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Don Komarechka
Works at Georgian College
Attended Georgian College
Lived in barrie, ontario
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Don Komarechka

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Happy Canada Day Everyone!
You may have seen this image before – it’s one of my favourite images, and it’s the photography that defined the beginning of my career as a professional photographer. It’s also my most stolen image of all time, and you’ll probably see it floating around the internet quite a bit on the most patriotic of Canadian holidays. I’m thrilled that so many people think that this photograph is a defining symbol of Canada.

I created the image over the span of four months – preserving bright red leaves in the fall, and waiting for the perfect winter day – sunshine after a fresh snowfall with no wind. The results were better than I had imagined, and the creation of this image gave me the encouragement to walk down a path that would see my photography grow into a full-time job.

I’m proud of the images that I create, and I depend on them for my livelihood. It saddens me greatly when I see people offering this image on coffee mugs and mousepads, using it in commercial and corporate contexts all without my permission or any compensation. This is actually the only image that I will not normally license – I don’t want it entangled in private or commercial interests that might exclude some Canadians. I have a legal team that helps me recover some of my income from these commercial cases, and I don’t pursue the thousands of people who simply share this image personally. I wouldn’t want to.

If you like this image, please share this post. I want everyone to see this image, and also to know that its creator is a passionate independent artist. It may sound selfish to say that I want my name attached to my work, but I know it isn’t too much to ask. If you see this image shared separately on the internet or in any social media, I’d greatly appreciate you letting the person know who the image belongs to.

In a way, I want this image to belong to us all. I want it to stand as a symbol that all Canadians can say defines Canada. However, I hate having this artwork stolen and misappropriated. Much of this is done with ignorance of copyright, and I understand that most personal posts are done with without people being aware that they have done anything wrong. Maybe this is what bothers me the most. If you’d like to use this image for any reason, feel free to contact me – I even offer it as a fine art canvas print.

I’m proud to be Canadian. I love the natural beauty this country has to offer, I love the society in which I live, and with many faults I’m still satisfied of what our government accomplishes. Today is a day to reflect on all the great things that Canada has contributed to the world. I hope Canada continues to make the world a better place.

Technical photo details:
- The leaves were preserved by ironing them in wax paper. I remembered doing this when I was very young, and the technique was perfect for keeping the leaves flat and vibrant until I needed them.

- The wax on the leaves created a lot of reflection, so a circular polarizer was used to cut that down and reveal the saturated colour of the leaves.

- A day with no wind was required, as the dried leaves are so light and fragile that even the tiniest whisper of wind would blow them away and destroy them.

- One of the tips of the leaves was broken, and the stem of the centered leaf was too long. These were the only major edits done to the image, aside from cropping.

- The image is cropped to be 2:1, the same ratio as the Canadian flag. The US flag and most other flags in the world are 3:2, and the flag of Canada is often misprinted in a 3:2 ratio.

- I intentionally left some defects on the center leaf. I didn’t want the image to look too perfect; as patriotic as I am, I know that Canada isn’t a perfect country (there is no such thing!).
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Wonderful image.
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Don Komarechka

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I had a great chat on the latest episode of +The Two Hosers Photo Show with Allan Attridge on what exact an "anchor" is and isn't in a photograph! Enjoy the ramblings!
The Two Hosers Photo Show Episode 230- Anchor Points

In this episode Adam might buy a Blues jersey, Allan needs new spikes, and The Hosers welcome +Don Komarechka  to chat about anchoring a landscape photo.

Next Week's Challenge- Cube
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was fun
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Painted Heavens
I decided to do something experimental – combine nearly 700 images originally shot as time-lapse footage of the Northern Lights into a single frame. This is the result.
Exactly an hour and a half of footage illustrates all the paths the aurora took across the sky. Shot with a fisheye lens and with post-processing to straighten the horizon, the top of the frame is actually behind the camera. The entire sky was illuminated with dancing green curtains of light.
The exposure for an image like this is tricky. Auroras can flare up for intensely bright displays while the rest of the time the dancing lights remain dim. Not wanting the brighter exposures to clip, I intentionally underexposed all of the frames. When the most active moments of the aurora came, I was able to recover the highlights and include them in the final composite.
Combining frames like this can be tricky – I knew I wanted to work with 16-bit TIFF data, and loading 693 TIFF files into Photoshop would bring almost every computer to its knees. Without performing any operations in Photoshop, my computer was utilizing 98GB of RAM. Thankfully the monster computer I built has 128GB of DDR3 memory (and 24 processor cores / 48 threads) so I didn’t run into any issues. I’m actually quite impressed how Photoshop handled it.
Once all the frames are loaded into Photoshop, the work is simple – select all the layers and set the blending mode to “Lighten”. The same technique is used when compositing star trail images from separate 30-second exposures. I didn’t want to use normal lens corrections to remove the fisheye distortion as it would pull too much of the “magic” out of the frame, so I opted to use the warp tool and the liquify tool to manually straighten the horizon. This was difficult, as I needed to maintain realistic star paths in the sky, as closely resembling their normal paths as possible.
I had attempted a similar shot a few years ago and didn’t like the results… but I thought I’d try it again. Let me know what you think. :)

