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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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For those folks that can get to Princeton, NJ, I'd love it if you could check out a full-day macro photography workshop I'm running on October 8th!

We'll cover insect and garden photography, water droplet refractions, and much more. The day will be used to see the world differently and learn how our cameras can be tuned to allow this to happen with the greatest amount of flexibility and creativity. I promise it'll be a fantastic day!

The workshop runs from 10AM through to 5PM with an excellent full-day price of $269. You'll even get some macro tools to take home with you at the end of the workshop!
Saturday, October 8, 2016, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm 20 Library Place, Princeton NJEnter the enchanting world of Macro Photography. Acclaimed Canadian Photographer, Author* and Podcaster** Don Komarechka introduces you to the delights and challenges of capturing beautiful images that are not easily visible to the naked eye in a full day hands-on workshop. "(Macro Photography) can be abstract...tell stories...and spark your imagination."During...
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Glow of the Cicada
Immediately, you might think that this cicada looks a little more magical than most. You’d be right – here is the same creature photographed with “regular” light: - so, what’s different? The same camera is used, but the image is made with intense ultraviolet-only flashes. The image that you’re seeing is the result of fluorescence!

A few previous experiments have given me the hint that certain insects will fluoresce. In fact, nearly all compound eyes that I’ve put in front of my UV setup have shown a “glow”, but the wings of this cicada (Magicicada septendecim was due this year) just take the cake. Appearing to inspire science fiction architecture, the patterns are otherworldly and they have a depth completely missing from the “normal light” version of this insect.

Some insects glow very brightly under UV light – scorpions and some millipedes come to mind. This has to serve some biological purpose that’s introduced through evolution. Imagine an insect that doesn’t reflect UV light, but rather transforms that light into the visible spectrum. Many insects can see UV, which would make a UV fluorescing bug darker in the UV spectrum. I tested this with invisible ink (glows under UV light) and photographed it with a camera that detects only UV light. The ink appears darker than the paper, because the reflected wavelength of light has been pushed into the visible spectrum. Science!

So, what’s the purpose of these glowing wings? I have no idea. One theory might be to attract a mate but having UV-dark wings, depending on how fine-tuned cicada’s are to the UV spectrum. I would be less inclined to think of it as some kind of a defense strategy, since they already have a pretty solid one: hibernating for 17 years before living as an adult for four weeks. I remember the first time I saw a cicada, and I was amazed when I learned it was older than I was.

This little guy (or gal?) was found on a bedsheet we had hung outside to dry. I took it inside, and it was barely moving – probably at the end of its life, though I don’t have a frame of reference for how these creatures usually behave. Maybe they are as docile and positionable as a Walking Stick or a Praying Mantis! It was cooperative for the photos for the most part, and was let go after the photo shoots in UV and visible light. It was placed on a camera filter with a reflective coating, a MidOpt 900nm infrared filter. I thought the mirror would reflect UV well since the filter was designed only to pass longer IR wavelengths, and I was right.

I’m using two flashes modified for full-spectrum photography (Vivitar 285HVs, really cheap on eBay). I disassembled the flashes to remove the UV-blocking plastic from in front of the Xenon flash tubes, and then used gaffer’s tape to affix Hoya U-340 and MidOpt BP365 filters in front of them. The combination of these two filters block all visible light, but let UV light pass through. These two flashes were set to maximum output at point-blank range, and the camera still needed to be set to ISO 4000 for this exposure. Thankfully the cicada was standing perfectly still, allowing for a focus stack of six images.

I have a feeling I’m going to try this again with more bugs.
Marie, LMB's profile photoAleksey Fedenok's profile photoLori Lyons's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
Thanks very much +Iman Hatami, +Steven Spence, +Kate Stone, +Marie, LMB and +Lori Lyons! So glad you enjoy this image - I'll probably make a few more like this and continue the experimentation. :)

Thanks too +Aleksey Fedenok! I think the reflection really helps with the depth.
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Path of Dreams
Looking up at the night sky from home is captivating, but nothing compares to the blanket of stars that surrounds you on a warm summer night in the middle of nowhere. This “middle of nowhere” location is the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve near Gravenhurst, Ontario.

A few people had set up camp, and they had a fire slowly burning itself out as the night progressed. I saw here with my cameras trying to capture the beauty of the night sky, but no photograph can ever convey the sense of peace you feel when you take it all in personally. As a photographer I enjoy the challenge of trying to share these moments.

