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Meet me for a sunrise

It’s never easy waking up early to take sunrise photos, but it’s often quite rewarding. I’ve had some spectacular results in the past, with many of you asking where and how I took these photos. If you’re interested in joining me for a sunrise shoot, I welcome anybody and everybody on this particular day when the sun will rise near the CN Tower—and it will do so only from this location! It will be a great way to see the morning sun as it peaks behind the Toronto skyline, and crosses behind the CN Tower.Meet me for a sunrise shoot

This will be a casual meetup where anybody who is interested is welcome to show up—I will be there shooting even if nobody else shows up. Many people have expressed interest in coming along with me in the past, so hopefully those people may want to join in on this special day.

The sun will rise above the horizon at 6:55am. However, that doesn’t mean you should arrive at that time. The golden hour happens before the sun actually rises above the horizon, so if you’re interested in seeing some beautiful colours (pending Mother Nature’s cooperation!), then it’s best to be at the park at least 30min. before sunrise. I’ll be there for 6:30am.

What Happens During a Sunrise?

Don’t know what happens during a sunrise? First, you’ll get the blue glow behind the skyline, like you see below. And if it isn’t cloudy like it is in the photo, you’ll get a much more pronounced blue throughout.

Blue hue before sunrise.

Blue hue before sunrise.

What happens next is why you made that effort to get out of bed so early! However, what you see really all depends on Mother Nature. Some days you’ll get the yellow-orange glow accompanying the blue.

A sunrise with clear skies and few clouds.

A sunrise with clear skies and few clouds.

While other days you’ll get some spectacular display or reds, oranges, yellows, and maybe even pinks.

A sunrise with vibrant colours.

A sunrise with vibrant colours.

As the sun rises above the horizon, the light reflecting off the buildings will continue to provide for some great photo opportunities of the skyline.

The light reflecting off the building is magical.

The light reflecting off the building is magical.

And after the sun rises, you can still get some good shots with a little creativity.

Swan spanning its wings during sunrise.

Swan spanning its wings during sunrise.

How Do I Take Sunrise Photographs?

That’s a good question. You can read up on my blog entry here about how I take my sunrise photos. It lists what you’ll need and what planning typically happens for each shoot I go to.

While I typically don’t use many props, you’re more than welcome to bring whatever props you may think you’ll want to use for sunrise photos.

The Details

The location of the sunrise shoot is near the Sir Casimir Gzowski Park, along Lakeshore Blvd. West. You can see the Google Map of where this is, below. For those of you taking the TTC, you can get off the lakeshore streetcar at Windermere and walk down to the park.

Location of the sunrise shoot, marked by the red marker. Park where the red car is.

Location of the sunrise shoot, marked by the red marker. Park where the red car is.

Where: Park where the red car is above, and walk down to where the red marker is.

When: Sunday April 3, 2016, 6:30am

Why: Sun will rise near the CN Tower.

For additional sunrise inspiration, feel free to check out my # on Instagram: #TorontoSunriseSeriesByTaku!


Questions? Concerns? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunrise, Seagull, and Spring

You would think that with the arrival of Spring, we should expect warmer temperatures, but that was hardly the case when I went out to shoot the sunrise on the first day of Spring. With temps nearing -10C, it was far from the Spring weather we are more used to.

With each sunrise shoot I go to, I always make it a point to come out with at least one decent shot that I’m happy with. If I come out with more, that’s a bonus. That morning the skies were relatively clear with just a spotting of clouds here and there. Overall, this didn’t make for any particularly interesting display of light.

A sunrise with clear skies and few clouds.

A sunrise with clear skies and few clouds.

This particular morning my interest quickly turned from the skyline to the seagulls that just wouldn’t go away. There were a number of them flying about where I was stationed (perching myself and my tripod on top of one of those corrugated steel pipes may have piqued their interest), while one particular seagull decided to show me what it could do.

Seagull flying with the sunrise colours in the background.

Seagull flying with the sunrise colours in the background.

