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 😉

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…

 

The Watchman

The-Watchman
The Watchman stands resolute Canon 5D II 21mm, F

Standing high in the distance in a familiar site to anyone visiting the Zion national park in Utah. The Watchman mountain is to Zion, as Half Dome is to Yosemite, or even Old Faithful to Yellowstone. I had the pleasure of sleeping in the campsite beneath it, and it was amazing.

My friend and I had a few days traveling around the canyon taking photos and doing some crazy hikes. One in particular, the Angel’s Landing hike, is something I think everyone visiting the park should consider trying. It really is an endurance test. And if your totally out of shape like I am, it can be down right death defying!!!

Something I always find incredible when we talk to rangers in the parks, is the true power of nature that makes up these magical places. The river, quietly running through the park, can be turned to one of the most dangerous forces in the blink of an eye. It claims many peoples lives a year because of a hike they affectionately call “The Narrows”. Which is essentially a hike through shallow water in the gorge going up river. But if it starts to rain far off in the distance, the water can build and travel at tremendous speeds. Catching anyone in the tunnel completely unaware with very little to grab onto. The evidence of this is scattered all over the bank of the river where whole, mature trees, have been ripped right out of the ground with root still attached. Scary stuff.

I prefer to sit under the watchful eye of the Watchman, drink my Polygamy Ale, (Which is hilarious that they have this!) and watch the stars roll by.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite-Falls
Yosemite Falls painterly look Canon 5D II 35mm, F11

Yosemite is probably the most visited park in the U.S. next to the Great Smokey Mountains. And it shows! I’m officially dubbing it the Disneyland of national parks. Complete with some of the people you find at Disney… Very strange and cool at the same time. It is California after all.

One thing I found myself doing a lot was giving people rides from one spot in the park to another. They have a bus system, but it’s not very good. And when you are driving around all day scouting good photo places, you tend to meet a lot of people. I got to talk to rock climbers, and learn all about the Dogwood flowers. I also spent a few hours taking a time-lapse shot with a guy from TSN! You never know what will happen when you go out in the wild 😉

Everyone I meet is so great when I visit the States. And they are always surprised to find out I’m from Canada. There seems to be a lot of questions when it comes to our health care, and marijuana! A lot of confusion going on there.

For this pic I tried something a little more extreme than what I normally do for HDR stuff. I see so many photos of Yosemite, that I tried to differentiate myself a little. It came off a little painterly. Which I kind of like. Not something I will do often, but when the moment strikes and all 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.

 

Monument Monoliths

Monument-Panorama
Light shoots through the clouds at Monument Valley Canon 5D II 70mm, F16

On a list of places you always read about but never get to visit, Monument Valley Arizona certainly topped my list. And it turns out that I got there just in time for some amazing clouds as a storm was rolling through. Which I hear is very rare.

And the people you meet in these places can be equally as fascinating. One such Japanese man struck my friend and I particularly interesting. He didn’t speak English, but he was taking photos, and we had that understanding that comes along with that. And we were certainly waiting for the same thing. The Golden hour seemed like it was going to be an amazing one. But with the storm, and the clouds, the window was getting narrower, and we could see the disappointment forming on his face.

When the clouds did break, there was about 10 minutes to get as many shots as possible with this great light blasting in from the side. Lighting up the red rocks in way we could have only hoped for. But when it was done you could see in our new friends face that he was not satisfied. We dubbed him the saddest man in America. It was even more impactful because he couldn’t convey it in words. But at least we able to make a connection and brighten his day a little. I hope 😮

Majestic Mountains of Glacier

Glacier-Mountains-3
The majestic mountains of Glacier National Park Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

Throughout the Glacier national park in Montana, you are treated to some of the most amazing views on the planet. The only problem with lots of mountains is the lack of sun during the morning. The great sunrises of the prairies are not what you can expect in the mountains.

What you can see more often than not is the great fog that starts to float around when the temp starts to rise. In this photo in particular I really wanted to highlight the shear volume of fog that you can see rising from the valleys. It’s amazing to me that all that moisture wouldn’t even make up one tablespoon of water!

Even though this is pretty early in the morning, and the light was very even, I still felt it would benefit from the HDR treatment. I really like to do HDR’s of landscapes because of the shadow detail that you get on the trees. They seem to have a clay model type feel I really dig.

Cruising Through Navajo Land

Sacred-Land-2
Navajo sacred land Arizona Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

Where Utah meets Arizona is a magical place. Full of amazing rock formation that have the most otherworldly look to them. Getting to some of them to take a great pic was a more challenging thing than I realized when I first planned my trip there. And for someone from Canada, it was hotter than I anticipated. A lot hotter!

This shot was something of an anomaly for me as a landscape photographer. Normally my process involves setting up my tripod, spending some time focusing and working the exposure, and finally, taking a few bracketed shots to blend later.

Here I did none of those things. This shot involved nothing more than a good camera strap, and me hanging out a car window going 75mph down the highway… Not recommended. But when you see the shot you want, I suggest you take it. Even if it means pushing your iso to 2000 in the middle of the day.