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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.

A little perspective changes everything

In my last Periscope, I did a quick tutorial on how a slight change in camera perspective can dramatically change the view in front of you. If you missed it, you can catch the broadcast here for the next 20 hours or so.

A Little Perspective Change Goes A Long Way

A Little Perspective Change Goes A Long Way

When many people go out to take photos, their first instinct is to bring the camera up to their face and take a picture. That is fine, since eye-level is what everybody is used to seeing. However, if you would like create a more dynamic image with a slight flare to it, all you have to do is change the camera’s perspective by lowering it to the ground a little more, or bringing it higher above your head.

Here’s an example:

Eye-level Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Eye-level Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

The above photo was taken at eye-level. It is your typical view that most people are used to. Now, let’s lower the camera to about a foot above ground-level and see what different it will make in our photo.

Lower Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Lower Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Can you feel the different it made in the photo? The ground is so much closer, bringing you more of its details. It almost feels like you are laying right there on the ground, while giving you a more interesting angle to the view in front of you.

Now, let’s see what the view looks like from just above my head.

Higher Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Higher Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 24mm

Taking this photo with the camera above my head gives yet another different feel to the image. You can tell that it is not eye-level, and it almost feels like you are floating above everybody else on the ground.

Here’s one more example to show you the difference between putting your camera lower to the ground, shooting at eye-level, and shooting above your head.

Eye-level Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/1600 sec., f/5.0, ISO500, 36mm

Eye-level Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/1600 sec., f/5.0, ISO500, 36mm

The above is a typical eye-level shot looking down a street in Toronto. Nothing really strikes me as being different or unique in this photo.

Lower Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/1250 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 36mm

Lower Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/1250 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 36mm

However when I put the camera about a foot above the ground, you can see the cracks of the ground, and the yellow line acts as a visual guide to the viewers, and brings the viewer in to the rest of the image.

Upper Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/2500 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 36mm

Upper Perspective: Nikon D800, 1/2500 sec., f/5.0, ISO 500, 36mm

With this photo above, you can sense that you are floating above others and get a slightly different feel than when viewing at eye-level. The yellow marker is no longer as intimate as it was when taken at ground level.

These two examples are taken within the city. But whether you are out in the wilderness, higher up in the mountains, or just walking the streets, a little perspective change will go a long way in changing the overall feel for your image.

If you shoot with an iPhone or other mobile device, it’s even easier to change your perspective since the phone is so portable and much easier to lower to the ground or raise above your head.

Say goodbye to boring eye-level shots that everybody is used to seeing, and say hello to more dynamic, and interesting angles in your photos! The next time you are out taking photos, try changing the location of your camera and see the difference it makes.

What other interesting angles have you shot in?! Please let me know in the comments below!

The sun shines in Ikebukuro

I was out shopping one fine early evening in Tokyo when I came to this roadway with people walking down it. Normally it would have been just a regular pedestrian-filled road, but I soon realized the sun peeking out of the clouds every-so-often, shining its glorious rays right down the centre of the street. The golden light it emitted when it did shine down the street was magnificent.

I only had a few short minutes to try and capture this golden light because the clouds would cover the sun after a short time. It was just one of those days where I was happy I had my camera with me that day.

Nikon D800, 1/4000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 56mm

Nikon D800, 1/4000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 56mm

What do you bring on your walks?

When I go out travelling, I often like to take my full gear with me because you never know what to expect. Even on casual walking days like when I took this photo above, I always loved to carry my Nikon along with my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at a minimum. This combination, however, isn’t always so portable, let alone light on my shoulders.

With the advent of mirrorless cameras though, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s a better option for me to take on these casual walks. It’s something to consider one of these days.

What camera do you bring on your photo-walks? What lenses do you like to use? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to suggest any great walk-around cameras that you like.

People watching season has begun!

Nikon D800, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 640, 62mm

Nikon D800, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 640, 62mm

For some of us, people watching can be a real treat. Just pick a random location, sit down, and watch what goes on in front of you. If you’re at a relatively active location, you can sit there for hours on end just enjoying the time pass you by.

It’s those lazy Sunday mornings that make you feel like just taking the moment as it comes. The Spring season is good for that, as people start to make their way out of their homes and into public spaces. The sun starts to shine brightly warming the outdoors, and the overall aura of happiness floats about.

When I went to Japan last year, I took a few days off to just walk around and enjoy the moment around me. Taking random snaps along the way, I meant to post a whole series on these snaps at one point on my blog, but that never came to fruition.

This picture was taken at the Tokyo Forum, in the Ginza district. It’s a great place for photographers any time of the day, with its striking architecture, criss cross patterns all around, and muted colour palette. If you come here to take pictures, you won’t be alone.

As the Spring season unfolds here in Toronto, I look forward to more outdoor adventures to come!

Morning Fog Over Toronto

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

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

One early morning I came to Humber Bay Shores Park and noticed a lot of clouds over the city. I wasn’t sure what I would get in terms of photo opportunities since heavy clouds like this often prevent the sun from showing its colours anywhere. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the actual sun itself with all of these clouds so I waited until something interesting came about.

A few short minutes later the area right behind the CN Tower began to glow an intense orange and yellow. This happened quite quickly and got me off guard. Fortunately my camera was already set up on a tripod and all I had to do was compose and shoot. The streaks of light you see look like they are emanating from the CN Tower, and these were just magnificent. I didn’t know what caused this since the actual sun was rising just to the right of this picture, which is still quite far away.

This scene with its intense colours didn’t last long as it disappeared after I was able to get only a few clicks of it. When you’re out shooting, always come well before you need to so you can set up and be ready for that moment.

I’ll have my iPhone version of this shot coming up in another post shortly.