Muskoka Lakes


Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 20mm

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 20mm

Lake Muskoka is a great little getaway for those in the Greater Toronto Area. It’s just a short two hour drive from the city and offers a great nature getaway for the nature-lover in you. This is just one of the beaches of Lake Muskoka—it was the first one we saw on our drive there, so this is where we stopped and ate our lunch. It’s hard to believe that just a couple hours before, this beach was filled with cottage-goers enjoying the water and sun.

The storm that was quickly approaching when I was up by the lookout (in my previous post) brought about some menacing looking clouds as you can see. The formation was really interesting and offered a great opportunity for pictures.

I took this photo on my way back as I noticed the clouds were getting darker and darker. It was this that I wanted to highlight. The framing of this photo with the trees on either side was intentional and offers a good “border” for the picture, allowing us to focus more on the clouds.

Scaling back for more growth

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 60mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 60mm

This year I took it upon myself to regain some spark on my blog by posting something new every single day. I have been doing so since January 1, 2015, and I have had great feedback throughout the first six months, increasing my readership. Increasing my blog audience is important for me as I love the interaction I get from people reading my posts. The past few months were filled with varying posts including new reviews I’ve done for Social Print Studio’s photobook, my Think Tank Streetwalker HardDrive camera bag, details on how to take sunrise and sunset photos, and even starting a new series on how I edit my iPhone photographs, in addition to some posts on the new Periscope app.

My recent posts have largely become more photography-oriented, with daily photos of trips that I have taken in the past, and more recently. However, with these daily posts, it’s becoming more and more time-consuming to be able to write something of value to my readers. I worry that a simple photo post is no longer enough to keep my readers from coming back to my blog on a daily basis. Originally I made it a point to at least write in my posts, why I took the photo, or what I liked about the photo, in hopes of enriching my audience’s experience on this blog so that they can take something away from each of my posts.

The Next Step

Now that half the year has gone by, I am ready to start something else, which is to further add value to each of my posts by posting more in-depth articles on my photos or experiences. These posts will aim to be a little more detailed than my usual daily photo posts, so that people can learn a little more about my thoughts and ideas as a photographer and designer. I’ll aim to do these posts at least once a week, with the remainder of the week being filled with more photos from my archive or recent travels. I’ll also be taking a little break from posting photos on weekends so that I can concentrate more on writing these in-depth posts.

I always welcome any feedback on my blog so feel free to comment below, or reach out to me on any of my social media feeds, linked on the right side of my blog. As always, thanks so much for joining me on my blog, and I look forward to an even better six months ahead.

The observation deck on top of Sulphur Mountain

The Banff Gondola is located just 5 min. from the town of Banff, and sits on the side of Sulphur Mountain. The 10-15 min. ride up the mountain gives you some of the best views of Banff National Park you can get. With vistas spanning for as far as the eye can see, the six mountain ranges in front of you are breathtaking.

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 120mm

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 120mm

At 2281m above sea level, you really can’t go wrong with this trip up the mountain. Once you’re at the top, the view gets even better with a 1km self-guided walk that brings you to an even higher elevation, letting you see a complete 360 degree view of the mountains. It’s truly breathtaking in every way.

I will have more photos of the view in a future post, but for today, I will leave you with a photo of the observation centre, which also houses a gift shop, restaurants, and an observation deck.

If you ever make it to Banff National Park and are wondering if it’s worth your while to go up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, make no mistake and go up the Banff Gondola ride. You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, with beautiful views all over.

A walk in the mountains

This walk in the mountains in Banff National Park, just outside of Moraine Lake was through a beautiful trail that was only possible via a group larger than four people because of recent bear activity within the area. At the start of the trail, it was raining fairly hard and we weren’t sure if our guide was going to go through with this three-hour (round-trip) hike in the mountains.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 70mm

Despite the rain and damp weather, our guide was adamant on going on, and I’m very glad that she did because no sooner than 30 minutes into our hike did the rain stop and the clouds started to open up somewhat. This photo was taken at the turning point in our hike, nearby a lake that we didn’t quite get to because we opted not to cross over the rocks.

