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 😉

Printers Alley/New Orleans

Printers-3
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.

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 😮

Glacier Fields

Glacier-Cloudy
Cloudy days in the mountains of Glacier National Park Canon 5D II 21mm, F8

One of the toughest things I find when going out to take photos, is weather. it can really mess with your plans something fierce! You plan and plan to be somewhere at a given time, only to find that mother nature has her own plans for you. What do you do? Go home? Well yeah sometimes… But most of the time no 😡 So you try and make the most of it only to get home and realize all your shots are grey and lifeless. This is a problem. Fortunately through the miracle of photoshop you can pull some life back out of that limp sky. And draw something new out of your photo that wouldn’t be possible during a sunny afternoon.

I like to accomplish this using just the curves adjustment tool in Ps or Lr. I can really do wonders with the contrast between the clouds that is not visible to the naked eye. It also helps as I always say, to bracket your shots. This way you can have an underexposed shot for the sky, and another one for this like the foreground, and other elements of interest.

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.

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.