Posts

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.

DSC_0518

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.

DSC_0527

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.

DSC_0525

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.

DSC_0528

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

DSC_0537

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.

DSC_0542

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.

DSC_0548

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.

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!

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.

How I edited the Sunset Path on my iPhone

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing comes all the way from the west end at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Etobicoke. In fact, this is one of my favourite places in the west end to shoot since there’s a variety of compositions. It’s right by Humber College and, there’s even a skating rink to boot if you ever get bored of shooting landscapes—who would get bored of that?!

You’ll see below the original shot taken with the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus. It’s a little on the dark side, but that’s done on purpose so that I could get more detail in the blown out area on the top right (where the sun was setting). I still blew out the area on purpose since getting even more detail there meant darkening up the shadow areas even more. Any darker in the shadow areas and I would have some obvious noise issues there, so I tried to find a happy medium, if you will.

Original file from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus.

Original file from the native camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus.

The first thing I did was to bring back the sun in the top right corner. When taking this shot, I knew I could bring back the sun again in post, so I intentionally let it blow out a little. I brought it back in one of my favourite sun-creating apps, The Light Camera by stuckincustoms.com.

Bringing back a little bit of the orange from the sun again, using the Light Camera app.

Bringing back a little bit of the orange from the sun again, using the Light Camera app.

The top right was still a little blown out so I gave the white areas some colour, using VSCOcam. This app does a great job of tinting the highlight (and shadow) areas with selective colours, so I gave the highlights a little bit of yellow to match the sunshine.

Tinting the highlight areas with a yellow tint in VSCOcam.

Tinting the highlight areas with a yellow tint in VSCOcam.

That tinting was a good start to adding orange to the highlights, but I wanted to bring in even more warmth to the image, so I brought this into Mextures. I’m starting to use Mextures a lot more now since I love its ability to give subtle colour and texture enhancements to the overall image.

My formula for the below is MNZNMSD in case you wanted to use it yourself.

Giving the entire image a little bit of warmth using Mextures.

Giving the entire image a little bit of warmth using Mextures.

When I tinted the highlights and warmed the image, I not only tinted the top blown out areas, but I also tinted and warmed the highlight areas in the rest of my photo. You can see that some of the brown shrub areas on either side of the path is punched up a little in yellow/orange. I also managed to muddy-up the snow colour a little, which I did not like. Snow is supposed to be white, so that’s the way I wanted to keep it.

I had to bring back the white somehow, so I took the image I had right after adding the sun (second photo above) and I brightened the mid-tones and highlight areas in Instaflash Pro. For this image, I made sure that I was pleased with how the bottom half of the photo looked, knowing well that I would not use the top half of the photo.

Whitened the snow using Instaflash Pro.

Whitened the snow using Instaflash Pro.

After I was happy with how the bottom half of the image looked, I took this photo and basically combined the bottom half with the top half of the image prior to this one. I did this using Image Blender, which makes tasks likes this super easy.

Using Image Blender to blend in the top half of one photo with the bottom half of another.

Using Image Blender to blend in the top half of one photo with the bottom half of another.

The image below is what I ended up with after blending the two together. You can see that the top half still maintains a warm feel to it while the snow is now whiter and the foreground shadow areas are less muddier.

The blended image now has whiter snow and cleaner shadow areas while still maintaining a warmth to the top half.

The blended image now has whiter snow and cleaner shadow areas while still maintaining a warmth to the top half.

I always like to give my images a finishing touch in VSCOcam, where I may do anything from tweaking the colour, fade an image even more, or maybe not even do anything at all. This time, I  added the F2 Mellow filter to it as it gave it a subtle fade to the shadows, giving it a subtle moody feel to it. I cropped it for Instagram and there you have it!