In a display of pure wilderness, it eyed beneath the water and once it saw something, it quickly flew up and nose-dived into Lake Ontario, coming back up with its prize.

A seagull nose-dives into Lake Ontario in search of food.

A seagull nose-dives into Lake Ontario in search of food.

His first catch was a crayfish of some sort, although he soon realized with its hard shell, it would require much more work for a tasty breakfast.

A seagull catches a crayfish from Lake Ontario.

A seagull catches a crayfish from Lake Ontario.

While I was surprised to see a seagull capture this, I was even more surprised to learn that we had living crayfishes in Lake Ontario! After capturing the crayfish, it flew back onto the pipe I was standing on, trying to get at the crayfish. It picked and picked to no avail and eventually let it wash away into Lake Ontario again…but not before showing me who was boss.

Seagull grasping a crayfish in its beak.

Seagull grasping a crayfish in its beak.

The seagull’s second round under the water yielded in a small fish, which I’m sure he was able to enjoy much easily. Unfortunately the only photo I have of this was blurry as I was focused elsewhere at the time.

Seagull captures a fish in Lake Ontario.

Seagull captures a fish in Lake Ontario.

While I was following the seagull’s adventure, another photographer approached me and asked if he could take my photo silhouetted against the rising sun. He later emailed me the photo, as seen below. It’s a great shot since you can see where I was standing, and it includes the seagull I was eyeing all morning.

A silhouette of Taku taken by photographer David Allen

A silhouette of me taken by photographer David Allen, with his iPhone 5c.

You can check out David Allen’s site here, where he’s accumulated quite the collection of photos from High Park.

The above photo was taken shortly after I took the skyline photo below.

Orange and blue on a clear sky.

Orange and blue on a clear sky.

It wasn’t the most dramatic of sunrises, but I’m happy to have come out with some interesting shots of the seagull and its breakfast adventure. If it’s one thing I’ve learned from shooting sunrises for the past two years, it’s that you can never predict how things will turn out. And if the sunrise turns out to be a dud, then you’re better off turning your attention to something else that may make for a more fruitful photoshoot.

A victorious seagull cries.

A victorious seagull cries.

Island Lake Conservation Area

For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’m always up to exploring new places, especially if they offer some great landscape photo opportunities. So when I found a photo from a conservation park that I really liked, I immediately did some research and went there on the weekend. This post is all about what I found at the Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville, Ontario.

iPhone 6s Plus photo of snow blowing off the trees.

iPhone 6s Plus photo of snow blowing off the trees.

Island Lake Conservation Area

I found this place from a photo that someone had uploaded onto Instagram. He had taken his drone out for a spin one fine day and uploaded an overview photo of the entire lake. The lake was frozen over and you could see all the cracks and bubbles on the lake from above. I loved this view at first sight and I immediately had to know where it was taken.

Finding out that it was in Orangeville wasn’t so hard as the location was tagged in Instagram. It was about an hour’s drive away from me so the only opportunity I would have would be on the weekend.

DSC_0535

I made it out there on an overcast Saturday but that didn’t stop me from hiking a few kms around the lake. The one thing that I didn’t realize was that it must have snowed just a few days prior because the ice was all covered with fresh snow. This was unfortunate since it was this very ice that I came to see. Nonetheless, here are a few photos to illustrate the prettiness of the park.

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This long bridge that connects the north hiking trail to the south hiking trail is quite the photogenic spot. Had the surroundings been a little less “white” it would have made for more interesting photos.

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You can see the vastness of the park by how long the bridge runs. This is only half the distance too since the bridge continues beyond that island you see in the distance.

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I came there in the morning so there were very few people enjoying the trails. Most were actually busy on the south end of the lake where the ice fishing huts were set up.

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The lone ice fishing hut near the south end of the park.

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It was this part of the trail where all these blue huts were lined on the ice. You can rent these huts for a fee, or bring your own hut and make your own hole in the ice. While hiking around the lake, I heard a number of people manually drilling their holes in the ice.

