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Sakura at dusk

When you’re out taking pictures of the same thing day after day, try something new. Whether it be from a different angle, perspective, or even better, at a different time of the day.

The quality of light will change throughout the day, so going to the same place at different times of the day will yield different feelings and emotions to the same subject matter.

Nikon D800, 1/1000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/1000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 200mm

Take this photo for example. I was here in the same park yesterday before sunset, taking pictures of the sakuras. However, when I came today, I found myself wandering the area just as the sun was setting closer to the horizon. This golden aura made all the difference in my photos, making them moodier, giving them more warmth, and a little bit of sombreness, some may say.

Envision your shot

I intentionally shot this photo with the sun in the background, so I can get that sun flare and warm glow on to the flowers. Admittedly, this photo focuses more on the environment than the actual details of the cherry blossoms, but I can live with that. I shot the details the day before with the daylight.

It’s moments like this that make it worthwhile to stick around until the sun goes down. Just remember: Just because the sun is setting and the light is fading, that’s no reason to pack your camera up and leave the area. The light is what makes the difference and gives your photos a whole new feel to them.

How I edited Spring Reflection

This How I Edited post is of a picture that a lot of people seemed to like. They liked the contrast of elements within the photo, which actually has a lot to do with how this was edited. In this step by step tutorial, I will show you how this wonderful Spring photo came about, all by using just one simple app!

How I Edited Spring Reflection

How I Edited Spring Reflection

The photo below is the original unedited photo (scaled down in Photoshop) that came from my iPhone 6 Plus. You can see how the bottom half is quite dark, but that’s because I intentionally exposed for the top half of the image to prevent it from blowing out too much.

Original unedited (scaled down in Photoshop) image from iPhone 6 Plus

Original unedited (scaled down in Photoshop) image from iPhone 6 Plus

I really love the wispy clouds here, and how it was reflected in the water below. The bushes below already have two tones to them, so I knew I wanted to keep that—or rather accentuate that.

For those of you who haven’t upgraded to the latest version of Google’s Snapseed, you should consider doing that right now—or after your read this tutorial! Their latest upgrade adds so much more control over the settings in addition to   more powerful editing tools at your disposal. Within Snapseed, I used their Dodge and Burn brush tool to increase contrast within the two toned foreground. You can see from the screen cap below all the red masked area. Those are the areas where I used the burn tool.

Editing using the Dodge and Burn brush tool in Google's upgraded Snapseed app.

Editing using the Dodge and Burn brush tool in Google’s upgraded Snapseed app.

I then dodged some portions as well, creating a much more contrasty foreground to my image, which you can see below.

Image after the Dodge and Burn brush tool was used.

Image after the Dodge and Burn brush tool was used.

To match the exposure throughout, I had to increase the shadow areas slightly, and added some overall ambiance to the image within Snapseed as well, resulting in the image below.

Increased the brightness of the bottom half to match the exposure of the top half.

Increased the brightness of the bottom half to match the exposure of the top half.

The image now looks pretty good, but I wanted to add just a little more colour to the image. So, as always, my final step in editing happens within VSCOcam. I used the KK2 preset (+9) and added a slight fade to the image so the colours didn’t look too vibrant. The final image, as I uploaded it to my Instagram feed is below. It’s a big improvement from the original image above. I was able to edit this nicely because I was careful not to blow my highlights out in my original image. That’s the key point!

The final image as uploaded to my Instagram feed.

The final image as uploaded to my Instagram feed.

 

Apps Used:

Snapseed

Snapseed

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Fog and snow

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

Fog and snow at just the right time

On one foggy morning it got so thick that the light changed so dramatically in such a short time. If you look at my post previous to this, you’ll see that it also has fog in it. That was taken shortly before this picture. Look at the dramatic difference fog makes in a matter of minutes. Since the fog hid the skyline, I decided to focus my attention on whatever I could. In the distance there was a couple taking a walk. They made it to the man-made dam so I had to get them in some way. Once they stopped to admire the…whiteness of their view, I framed them to the side so the viewers could get a sense of the emptiness that they were facing.

I loved how the dam fades into the fog in the background. If you look closely, you’ll be able to see the birds flying out from the mist, which is also quite interesting by itself.

As long as you’re prepared, you’ll be able to catch all that comes your way.

A moody but gorgeous morning this Easter Friday

 

Nikon D800, 5.0 sec., f/13, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 5.0 sec., f/13, ISO 100, 24mm

I think it was about two years ago this time, the cherry blossoms were at full bloom in Toronto’s High Park. As I look out the window today, I see overcast skies and chilly winds blowing through the trees. If I look hard enough, I can still see some snow and ice striving to be the last bit of winter on my lawn.

Easter Friday Morning

It doesn’t seem like Spring has fully arrived yet this Easter Friday, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still make great photographs. You just need to look a little harder to find them. I went out for a sunrise shoot today only to find that it was really foggy outside. It was quite a different morning from all the other sunrise shoots that I’ve been on since the fog covered the base of the Toronto skyline, making only the tip of the CN Tower visible above all the fog.

But who wants to see that?

So I took a photo of the bridge that I often neglect when I come to this park. The fog was just rolling in from the right of this frame, slowly encroaching towards this bridge.

It was quite the moody morning today, and I’m glad I made the effort to get out there despite this not-so-spring weather. Don’t let the weatherman get to you if you ever want to go out shooting.

Shooting with others can be refreshing

Shoot With Others To Refresh Your Mind

Shoot With Others To Refresh Your Mind

Nikon D800, 1/5000 sec., f/2.8, ISO400, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/5000 sec., f/2.8, ISO400, 24mm

It’s been a while shooting with other photographers, but it’s never a dull moment when you’re out and about with others. In fact, it’s a great way to be social, get inspired by different perspectives, and just have fun. Last Sprint, I took to the streets of Mississauga with other local photographers and just took pictures for the fun of it all. Not a lot of landscape photography going on here, especially in the city, but having a human element in photographs is always a warm welcome. The shot above is of the skating area at Celebration Square in Mississauga’s City Centre.

John, Neil, and Jacob Instagramming their photos of the day.

John, Neil, and Jacob Instagramming their photos of the day.

These are the three troublemakers that were up to no good that day. With all of us living in the West end of town, we childishly dubbed ourselves, The Westenders. Or was it The West End Boys? From left to right, are, John (@hagow), Neil (@Neil.Nofuente), and Jacob (@Jamenyo)

Troublemakers shooting me shooting them

 

Had it not been for this day, I would likely have never even come up to this building. It was a great find with some unique shooting opportunities.

Neil doing his thang

Neil doing his thing.

Neil seeing something that I obviously didn’t see…or don’t see. That’s the beauty of shooting with others; we each have our own ideas and perspectives that shooting the same subject can yield completely different photos.

The Jacob stare

The Jacob stare.

While we spent most of our time indoors, the outdoor also proved to be photo-worthy as well. Jacob being photographed by Neil and John, and apparently not liking his few seconds of fame.

Living Arts Centre

Inside the Living Arts Centre

The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga that day was host to some wedding-related event with a runway and wedding booths set up in its lobby. Jacob is practicing his wedding photography skills here.

Busted!

Busted!

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Neil smile so much as he is in this photo. What ever was he thinking? John peeks over his shoulder and finds me shooting the three of them from across the window.

In summary, get out there once in a while with others and it can be a great refresher for your mind. You can look at things differently and see things from other perspectives that you may not have even thought to do if you were shooting by yourself.

 

Hey Spring, where are you?

Cherry blossoms' early bloom at High Park

Cherry blossoms’ early bloom at High Park

Spring has officially sprung but there really is no sign of it anywhere. With temperatures still below the freezing mark, it looks like Mother Nature has other plans for us. But fear not, eventually it will get warmer, which is a sure sign that these cherry blossoms will start to bloom at High Park once again.

I’ve never been much into floral photography, but for some reason these cherry blossoms often bring me back to High Park every May. Every year I just randomly take pictures of these flowers never actually knowing the ins and outs of taking beautiful floral photography. Perhaps this year calls for a change.

Anybody know much about taking good looking picture of these cherry blossoms?

For those wanting to know more about cherry blossoms, and specifically when it will be blooming in Toronto’s High Park, someone has generously made a website dedicated to just this! You can head over to www.sakurainhighpark.com where they will update you on when the peak time to go will be. It is usually within the first two weeks of May, but it’s all a guess right now with these cold temperatures.

You can visit the official City of Toronto High Park site here, or there’s another independent site dedicated to this park: High Park Toronto.

Have you taken any beautiful pictures of cherry blossoms that you are proud of? Show me by linking to them in the comments below!

It’s coming…

No, I didn’t mean the Apple iPad, nor the Nintendo DSi XL. I meant, spring temperatures! Or more like summer temperatures! By the end of the week, it’s predicted to be around the low 20s (Celsius), which is a stark contrast to the low single digits we’ve been having the last couple of weeks. I’m excited to enjoy this weather, especially coming during a long weekend here in Canada. The Easter weekend couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’m sure many people may think of getting their BBQs out of storage as these temperatures will be perfect for such occasions. Sadly, I am BBQless, so I won’t be doing any of that. Nonethless, I plan to enjoy this weekend to the fullest.

Mind you, I do have some work to do… one of which includes doing my annual taxes. Urgh. How I dread doing such boring tasks. But I suppose somebody has to do it. Hopefully this year I will get some money back. Doubtful, though.

Another task that I’ve been putting on the back burner is making my own light modifiers for my speedlights. I’ve been meaning to do that for the longest time now. I finally made the first move, by buying some foam from the local art supply store. All I need to do now is to get that into shape, glue some velcro on it, and hope that it works as planned. It’s a pretty straightforward thing to do, but I just never bothered to get around to it.

I’m also in the market for some coloured gels for my speedlights. Anybody know where I can get some? I’m looking for some CTO tungsten and Window green fluorescent gels, big enough to cover my SB-600s.

And with this warm weather coming our way, hopefully I can get to some shooting outside for a change. Enough of this indoor shooting. It’s time to go on location!