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

Printers Alley/New Orleans

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A private place in Printers Alley Nashville Sony A7 II 15mm, F8

I have not travelled to the South of the United States as much as I should. I have realized over the last few years of visiting, just how amazing it really is.

One thing I can never get over is the heat… For a Canadian, we get about 3 weeks of the temp they deal with all the time. I don’t know how anything gets done down there. I would be napping all the time, with an Amaretto Sour in my hand.

This shot is from the Printers Alley in Nashville. A very small section of the downtown area. But packed with history. One guy was telling me that Presidents would visit here for some under the counter activity back in the day. To me it looks more like New Orleans that cowtown.

I really like architecture in HDR. It has a really unnatural/natural look to it. I know how that sounds believe me. But I don’t know how else to describe it. I find that playing with the light is much easier with street light than moonlit landscapes for some reason.

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.

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

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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.

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.

Antelope Canyons

 

The-Tower
The towering sandstone of Antelope Canyon Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

One of the most photographed places of all time. Well, if you happened to live in North America anyway. But still a place that everyone should have the fortune to visit. It really is one of the most otherworldly sights I have ever seen.

A friend of mine and I arrived in Page Arizona the night before hoping to get a room at a hotel, or camp site, or whatever was available. No such luck. We were told that it was Summer. And if we had not reserved 3 months ago, than too bad. So we ended up camping in a camp site I can only describe as a parking lot. Parking lot that cost $20 a night! What a waste. We should have found the nearest Walmart and parked there. Wouldn’t be the first time 😉

The next morning we were told by a local coffee shop that if we didn’t head out at 8am we would miss our chance to be in the canyons by midday. Which is the best time to be there. So we slammed back some espressos and booked it to the canyons, which are about 10 minutes outside of town. Got in line with what seemed like every French tourist you could find in America, and waited.

After getting all worked up, we ended up being the first group of the day! Which was awesome because the guides were in great moods. They told us to pay the $5 Navajo passport pass, and that we would have about 45 minutes in the canyon as they guided us through. This was not going to be enough time for us…

We stuck to the back of the pack and let everyone go ahead… Far ahead. Next thing we knew there were group after group passing us, watching for tripod legs as they went. And one by one we started to pick up stragglers that caught on to what we were doing. After about 3 and a half hours we had a little group of our own. Going back and forth through the canyon, taking hundreds of shots. Teaching each other, learning from each other, and having a blast! Even our first guide came through at one point and said “You guys are still here! I’ll come back with some sleeping bags I guess…”

One note about shooting in places like this. You will want to get the clearest shots you can, so I recommend a tripod. This is one of the few, tight enclosed places that, last time I checked, you are able to bring one. Even though everyone has them, there is a certain amount of respect that comes with using it. Especially if hundreds of people are passing you. And even though you are in a small space, sometimes the focal plane goes further than you think, so I recommend a larger aperture than you are used too. I like F11, Or 16. These are usually the sweet spots on most lenses, and will give you the clearest view with the most in focus.

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.

 

Explorer of The Dark

Explorer-of-The-Dark-3
Of the beaten path in Glacier park Canon 5D II 21mm, F16

I’ve been to a lot of national parks in the U.S. and Canada, and one thing is always present. Lots and lots of people. Everywhere. So this makes is more and more important to find some out of the way places to get some really genuine photos.

Don’t get me wrong, I like getting shots of the really recognizable sites in some of these parks. But sometimes it helps to get out of the limelight and focus on something smaller. Something that will mean more to you and your visit, than standing with the crowds taking the same shot as everyone else.

So I found this great little place in Glacier national park. No path or trail, just following a stream until I found an area that opened up a bit. And definitely no people to worry about 😉

Just a quick word about some of the shots I like to take in these sorts of places. Most of the nature shots I take are HDR images, even if it doesn’t show, there’s usually a hint of it in there. HDR stands for high dynamic range. For those not familiar, it’s a great way to capture more ranges of light than would be possible with a single shot. The short version, taking multiple shots of a single scene, than blend the images. The result can be quite, illuminating… ha ha… More on that later 🙂