Beautiful Beginnings Photography on TV!

Last month I received a message from a friend and fellow photographer asking me if I would be interested in doing an interview on CTV. I couldn’t pass up that opportunity, so of course I said yes! I was put in contact with one of the producers of the morning show and she explained to me what they were looking for. They wanted me to provide 4-5 tips on capturing better landscape images!

 

Here are the 5 tips that I came up with.

 

1. Shoot when the light creates the best affect.. Early morning after sunrise and evening just before sunset. The light at these times is a beautiful golden colour that adds warmth to the images. It also creates longer and less harsh shadows making the image more appealing

 

2. Look for different perspective. Take the image at a different height level – try shooting down low from your stomach. It’s ok to still shoot at eye level but looking for that different angle or perspective will give you a different take on the location that you are taking images at. You will come away with images that other people might not have.

 

3. Where to place the horizon. Placing the horizon in the upper or lower 1/3 of the image often gives the image more balance. When I am deciding where I want my horizon line. I look at the scene that I am shooting and decided whether I want more sky or foreground in my image. Sometimes when you are shooting on a beach and the lake is like glass, you have a gorgeous reflection. Then I would place the horizon in the centre, that way you get that mirrored image.

 

4. Don’t be afraid to shoot in the rain. Raining days can make for some amazing images. The rain helps to bring out the colours in grasses, flowers, buildings etc.  Always protect your camera when out in the rain. A cheap alternative to an extensive rain cover is to use a shower cap.

 

5. Know your location that you are taking your pictures. Go out and scout the area before you take any images. Check the area in various light situations. Time of day could be the key to a great shot.

 

Here is the link to the interview!

 

http://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=654007

A Bucket List Shot

Like every photographer I have a bucket list of shots that I would love to take. I recently was able to check one of those shots off of my bucket list. I have always wanted a shot of a shelf cloud over Downtown Winnipeg.  On Sunday Jun 7/15 I got my wish. What I didn’t expect was that I would have to take that shot with my iPhone and the other thing that I didn’t except was how popular that shot became.

I knew I had a good shot the moment I took it and I liked it even better when I did my editing that I normally do with all my shots. I prefer to spend as little time behind the computer as possible, so my editing of this image took me no more then about  1 minute.

For me this image just proves that you don’t need a top of the line camera in order to take great shots. You need to learn about photography and develop your eye. A big expensive camera isn’t magically going to make you a great photographer. In order for me to get where I am today I did a lot of reading, failing, and practicing. image (5) copy

 

 

Recent Publications!

I am very happy to announce that October was a great month for Beautiful Beginnings Photography! I know this announcement is a little late but figured better late then never!

I had two images published in October one in a national photography magazine and the other in a book published by the local bookstore. Below are the two images.

Published in Photolife Magazine’s Oct/Nov issue as part of there best of photo clubs contest

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Published in McNally Robinson’s Winnipeg by Winnipeg book

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Nova Scotia – Peggy’s Cove Day 1 & 2

My journey started at 900a in Winnipeg, my flight to Halifax left the airport at 1000a with one stop over in Ottawa. The layover in Ottawa was a little longer then planned as the flight was delayed by 20 mins. I arrived in Halifax shortly before 600p after picking up my luggage I headed down to the parking garage to pick up my rental car for my journey.

After getting my rental car I headed out to Peggy’s Cove. My goal for the trip was to maximize my shooting times by staying on site and or near the areas of interest that I had wanted to shoot. The bonus of staying in Peggy’s Cove was the easy access to the village and lighthouse during the golden hours which is the best time to do landscape photography(plus you avoid the bus loads of tourists that come during the day) I arrived shortly after 730p and check into the Peggy’s Cove B & B. After a long day of travelling it was time to head up to the restaurant to pick up what was the 1st of many lobster rolls on the trip!

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The next morning started out with me getting up just before sunrise to head out to do some shooting in and around the village. The one thing that I forget to consider was that Peggy’s Cove isn’t flat like the prairies so the golden light just after sunrise doesn’t happen just after sunrise you have to wait for the sunlight to crest over the hills. The best part about shooting at this time other then the light was that it was low tide. I had an hour to do some shooting before breakfast was to be served at the B & B. There are so many things to shoot in the harbor area of Peggy’s Cove that I made sure to focus on the details.

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Shortly before 830a I headed back to the B & B for a fantastic breakfast! After breakfast I had a great chat with all the guest and the owners of the B & B. Dan, Judy, and Sharon were wonderful hosts and made me feel like I was at home. I even meet a wonderful couple who enjoy photography and were from Steinbach, MB! We headed out to shoot the sunset later on that night.
After breakfast I decided to head out and do some scouting of the lighthouse area to find a good area to shoot the sunset. I also did some shooting at this time. It was time for lunch so I headed into Indian Harbor to a restaurant that was recommended to me by the B & B owners and that was Rhubarb’s. I had the fantastic fish and chips which were gluten free.

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After lunch I decided to see the Swiss Air Flight 111 Memorial. Swiss Air 111 crashed off the coast of Nova Scotia near Peggy’s Cove on September 2, 1998. Sadly all 229 people on board died. There are two memorial sites in Nova Scotia one of them near Peggy’s Cove and the other in Bayswater which is where the unidentified victims of the crash are buried. The memorial site is located at what is called the Whalesback and over looks the ocean with a direct site line to the crash site.

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I headed back to the B & B for a nap before shooting the sunset!

There were wispy clouds over Peggy’s Cove all day and it looked like it was shaping up to be a great sunset but what we got was fantastic! Before I headed to the lighthouse I took some more time to shoot the harbor.

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The clouds ended up being in perfect position over the lighthouse. I climbed some of the rocks to get a awesome advantage point!

