Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer's Pause

This was magic hour; the light was beautiful; the lake calm. In the quietness, summer paused.

Finding the right angle for this image was important. My aim was to have the best clarity in the reflection while catching the evening's setting sun on the dock. I moved around until I caught the best of both and began to shoot.

Having the dock use up 2/3 of the frame was also more interesting than half or all. Finding the right balance for the composition also involves moving around until we catch it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Beach Sights - Beach Sounds

Seeing this shot, I immediately hear beach sounds. I hear the loons and geese, children playing in the sand, laughter from the dock, and splashing as the youthful dive into the lake water. Though I see none of that, it is all here.

In composing this shot, I made sure not to split my image in half. For many shots, equal amounts of foreground and background in an image is boring and divides attention enough to lose attention.

Choosing more beach to balance the dominating red posts and less lake to accompany the smaller buoys made for a more interesting image than one where the space is evenly allotted.

I shot with an aperture of f/8, shutter speed of 1/250 and my focal length was 55.


Storm Rolled In

The storm clouds literally rolled in as we drove along on the highway. Soon we found ourselves in heavy rain and high winds. The lightening brightened up the skies momentarily but mostly it was pretty dark and visibility was not good. Traffic slowed considerably; some stopped alongside the road. It didn't take long, maybe twenty minutes, until we reached the end of the storm's strength and the sun shone brightly again.

With the low light of the stormy sky ahead, I chose to use a large aperture to allow for as much light as possible at a shutter speed of 1/60. I couldn't slow my shutter speed seeing as I was in a moving vehicle while shooting.

To gain a little more brightness I bumped up my ISO to 200. I tend to shy away from increasing my ISO above the 100 standard because I am not a fan of the grainy result. In processing I reduced the noise as best I could without losing too much clarity.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Degrees of Depth

Choosing the right aperture was crucial for a shot such as this. I wanted parts of the flower to seem almost like they were floating as compared to the rest of it. A shallow depth of field was necessary. Given the low light in the evening's garden, this worked in my favour as I would have used a larger aperture anyway, allowing the most light possible in through the shutter.

The echo of the same type of flower in the background is effective so long as it is not competing by way of equal clarity.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Finding Light

This morning the skies are heavy and the light low.

I challenged myself to take pictures even though I felt less than inspired. Wandering and even crawling around my home, I took a couple dozen shots and ended up gravitating towards this bottle on my kitchen window ledge. Even on a darker morning, this vessel seemed to hold the light, treasure it. I found my inspiration.

I shot at f/2.8 with a shutter speed of 1/320. Forgetting my ISO was at 400 to allow for the lower light in my previous shots, I kept it there. Bumping up the ISO often increases noise or grain in an image. With the textures found in the screen and mottled glass I decided that was just fine; it did not compromise the integrity of this shot.

In processing, I added a colour layer to enhance the green already found in the image.

Taking a Gander

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Perspective

To really see something familiar, sometimes we need to see it from an unfamiliar perspective. That which is so familiar is often overlooked. Our brains tell us that we've already seen it; we don't need to look at it any longer.

Don't listen! Find a new perspective and take another look.

I took this shot of a sunflower from behind. Most often we like to see the face of a sunflower but the back end is actually quite interesting.

I used f/2.8 in order to blur the background. I didn't want all that busyness in my photo. Because the sun shone strong and the aperture was wide open, I chose a fast shutter speed of 1/1000 which resulted in a properly exposed image.


She is young. She looks out ahead and wonders what is in store for her. Pausing for a moment to consider the possibilities, she takes a deep breath and greets her future.

Using contrast in an image can be very effective to speak about the subject. Here, the towering trees show by contrast how small and young this little fawn is. Juxtaposing small and large, young and old, is a wonderful way to present your story in your photo. Choosing black and white instead of colour can also point to the contrasts found in the image.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Showing Heat

Yesterday it was a blazing hot thirty four degrees celsius on the prairies! By 9:00 in the evening the temperature was still high as we drove over the dusty roads. We pulled over as the sun briefly found its way behind a tree. The sun's flare and evening's haze were brilliant alongside this weathered home and tree's lattice.
Sometimes it is difficult to show temperature in an image but it wasn't yesterday. The haze and flare both lent themselves beautifully to speak of the heat. Making sure that the sun wasn't 'full on' was important. The tree's leaves gave just enough of a filter without shielding too much of the light.

