Waterfalls and hiking

Nikon D200, f/22, ISO 100, 22mm

Nikon D200, f/22, ISO 100, 22mm

It’s no secret that I do like a good hike now and then. And when I come to spectacular waterfalls like Inglis Falls, shown here, I’m always ready with my camera. The tricky part of taking beautiful photos of waterfalls is to be able to capture the silky smooth flow of the water but have everything else in the photo stationary.

While some people opt to merge two photos together (one exposed to show the movement of the waterfall itself, and another photo to keep the surroundings still), I rarely do this unless I find it to be a complete disaster to take just one frame.

Using a neutral density filter, you can decrease the shutter speed during the day so you can capture the flowing water. But don’t decrease it for too long as you’ll get the branches and leaves blurred around as well. Try and find a happy medium like I do, if you don’t want to go through the work of merging two exposures into one.

Why don’t you use a daypack?

Try travelling light. When you go on holidays you’ll be tempted to pack all of your gear to be able to capture any scenario that comes your way. It’s fine if you have shoulders of steel but let’s face it, not everyone is blessed with Clark Kent’s physique.

Nikon D200, 1/80 sec., f/5.0, ISO 100, 20mm

Nikon D200, 1/80 sec., f/5.0, ISO 100, 20mm

While I still do pack most of my gear for the holidays, I try and not take everything with me on my day trips. I’ve soon come to realize that I would like to travel light throughout the day, and keep my neck and shoulders free from all that weight. If you bring a daypack with you, try and bring only the gear that you think you may use for that outing only. This will save you from having to carry all the gear that you have packed.

The added benefit to this method is that it will also teach you to think ahead and allow you to practice taking photos with that particular gear. It’s a great way to mix things up and further enhance your creativity with the gear that you bring. I often find that it makes you think differently as you find more creative ways to work with what you have.

The next day, you’ll be able to change your gear combination for a whole new experience.

Try it out the next time you travel and you’ll save a bundle on your massage fees for your neck and shoulders!

What does this photo have to do with daypacks? Pack light, like I did with this meal!

Explore the unknown

Even in your own hometown, it’s exciting to explore areas that you don’t often frequent. It gives you an excuse to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and maybe get in some much needed exercise for the day.

Explore the unkown. iPhone 6 Plus. Edited in Snapseed and VSCOCam.

Explore the unknown. iPhone 6 Plus. Edited in Snapseed and VSCOCam.

I’ve taken many walks and runs along the lakeshore lately but what makes these trips more exciting is venturing off to places I normally wouldn’t go to. I often find myself taking turns to unexpected areas and sometimes even losing my bearings. No worries there, as I’ll always have my google maps with me!

You never know when you’ll find that perfect location for your next shoot so don’t be afraid to explore the unknown and find new places around your city.

Do you have favourite places in your city that you like to go to? Share them with me in the comments below.

Take a break and enjoy the scenery once in a while

Sunset by the marina in Toronto.

Sunset by the marina in Toronto.

When you’re out and about shooting all the time, it’s important to be able to pull yourself out of the business of it all and actually enjoy what you have in front of you. Not only does this refresh your mind, but it allows you to soak in the environment you’re in, perhaps giving you more of an appreciation for the spectacular view you’re always too busy to see.

While on my walks along the lakeshore, I intentionally left my dSLR camera behind, so that I wouldn’t be so inclined to taking photos every second. Of course, I couldn’t leave my iPhone behind, so I still took a picture with it. But taking photos with my iPhone is a much quicker process than taking a photo with my dSLR, where I have to find the right settings, compose, focus, and shoot. An iPhone really makes that much of a difference. And I’m thankful for that!

A little bit of post-processing was done here to accentuate the sunset colours, and lighten the boats in the middle. All of this was done within Snapseed, where I used the Brush tool to selectively lighten areas within my image. My final edit was done within VSCOcam where I added a filter to balance the overall image.

Silhouette by the sunset

When you’re faced with taking a photo against the sun, you’re subjects will no doubt be in the shadows. If you can’t do a whole lot with where the sun is in your frame, work with it until you get a pleasing image.

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/6.3, ISO 400, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/6.3, ISO 400, 24mm

I intentionally took this photo so that the foreground would be in the shadows while the sailboats would be somewhat lit up from what was remaining of the sunlight.

