People

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If anyone cared to ask what kind of photographer I am, I would say a landscape and nature photographer. But lately there seems to be a lot of babies in the neighbourhood that I can't resist photographing. 
It got me thinking to way back, almost 30 years ago.
We started having kids which, as anyone with kids can attest, 
is a full time endeavour. 
Getting out to shoot landscapes and nature 
wasn't so easy, so I turned my camera to the kids.

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 Lucky for me newborns don't move around too quickly, and I was able  to hone my skills gradually, eventually speeding up the process 
to keep up with their quickly changing moods and activity levels.

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Though almost 30 years have gone by, and I need to find new subjects, the principles remain the same. Be it babies, toddlers, weddings or 
travel photography, the challenges are the same. 
How to capture a personality or story in a pleasing, effective, 
and captivating way. 
I personally tend to gravitate to non posed shots. 
People behaving naturally are the shots that are timeless.

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As with most any capture, it's all about the light. My go to lens 
 is a fast macro lens. It allows me some distance from the subject, 
works well in low light and gives that nice blurred background we so often seek. Plain backgrounds work to keep the focus on your 
subject. 
Getting in super close to newborns is an effective way to 
capture emotions. Try turning your camera to shoot vertically.

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Unless I'm doing a group shot, I tend not to use a tripod. My shutter is set a little faster, ISO and aperture are set accordingly, 
and I often use the little  + or -  light button. 
Most cameras have this option and I use it a lot, check your camera's manual if you've not discovered this yet. 
I prefer to use natural light. If you're indoors and near a big 
window with side light or if the shadows are too great, you might
try a home made reflector; a white bristol board or tin foil will 
typically do the trick.

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 If I'm outdoors, an overcast day is 
preferable to avoid harsh shadows. 
Your flash is handy outdoors, even on a sunny day, 
It helps soften shadows, giving a more even light.
 Black and white generates softer tones.
 
With small children, it's important to get the timing right, 
and I'm not talking about shutter speeds. 
Well rested and well fed children 
are likely to be more pleasant and co-operative than 
hungry, sleepy children. 
Getting down low to their level, makes them feel comfortable 
and also gives pleasing perspectives. 
Consider capturing a child playing, eating, or in the bathtub. 

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If you are doing a shoot with someone else's kids, hang back a bit, 
capturing them playing or sitting quietly. 

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For some reason, when kids get a little older, they feel the need to stick their tongues out at the camera. I find the more you have your camera out, the more accustomed they become to being photographed. 

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As for photographing people while travelling, the same principles 
apply. Plenty of light, some distance from your subject. 
Get to know them, chat it up and make sure they're comfortable 
with it, in the meantime putting some context to the scene. 

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Points to ponder
Get in close with a lens that allows some distance.
Plain background.
Natural light.
Faster shutter speeds.
Vertical position.
+/- button.

Without naming names, Thank You to all the generous folks who agreed to let me showcase their wee ones. Perhaps some day I'll get to use 
these skills on my own grandkids.

I hope you all get the opportunity to photograph people at some point
Turn your camera around, selfies are over rated...








 


 

Fall

In Ontario, it’s that time of year when we put our summer toys away and start pulling out our mitts and toques.  But before the cold white snow takes over our landscapes, there are a few weeks of pure awe inspiring magic in the air. We have colour with frost, wind, dew and long shadows to play with, also a bonus of no bugs…

For some reason, perhaps the paramount colours that come with fall, I find myself changing up my usual angles and typical scenes. It looks like a party out there so why not gussy up your creative juices and have some fun. I’m talking multiple exposures, camera movement, macro and super wide angles. Don’t ignore the windy wet days either, but remember to protect your camera.

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Various stages of life, looking straight down trying to keep things sharp front to back.
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A sure sign of life preparing for renewal in a few months. The dark background works to make the pod stand out. Choose a dark background with a large aperture (small number) creating shallow depth of field

 

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Orange yellow and green leaves with a touch of blue sky peeking through. Play with shutter speeds and ISO while moving your camera around.
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Windy days can prove very forgiving , let the movement in.
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Low sun setting on the leaves creating strong shadows and deep colours.
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Sunburst are created by using Aperture priority set to 22 or higher, lower ISO and a wide focal length around 18mm or less. The narrow aperture creates a very small opening for the light to pass through.
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sometimes you have to get your feet wet to get the shot
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Contrasting colours on the white snow. I added a bit more light to whiten the snow. Most cameras have this option to + or – light. If you’re not sure where the option is or how to use it, look in your cameras manual.
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I liked how the water in the background reflected the colours in the leaves

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Reflections are one of my favourite things to shoot

Do Dew Spider Art

Yesterday I was driving home from Toronto in the early morning fog,
and I was thinking how I'd much rather be in a field with spider webs covered in dew, than stuck in traffic. That's not to say I 
particularly like spiders, but I absolutely do marvel at their web 
building skills.