The dim firelight was helpful in visually connecting the foreground to the Milky Way – moments later the fire was so dim that the visual impact was gone. While the foreground is important, the path of the stars in the sky needed to stretch as far as I could make them go. This image was shot as a panorama from a 180-degree fisheye lens, attempting to encompass as much of the night sky as possible while still depicting it from the perspective I remember while being there. It’s a tough balance to strike!

This image strikes directly into the idea of “the unseen world” that I base my photography around. Macro, infrared, and astrophotography are all passionate subjects for me – I’ll be shooting more night skies with some interesting twists in the near future!
Marie, LMB's profile photoJudy Jarrell's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
Thanks very much +Marie, LMB!

Thanks +Judy Jarrell! I think the fire adds to the image, especially with the trees in behind almost mimicking the dark cloud portions of the Milky Way. :)
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Fire Flower

This was a fun and very challenging image to create, using some photographic techniques that are rarely employed, combined together to create something magical. This is a cross-view 3D image that requires you to cross your eyes to see properly. If you’re not familiar with the technique, spend five minutes training yourself: - the image cannot fill your field of view, nor can it be too small. Sit back from a large desktop monitor or bring a smartphone a little closer than you would otherwise!

This image is made with UV light. Firing at full strength, I have a flash modified first for full-spectrum photography (removing a UV-blocking filter) and then fitted with two special filters that work to allow only UV light through (A Hoya U-340 & a MidOpt BP365) taped in front of the flash head, the image would be mostly dark with the fainted hints of deep blue visible. The secret ingredient? Highlighter ink.

Specifically, Noodler’s Catfish Dragon Orange ink. A few drops of that carefully placed through a hypodermic needle (my accountants will raise an eyebrow at my business expenses), places this ink right as the edge of the center of a Gerbera Daisy. When the UV light hits the ink it fluoresces, producing a vibrant orange colour that appears to be the source of light in the frame. Because the light is only visible once it hits the ink, the tiny drops of ink effectively illuminate the scene.

This is the only time I’ve used my De Wijs 3D macro lens in a studio setting, and it isn’t easy. The tiny aperture of F/80 on the lens I have means that nothing is visible through the viewfinder unless I’m in bright light. I handheld this shot with the aid of a flashlight adding a small amount of additional light to the flower. The amount was not enough to have any effect on the overall exposure, but it was enough to help me dimly find focus. It wasn’t easy, and a few dozen shots were taken before I was able to get the focus set perfectly.

It really is an amazing (and incredibly challenging) lens. If you’d like to explore 3D macro photography, in my opinion there is only one place to look. A small outfit located in The Netherlands that makes these lenses by hand:

This image combines many levels of “inventive” photography: 3D, Macro, UV Fluorescence, and staged studio shooting. I’m really happy with how this turned out. :)

Paul Deatherage (Paul Roderick)'s profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
That sounds like a very practical use, +Paul Deatherage! I'm certain that modern technology has greatly surpassed the concept of stereo viewing, but I'm glad it found a home for a while in commercial forestry. I'll be posting more eventually, and I have some great ideas to push forward with! More people need an incentive to see 3D images and artwork, and the modern technological push is certainly here (VR headsets, 3D TVs). The content just needs to mature!
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Tending Aphids

This is a fun cross-view image, #7 in this series of 10, that showcases a carpenter ant tending a colony of aphids. The aphids are in the background with the focus on the ant and the leaf curled on top.

3D stereo pairs at this scale are a huge challenges because they push up against the limits of physics. Apertures of F/80 are difficult to see through, and require an obscene amount of light. Focus, framing, and illumination all make a live-action shot like this nearly impossible. Photographically speaking, that’s my playground!

Ants are known to tend aphid colonies to protect them. The ants seek “honeydew”, which is basically aphid pee, as a delicious and nutritious food source. The aphids expel waste liquid from the plants they are connected to, as the aphids seek nitrogen and other nutrients that are in shorter supply. This means they excrete this honeydew liquid which is rich in sugars – and the ants can’t get enough of it.

The ants protect the aphids, and in return the aphids produce honeydew for the ants. It’s an interesting symbiotic relationship and a fun thing to capture!

For information on how to cross your eyes to see this image properly, here’s a quick tutorial:

Marie, LMB's profile photoRICARDO MARTINEZ's profile photoJohn Hockridge's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
+Elizabeth Hahn I left everything as it was, and when I checked today the ants were still tending the same aphids. :)

Thanks very much +Marie, LMB and +RICARDO MARTINEZ! Glad you like it!

Hah +John Hockridge, I've certainly been called worse! :)
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Eyes of Nature
This was a fun stereoscopic image to create, even though I don’t think it’s a success. I want to share this because it does work, and it was quite tricky to set up, but what words well in 2D doesn’t always work well in 3D.