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While some people like to ice fish in the hut, others prefer a more open spot.  I don’t know who this belongs to as nobody was near this fishing rod at the time.

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The lake is quite large, but in the distance, you can see the outskirts of the city of Orangeville, so it’s not as deserted a place as you think it may be. There’s even a large area on the ice cleared away for ice skating.

DSC_0549The trails are surrounded by pine trees that would have been pretty had they been covered with a little snow!

There’s a $5.75 entry fee to the park—whether this is per person or per vehicle, I’m not too sure. It’s a nature conservation area so the fee goes towards the maintenance of the park and the use of its facilities.

It’s actually quite the nice area so I’ll be sure to visit it again. Only this time, I’ll be more cognizant of what the weather was like throughout the week.

For more information on Island Lake Conservation Area, you can head over to their website.


Have you ever been to this park before? Do you know of ay other parks that are picture-worthy? Let me know in the comments below.

2015 Year in Review – Nikon Photography

As 2015 has come to a close, I’m left with the impression that it’s gone by way too quickly. I’ve no doubt taken a lot of photos this past year, with some new favourites created along the way. And, as part of my Toronto Sunrise Series, this past year more than ever I took it upon myself to create even more sunrise photos than in 2014. I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos I’ve posted here on my blog and on my various social media feeds. In this post, I’ll recap some of my favourite photos that I’ve taken in 2015, sunrise or otherwise.

2015 Year in Review: Nikon Photography

Swan spanning its wings during sunrise.

Swan spanning its wings during sunrise.

This swan lake photo was very popular amongst my social media feed, and it earned a lot of reposts throughout various Instagram hubs. At the time I took the photo, I really didn’t think it would be so popular. I remember, however, how I was happy to have caught this moment as it had been one of the items I had on my list of things to capture. Being conscious of keeping the CN Tower in the background, I followed this swan with my 70-200mm lens as it moved along the lake. When the swan decided to spread its wings, I was ready for the shot, keeping it in focus with the CN Tower placed just off to its side.

Peyto Lake Sunset

Peyto Lake Sunset

In 2015, I was fortunate enough to travel to the Canadian Rockies, where I was in awe of Mother Nature and her beauty. Yearning to capture a priceless moment, I was out every sunrise and sunset, even if I had no idea where to go. While most of my sunrise and sunset shoots were clouded over, I still captured what I hope represented the priceless moment in front of me with this one, taken in Peyto Lake.

90-second exposure sunrise with the Lee Big Stopper

90-second exposure sunrise with the Lee Big Stopper

In the latter half of the year—or more precisely, in December—I bought myself the Big Stopper, 10-stop ND filter from Lee Filters. I managed to do a couple test runs with the filter, producing this shot that I thought captured the moment well with the clouds.

Toronto skyline from the Thompson Hotel rooftop lounge.

Toronto skyline from the Thompson Hotel rooftop lounge.

While I may be more partial to landscape photography, I did manage to grab a few pictures of the city that I really liked as well. This one comes from the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel in Toronto, where they hosted an Instagram meetup in the early fall. The sunset brought out some great texture in the clouds, bringing an even more dynamic scene to this already great vantage point.

Nikon D800, 1/6 sec., f/13, ISO100, 70mm

The most striking sunrise shoot of 2015.

This sunrise moment may have been the most striking sunrise shoots I’ve been on in 2015. The moment passed by so quickly that I didn’t have time to even think it would be anything special. I just knew that the combination of low-lying clouds and the colours really made this a stand-out sunrise for me. And by the looks of things, my social media feed definitely agreed with me as well.

Violent sunrise from one of the windiest mornings of 2015.

Violent sunrise from one of the windiest mornings of 2015.

What was one of the windiest sunrises of 2015 yielded some of the best photographs as well. It was a cold October morning with the winds whipping around violently across Lake Ontario. Initially I wasn’t too careful by the shorelines and got my equipment and self wet from the splashes from the rocks. It was that violent. So standing further away from the shoreline, using my 70-200mm, I caught this moment, with some of the most colourful skies in the background.