Probably a good idea to mention +Landscape Photography +Eric Drumm #landscapephotography on this one too!
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Absolutely wonderful photography !
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This water droplet photo was taken during a quick technique demonstration at a water droplet refraction workshop I recently held in Ajax, Ontario. The point was to illustrate how many images are taken when I shoot these images, in this case nearly 200 images were taken and 35 of them were used to focus-stack the finished piece. It’s very similar in construction to the image posted yesterday in a link advertising upcoming photography workshops, because it was made using the same ingredients.
Almost exactly a year after I made the first image, I put the same puzzle pieces back together to show workshop participants how to create images like this: third hand tool, Eucalyptus and a spray bottle filled with plain old water. If you put these items together in the right way, you can create a refracted image inside each droplet of the flower placed behind.
It’s a fun exercise, and it took me less than 5 minutes to set up this image. I’ve taken things up a notch in my own studio work where I use the surface of water as an additional element, or different objects providing the refraction (like a map of Earth), and I’ve got a ton of ideas in my head with techniques for how to make it more challenging and more rewarding.
In the workshops I teach on the subject ( ) everyone gets the tools and knowledge they need to create these kinds of photographs. It’s not difficult when you get right down to it, but there are many challenges along the way.
One of these challenges is alignment – you need the flower, droplet, and camera to all fall within the same linear path. In any one piece is not in alignment, you won’t see the refraction in the droplets.
Another challenge is light. I typically use flash, but a strong LED flashlight can do the trick if you’re not familiar with flash photography in a comfortable way. The flash should be hitting the flower (or any background object) more prominently than the foreground, allowing the droplets to shine as the brightest part of the image.
Magnification is always tricky, and I’ve got special equipment to get very close. If you don’t have special gear, even flipping around your DSLR’s kit lens and using it backwards can achieve remarkable definition for shots like this.
At the very least, making water droplet refraction images helps you see things differently – the most valuable skill a photographer can have.
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What the hell is this? It’s a technique that uses refracted light to create an abstract image. Commonly called “refractography”, there is no lens attached to my camera. This is simply focused and refracted light. There’s more to the story, however. Read on!
To create this image, I’m using a few ingredients:
- High-powered LED flashlight: The light source is a simple flashlight that I can mount to a tripod for easy positioning
- Fresnel Lens: Also commonly known as a “magnifying sheet” or a “pocket magnifier”, this is also the same technology used in “better beamer” accessories to refocus flash bursts over a much greater distance. This helps me keep the light from spreading too far off course – I need to keep the light as straight as possible, and these cost about $4
- Refractive object: In this image, I’m using a glass vase with a spiral pattern, but different objects will create different patterns, lines and shapes. This same object could create a dozen different interesting compositions! Try anything made of glass, with unique surface details providing distinctive results!
- Refocuser: Because the cheap Fresnel lens doesn’t give me completely straight light (a telecentric lens would likely do this), I use a small single-optic lens from an old Contaflex camera to create sharper results before the light hits my camera’s sensor.
- Colour: Somewhere in the mix I’ve added colour by projecting the result of birefringence into the refraction. Yep. I’m that geeky.
The result is an abstract piece of art, one which can barely be considered a photograph. It pushes the “limits”, which is why I enjoy tinkering with this sort of thing. There is also no way to create exactly the same results twice. Each attempt requires different adjustments of the variables and constant fiddling to produce unexpectedly beautiful results.
I had originally created this refractograph as a classroom demonstration with students watching as the image appeared on the camera sensor. It was a fun moment to see everyone’s eyes light up as an “image” was formed with a series of optical filters.
Fun stuff! I need to spend more time tinkering. :)
mary Fuentes's profile photoJoseluis Jesus's profile photoKrm Kreem's profile photoDiulia Elcatrine Marques Luciano's profile photo
Wow this is so cool! Bravo. :)
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Completely thrilled and honoured to be a big part of the current advertising campaign by Georgian College, including this TV spot that many people have seen on the air over the past week. I've always been a proud Georgian College graduate, and my education from the Advertising Program gave me the skills to be an entrepreneur - which is at the core of any successful photography business!
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Sweet!  Congrats!
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Don Komarechka

