wildlife in a wilderness situation. It’s much easier to get these pictures beside a bird feeder, or in an area where the wildlife has become accustomed to seeing people.

It’s also interesting to note that, animals will treat the presence of people in different ways, according to the setting. If it’s an area where the animal sees people all the time, it’s not likely to spook as easily, as if the same animal sees a person in a more remote area. For example, bears are certainly more tolerant seeing people around the local dump site, than they would be way out in the remote bush somewhere. Keep this in mind, if you are hiking in bear country.

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It seems like the trees have been bare forever, but it won’t be long until those leaves appear.

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Some of the gravel roads were bare, but they certainly won’t be now, since we’ve had a significant snowfall overnight.

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Depending on what the temperatures are like in April, this could be a longer meltdown this year, which means that I won’t be able to get my kayak in the water as soon as I would like.

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This post is a bit disjointed, because I’ve been working on it over a period of three days now. I usually get my posts up by the day after I do them but circumstances have just slowed down this post a bit.

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This hike took me much longer than usual, partly because I was checking out all the tracks I saw, but mostly because I was enjoying the nice, warming, sunshine along the way.

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Some trees still have quite a few old leaves left on them from last year. These are mostly oak trees.

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I like doing panoramic shots because it gives a much better idea of what the area I’m in looks like. One tip I would give about taking panoramas is to turn the camera to the vertical shot position, and take your three pictures like that, then stitch them together. This gives a much larger panorama, instead of a narrow, letterbox type of panorama.

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This panorama was taken in the horizontal shot position, and you can see that it covers a lot of area, but in a very narrow, letterbox style.

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Again, my purpose for trying to get my pictures as good as they can be is not to compete with any perceived quality, but just to best represent what I’m seeing on my hikes.

I could process the videos also, but that would only add more work in putting these posts up, and it takes long enough already. I’m fine with the way the videos look, so I’ll probably continue to put them up the way that they are.

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Now back at the road that leads out to the gate, where I parked my truck. It was good to be able to get a bit farther out of town today, but now there is more snow on the ground, so who knows when I will be able to drive north again.

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