Bow Lake Sunrise

Bow Lake Sunrise

Bow Lake was a surprise to me as I wasn’t expecting much from it. But even though it was overcast during the sunrise hours, the calm lake and mountains made for a striking image that can’t be forgotten. This bridge acted as a great lead-in for the eye and in turn produced one of my favourite images from my trip to Alberta.

Lake Louise boathouse in the calm, early morning hours.

Lake Louise boathouse in the calm, early morning hours.

This picture of the Lake Louise boathouse turned out much better than I had expected. Wanting to get a unique vantage point from this often-photographed icon of Lake Louise, I opted for a long exposure during the sunrise hours that I was there. Normally seen against the backdrop of the Canadian Rockies, I also opted to crop this image right at the tree line to minimize any distractions. This put all the focus on to the boathouse, yielding in a photo that I absolutely love.

There are many more photos that I took in 2015 that I loved, but I can only choose a handful for this summary. I hope you like these as much as I do, and that you have enjoyed seeing them on my social media feeds. Truth be told, some of these may be new to you as I may not have even posted them online until this post!

Any one of these photos would look great in print, don’t you think? Stay tuned, as that’s my next project for 2016. Let me know in the comments below if you’d be interested in a print of one of my photography.

Coming up in my next post is my 2015 year in review for iPhone photography!

10 Landscape Instagram Accounts That Inspire Me

Have you ever seen these x Instagram followers you need to follow now blog posts? They’re littered all over the Internet so they’re not too hard to find. These lists are great for finding new talent and especially for finding inspiration. While I’ve come across a number of these, I realized that I’ve never actually shared my share of inspiration on my blog. So on this blog post, I thought I’d give some input on which accounts inspire me the most, and which ones I think should deserve a follow.

10 Landscape Instagram Accounts That Inspire Me

Since I’m very partial to landscape and nature photographers, this first list that I’ll be doing will concentrate on this particular genre. Not to worry though, I will come up with a list for other categories in the near future.

10 Landscape Photographers on Instagram That Inspire Me

These accounts on Instagram do a great job of inspiring me to get out and seek adventure. The first list includes accounts that may not be as well known, but still do a great job in making me wish I had built a career out of landscape photography. The second list consists of those that are well known around the social media networks as professional photographers. Here’s my list in no particular order.

Chloe Hibbert: @Clo.Photo

At a relatively young age, it’s great to see people exploring their own backyard. It’s no wonder why Chloe, who lives in Alberta, has a passion for exploring her surroundings. Check her stream for endless adventures in the Canadian Rockies.

Chloe

@Clo.Photo

Shane Black @shanemichaelblack

If Shane’s photos don’t entice you, perhaps his time-lapsing videos will. They’ll take your breath away as you scroll and look through each and every one of these videos, wishing you were there with him.

Shane Michael Black

@shanemichaelblack

Renee Hahnel @reneehahnel and Matthew Hahnel @matthewhahnel

Here’s a duo from Colorado that likes to hike together and take each other’s photographs in places you wish you could be in right now.

@ReneeHahnel

@ReneeHahnel

@MatthewHahnel

@MatthewHahnel

Jovey @vytravels

A Bay-area account that is filled with exploring its surroundings in some of the most beautiful ways.

@vytravels

@vytravels

Masa Onikata @moonlit_japan

If you ever wanted to see Japanese landscapes like you’ve never seen before, this Japanese photographer’s stream is a goldmine. Forgetting the all-too-common Tokyo cityscapes or photos from the streets of Osaka, this stream full of beautiful Japanese landscapes is unique, fresh, and certainly a little moody.

@Moonlit_japan

@Moonlit_japan

Argen Elezi @argenel

He lives in the same city as I do, but we both take very different looking pictures. His style is unique and dreamy, and makes you wish you were right there with him when he took the shot.

@Argenel

@Argenel

Scott Rankin @othellonine

Scott gives a different feel to Vancouver, Canada. The muted tones coming from his account provides a soothing collection of Canada’s beautiful west coast.