I hope I can inspire some of you to head out early in the right 
conditions to capture the beautiful effort spiders put into building their webs; fog, no wind, dew, and a field or garden near by.

Tread lightly, spend some time to take in the scene, get creative.
Try to fill your frame with the web and pay attention to what's in 
the background. Using a shallow depth of field, (smaller numbers on
your aperture) try to choose a background that is all the same colour or shade. If you have a macro setting on your camera, even better.
Look at the way the light shines on the web and how it lights up the beads of dew like a string of pearls. Sometimes the dapples of light shining through in the background are quite striking, especially when using shallow depth of field; small f number = small depth of field.

Although your first shot might be "the one", let's assume that it's 
not. Move around, change up the perspective, constantly paying 
attention to the background. You begin to see the spiders personality through their web creations.

If you have a macro lens, yeah you! Use it. Macros have a tendency to really blur the back ground when using a shallow depth of field. 
Think small f number = large aperture = shallow depth of field. Also the closer you are to your subject and more zoomed in, the shallower your depth of field becomes.
I wish that I'd read this blog before taking these shots I'm sharing with you today. I noticed that I only used my macro on one of them.  It worked out alright for me, as I was zoomed in pretty close, which 
also tends to result in shallower depth of field.

We can all learn from our blunders, to be sure there will be other 
foggy days and if I'm willing, I can get out of bed early to try 
again. How shallow can one get, of course I'll get out of bed.

If you get a chance to experiment with dewy webs, feel free to share with me and other readers. Tell us your about your triumphs and your
mistakes.

 

Cell Phone Culture

For a short time earlier this summer I found myself in a bit of a 
photography slump and decided that I needed a break from my camera.
The bombardment of exceptional photo newsfeed flashing across my 
screen daily were beginning to make me feel like a tiny fish 
surrounded by huge beautiful whales, and self doubt was settling in. The prolific amount of newsfeed was due to the fact that I often seek out images to learn and apply some of my own techniques. 
It's a fine line between shooting what makes you happy and shooting 
towards trends.

Hence, my break to re charge my creativity. Sometimes just being is 
all it takes; taking in the beauty without trying to physically 
capture it. No more newsfeed and no more forcing myself to produce 
art, (for  a short time) :)

Here's what happened - Like most people, I usually carry a cell      phone, especially while travelling; admittedly, its mostly for the 
camera on it. While on my break, I discovered that I truly am 
addicted to photography! As frustrating as the whole cell phone 
culture can be, the camera on it feeds my addiction.

For years I have scoffed at people who whipped out their phones to 
capture moments. To those people, I apologize. Recently I, too, have 
come to appreciate the usefulness of the cell phone camera.

 Going from shooting fully manual on my full frame camera, I love how uncomplicated and light the cellphone camera is. No fuss, just a 
little time to compose and consider where the light is coming from 
and then, click. Even without the multitude of available apps to     enhance and play with pics, it's pretty darn easy to snap some very  appealing photos. I like the fact that you can chose to use the 
flash and that you can choose bursts to select the best jump shot.
The pano option has enabled some impressive all encompassing mountainand beach shots. I am also surprised by the depth of field and the   vivid  colours the cell phones produce. Perhaps paying a little more for phones is not a bad thing if you consider the fact that you get a
two in one gadget.

I still often edit my cell photos in photoshop, usually to crop as 
the cameras zoom is not really worth using in my opinion. I also 
might do a little shadows and light edits but really the editing in 
the camera is more than adequate, with artistic options at the touch of a button.

Cell phone photography is an easy and uncomplicated way to look at   the world through a lens and learn the basics. Perhaps I'm showing myage.  I've gone from film, to digital to cell phone, thats not sayingI'm ready to give up my camera. Its nice to see more and more people are transitioning from phones to "real" cameras and that always makesme happy!

Even though I was on a break this summer, my photographer mind never
really turned off. My cell phone fed my addiction periodically and I was glad for it. I concluded that I can never really turn off but I 
can make a conscious decision to leave the phone at home while on a 
walk in the woods.