The final image after giving it an f2 Mellow (+12) filter in VSCOcam

The final image after giving it an f2 Mellow (+12) filter in VSCOcam


Apps Used:

Instaflash Pro

Instaflash Pro

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures

The Light Camera

The Light Camera

 

Toronto’s Outdoor Cinemas (Part2/2)

Part one of my two-part photography series brought you some great movie-watching experiences from the grounds of Fort York, David Pecaut Square, and Sugar Beach. This second part will bring you photos that I took from screenings at Yonge-Dundas Square, Harbourfront, and St. James park.

City Cinema: Yonge-Dundas Square

While there isn’t any large grassy expanse at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, its large concrete ground is a perfect spot for shows and events. Setting up a few seats and you have yourself a great place to view movies in. Surprisingly, the surrounding bright lights did little to distract from the movie itself. Take me to the YD Square website.

City Cinema: Yonge-Dundas Square

City Cinema: Yonge-Dundas Square

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Harbourfront Free Flicks is presented by Redbox and offers another great movie-going experience by Lake Ontario. These screenings are shown on the Westjet Stage where the stage’s curved seating is great for everyone to enjoy the screening. It’s another fantastic opportunity for you to enjoy the summer by the harbour. I believe I saw many passer-bys taking their evening stroll on the boardwalk stop by to treat themselves to an unexpected film. Take me to the Harbourfront website!

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Movies in St. James Park

St. James Park, located on the North West corner of Lower Jarvis Street and King Street East, has a great unasumming park that is literally hidden amongst the trees. It’s a great place for a free flick, and they know it. Take me to the St. James Park website!

Movies in St. James Park

Movies in St. James Park

This ends my photography series on outdoor cinemas in Toronto, but don’t be fooled, as this is no exhaustive list; there are several other parks and neighbourhoods in Toronto that offer this great service, with many of them being free. You can check out BlogTO’s 2014 listing of outdoor movies or Toronto Life’s 2014 listing for the ones that I didn’t cover, so you can start getting ready for next year.

Colonel Sam Smith Park II

It’s nearing the end of March and it looks like winter is still here to stay—at least here in Toronto. So, allow me to post yet another one of my Winter Wonderland series where I trek outdoors in “ungodly” hours to take sunrise pictures.

This was actually taken back in February, when there was a lot more snow on the ground, and the sunrise was still quite early, around 6:30am. I’ve visited Colonel Sam Smith Park before (in fact, this is the park that started this entire series), however, seeing as it’s nearby my house and is actually not a bad park overall, I decided to revisit this old gem.

Above: The golden colours from the sun coupled with the clear and crisp blue morning sky, captured in a long exposure with the use of my neutral density filter makes this one of my favourites of the morning.

Above: One of the last photos I took in the morning gave way to the mist coming from the water as it started to heat up from the morning sun. A relatively short long exposure, you can see the water starting to become silky smooth.

Above: Right as the sun came above the horizon, I took a long exposure allowing the sunlight to burst out from the center of the frame. The water is smooth while I included the details of the ice and snow in the foreground as a contrasting element.

Above: You never know what you will find when you go out shooting, so always be sure to look around you for any other photo opportunities. I looked behind me and found the moon still in the morning sky. I like this photo of the moon with the pastel pink and blue hues. Had I thought even further, I would have taken a panorama with the sunset on one end and the moon on the other end of the frame. I’ll have to leave that for another time.

It’s only fitting that I end off the Winter Wonderland series with the park that started it all. However, we’ll see if I’m up to any more early morning shoots within the next couple of weeks. Only time will tell.

Until then, enjoy the cool, crisp, morning sunlight while you still can!

Colonel Sam Smith Park

Toronto—and perhaps many other places around the world—has been having a pretty relentless winter this year. With temparatures falling below -30 celsius with windchills, ice storms, and strong winds, mother nature had many people scrambling to seek shelter.

However, you can’t take photos of mother nature from the inside, so I decided to go out one fine evening. When I left the house, it wasn’t too bad. However, soon after arriving to my destination, the snow storm got heavier, stronger, and temperatures fell dramatically.

I made my way to Colonel Sam Smith Park, just south of Lakeshore to see what I could come up with.

