I went on an early morning photographer’s meetup at a park in Toronto to capture some of the autumn highlights. First thing in the morning, the light is warmed and the shadows more forgiving. The day’s first light basks your subjects, be they people, buildings, or nature, in a special glow that far too quickly gives way to the harsh, cold light of midday.
I just got my hands on a new zoom lens, the Nikon 70-300 F4.5-5.6, used on my DX body. The DX body only uses the centre portion of the lens, which essentially means you get an extra zoom factor of 1.5.
This was perfect for the Buskerfest in Toronto, as chances were I would be far from some of the performers. The wide variety of street performers on display was incredible to see. I also snuck some photos of the spectators.
2011 was the first time I had been back to Algonquin Provincial Park in a number of years. I was in a new relationship at this point, and it was our first camping trip together. One of the more memorable moments was on a bike ride starting from Lake of Two Rivers. We stopped at a river crossing and encountered a young family where dad, son, and daughter were taking advantage of the hot summer day by jumping off the bridge into the river below. I took many pictures of them jumping and offered to the mom to email her the photos. I did so once back home.
This was the first time I had heard of and gone to see the Cherry Blossoms in Toronto’s High Park. The trees were a gift from Japan in 1959, and every spring, they bloom forth in stunning pink and white, only to disappear as fast as they emerge. High Park posts daily progress of the blooming when the time comes.
For this photography meetup, we decided to meet before sunrise to capture the blossoms in the first available light. The extraordinary thing was just after sunrise, when professional photographers seemingly appeared from nowhere, lights and cameras in hand and set to action with models in gowns. Of course, we all flocked to take advantage of their pro setups.
By mid-morning, the park was bustling with people, and the fancily dressed ones still showed up.
Meetup.com is a great place to meet others with similar interests and share knowledge, network, and improve your own skills. I joined meetups for songwriting, photography, and social get togethers. For this specific meetup, the organizer started with a quick tutorial on how to capture HDR, or high dynamic range, photos. This was the first time I had heard of it, and have been using it regularly since.
Normally in photography, and more so in the digital era, photos have an exposure that tried to balance the lightest lights and the darkest darks. In high contrast scenes, you tend to lose details in the shadows or in the highlights.
To shoot an HDR photo, you need to bracket your photos. That is, take one underexposed, one overexposed, and one in the middle. You can also do it with two exposures. Then, using special software like Photomatix, you can blend the multiple images to taste, and capture details in both shadows and highlights. It’s critical to use a tripod so your shots end up lining up perfectly. When I don’t have my tripod on me, I tend to hold my breath and shoot in high-speed mode, which gets the shots pretty darn close. Plus, Photomatix has a pretty good algorithm for lining up multiple shots.
The meetup organizer chose Graffiti Alley in Toronto to hold this shoot. Tucked in behind Queen Street West, it’s a popular spot for photographers to shoot cool urban models. Here, we focused on the graffiti itself.
Every once in a (long) while, the moon gets a bit closer to the Earth, and appears up to 14% larger in the sky. This makes photographer go a little bonkers and get very upset if there’s cloud cover that night.
Fortunately, we had a clear calm night to take our photos as part of a meetup group. We ventured to the Humber River Bay area in Toronto. It’s not much darker here than the rest of the city, but the moon is nice and bright so urban light pollution isn’t a big an issue as when you’re trying to photograph the stars.
The final shot here is a composite of a zoomed in and wide angle shot, to exaggerate the size of the moon in the sky. I had to brush in the moon’s reflection in Lake Ontario to make it look convincing.
I assisted with the Functional Program part of this business plan for an acute care clinic in the remote mining community of Red Lake, Ontario. I interviewed health care staff and providers in the community, and translated their needs into spatial and building service requirements.
I also provided research, writing, photography, and layout services for two additional private, acute care clinic proposals in Ontario for the GW Health Group, inlcuding press-ready files for final production.
Use of Photoshop, InDesign, and Acrobat.
Being from Ontario, a visit to the US southwest is a photographer’s candy store. Everywhere you look, the colours, the textures, and the vistas of what at times seems like an alien landscape abound.
Highlights included Sunset Crater National Monument, where the twisted trees are remnants of a 900-year-old volcanic eruption. At Antelope Canyon, a special photographer’s tour in the morning allowed tripods and even some advice from the tour guide on best angles and exposure settings. I was the only one who showed up with a tripod, and the guide asked everyone else to step aside so I could take the ultimate photo.
For our brief visit to the Grand Canyon, I timed our descent down the canyon to coincide with the setting sun as we returned back up. A note about the Grand Canyon – the best way to experience it is to descend from the top edge. It’s safe and easy to get to “Ooh Ahh Point” (hilariously named by the National Parks Service) and well worth the time. I can only imagine how it feels to reach the Colorado River, a few thousand feet below.
A drive north to Monument Valley is a sight to behold. This area is synonymous with the American West, and western movies in particular. I managed to stay there past sunset and capture a star trails photo too.