Landscape Photography

Around the corner we drove and then we began descending the hill. Seeing this view disappear as we drove on, I needed to see it again. Backing up, there it was. The evening sun touched the landscape, turning it to gold. How beautiful!

To capture this landscape scene with fairly good clarity both in the foreground and the background, I used an aperture of f/13 which afforded me a greater depth of field. In processing I bumped up the exposure a touch in the shadows. Had I not, the dark horizontal centre mass would have overwhelmed the image.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My God, He does good work.

He never ceases to amaze me as I look at His work, His creation. How beautiful. What an artist, the Master Artist!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

There's a Castle in my City

Actually, we probably have more than one building that resembles a castle in Winnipeg. This one (the one on your right) we stayed at when we were first married. There were rumours of rooms being haunted but we didn't encounter any ghosts on our honeymoon!

I used settings f/9 and 1/160 and 100 ISO for this shot. Since I didn't have a tripod, holding the camera steady was important but a little easier with the faster speed.

Once on my computer I used a preset and then also brought it into Photoshop to add a layer to get some great lighting enhancements. I think the end result brings a bit of fantasy and mystery to this shot. Every castle needs a bit of mystery, no?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Winnipeg Cityscape From The Forks

I climbed the stairs to get to the top of the parking garage for a different view at The Forks in Winnipeg. Including the circular brick roundabout in the foreground and the cityscape in the background required a somewhat greater depth of field, at least if I wanted both to be in relatively sharp focus. I used f/9 which seemed to be sufficient.

Using some vignetting in processing seemed to round out the bottom left corner even more, discouraging the eye from moving off of the frame to rather go around and back into the image and explore further.

Bicycles on Broadway

Friday, July 13, 2012

Billboards and Buildings

Discovering a vintage billboard gem when wandering around Winnipeg is a great delight. Finding a billboard gem on a sweet canvas is greater still.

There are many of these hand-painted advertisements in old Winnipeg. Some are faded beyond legibility. Others, protected from the elements by a neighbouring building or are simply a little newer, are easily identifiable.

I found this one in Winnipeg's Exchange District. I love how the plywood "windows" and teal steel doors add pops to the canvas. I did some tweaking in processing to deepen the etchings and colours, both.

Shooting buildings at a slight angle hides the distortion that is often found in architectural photography - unless you're using a tilt-shift lens which I do not have. The angle can also add an artistic feel, though not always.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Engaging Character

When taking photos of flowers, I like to find the ones that have a special bit of character. The ones that seem perfectly symmetrical, though they are beautiful in their own way, are not the ones that I find most interesting.

Where petals are missing or damaged, where form is misshapen, there is a story, a journey, a mystery. Capturing the unsolved mystery (and leaving it as so) leaves room for imagination and engagement.

I used my macro lens to shoot this daisy. The focal point helps show that the center is misshapen by way of clarity and surrounding blur. The eye moves over the center's surface and knows immediately it is not fully round. We pause at the crevice and then continue on; we experience the movement; we are engaged.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


My daughter planted a vegetable garden before she left for the summer.
Her efforts are beginning to pay off.

I took this picture early in the morning; the light was beautiful. Placing the pod on a rough railway tie, I began to shoot.

What I love about this image is the contrast between rough and smooth, colour and neutrals, lines and curves, new and old.

Sharpening up the image and bumping up the contrast in processing helped to accentuate these things. Adding a soft layer warmed the blues of the morning light just enough.

How this might look framed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Evening Sets

The lake was calm and the light beautiful. Magic hour had come.

There is nothing quite like the time of evening when the light is absolutely magical. If you are near the lake this is the perfect time to get some beautiful shots over the water. Often at this time of the evening, the waters will slow to a stop and echo back the scene above them.

Just a few tips:

Be sure your horizon is straight when you're duplicating images by way of reflection.
You can slow your shutter speed if you want the water to appear as glass. If there is not much for movement, it'll smooth things out beautifully. If there is more movement, slowing the shutter speed will smooth the flow.
If you're wanting to shoot a landscape and its reflection, try to keep some symmetry in the part of your image that will be reflected. Obviously there will be symmetry because of the mirror image but if, for example, the clouds in this shot were extremely imbalanced, all the symmetry in the reflection wouldn't be enough to create balance and calm.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

White Petals and Blue Skies


There is a magical place in the garden and that is where the light is found. 

