Bending The Light

Mystic-Light
Light shines through the trees at Spirit Sands National Park Canon 5D II 200mm, F5.6

Summer is a great time for working with dynamic light sources. The best in fact. This is the time I like to get out and just pick a subject and watch how it reacts as the sun moves around it in the final hour of light. It will change more during this time than any other. And after the cold grey days of Winter and Spring, I can’t wait to see this stuff again.

One thing I like to do a lot for more often, as with this shot, is use a telephoto lens to separate your subject even more. It really helps stand out the parts of the image you need to shine. It also allows you to blur out the background more if you don’t have a lens that can open up wide enough. Or you just want to look cooler when your out shooting ;P

Ruined Dam

Dam
Abandoned hydro electric dam Sony A7 II 16mm, F8

Over the Winter I have found it very difficult to find things to shoot. Especially because everything is covered in the same white blah… This has made me examine places around me that might make for good subjects.

One place I have discovered is a great abandoned dam, that has been converted into a park!  Looking like some ruined civilization, this place looks great in the Winter as well as the Summer. With lots of photo ops. It’s amazing how much can be found right in your backyard if you look hard enough. And one thing I have to remember, is that is something is familiar to me, that doesn’t mean it will be to someone else. And having your own take on a location is worth it’s weight.

One cool thing to note about this one, is it was taking in almost complete darkness. Now the A7 II is not the best and most toted Sony camera in dark conditions. And you do get a large amount of chroma noise. Especially with a long exposure time. This one was 10 minutes long!!! It does take a little cleaning up in Ps or Lr. But when the sun goes down before you can get to a local… What are you supposed to do! Thank god for in camera levelling 😉

Wildlife at Home

Bison
Bison in the Fall Canon 7D 400mm, F5.6

One thing I like to do every once in a while, is go shoot some wildlife. I never go in search of it. So when I do come across some animals, I feel like it’s something special. And I usually go through a whole card trying to get the perfect shot 🙂

There are a few places around me, or within a drive, that I know I can see something. And when I am in the parks of Canada and the U.S. I am sure to see some here and there.

This is when you want to know your camera very well! If you are like me, you have your camera set up to take landscapes most of the time. But when something stagers into your shot, you should be ready to switch to high speed mode 😉 I do this by switching from manual mode ( which I am in 90 percent of the time ) to aperture priority. I find this to be the best because you always want to be in control of your aperture for focal depth. But this will control your speed for you. I set an aperture, usually pretty wide like F4. Or if my lens will allow, 2.8. Then I adjust the iso as I go, and make sure I keep my speed up. Because, as like children, animals rarely sit still. So you need to have a fast shutter speed to get a good sharp photo. And keep your distance… did I mention that? That should be rule number 1 😮

Sunset #2

Sunset-2
Sunsets at the beach Canon 5D II 15mm, F16

Winter is almost over, and I can start thinking about going outside again. Winter here in Canada can be pretty rough. And long! But when it comes to Summer we have it made. This is a fantastic time to get out and shoot. For nature people like myself, it’s particularly amazing. Sunrise starts around 5 in the morning, and doesn’t go down until around 10 at night. So making the most of the days is paramount.

This is one of my favourite places to shoot in the Summer. And sunsets always make great shots 🙂

This is a really wide shot from up on a boulder. I love how the forced perspective gives an even grander sense of scale. The other thing I tried to focus on here is the colour. I love colour in my photos. Rarely do I process in Black and White. Not to knock it, I just really appreciate the warmth it can bring. Makes things pop a little more.

Early Mornings

Bridge
Early mornings at home Sony A7 144mm, F16

I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time getting up early in the morning. I know it’s one of the best times to go shoot things. Most of my best, and unexpected pics have all been early morning. But when the time comes I just can’t seem to pull myself out of bed.

Now that Summer is approaching, the sun here in Canada starts getting up really early! Sunrise will be around 5:00am in the morning. And the next golden hour won’t be until 9:00pm! So if there was ever a training program for this sort of regiment, I want to know where to sign up…

 

Punch Through

Eye-of-The-Storm
Light punches through a storm cloud after a rain Canon 5D II 200mm, F11

One thing I try and do more and more with landscapes, is take them with a telephoto lens instead of a wide angle. This may come naturally to some. But for me it took awhile to get used to. Wide angle lenses have always been my go to. I like the size and scale, with the disappearing horizons. But with a telephoto you get this cool effect known as lens compression. This is often referred to as tunnel vision. This is where the foreground and the background appear to get closer together. Quite the opposite of wide angles which push these two elements further away. The result can be epic. Like a mountain range appearing to be towering over a valley, when it could be miles away. Or in this case, a storm cloud sitting onto of the lake!

