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

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.

Cathedrals of Peru

Viva-El-Peru
The cathedral at San Blas square Canon 2TI 84mm, F8

As my Winter starts coming to a close, I start thinking about all the places I need to travel to get back my sanity! Winter can be fun… for a little while. Then you start going a little crazy with the cabin fever as we call it.

This morning I was thinking about this, as I need to find more and more places to take my kids. It was great travelling with just my wife for years. But now my kids have got to the age when leaving them behind is not really an option. Plus it’s cruel! And my son would die if he knew I was on an adventure without him 🙂

I remember when I told my dad (the original world traveller, with more than 200 countries under his belt!) that we were going to Peru a few years back. And he was so worried. He made us come over and talk about our plans to stay safe, and where we were travelling. He even made us watch a slideshow!!! I know what your thinking trust me… ;(

We found out once we arrived that his fears were unfounded. This country has dramatically changed since the “Dirty 80’s”, or so they are referred to. And the people were more than welcoming. Even in the quiet backroads that we found ourselves most days. I think the most important thing about travelling to unfamiliar countries where people don’t speak your language, is just have some common sense! Don’t go down that dark alley at night, don’t go to the bar at the end of the street with no street lights. You wouldn’t do that stuff at home would you? Maybe you would I don’t know. I’m from Canada, so it’s hard to find an unfriendly person 😉

Giants Foot

Giants-Foot
A giants foot in Olympic National Forest Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

I have had many photographs over the years that I really like. Some a lot more than others. Some of them I look at and don’t understand why I can’t be in the mind frame to take shots like that all the time. My favourites are probably not the most conventional, or properly composed ones I have ever taken, but they strike a cord with me.

In the Olympic forests of Washington there are plenty of quiet places to get away and take your time composing. I think this is what makes those shots some of my favs. It’s more about the place, and how it makes you feel that produces great photos. Even if nobody likes them, or you never sell a print. Or like me, you don’t even hang them on your walls. They mean something, and over time you look at them, and are transported back to where you feel good. And isn’t that the whole point in the first place?

For this one I wanted to focus on the massive structure of these great trees. They are so old, covered in fantastic moss, even the wood is so saturated with water that it is soft. And they just goes on forever.

I treated this like I do with most of my landscape shots. It’s an HDR, with a couple of soft tricks you can do in Ps, or Lr. It is a cool little trick known as the Orton Effect. This is where you use a Gaussian blur, and push it really far, so that the image is so blurry it looks like it’s underwater. Then start pulling back the opacity till it’s around 15% or so. And you will start to see the image as it was, with this amazing glow about it. As if it were shrouded in fog or mist. Really amazing for forest shots like this.

Karst Mountains of Guilin

Guilin-Rivermen
Guilin river men weave through the mountains Canon powershot S5 is 12.6mm, F8

A few years back, at the start of my photographic journey, we took an incredible trip to China. We travelled to three different corners of this amazing country, and met some fantastic people, and learned a lot!

One place in particular was the Southern edge of what I like to call tropical China. It’s very jungly and temperate. And where you will find the amazing karst mountain ranges. This is where you find all those great pics of fisherman, fishing with their cormorant birds on little Phoenix  bamboo rafts. The perfect mix of tourism and old world locked in an eternal struggle. The fisherman get so much attention from their practice, that they are not interested in progressing beyond the old ways. Which personally I hope never changes because it’s pretty amazing! And the Chinese do have a habit of getting carried away with things 😉

I’m not one for cruises. But I have tot say, spending the day floating down the Li river was pretty high on my list of great experiences. Snake wine and all. The place is very feng shui with water meeting rising bamboo, and the super tall mountains. Really is like no place I have ever been before. And a welcome change to the bustling cities we have become used to on our trip thus far.

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!

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.

 

The Fortress of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo
The sleepy town of Ollantaytambo Canon 2Ti 21mm, F8

One of the most amazing adventures I have ever been on, was to Peru with my wife a few years ago. I was amazed at how “Indiana Jones” this country is. I felt like a big kid the whole time… It was great!

We did the whole Sacred Valley thing from Cusco, to Machu Picchu and back. Along the way we stopped and stayed in a few little towns. Which is where this country really shines. The amazing colours, people, and food, have that true sense that is South America.

Being from a country that has virtually no history, when compared, it is astounding how many ruins, and artifacts can be found all over the valley. We hit as many as we had time to see in two weeks. Not nearly enough time.

One of the coolest little towns was Ollantaytambo. It sits at the intersection of two valleys.  And towering above it is a great fortress. This is where the Inca beat back the Spanish. And is now the last train station before the final destination of Aquas Caliente, or Machu Picchu Pueblo.

The coolest thing about places like this in the valley, is that it’s very hot and humid with temps reaching about 35 celsius. But just in the distance, the mountain tops are all covered in snow and ice. And the clouds are moving constantly. Very dreamlike.

Some notes about this photo. This is an HDR image, but as well I have layered some textures on top. And also given it a weird dreamlike treatment using a plug in called Topaz Labs. Definitely worth checking out if your into that sort of thing 🙂