If you call and there's no answer, leave a message. I'm out 
re-charging. I'll be back with my camera...
These obviously weren't all taken this summer, but give an idea 
on what can be captured with cell in hand.
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The Moods of Lk. Ontario make me Shutter

These past few weeks I’ve been sitting on the deck staring at the lake and marvelling at its many moods. It’s no wonder I have thousands of photos depicting this huge body of water. the water intrigues me with its many moods.  It can be melancholy, foreboding (think: the Edmund Fitzgerald),  some days it’s dreamy and on calm mornings it is playful.

As with any photograph, the difficulty lies in conveying the mood to your viewer.  Before you start snapping the scene you’re witnessing, take some time to identify how it makes you feel.  The lake has taught me many lessons over the years. Mostly with the changing light, it challenges me. I try to capture her mood by either slowing down time or freezing a moment in time using different shutter speeds.

The colour that comes out, along with the wind or calm, dictates the mood. By playing around with the shutter and learning to compensate with aperture and ISO, I can get some pleasing effects. Shooting with a slow shutter in bright light is a challenge. Your tripod should be your best friend. Early or later in the day has worked for me, as have cloudy days.

Another method to add mood is the white balance; depending on what you choose, you can easily create warm or cool tones.

If this all sounds a bit tricky, thats okay. Over time with practice you’ll start to see how the settings interact with one another.  It’s worth the effort when you get it right, but most of the fun is in the trying.

Go ahead and dare to go manual, get accustomed to setting your tripod, shutter, aperture, ISO and white balance, I guarantee you’ll stumble across something fun.

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Early Morning shot at f9,  1/640 shutter ISO 250  300mm
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Dark waters f32,  1/5 shutter ISO 250 105mm
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Sparkles  f22,  1/25 shutter ISO 400 24mm
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Sun Kiss f36,  1/3 shutter ISO 125mm

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Sun Glare f10,  1/250  ISO 200 50mm

Welcome to Daily Dose

Welcome to my world of photography! I am so excited to share my work with you. My art encompasses pretty much everything; from macro bugs and flowers, to lakes and mountains, to landscapes around the world. Not to mention, a touch of architecture as well as a few babies and birds to make you smile. I live on the shores of Lake Ontario and I love to explore the movement of the water. If you’re interested, I’ll not only tell you how I captured the image, but even how I rendered it with a bit of photoshop – which sometimes, can be the most fun.

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Ice on Lake Ontario, Kingston
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The milky way over Lk Ontario with added guests
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A visit to Calgary
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Sunrise on ice under the dock, with added guest
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Mt. Assiniboine, British Columbia
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Hole in ice with added sunrise for punch

Summer Bugs

It's a hot July, one of the hottest in decades and the garden is 
receiving guests. I've noticed the milkweed plants seem to be 
prolific this year and I've spotted the odd Monarch Butterfly 
fluttering about. When our kids were younger, we use to raise a 
couple of monarchs every summer.
Butterflies and other insects are a great opportunity to practice
using our cameras on faster shutter speeds, capturing a nano second 
of life. I often use a macro lens but any lens you have will get the job done. Macro's tend to give a fairly shallow depth of field, 
meaning much of your photo will be out of focus. That's ok as it 
makes our subject stand out. 
Photographing insects requires patience. If you have a garden or are lucky enough to find yourself wandering in alpine meadows, take a 
moment to stand still long enough to spot some activity. 
I find it easier to use automatic focus. 
The nice thing about shooting insects on a bright sunny day is you 
can get your shutter up to some pretty fast speeds, The bee flying 
away from the white daisy was shot at 1/3200 with the ISO up to 400.  Bees in particular are very quick, it may look like they're just 
hanging around but their wings are not stagnant.
Sometimes I like to add my own texture to a photo. The photo with a 
bee hive as background is two photos stacked.
The photo of just the dragonfly wings are taken from a dead dragonfly that my daughter kindly brought home thinking I might like to 
photograph it. 
Pretty much all the photos here have been cropped to show off the 
insect. It's a fine line between cropping in to show your subject and
cropping in too much to the point where your insect looks obviously 
photoshopped and not realistic.
Everyone's camera settings are going to be different, try setting the camera on shutter priority starting with a really high shutter like 
1/2000, if it's too dark, adjust your ISO to a higher number.
Happy hunting and bee creative.

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