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.

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!

Frozen Lake

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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.

 

Explorer of The Dark

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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 🙂

Sunrises and The Caribbean

Beach-1
Sunrise off the Caribbean shore Canon 5D markII 21mm, F11

Photographing sunsets, or sunrises are always a challenge. Even if you know what your doing (or me ;)). You can plan for what angle you want to shoot at, a scene you want to shoot, or during particular weather that you know works well. But the sun is so freaking bright! Depending on the conditions of your lens you can get flare in places you didn’t expect, and may not see through the viewfinder at first glance. Exposing for such things can take time as well that you might not have accounted for. But the results can be pretty stellar.

All conditions aside I knew while I was on vacation with fam on the East coast of Mexico, that I would be taking a pic of either the beginning of the day, or the end. And since I was on the East side, it would be the beginning…

So I went down super early in the morning and set up along the string of hotels that line the beach area. Looked around for something that might make a good comp without getting beach chairs and jet skies in the shot. Instead I opted to omitted everything but what I was focused on getting in my photo. Sometimes filler, is just that. Why overcomplicate things if you don’t need to.

One thing I have learned the hard way in a lot of my early photos, is to not clutter up a scene you intended to take. If this scene would benefit from having someone lounging in a beach chair, than great. But I didn’t feel like that was why I was there that morning.