The sailboats turned out a little darker than I had wanted to in the original image, so I did end up brightening the area up a little in Lightroom. But this is the image that I was envisioning in my head, so I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I do like the details of the foreground that are lit up by the water in the background, in addition to the wispy clouds contrasting against the gorgeous blue and orange colours. It was a dreamy sunset, which made me happy I made the effort to get out this evening!

No Tripod? Then make your own!

When you’re out and about photographing, you may not necessarily have all of your equipment with you. If you’re outside and realize you don’t have something to make the picture that you want, improvise and work with what you have in front of you.

Nikon D800, 1.0 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1.0 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 14mm

Take this photo for example. I really wanted to capture the people taking their pictures with the statue in the centre. I envisioned them sharp in my photo because they’re sitting still, while everybody else around them are blurred because of their movement. To do this most effectively, I would have liked a tripod to keep my camera stationary.

Since I didn’t have one with me, I found a ledge on the top floor that was angled slightly downward. This, coupled with my wide angle lens, gave a great angle for my camera to capture the entire ground floor with the vision I had in mind. It worked out well in my opinion, as the couple stayed there long enough for me to get my one second exposure.

All this all because I looked around for the best place to take my photo, given the equipment that I had with me.

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!

A Scarborough Bluffs Surprise

Over the weekend I had another chance to go visit the beautiful Scarborough Bluffs Park. The day started off overcast, but fortunately by the time I got there, the clouds opened up and it turned out to be another gorgeous day to be there.

I alluded to this in an earlier post, but the best part of the day came when the jet skiers came out of nowhere to give us a private show as they swirled and made noises down below. Since this was such a unique moment, it was important that I was able to capture this uniqueness while showing the surroundings.

Capture the Uniqueness

Everybody and anybody has taken photos from this vantage point. In fact, I was here not too long ago taking pictures from this very spot. So that’s why whenever you encounter a unique moment, it’s important to be able to capture the uniqueness of the moment while showing the viewers where it occurred.

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 24mm

For this particular photo above, it was the fact that there were jet skiers all around the area next to the famous circular pods of the park. I had my 14-24mm wide angle lens on, so I managed to capture the beach on the left, the circular pods on top, and the jet skiers on the right, all within the beautiful turquoise waters. This uniqueness is what people want to see, and that’s what I wanted to capture that day.

Nikon D800, 1/2000, f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/2000, f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

The jet skier knew we were up there so he even posed for me as I had my 70-200mm lens attached, pointing at them from above. Thanks for the pose!

Nikon D800, 1/2500, f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/2500, f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

The Scarborough Bluffs Park is perched high above the lake, so I wanted to capture part of the cliff in this frame, to show the viewers that the jet skiers were in fact right by the cliffside, and not in the middle of the lake. By adding the cliff on the right hand side, I added another element to the frame, offering the viewers more information on where this was taken.

All around

Nikon D800, 1/3200, f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

The flurry of jet skiers in the water as they twirled and made patterns in the water is what I tried to capture here in this frame. It was a little difficult holding my 70-200mm lens while filming on Periscope at the same time, but I think this turned out well.

Nikon D800, 1/3200, f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/3200, f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

The contrasting patterns made in the water here is what interested me: the circle on the left and the linear line from the right.

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 200mm

And finally, we have a big group shot of all the jet skiers. I intentionally included the foreground green to add an extra element within the frame to make it more interesting. This makes it feel as if I were peering through shrubs.

It was a great day to be up here with the colours as vibrant as ever. My hope was to be able to depict the beauty of the bluffs with the uniqueness of the jet skiers.

If you’ve taken photos from the Scarborough Bluffs, please feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Periscoping from the Scarborough Bluffs

Nikon D800, 1/800 sec., f/8.0, ISO100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/800 sec., f/8.0, ISO100, 14mm

It was such a great day this weekend that I thought it would be nice to take my Periscopers out for an outing to one of the most tropical places in Toronto: The Scarborough Bluffs. The sun shining made the crystal clear turquoise waters that much more vibrant.

It was great to be able to show the world this view live, as I walked around the area and gave some tips on iPhoneography. Not many people know about this side of Toronto so it was great to be able to introduce people to this view, especially on a great day like today.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the Periscope broadcasts, feel free to download the Periscope app on your iPhone, and follow me @smaku. You can see all of my broadcasts from the last 24 hours.

My periscope channel will be filled with lots of Q&As, and tips and tutorials on iPhone photography so you can improve your photo-taking skills on your iPhone or mobile device.