@Othellonine

@Othellonine

Karan B. @sendingstache

If Karan’s eye for great composition doesn’t draw you in, his snarky caption he provides for each of his photos will no doubt do the trick.

@Sendingstache

@Sendingstache

Jordan Herschel @jordanherschel

Jordon is a Taho-based travel photographer with beautiful landscapes with subtle colour added throughout his stream.

@JordanHerschel

@JordanHerschel

Katie Goldie @goldiehawn_

Katie’s outdoor adventures will sure whet your appetite for more mountain adventures. As her profile says, she “climbs mountains and stuff.”

Goldie Hawn

@GoldieHawn_

Sam Ciurdar @samciurdar and Amanda Ciurdar @amandaseeyoudarrr

Both Sam and Amanda’s take on their travel photography brings in some more muted tones, but mix in some portraits of one another and you’ll love the refreshing feed filled with happiness.

@SamCiurdar

@SamCiurdar

Amanda Ciurdar

@amandaseeyoudarrr

Additional Accounts for Inspiration

Here’s a list with some more well-known photographers that offer endless adventures and wanderlust on their Instagram feed. I’ve separated them from the list above because these people are likely to already appear on other must follow lists.

Here’s my list of well-known photographers that inspire me, in no particular order.

  1. Colby Brown: @colbybrownphotography
  2. Chris Burkard: @chrisburkard
  3. Paul Zizka: @paulzizkaphoto
  4. Elia Locardi: @elialocardi
  5. Dave Brosha: @davebrosha

Hopefully these accounts will be of some inspiration to you all, and they motivate you to get out and seek the outdoor adventures that your heart yearns for. I know there are a lot more that inspire me, but I have left this initial list at 10 to prevent it from getting too long. If you have suggestions for other landscape accounts on Instagram, feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Caledon Fall Colours

A fall season wouldn’t be the same without a visit to Caledon, Ontario, no matter how short a visit it may be. One weekend I had the fortune of driving up there on a whim on my way back from errands. It was an unexpected drive, but the weather was definitely cooperating. I couldn’t really say the same thing about traffic up there though!

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 16mm

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 16mm

These photos are all taken within a walking distance from the Cheltenham Badlands. Since they had blocked off the sideroads immediately in front of the Badlands, we were all forced to park down the street on the next block, making everybody walk a few minutes to the natural wonder of Cheltenham. On our way there, however, I looked towards a sideroad to find a glorious spectacle of colour that was far more interesting that the actual Badlands that I was going to take a look at. The Equestrian home seen above was surrounded by great colours with lush greenery in the foreground. I didn’t see any horses nearby that were willing to approach my camera unfortunately.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 14mm

I did, however, find this pea-shaped tree which caught my attention for awhile. It was an oddly-shaped tree standing all by itself. The fence in front of it played nicely as you see it make its way into the far distance. I can only assume the pea-shape was formed because of the power lines running right next to it. This area was so attractive that a family of six was sitting behind me on the grass, enjoying a nice picnic.

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Like I sometimes do with my tours of the city and surrounding areas, I did a brief Periscope broadcast of the area. I showed the bright colours of the Ontario fall season to the world. You can see the actual broadcast below on my katch.me feed.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 17mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 17mm

And finally as I always like to do, I looked up to see the colours against the clear blue sky. In this case, there were some green still present in the tree, making it for a kaleidoscope of colours. It really was a great way to end off the drive that took me around through Belfountain, where it was too crowded that I couldn’t even stop to admire the surroundings.

This fall season I wasn’t expecting to see such vibrant colours all around. I was pleasantly surprised during most of my visits to various locations around the GTA though. I have to admit, wherever I’ve gone, it’s been a pretty good season for colours. The weekends were sunny, which also made for some good photo-taking opportunities.


Periscope Broadcast

View the Periscope broadcast of the Cheltenham Badlands and its surrounding fall colours!