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Watch Live! Recording the next episode of +This Week in Photo (TWiP) with a great panel RIGHT NOW! :)
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Recent travels took me back to the beautiful landscapes of Eastern Europe. My wife and I headed to Bulgaria to attend a family wedding, and we took a few days to adventure through the countryside in a rental car once again. Waterfalls, archaeological sites and caves were all on the map.
This was part of a cave system known as “God’s Eyes Cave”. Not named for this particular cave (there is one that truly has eye-like openings), but this cave entrance was eye-catching on its own. It was a perfect day to experiment with infrared photography, which resulted in a rather surreal approach to the composition.
I shot this image with a fisheye lens, which was the only way to get the entire cave entrance in the frame. The natural curvature of the cave walls is enhanced by the lens distortion, and with such natural formations you can’t perceive the distortion as a distraction. In fact, the fisheye lens wasn’t quite wide enough – this is a two-shot fisheye panorama which was needed to get the top 15% of the image in the frame.
Infrared light behaves differently than visible light. It isn’t just a “cool effect” that is added in post-processing, the spectrum of light beyond human vision can react in almost-magical ways with trees and the surrounding landscapes. Infrared light is not absorbed by foliage – almost all of it is reflected, which makes trees glow brightly. Rocks tend to absorb more of this spectrum (also a reason why they get hotter in the sun), leading to darker bare rock. The bark on trees also appear similar.
Keeping in mind that the cave is much darker than the brighter landscape beyond it, this image is also shot with multiple exposures in HDR. It was one of my first experiments using the HDR and panorama functionality built into Lightroom CC, and I think it works well. It offers less control than I’d like, but the results were still impressive.
A fisheye panorama HDR in a cave in Eastern Europe. That about sums up my unique approach to landscape photography. :)

#landscapephotography +Landscape Photography +Eric Drumm
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Sounds terrific
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Don Komarechka

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Upcoming Macro Photography Workshops, and others!
Check out for the full listing
(workshops are held in or around the Barrie Ontario Canada area)

Spring is in full swing and the weather is feeling like summer, what better time to delve into the world of macro photography? I’ve got upcoming workshops on water droplet refractions, day-long macro workshops covering all technical and creative challenges, and more! What can you expect?
One-on-One Critique sessions: No matter where you are in the world, we can book a one hour critique session that is conducted online. The session is recorded so that you view the information again at your leisure to get the most out of it. From a portfolio review to a post-processing workflow, we can use the hour in any way you’d like. I promise you it’ll be worthwhile!  

Water droplet refraction workshop: 3 hours of detailed explanations and hands-on time setting up and shooting water droplet refraction photographs. You don’t need any fancy gear, just bring everything you’ve got and you’d be surprised how you can create these magical images with the most limited equipment. Current date is July 26th 2015 – other dates are all sold out!  

Day-long macro workshop: Tutorial and lecture time in the morning evolves into hands-on shooting time in our award-winning gardens, with constant mentorship to explore the tiny world around us. Experimentation is encouraged and everyone is given a different “photographic rulebook” to play by for the day. The workshop ends with an informative critiquing session to get the most of the images captured that day. Current dates are July 20th and August 16th 2015.  

“Learning to See” Course – Over three weeks of evening classes, you’ll uncover all the basic elements of photography. From exposure to composition, camera settings and best practices, and plenty of post-processing hints, you can take your photography far further than you would have expected over nine hours. Assignments are given each week and detailed written critiques are offered to reinforce the learning process. Current starting dates are June 23rd and July 8th 2015.  

“Vision Beyond Seeing” – A day-long crash course version of the “Learning to See” class, this workshop delves into all of the differences between human vision and a camera-captured photograph. We cover the basics of exposure and delve into pushing the limits of light itself. The seminar will not only leave you inspired, but you’ll look at the photographic process differently as a result. Current date is August 8th, 2015.  