This is a water droplet refraction show where a flower is placed behind a blade of grass (Blue Fescue) and the grass is sprayed with water which creates spherical droplets. The droplets act like natural lenses, refracting an image of the flower inside of them. I’ve made many of these images, and thought I’d explore it in 3D!

The problem is that the image exists at two primary distances from the camera: the blades of grass and the flower. There is no transition between the two, so the 3D effect seems more simplistic than I would like. Future experiments will probably have a blade of grass flowing through the frame, into and out of focus, which wouldn’t work as well in 2D but would provide extra depth in 3D. This image represents a stepping stone towards future success! :)

There was also a small artifact created by the lens, seen as a ghosted vertical line in the “left” (right-eye) image. I have seen this in a few images and I know it is caused by light bouncing off of the beam splitter in some way. It might have to do with the direction of the light source, so some tinkering is required!

The world of photography is full of experimentation, and this cross-view 3D image represents that for me. If you can view cross-view 3D, give it a shot! If you’ve never tried before, here’s a quick tutorial: - parallel stereo-view images and anaglyphs will come when this series reaches 10 images (this is #6). Onward!

Sandra Parlow's profile photoFred Wong's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
Thanks very much +Fred Wong!
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+Martin Bailey and I had a great chat on some of my "mad scientist" photography experiments, and I'm certain you'll enjoy the talk! Everyone should give it a listen. :)
This week I share an awesome conversation with my friend +Don Komarechka about his recent full-spectrum, infrared and ultraviolet photography, as well as his stereoscopic 3D macro photography. You've gotta check this out ->
This week I share an awesome conversation with my friend Don Komarechka about his recent full-spectrum, infrared and ultraviolet photography, as well as his stereoscopic 3D macro photography.
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Don Komarechka's profile photoMarie, LMB's profile photo
+Don Komarechka I'm hoping I get some or lots of your snow this coming winter that can't come soon enough. lol
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As an x-rite "coloratti" member, and a HUGE fan of their products, consider this: their amazing monitor calibration hardware is on sale today only through B&H for $100 off:

I use this to calibrate my monitors as well as my projector for presentations. I can't imagine a better product, and accurate colour/brightness of your photographers is incredibly important. If you've been thinking of calibrating your monitors to get a true experience of how others will see your work in print or on any screen, this is it. $100 off is a crazy 40% off sale for this sort of equipment. It just doesn't happen, so grab this now!

Carl Crumley's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
You're welcome +Carl Crumley!
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Reflected Cosmos
This image was taken with a full-spectrum converted camera, and represents a very fun adventure into new areas of photography for me. I’ve always wanted to do a star trail image that focused on reflections as well! View large!

“Full spectrum” means that the camera can detect light from wavelengths beyond that of human vision. Camera sensors are normally sensitive to ultraviolet and infrared light, but a filter in front of the camera blocks this light from being recorded in the image. In this way a camera shows us a similar world to the world we see with our own eyes, but what if you wanted to collect all the light? Remove the filters and you’re pushing new limits.

Images done in “full spectrum” look very strange and far “redder” than you would expect. This is because there is a ton of infrared light, especially on a sunny day, that messes with the camera’s ability to record colours properly. In many ways a full-spectrum camera is useless, but the night sky is an exception. Because the white balance has to be skewed to compensate for the additional light, “true” colours aren’t exactly on the menu; the light pollution that we would see as orange on the horizon is green because of this colour shift. There is variation in the colour of the stars that we see in the frame as well, and my first impression is that I’m able to see a greater variation in full-spectrum than I can with my regular camera.

You might ask why I would convert a camera to full-spectrum photography when its uses are limited. By placing various filters in front of the camera lens I can shoot in various levels of infrared and ultraviolet light. The full spectrum has some limited value, but slicing up different bands of the spectrum is where the fun begins. I’ll be publishing an ebook later this year on infrared and extra-spectrum photography, so don’t be surprised if you see more images like this through the summer!

The water was mostly calm, but a few ripples on the surface caused some star reflections to become slightly chaotic, resembling recorded sound waves. A lot of deep shadows were pulled up to help balance the image and keep a surreal feel to the overall composition, and it’s amazing to think that all of this was lit exclusively with the light of the cosmos. There was no moon, and no light painting done. It was a spectacular night.