Mount St. Louis Moonstone in Autumn Colours

For any landscape photographer, the autumn season is a magical time of the year. With the leaves changing colours altering the landscape dramatically, it’s literally a photographer’s playground.

This year while I went to a few different places to see the leaves, it was one of the more unexpected places that I saw the most striking of colours. Contrasting greatly with the greenery of the slopes, the surrounding trees with their orange, yellow, and red leaves made this location a secret gem that I don’t think many people would ever have expected it to be.

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 82mm

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 82mm

Mount St. Louis Moonstone is a ski resort located north of Barrie. Visible from Highway 400, you could easily drive past it if weren’t for the changing colours of the leaves beckoning photographers to come and take their photos. And that’s just what they did this past weekend as I was heading north on the 400. A small detour made this photo tour well worth the time.

It was undoubtedly a great spectacle to see because of two reasons:

  1. The greenery of the slopes contrasted greatly with the surrounding leaves that this further accentuated the vibrancy of the colours.
  2. I came here shortly before sunset, which gave me great lighting on the leaves, making for some special moments.
Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 130mm

Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 130mm

Because this is a ski resort, the ski lifts added another element to the landscape that worked really well. Normally we may not associate ski lifts with the autumn season but they really go hand-in-hand here, don’t you think? It’s no secret I actually really like this combination, as I’ve done this in the past whenever I’ve come across ski lifts; just take a look at my photos from Sunshine Ski Resort in Banff, and while I know I took one from another ski resort in Ontario, the actual photo escapes me at the moment.

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/13, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/13, ISO 100, 200mm

Standing from the base of the mountain, I equipped myself with a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 to get these photos. Since the ski lifts and trees were fairly far away from me, the latter telephoto lens came in handy quite a bit. Focusing on the very top ski lift terminal, I was able to bring in the coloured leaves to the foreground in the photo below.

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/11, ISO 100, 180mm

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/11, ISO 100, 180mm

Had I more time on my hands, I would have loved to walk up the slope to the top of the hill and see the view from there. I’m sure it would have been a great view. Instead, I walked from one side of the hill to the other and got a different perspective on the hills and the magnificent colours that surrounded the slopes of Mount St. Louis Moonstone.

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 56mm

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 56mm

While an overview picture really shows the area and the colours, the tighter photos where I focused on select elements of the landscape brings in more details. For example, the photo below has the trees with their bright orange and yellow on either side of the photo really brings out the lush green slope in the middle.

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 190mm

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 190mm

The ski lifts as they go up the slope gets hidden amongst the shadows of the trees. This deepens the bluish tint, which contrasts even more with the orange and yellow leaves surrounding it.

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 200mm

And finally, after seeing the curvature of the wooden fence below, I knew I had to get that into the frame somehow. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s just something about wooden fences that screams autumn scenery to me.

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 70mm

I loved this detour I made over the weekend. It actually made my trip up north worth while since my intended destination didn’t yield as colourful a picture as the ones I took here at Mount St. Louis Moonstone. Just an hour and a half away from Toronto, this ski resort may very well be a stop that I have to make every fall season. It’s just a shame I wasn’t into skiing or snowboarding!

 

Every year the colours are different in their vibrancy and colour range. The results are heavily dependant on whether the temperature drops quickly or drastically. This year, the autumn season started off fairly warm, which—depending on whom you ask—could be a good or bad thing. With the gradual temperature drop, the colour of the leaves weren’t as vibrant or bright as they could have been had the temperature dropped suddenly. When this happens, the leaves typically fall to the ground well before they reach their peak colours, making it harder to spot the orange-red colours of the leaves still intact on the trees.

Nonetheless it was the perfect weekend for a road trip, so that’s exactly what I did this past weekend. I took a drive up north to see if the colours were closer to their peak than here in the city. To help you with the colour changes, I use the ever-so-handy Ontario Colour Leaves Report. They update this every couple of days so it’s a great way to see what the regions are like in terms of their colours.