I might be getting into a rut where lens choice is concerned. Again, I used my 60 mm macro lens this morning when I went out to see what I could see. I wandered to the gardens and saw the light dance where the vine climbed. Finding that sweet spot is where its at with photography.

Once on my computer, I added a layer to soften this image, and then I was done.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fun with Reflection

The Path is Narrow

Things are not always as they seem. The reflection in the puddle gives the illusion of a narrow and precarious walkway.

I love to play with reflection. Whether it is in a mirror, on water or a sun-kissed table top, it doesn't matter. There are things to see beyond the surface.

When you are walking about, keep your eyes open for more. What more is in the puddle you're quick to walk around or jump over? Look at it from different angles. There will be something there, especially on a sunny day or when city lights illuminate the more.

Be sure the reflection is as sharp as it can be. Move around if you have to. Change the settings on your camera to allow for a greater depth of field to keep the reflection and its source in focus. Bump up your speed to avoid camera shake. Pull out the tripod if you must. Just do what you can to find that which hides behind the surface.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Time to Dance

She danced and turned until summer set.
Using my 60 mm macro lens, f2.8 and 1/125, I shot this Lavatera bloom that was just about to open up. What drew me was the look of a ballroom dancer's skirt. The blur and softness goes to movement, maybe that of a waltz.

When what I see through my lens brings me to other places and times, allows me to hear the music and see beyond what is before me, I know I need to take the picture.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Words Without Pictures

My son and daughter have both been good examples to me in how they share what they know. Now, I'm not necessarily talking about opinions, though they are very apt to share those as well. What I'm talking about is sharing knowledge, sharing what they have learned.

My daughter recently took up teaching piano and my son has begun to teach workshops at Studio Central, an art studio where he volunteers. They are both not intimidated by what they don't know yet. I find this refreshing and inspiring. You see, I think there are times I retreat from sharing what I know, from teaching what I've learned because I don't know it all yet.


This evening I start teaching my first class called Creativity in Photography.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


When I walked by my front garden today, I stopped short at these two blooms of Lavatera. Their translucent beauty caught my breath. The delicate beauty reminded me of a bridal veil, maybe an heirloom.
I used settings 1/160 and f2.8. My focal length was 60 mm with an ISO of 100. Once on my computer I added a soft layer in photoshop to enhance the delicate vintage feel.

Monday, July 2, 2012


We went out for dinner at the lake yesterday to celebrate Canada Day and my birthday, both. Knowing we'd be walking the boardwalk, I made the hard decision of choosing one of my lighter lenses for my camera (a prime lens) and leaving my tripod at home.

There were many times throughout the evening I wished I would have brought this lens or that lens. This was good for me because it forced me to do the best with what I had. Before the daylight disappeared I focused on the point where I knew the fireworks would be shot from and stayed put. I also made sure to set my shutter speed to "bulb" so I could control exactly how long the shutter would be open for, based on the variable length of the displays. Next, I set things up so I had a greater depth of field.

Once the fireworks began I made sure to keep my camera as steady as I could; handheld is limited (I hold my breath until a moment or two after I release the shutter). I left the shutter open from the beginning of the fireworks' pop to the end of its trails. This created beautiful and unique fireworks shots for me, even with a bit of camera shake.

Not everything will always be perfect. We won't have all the gear, the right gear or the right lighting. But that is when we are pushed beyond what we know. And that is a good thing, a very good thing.

I included red, white and blue shots so both Canada Day and Independence Day are represented!

Fields and Water and a Big Prairie Sky

I am thankful for our big prairie sky that blankets our golden fields and shimmering lakes. How beautiful!

Today I will share an important tip when taking these kinds of images: be sure your horizon is straight! Always, always, unless you're going for a particularly artsy shot, make sure your horizon is level. There is nothing more distracting than seeing a beautiful landscape photo with the horizon askew. When I started out in photography I paid no attention to this and the result was telling. Shots are improved immediately when we pay attention to the horizon.