As I lay under the stars being serenaded by a variety of frogs (take a listen: ) I couldn’t help but feel at peace. I was doing what I love – exploring the unseen world and experimenting with photography, and finding time to enjoy the natural world around me. I was feasted on by mosquitoes and other insects of the night, but it didn’t bother me. I was in my element. :)
Beerachee Ramruttunsingh's profile photoFred Wong's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
Glad you like my experimental work, +Fred Wong! Thanks!
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Hunting Aphids
While the Carpenter Ants are protecting the aphids in in my own garden, there are always predators looking to feast. There was a sizeable infestation of aphids in a patch of wildflowers I discovered in the nearby Copeland Forest, and it was easy to spot a few Ladybugs on the prowl. To see in 3D, use the cross-view technique described here:

I’m surprised how much depth this image has, with the branch in the foreground and the winged aphid in the background, there are many levels to look at. The focus is squarely on the Ladybug here, as it was climbing up and down various stems searching for its next bite to eat. The background is filled with aphids, with dozens captured in the frame and thousands of them attached to nearby plant stems.

This entire series has been photographed with a special high-magnification stereo macro lens produced by de Wijs in the Netherlands: - it’s by far the most difficult lens to use that I have ever personally gotten my hands on, and I’ve worked with some pretty challenging equipment in the past. Diffraction around the unavoidably-small aperture of F/80 is the main problem, but the lens is well engineered on the edge of what physics will allow. The results keep me coming back for more!

Arlene weaver's profile photoGuadalupe Saballos's profile photoGeorge Marquardt's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
+Maria García Tejón the "larvae" are aphids. As they grow, some of them get wings but they look pretty much the same.

Thanks +Sandia Delli Gatti, how can you tell it's a male?

Thanks +Arlene weaver, and I completely agree! Ladybugs are wonderful little creatures. :)

Thanks too +Guadalupe Saballos!

Glad you're enjoying the series +George Marquardt! I know the audience for these is more limited, but I'm thrilled that it's appreciated by those who can see 3D using the cross-view technique. :)
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Happy Canada Day Everyone!
(I originally posted this essay last year, but it definitely needs a repost!)

You may have seen this image before – it’s one of my favourite images, and it’s the photograph 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 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!).
Chuck Lisner's profile photoFred Wong's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
Thanks for the compliment, +Fred Wong!
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Sanctuary in a Flower

Image number five in this ten-image series features shows a small bee hiding out in a flower, hanging off of the stamens as it what to do as the sun goes down. This is a cross-view stereoscopic image that turns an interesting image into a magical one when you can view it in 3D. No special hardware required!

If you’re not familiar with the technique for viewing 3D images, you need to cross your eyes while the image takes up only a moderate field of view (relatively close on a smart phone, but further away on a desktop monitor). You cross your eyes just enough so that you see THREE images (normally you’d see four), where an image from your left eye overlaps with an image from your right. This produces a stereoscopic “lock” and you’ll see the image pair in glorious 3D.

I like this image as a 3D composition because of the simplicity coupled with the depth. The stamens rise out towards the frame and the bee seems to be hiding behind them, with some soft flower details in the background giving an extra layer of depth. It might be an easier image for some people to see using the cross-view technique!

I’ve got a strong passion for this 3D stuff, but I completely understand that it is not “available” for many people to see without glasses or specialized equipment. I’m also thrilled that a few people have been able to train themselves to see these images because of this series, now half-way through. If you can see my images, there are countless cross-view 3D images to explore on the internet. See what’s out there!

David Berry's profile photoPeter Schmidt's profile photoMarie, LMB's profile photoShelly Gunderson's profile photo
I have trouble "free viewing" because of my lazy eye but I can get it to work for a few seconds. Very cool! Tagging +Darren Gunderson to make sure he sees because he is very into 3D both taking and printing and presenting.
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  • Georgian College
    Advertising, 2007 - 2009
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Nature & Landscape Photographer, Teacher, gadget geek. :)
Turn knobs, press buttons, and take pictures.
  • Georgian College
    Part-time Faculty, 2010 - present
  • Don Komarechka Photography
    Owner / Photographer, 2008 - present
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barrie, ontario - sudbury, ontario
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(705) 796-6799
(705) 796-6799
Eye in the Sky Photography is the best choice for professional aerial work. Not only have I seen the work first-hand, but as a professional photographer myself I can give my complete recommendation to their services. Herman Koeslag and the team have not only accomplished the near-impossible on a number of occasions, but they will happily entertain even the most modest of requests for aerial photography. On the many occasions that our paths have crossed, I have been met with professionalism and enthusiasm beyond my expectations. This is a glowing five-star review, which I do not give lightly. I understand "attention to detail" better than most professionals in any visual industry, and Eye in the Sky Photography hits a home run every time. Give them a call.
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