Waterfall weekend workshop: Spend a weekend with one of the best photographic subjects to learn from – waterfalls. Understand lines, shapes and colours like never before, and such knowledge will translate to better images across any subject. Given clear skies, we will also have an opportunity to shoot the night sky and create star trail photographs. There is a day-long macro photography workshop scheduled for the day after this workshop as well, for those wanting to add an extra day of learning! This workshop is scheduled from July 17th through the 19th, 2015.
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Beautiful macro !
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Don Komarechka

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Shimmering Star - Celebrating an April Snowstorm
Throughout the winter, I photograph hundreds of snowflakes, but many of them never get properly edited, as 4-6 hours of work typically goes into each one. This one didn’t make my Snowflake-a-Day project, but it did catch my attention a few days ago when I noticed snow in the forecast again. View large and zoom in!
Late April might occasionally see a snowfall, and we’re in the middle of some nasty weather at the moment. The temperatures are too warm to take any useful photographs, and I know most people are cursing the white stuff when the flowers have already begun to bloom, so I present this snowflake to make up for the dismal state of the weather. It’s not all bad.
Snowflakes like this only fall a few times a year, when the conditions allow for stable and slow growth. Calm weather, cold temperatures (around -10 to -16C or so in the sky) and relatively high humidity can create beautiful crystals like this. The growth conditions were not completely stable however, resulting in a broader design at the beginning and faster growth as the snowflake grew bigger.
You can make an interesting observation from snowflakes like this. Notice how all of the outer branches have rounded and pointed tips, but the inner branches toward the center have rigid edges that contain roughly 60-degree angles? Faster-growing branches result in rounded tips, and slower-growing branches result in rigid tips. The inner areas of a snowflake will continue to grow even after the crystal has expanded outward, but with less water vapour reaching the inner branches, their growth slows and transforms the style of their growth in the process.
This image is created from 54 separate frames, each containing a tiny slice of focus. The snowflakes are photographed on an angle to reveal the fascinating surface detail and reflective properties of ice, but these features come at the cost of depth of field. Using focus stacking techniques and exhaustive editing to make sure the combination of frames is perfect, the entire snowflakes comes into focus after many hours of editing. This crystal took 6 hours to complete.
If you want to learn more about the exact photographic techniques in a step-by-step tutorial, or you find the science behind these winter wonders fascinating, check out Sky Crystals: - you won’t find a better book on the subject that caters to both photographers and science-minded people alike. :)
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I find your snowflakes fascinating +Don Komarechka Bravo. :)
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I've completely redesigned my Photography workshops page, now with online registration and exciting courses and workshops coming up in June and July!
Check it out:

I've had many people ask when my "Learning to See" course would be running again - it's currently scheduled for starting dates of June 23rd and July 8th. The crash course covers all of the fundamentals for using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, and delves into what makes a good photography.

I'll also be running a water droplet refraction workshop, which explains and fully equips participants to shoot their own refractions (like the image attached to this post). We will push limits and learn a lot over those three hours.

I've also planned a weekend waterfall workshop with will hopefully (weather permitting) include a night sky shoot as well. Class time coupled with a full day and night in the field, it's a great way to get in the "zone" and learn some essential skills used by the best landscape photographers.

More workshops to come through the rest of the summer!
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That's great! I'm really looking forward to attending one of your workshops.. Thanks again. :)
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Woodland Fantasy
I have had the fortune for adventure this past year, and of travels through the Yukon wilderness I was presented with a number of exceptional auroras cascading across the skies.
I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus as concluding my Snowflake-a-Day project resulting in an immeasurable backlog of work, but the catch-up game is nearly won and I’ve been digging through images I haven’t processed for months. I can’t believe that shots like this are still sitting and waiting for me.
These exposures can be difficult. Balancing light collection with depth (aperture), shutter speed with star blur and pushing sensitivity to the limits, I was able to make this image. Shot at F/4, I was at the widest aperture of my 24-105L lens, gathering as much light as possible. At 28mm, I could not extend my shutter speed beyond 15 second, or the stars would be noticeably blurring as the Earth spins. To accomplish this, I needed to shoot at ridiculously high ISO of 10,000. Still looks pretty good for pushing the limits!
The aurora was relatively faint in the night sky, allowing for a good number of stars to shine through it. The brightest auroras aren’t always the most beautiful, as they tend to drown out the stars behind them.
I hope someday to travel to Northern Canada again, having made the trek twice already. Each time I feel it’s the experience of a lifetime, both as a photographer and as a human being.

How about this, #landscapephotography +Landscape Photography +Eric Drumm +Margaret Tompkins? :)
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Turn knobs, press buttons, and take pictures.
  • Georgian College
    Part-time Faculty, 2010 - present
  • Don Komarechka Photography
    Owner / Photographer, 2008 - present
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
barrie, ontario - sudbury, ontario
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(705) 796-6799
(705) 796-6799
Nature & Landscape Photographer, Teacher, gadget geek. :)
  • Georgian College
    Advertising, 2007 - 2009
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