One neat thing to try is to also widen your aperture, as to single out a closer subject, while leaving your background slightly out of focus, and therefore appear further still. But yet close enough that it looks like you can still touch it.

Laser Light Reflections

Lazer-light-reflection
Beams of light shine down through storm clouds Canon Rebel 2TI 70mm, F8

Photoshop definitely has it’s place in the photography world. Actually I don’t think any photographer would be where they are without it. Even in the purist days. Playing with colour, changing shades, anything done while developing film is still photoshop! No matter how you look at it, the definition is still the same. Though the rules have changed, the game stays the same. Relatively.

One thing that never seems to changed, which can be some of the most surprising things in a photograph, are anomalies. These can be anything from lens flare, to colour fringing, to what some people fondly refer to as ghosts!

This shot is a fun one for me. It really showcases something I was not trying to do at all. But came out really cool looking. I guess this falls into the flare category? It sure looks like one, and is caused by the suns direct light. But it really looks like aliens are coming to get us all 🙂 If I was a religious person I would certainly be looking a little deeper than that.

Frozen Lake

Lights-2
Frozen lake in the Canadian Shield Sony A7 II 35mm, F2.8

This Winter has really been horrible for seeing the stars at night. When you get a warm Winter here in Canada, it generally means cloudy. For like 3 months. Pretty depressing. But every once in a awhile I will throw on the snow pants and head out into the frozen tundra. Okay so it’s not that bad. But it’s still cold!

I was really trying to get a nice shot the Northern lights. Which can be see almost every night out here, when weather is working with me. But I need to test my camera with night shots more anyway. So the Milky Way is just fine too.

The trick with night shots, especially when you have little to no light whatsoever, is to up your ISO enough that you can deal with the noise. This has become a problem for me using a Sony camera. I’m sure the cameras they tout as super low light, are just that, but not mine. I struggle with what’s called chroma noise. Which are little, very bright, pixels that clearly did not get the memo about what we were all doing. They pick a random colour like purple, or red, and have to be taken out one by one. There are many other ways to get rid of standard noise I am aware. But there is always a trade off when it comes to noise reduction. Or else we would just be cranking the ISO all the time right!

Lake Country

Night Scene Lake
Summer on the lake Sony A7 II 35mm, F16

Here in Canada it should be no surprise to anyone, that we don’t get a very long Summer. But the Summer we do get is amazing! Really hot, really long days. And one thing that you can find in abundance around here is fresh water lakes.

Close to the border of my province, it seems like nothing but lakes. This is where I like to go to get great seasonal pics of changing colours, or in this instance, the last remaining Summer nights.

This shot is actually really late at night when the last glimmer of the sun is actually long gone. I had the camera on a tripod and shot this with an almost two minute exposure time! I don’t normally recommend this, as digital noise in your shot can start to get out of control. There are many ways to deal with this problem, but none that will fix it completely. A good tripod is definitely your best friend at times like this.

 

Rolling Prairies of Manitoba

Haybails-3
The rolling prairies of Manitoba SONY A7 II 21MM, F16

I feel like no blog would be complete without a little slice of my home. Though not very interesting at times, you are bound to get the best shots of your life from your own backyard based on pure volume of shots. I find this to be more true the more I shoot.

This one was a case of sitting at home watching the weather get worse and worse. Then my wonderful wife Diana says to me, “Hey it looks like a storms coming, why don’t you go outside and take some pics?” She knows me very well 😉 And she was right!

I tried really hard to get one of those great lighting strike shots you only hope for in your career. And I didn’t… But I still sat out there for a good 3 hours watching the storm come in, and paint the sky all sorts of wonderful golden colours. Rainbows, and every  sort of nasty looking cloud you could ask for.

I also want to speak a little about composition in this one. When it comes to composition of a landscape image, it can be very difficult. Especially when your subject is something like the sky.

Here I tried to use the hay bales to my advantage. I walked around them, shooting from all sorts of angles trying to get it just right. Trying to keep focus on the wonderful shapes of the clouds, and the colours that complemented the grass so well.