I love the low-laying clouds that are starting to dissipate just above the tree line. The stream below is somewhat calm and the blue sky is just starting to peek out of the clouds. It was a feel-good moment standing there in the openness of nature, breathing in that fresh mountain-crisp air.

This was just another reminder that the weather in the mountains can change in an instant. Don’t let a little downpour of rain stop you from going on a planned hike. The weather will no doubt change (hopefully for the better), bearing great rewards throughout your journey!

4 reasons to travel during non-peak season

Here’s a little secret for when you travel. The next time you’re thinking of travelling somewhere, travel during non-peak season and you’ll likely get the most bang for your buck wherever you are heading. Also you should travel on the best RV from Here’s four reasons why I always like to travel when the roads are clear, the weather is just as nice, and the people are still as welcoming as ever.

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 38mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 38mm

This is something my wife and I have done for the last several years now. When we book our getaways, we always try to coordinate it so we can go during the destination’s non-peak season. Why do we do this? There are several reasons:

  1. Transportation costs are much cheaper during non-peak season. If you plan to rent SUV, party bus or limousine, consider montreal limousine‘s services since they provide the best and affordable rental offer with a comfortable and luxurious environment. Flights often have seat sales and other perks as they try and fill their planes during non-peak season so take advantage of this! We were once able to take extra luggage on board with us as part of a promotion. I got to use all my packing cubes for travelers that I had been hoarding, I was such a happy organised camper! There’s no sense in paying hundreds more for the same flight if you’re able to go just a few weeks prior to peak season.
  2. Hotels also have similar perks and sales during non-peak season as they try their best to fill their occupancy. Better yet, you’ll find that their services are much more pleasant as they aren’t stressed out from all the busyness of the peak season. During one of our stays at a resort, one of the staff members gave us a private snorkelling trip since it was so slow for them! Staff members can be much more accommodating to your requests, which makes your stay that much more exciting.
  3. No traffic! You have to love driving where there’s no traffic. In this photo above, there were absolutely no traffic in front or behind me. I stopped on the side of the road, got out of my car and crouched down in the middle of the road to take this picture! You won’t be able to do this during peak season, that’s for sure!
  4. Tourist spots are less crowded. If you’re big on doing all the touristy things in your travels, go during non-peak season and you’ll save yourself the hassle of lining up for hours, and you’ll get the best views around since you won’t have to fight for that golden spot.

If you travel right before peak season starts, you’ll likely get the best of both worlds since they will be gearing up for the peak season, ready to attend to your needs, yet the number of tourists will still be on the low side.

If it’s a particular season at a destination that you’re eyeing, then there’s not a whole lot you can do, and that’s just about the only disadvantage there is to travelling during non-peak season. If you can live without seeing the Spring days of the Rockie Mountains, and can forego the summer months of the Rockies where there’s more wildflowers, then why not? In my opinion, it’s worth being able to de-stress on your trip because afterall, isn’t that why you’re on holidays to begin with?!

Adding a human element to landscapes

While I love to shoot landscapes, sometimes adding a human element to the photo adds to it as well. I’m not the one to take portraits but adding someone to the photo in one way or another—not necessarily looking towards the camera—can add an element of scale, interest, or storytelling to the overall scene.

Whether it’s someone sitting on the edge of a cliff, standing in the middle of a dessert, or jumping in the air in a cityscape, the human element brings another form of interest to the photo.

I do find it refreshing in a way to see someone in the photo, but I tend not to overdo things and keep to what I like the most: pure landscape photography.

Nikon D800, 15mm, 1/640 sec., f/9, ISO 100.

Nikon D800, 15mm, 1/640 sec., f/9, ISO 100.