With high winds whipping around the snow over Lake Ontario, it was hard to stay still and take photos.

As the clouds moved in ever so quickly, darkness fell upon me. I could only capture so much with these low light conditions without a tripod. I caught some geese sitting quietly on the lake as the wind swept by them. If only I was as warm as they were.

I did manage to find some colour in this drab environment.

This somewhat dilapidated bench proved to be a good subject, however, with strong winds blowing from behind me, I could only stay here for so long.

I’ll have more winter wonderland photos from a different park in the GTA in my next post, so stay tuned!

Autumn 2013 at Letchworth State Park

Every year in autumn, I try my best to go a short distance to somewhere where I can soak in the colours of mother nature at its best. Last year, my wife and I discovered Killarney, Ontario, which you can also discover in my posts here, and here. Yes, we went twice!

This year our luck took us to Letchworth State Park in New York State. Amazingly, this park is just 45min. away from the Peace Bridge, making this location accessible for even Torontonians. And who wouldn’t want to go to a place nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of the East”?

Known for it’s deep gorges, and beautiful landscapes, it’s actually one of the top places in North America to Hot Air Balloon in. While we did not do that this time around, we vowed to come again sometime else to do it.

One early morning, I took it upon myself to wake up at 6am to go to the park and take some sunrise photos. Seeing a number of them all over the internet, I wanted to add my take on this little gem to the net’s collection.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy these photos and they will make you want to go there sometime as well.

The sun rises fairly quickly, so you really don’t have much time to fiddle with your camera. You need to be well prepared beforehand. If you look at the following photos, you’ll see what I mean:

The photo above was taken just prior to the sun peaking out from the horizon. The photo below (and the leading post photo) was taken just a few short seconds later after the sun had risen above the horizon. You can see the dramatic difference in colour between the two.

And here we have a closeup of the sun just as it rose above the horizon.

At the south end of the park, there are three large waterfalls that make for exquisite landscapes. The next three photos are of the Lower falls, Middle falls, and Upper falls of Letchworth State Park.

I didn’t take many photos of the Lower falls as I was in a rush to get to the Upper falls before the sun set. You can see the Lower falls in the backdrop in the center of the photo above.

The Middle falls in all its glory!

The Upper falls—probably the most picturesque of them all—is seen with the railroad bridge towering behind it.

In the photo above, you can see the Middle falls in the foreground and the Upper falls in the background, with the railroad bridge directly behind those falls. It’s a nice view from here.

To get that silky smooth waterfall effect during the day, I rented a 0.9 neutral density filter, which allows me to take long exposures during daylight. In fact I had this filter on for those sunrise photos too, allowing me to take shots with a smaller aperture.

Take a look at more of the silky smooth waterfalls here:

While at Letchworth State Park, there are plenty of autumn colours to see as well. Mixed within the deep gorge, it’s really a sight to see for yourself.

Remember that railroad bridge in the waterfall photos? Well, while you’re strictly prohibited from going up there, it is a well known vantage point to see the park from the highest point in the area (other than from a hot air balloon). It is so high that I was actually a bit scared walking on the bridge as the ground is just metal grates that seem to be haphazardly put together. Despite this, people go there and enjoy the view, much like this one here.

Now, remember I mentioned that Letchworth State Park is one of the best places to hot air balloon in? Well, I only saw one hot air balloon in the air while I was there, thanks to the overcast weather. But the one balloon that I did see, was that of none other than RE/MAX. And that is the photo that I will leave you with for this post on Letchworth State Park.

In Lavender Fields

Walking by the harbourfront, I encountered some patches of lavender which gave off its all too familiar scent. There was enough of them for me to able to take some pictures with my wide angle.

[singlepic id=49 w=900 h=900 float=center]

[singlepic id=50 w=900 h=900 float=center]

[singlepic id=51 w=900 h=900 float=center]

[singlepic id=52 w=900 h=900 float=center]