Why did I include this car with the mountains?

One of the best things about driving in the mountains is when you are approaching them for the first time. The first sighting of these mountains really brings into perspective how large they are—or how small you are.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, 70mm

While I did most of the driving on my trip, there was a time where I decided to be the passenger for once. Driving from Calgary to Banff, it was  great to see the mountains coming towards me, and all around me. When I took this picture I wanted to capture the mountain range in front of me, to show how much space they occupied. I also wanted to include the vehicle in front of me for size comparison and added interest. I did wish the car to be a little closer to us so that it could be a more substantial element in the photo, but I knew this mountain-scape wouldn’t last very long as there was a curve coming ahead of us.

The vehicle also serves one other purpose. It gives us an overall sense of loneliness because we see a single car on the road. I took this photo from a car, but instinctively we don’t think about that. We only think about what we see within a photo. So, this car makes us think that they are the only ones there in a vast landscape surrounded by these monstrous mountains.

Does this car in the photo work for you? Feel free to let me know what you think!

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!

I loved driving along these winding roads

Nikon D800, 1/800 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/800 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

While in Alberta there was a certain freedom that I felt driving through the tree-lined winding roads. It was as if the road never ended as turn after turn after turn, there were more trees all along the road. It was a great feeling that I will not forget and one that I hope to have again in the future.

It feels great doing it, and it also makes for great photos from afar. I took this photo from atop a mountain lookout point high above these trees. With my 200mm telephoto lens, I was able to focus on the single winding road peaking through the trees all around. I waited (and waited and waited) until a car passed by the road so that I can add another element of interest to the photo. I feel the single vehicle driving along also shows the emptiness of the area amongst the vast land.

This would also make for a good example of scale. We all know how large a vehicle may be. If you compare the size of this car to the rest of the photo, you’ll soon realize the trees make up for a lot of the space in the picture!

Get more at Hornsby, Watson & Hornsby!

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.

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!

One good thing about shooting in the mornings

One of the great things I like about shooting in the early morning hours is its peacefulness. There’s often nothing in sight to break the noise or the calmness of the waters. When there’s no wind, the water sits still, and the reflection seen is just magical.

The morning reflection along the shores of Humber Bay

The morning reflection along the shores of Humber Bay

Of course, often times I am also befriended by fellow swans and ducks that curiously approach me as I set up. They’re great to take pictures of as well, but they also disturb the waters, creating ripples throughout. And the sound swans make when they start to fly is just magnificent. In the stillness of the morning, as they flap their wings for take-off, it literally sounds like being under that Toronto windmill with that deep “whoosh” sound as the blade passes you by. I was first startled to hear that coming from a swan of all things.

Keep an eye out for these fellas and take your reflection shots before they come to you.

You’ve been warned.

Details for this Sunday’s sunrise shoot

Nikon D800, 2.0 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 2.0 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 200mm

A few days ago I posted on my blog and on my instagram feed that I’ll be doing a sunrise meet in the West end. I’m happy to see that there are some people who are interested in waking up very early for this! For those of you who are interested, here are the details.

What: Sunrise shoot – Sun will rise near the CN Tower

Where: Humber Bay Park East – Meet at the parking lot closest to the roundabout.

When: Sunday April 19, 2015

Time: Meet at the park no later than 6am.

We will be walking to the spot at 6am sharp since the sun will rise above the horizon at 6:29am, and we need to walk and set up well before this happens.

Meeting spot for this Sunday's sunrise shoot

Meeting spot for this Sunday’s sunrise shoot

The spot we will be shooting on is not flat. We will be perched on top of large rocks so be careful when finding a steady spot in the dark. If you have a flashlight or headlamp, that may come in handy.

The meet will end after the sun has risen high enough—I anticipate this to be around 7-7:30am. Afterwards, we can take a walk around the park for other photo opportunities too if you wish. We can also grab a coffee somewhere afterwards too, if people are into it.


If you need tips for shooting sunrises, feel free to read through my guide to shooting sunrises and sunets, and my guide to where to place the horizon in photos.

Also, just as a reminder, you can comment on my blog here for my draw for free coffee beans from Pilot Coffee Roasters! It’s a perfect way to complement an early morning photoshoot.

See you there!

Love where you are

That one moment when you're glad you woke up at 5am.

That one moment when you’re glad you woke up at 5am. Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/13, ISO100, 22mm

Sometimes you get so stuck in the moment that you just keep doing what you’ve been doing all along. One morning while I was heading to the park, I decided last minute to go somewhere different for a change. I looked around for another vantage point and eventually ended up here. I had to walk through shrubs and tree branches but the short walk was well worth the spectacular view that I was present that morning.

What I later found out that morning was, there was an entire group of photographers a few feet away from me just outside of the brushed areas. There were about 20 of them, all lined up along the shoreline taking pictures of this very sunrise.

I have to say though, that I appreciated my spot since I was surrounded by all this nature, bushes…and a few ducks.

Friday morning, this is the place to be

I’m almost a little dissapointed that this spot in particular won’t be the place we will be going to this Sunday morning. However, if things work out, this Friday morning this spot may prove to be great as well with the sun rising somewhat near the CN Tower.

Only time will tell!

Let’s meet for a sunrise shoot

Morning are always hard on our bodies. Afterall, you’ve been resting for the last seven hours or so. But once you get over that hurdle of getting yourself out of the bed, it gets even easier to get out there and shoot as the anticipation of seeing a beautiful sunrise will get you motivated and out of your house when it’s still pitch black outside.

Come see a sunrise with me on this special sunrise shoot!

Come see a sunrise with me on this special sunrise shoot!

For those of you who may be interested in shooting a sunrise, I’ll be heading out this Sunday morning for a special sunrise shoot. This Sunday, the sun will rise more or less behind the CN Tower, but only if you see it from one particular spot!

The rocky shores of Humber Bay Park East will be host to what I hope will be a great spectacle of Mother Nature. If we get the right conditions, we’ll be in for a special treat. The photo below shows the sun rising just beside the CN Tower, amongst the neighbouring buildings. Just imagine that sun rising right behind one of the tallest free-standing structures in the world.

The sun rising behind the Toronto skyline.

The sun rising behind the Toronto skyline.

Browse my previous posts from this week for tips on how to take photos during sunrises and sunsets. Then prepare yourself for this Sunday. To see what you may be able to capture on Sunday morning, I’ll be posting some sunrise photos all this week on this blog, so be sure to come again!

The Details

I know it’s pretty hard for many people to get up early and drive to somewhere they’ve never been to, so I’m not expecting a large turnout at all-if any. But since I’ll be there regardless of who shows up, I thought I’d post here for anyone interested.

When: Sunday April 19, 2015

Where: Humber Bay Park East – meet at the parking lot

Time: Be at the park no later than 6am – Sun rises above the horizon at 6:29am!

I may just have to periscope this session as well, since it’s a once in a moment opportunity to do so!