T

Bokeh effects the natural way

Nikon D800, 8.0 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 8.0 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 14mm

When you’re out shooting and you’re concentrating on your subject, it’s easy to forget about your surroundings. This is what happened one morning while I was busy shooting the sunrise. I loved the colours in front of me so much that I was too busy setting my camera and settings up when I didn’t realize the waves crashing against the rocks in front of me would be capable of splashing beyond the rocks.

It caught me by surprise and I had no time to react when a huge wave came crashing on the rocks in front of me, splashing water all over myself and my camera. I was lucky I layered myself so that only the outer-most layer got soaked. My second layer actually kept me dry for the remainder of my shoot that morning.

As for my camera and lens? Well, it was wet, but with the wind blowing hard, it dried the rain off of my gear in no time. I wiped the water off of the glass and was ready to continue shooting again.

I underestimated the weather that morning as I didn’t realize being at least 10 feet away from the rocks wouldn’t be enough to keep me dry. Every now and then I would get mists of water splash on my lens, forcing me to wipe the lens. It kept me from concentrating on taking more pictures.

The light was so magnificent that morning that a little bit of water really didn’t bother me. I took this shot above before wiping the mist off of the lens, giving me a natural bokeh effect from the drops of water on my front glass. You can still see the background sunrise and the great colour it was giving off, which makes this for a great photo despite the circumstance.

It’s these imperfect pictures that will tell a story year down the road, and will make you smile again at all the trouble you went through to get that golden sunrise moment.

Old Fort Point Summit in Jasper

The hike up to Old Fort Point summit may not be the easiest hike around, but its relative distance to the town of Jasper and the resulting view from the top make this hike a must for anybody visiting Jasper National Park.

Nikon D800, 1/1000 sec., f/8.0, ISO 200, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/1000 sec., f/8.0, ISO 200, 14mm

I don’t recall who it was that suggested I go there, but I’m glad I listened because it wasn’t on my list of places to visit, but offered some of the more spectacular views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The total length of this hike if you follow the looped trail markers, is about 4km and will take you about one to two hours. Going to the summit, however, is a much shorter hike, albeit not necessarily any easier. The elevation gain is about 130m. but don’t let that fool you; if you start from the base of the cliff near the Athabasca River monument (where the photo above was taken), taking  the wooden stairs, it’s a fairly steep climb all the way up in a short amount of time. Be sure to take breaks if you get tired.

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/9.0, ISO 200, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/9.0, ISO 200, 14mm

Climbing up the pathway, you’ll first reach an initial plateau area where you can walk around and enjoy the panoramic view. In the photo below, these hikers decided to take a break at this plateau before continuing on to the summit.

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec.f, f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec.f, f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

If you look around though, you’ll see that there’s a lookout just above where you’re standing. To get to the highest point, you’ll have to continue on the trail going around the lookout point. Keep to the left and you’ll eventually make your way up to the summit. Take care hiking around the lookout point though, as the path does get a little narrow.

Bears are also known to frequent the area now and again so be on the lookout for them as well.

Nikon D800, 1/8 sec., f/11, ISO 100 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/8 sec., f/11, ISO 100 70mm

The view up at the very top is very rewarding, especially after hiking up a steep grade such as this. Be sure to stay awhile and take in the scenery. Those low-laying clouds that hug the mountain’s peak can only be seen in the mornings.

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/11, ISO 100, 150mm

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/11, ISO 100, 150mm

On the way down, be sure to take in the scenery on the other side of the lookout, where you’ll be able to see the mountain ranges in the far distance. The morning clouds right above the valley made for some great photos.

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 70mm

I loved this view so much that I came back multiple times making sure I was here during a sunset and a sunrise.

Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/9.0, ISO 200, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/9.0, ISO 200, 14mm

At the top of the summit, you can continue on the loop hike by following the trail behind the lookout. I opted to go back down the way I came up as I was merely interested in the view and not the loop hike itself.

Whatever the case may be, this is a hike that should not be missed. Take it easy and take your time if needed. Don’t feel like you have to run up the trail, which looks like what this girl may have done!

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm