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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.

The making of Serenity Sunrise

Reposted over 10 times on Instagram alone, and with more than 25,000 likes combined, this Serenity Sunrise photo is my most reposted image on Instagram. Today, I thought I’d share with you the post-processing that went into making this image. While most of my images will go through a number of processes in Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop, you may be disappointed to know that only minor adjustments were made to this photo to make it look the way I posted it on Instagram. This post will describe to you how and why I went through processing this image.

How I Edited Serenity Sunrise

The Origin of the Name Serenity Sunrise

Before I get to the post-processing, let me tell you how the name Serenity Sunrise came about. I’m not really the one to actually name each of my images, so why did I name this Serenity Sunrise? The name actually spawned from a repost and comment made from @Umbra_ltd. They reposted my photo mentioning that the photo was captured in Rose Quartz, one of the Pantone colours of the year. This thought never even occurred to me when I took this, and for someone in the print industry as well, I should have known better!

PANTONE Colours of the Year 2016

PANTONE Colours of the Year 2016

For those who do not know, every year PANTONE chooses what it deems will be the next colour of the year. This colour is thought to trend in different industries like fashion and interior design for the upcoming year. For this year (2016), Pantone chose not one, but two colours of the year: Rose Quartz, and Serenity.

While Rose Quartz is evident at first glance, if you look close enough, you’ll see pockets of Serenity mixed in the shadow areas, particularly within the skyline. This inconspicuous addition of Serenity I thought really enhances the feel of the overall image. So in essence, this photo is a great representation of both PANTONE colours of the year: Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Rather than naming it Rose Quartz Sunrise, I thought the subtle representation of Serenity, and the name, lent itself perfectly for a sunrise photo. Hence the name, Serenity Sunrise. It also just rolls off the tongue smoothly, don’t you think?

The Before and After


If you look at the slider above, you can see the before and after image of Serenity Sunrise.

If you slide the middle slider bar all the way to the right, you’ll be able to see the original unedited image that came out of my camera. If you slide the bar all the way to the left, you can see the After image, after it was post-processed to my liking in Adobe Lightroom. There’s actually very little difference between the two apart from lightening up certain areas of the image.

The actual image I posted on Instagram was a portrait version of this, for which I’ll explain why I did that, a little later.

The Lightroom Basic Panel Adjustment

Lightroom Basic Adjustment Panel

Lightroom Basic Adjustment Panel

This is pretty much all that went into making this image shine. The adjustment that made the largest impact would be the White Balance. This will dictate the overall mood of your image. With a +10 toward Magenta in the hues, and a temperature that ‘s overall pretty cool (towards the blue), you can see how the Rose Quartz and Serenity would play into the image.

An Exposure boost of +0.3 brightens the image overall, which you can tell. The Shadows were also opened up with a +31. But I lowered the Blacks to -43 so as not to make the image too flat. Boosting the Clarity to +43 accentuated the shadow areas more by darkening the shadows and lightening the highlights. Believe it or not, boosting the Vibrance to +25 didn’t do a whole lot in terms of making this image more Rose Quartz. It merely heightened the subtle colour of Serenity within the skyline.

If you look at the Tone Curve, it’s pretty much linear with the exception at the Shadow areas. I lifted the Darks up a bit because I didn’t want the blacks to be truly black. It would have attracted too much attention otherwise.

There you have it!

As Posted on Instagram

The photo cropped to portrait orientation, and uploaded to Instagram.

The photo cropped to portrait orientation, and uploaded to Instagram.

Here’s the actual photo that was posted to Instagram. While the image itself is landscape, I post images to Instagram in portrait orientation because I feel it the image is more impactful. The portrait mode fills the screen more, allowing the photo itself to shine. However, when you post landscape images on Instagram, the width of the image is always shown in full, thereby only taking up a fraction of the screen on your mobile device, allowing for the comments below to overtake the screen. This detracts away from the beauty of the image, and I feel is one of Instagram’s weaker elements.


If you enjoyed this blog post, let me know in the comments below and I will continue on with this series on how I edit my images.

 

Toronto Sunrise

Even though I’ve been going out on several Toronto sunrise shoots these past few months, they never bore me. Each one is different and unique in their own way. Even if the skies are clear with no clouds to reflect the sunshine, seeing that first light come up above the horizon is reason enough to wake up at 5am and drive to the lake.

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/22, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/22, ISO 100, 70mm

The morning I took this Toronto sunrise, I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t the most dramatic of sunrises as the sun just came up with no spectacular showing of colours. There were no clouds to reflect the lights, and the water was surprisingly calm with no swans or ducks. I took a few random shots anyway hoping to get some sort of memory from the day. I’m glad I caught the birds in the sky as that adds a little more to the picture.

A few days later, I came back to this photo only to realize that it was a rather nice looking sunrise picture with the right amount of sun spikes, perfectly positioned behind the trees, emitting that warm sunrise glow. After tweaking some colours and cleaning the image up, I have to say it’s one photo that I’m really happy with.

The takeaway here is that even if you think you didn’t come out with something good on a shoot, don’t discount all of your photos just yet. Wait a few days and let your photos “marinate,” as I mentioned in this previous post. When you see your photos after a few days later, you’ll see them in a new light, so-to-speak, and will appreciate it differently.

 

Before and after editing of a sunrise photo

It’s World Photography Day today so I shared with the people on Periscope some of my editing techniques for one of my sunrise pictures that I took earlier this week. This post is a follow up to that broadcast where I changed a regular looking RAW image into one with vibrant colours to match what I witnessed in front of me.

Nikon D800, 1/8 sec., f/18, ISO 100, 165mm

Nikon D800, 1/8 sec., f/18, ISO 100, 165mm

Bringing the photo above into Lightroom, I envisioned in my mind what I wanted out of this particular photo. I wanted the silhouette of the Toronto skyline to be against the bright orange-red-yellow colour of the sunrise. This was easily achieved by tweaking some of the tonal curves, white balance, and sharpening enough to further accentuate the edges of the skyline against the smooth sky. I tried to not over-edit the photo as it can easily become unrealistic this way. The final image is below.

Nikon D800, 1/8 sec., f/18, ISO 100, 165mm

Nikon D800, 1/8 sec., f/18, ISO 100, 165mm

For those of you who are interested in seeing this live demonstration, please feel free to catch the replay here on my Katch page: www.katch.me/theSmaku.

The video is embedded below as well.