I took this photo on the top of the Scarborough Bluffs when I met a friend there earlier this Spring. Rather than just taking a picture of the usual scene, I asked her to stand at the edge of a cliff and look out. By including some foreground to the image, I was further able to make it look like she was the only one there in a wide expanse leading to the edge. There’s a few trees on the right hand side that I wished were a little less prominent, but I’m not the one to Photoshop these out for this purpose.

For this particular photo, I do think the human element adds more interest to the photo than if I were to take it without one. This landscape alone would seem like it’s missing something to complete the picture.

The takeaway to this is to be sure to mix things up a bit and try and add some people to your photos, even if you’re not the type to typically take photos of them. It may work out better than you think!

Lesson learned from a trip to the Canadian Rockies

iPhone 6 Plus edited in VSCOCam

iPhone 6 Plus edited in VSCOCam

If it’s one thing that I’ve learned from my recent travel to Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, it’s that the weather is seldom predictable. In a span of one hour, the weather had changed from sunshine to overcast, to rain, to snow, and back to sunshine!

The mountains really make the weather unpredictable, needless to say, making planning for photography that much more difficult. Every sunrise and/or sunset that I shot, I really didn’t know what the weather was going to be like even when I was at the location. Clouds could open up in an instant while I’m standing there, while at other times the clouds could just linger on forever, making for rather dull moments.

Unfortunately for me, the latter was true for most of my sunrise and sunset shoots. I was never really confronted with breathtaking colours that really made me go “wow.”

Fortunately during the days, I had some really great weather for picture taking so I came back with no shortages of great images. It’s really hard to not take good images when you’re in a picturesque location like the Canadian Rockies.

These will take some time to edit on my computer, but please feel free to follow me on Instagram (@smaku) where you’ll see my iPhone 6 Plus images uploaded on a regular basis.

Harbourfront walk

I took a morning stroll today by the harbourfront, giving my Periscope viewers a small glimpse of Toronto. While I didn’t have a chance to take any pictures from the stroll, I leave you with these photos that I had taken and posted a while ago. These are taken from all the places that I walked to this morning, but were taken during the summer sunset hours.

You can see the Periscope broadcast until Saturday morning by downloading the Periscope app on your iOS device. If you missed it, here are some photos that I took in the past, that give you a good idea of what Toronto’s harbourfront is all about.


The boardwalk

The multi-level boardwalk is a great playground for kids of all ages. No skateboarding or bikes allowed on the elevated areas as they are blocked off by the railing.


The WestJet stage

This stage houses many concerts, film screenings, and other events during the busy summer weekends.


The harbourfront marina

While empty during the winter months, the marina is packed with all the boats waiting to get out there on the weekends.


The pedestrian bridge

The bridge connects Harbourfront Square to the other side, where Amsterdam Brewery is located.

Yellow Umbrella

I didn’t have a photo of the entire H20 Beach, which is where I went, so I will end off with a photo of the $11, 565 umbrellas that were scattered all over the beach. Yes, that’s how much each of these umbrellas cost!

How could this minimalist image be even more minimal?

Nikon D800, 1/1250 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/1250 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 200mm

When I took this picture, I intentionally composed it so the sailboat was the only thing in the frame. I really liked how the sky and water almost seamlessly blended with each other. This further gives more emphasis to the subject, which is the sailboat.

Despite the simplicity of this image, there is one thing that I don’t like about it though.

When I took a closer look at this photo on my computer, I zoomed in closer to the sailboat only to find out that there were actually two sailboats: one staggered in front of another. This may not be as evident when looking at the photo from afar, but is more obvious when it’s pointed out.

The vibrant colours were coming from the two sailboats and not the one. Because the two sailboats were staggered with each other, the all familiar shape of the sailboat is no longer visible in this photo. In fact, if it weren’t for the coloured sails, you probably wouldn’t have known that this was a sailboat.

To simplify the mess of sailboats, I would have much rather captured the photo with just one sailboat in the frame. I would sacrifice the extra colour that the sailboat adds to the photo, for the sake of simplicity.

If you think otherwise about this photo, feel free to let me know what you think!