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Day 2 in Peggy’s Cove was actually just the morning. I was heading out to Lunenburg but not after having another fantastic breakfast and doing some more shooting around the lighthouse and harbor. The morning was perfect as there wasn’t much wind and I was able to get some great reflections of the lighthouse in the pool of water that are on the rocks. I did some more shooting at low tide and was able to watch some of the tide come in which was pretty neat! Dan one of the owners of the B & B took a shot of me with the lighthouse in the background before I headed out to Lunenburg!

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Coming soon…… Lunenburg, Blue Rocks, and Mahone Bay!

Storm Chasing – July 13, 2013 near Pipestone, MB

On Saturday Morning July 13, 2013 Environment Canada issued a tornado watch for the Southwestern part of Manitoba. A group of fellow photographers had planned to head down to Northern Minnesota to shoot some abandoned buildings. When my fellow chase partner and photographer saw the watches we decided to change our plans and head to South Western Manitoba to do some storm chasing.

Four of us left Winnipeg around 130p that day. Storms were predicated to fire around 5p that day. We travel with a laptop that has GPS and radar. We use GRlevel radar it shows us the size of the hail and any rotation that maybe in the storm. One of the most useful things that GRlevel allows us to do is to have our GPS location in relation to where the storm is. This helps us stay out of the bear cage (this is the area of the heaviest rain and largest hail) on the other side of the bear cage is were the tornado would be. This is very helpful when out in the field.Once we arrived in Virden, MB which is an hour west of Brandon, MB we check the radar to see the progress of the storms. The 1st storm in the line of cells was the cell to watch at that moment but we had received reports of baseball to tennis ball sized hail so we wanted to stay away from the core of that storm. We decided to head south down highway 83 towards Melita this would give us the best advantage point as the storms were currently moving to the East (they started out moving North East). We found a nice canola field in between the towns of Pipestone and Melita. We stayed there for about 1/2 hour shooting the advancing storm. The images below are of a shelf cloud. Shelf clouds are at the front of the storm and have very high winds in there so we couldn’t stay in that location for much longer.

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After checking the radar there were 5 or 6 supercells all lined up in a row and the majority of them had rotation in them (meaning that they had the potiental to produce a tornado). The cell that was closest to Pipestone MB had the strongest rotation. We decided to head further south. We passed the town of Meltia and notice that the storm had started to head towards us. A quick check on the radar told us that the storm had change directions yet again this time they were moving southeast. We found another canola field and train tracks and starting shooting again. We notice a second storm coming towards us. We stayed in this location for about 20 mins and decided to head back North past the town of Melita to where the storm was weakest and ride out the rain.

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After we waited out the rain we headed back up highway 83 as we got closer to the Hwy 2 junction and the town of Pipestone we started to notice down trees on the highway. They were completely blocking the southbound lanes. We saw an RCMP officer near the train tracks and decided it would be a good idea to let them know. This is when I noticed the train track crossing lights had been damaged. The officer started to point out to me the additional damage and said that they believed a tornado had been through the area. There were pieces of a metal shed that had been crumpled into a ball and were stuck in a farmers fence.

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As we started driving towards the town of Pipestone we notice more damage. Luckily no one was injured or died in the storm. I believe the people of Pipestone played a big roll in keeping people safe. There were a lot of people that were staying in trailers and the residence took those people into their basements with them, which I believe prevented injuries.

We started heading back home down HWY 2 once we passed the town of Souris, MB we were treated to a beautiful rainbow and Mammatus clouds. A great way to end the chase day!

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As of the writing of this blog Environment Canada has yet to confirm whether or not a tornado had hit the town of Pipestone or if it was straight line winds(these types of winds can cause damage like a tornado would) There was one person that had reported seeing a tornado 20 km from Pipestone but I haven’t seen any photographs of it. The storm that went through Pipestone was consider a HP (high precipitation) supercell so if there was a tornado chances are no one saw. This is why theses types of storms are incredibly dangerous. Environment Canada has estimated from the damage that winds were anywhere from 100 km – 170 km/hr. Environment Canada is currently looking at the radar history to determine if it was a tornado that hit Pipestone.

I am an amateur storm chaser and my goal is to become much more knowledgeable about storms so that I can continue photographing the amazing structures that these storms have to offer.

Southeast Saskatchewan and The Andre Gallant Workshop

Our day started out really early on April 26 and when I mean early I mean 3:00AM! There was a group of us photographers that were heading out to the Andre Gallant Workshop in Assiniboia, SK. Four of us were carpooling together and the leave time was 4:00AM. We had hoped to be in a good shooting position for the sunrise but that morning the sunrise was pretty boring. We had reach the outskirts of Brandon, MB by that time so we decided to stop for breakfast.

We arrived in Assinboia shortly after noon. We check into our motel which was a very nice.  Assinboia is a very small town with 2 hotel/motel in total. After checking into our rooms we headed to the restaurant for lunch after that we heading over to the venue were the Andre Gallant Workshop would be held the next day. They had a beautiful venue as well as a really nice art gallery. Afterwards we heading down to the trail tracks and the grain elevators to scout out that location. A lot of small towns in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are farming towns so there is usually a grain elevator and rail tracks.

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On Saturday it was off to the Andre Gallant Workshop from 9a-4p with an hour and a half in between for lunch. They had a couple of door prizes to giveaway and I was lucky enough to have won one! It was an autographed Andre Gallant book and I got to pick which one. I picked his new book called Inspiration. I didn’t know what to expect out of the workshop as this was my first one and I was really excited. Andre Gallant is an excellent speaker and put on an amazing presentation. He has traveled all over the world and has some amazing images! He taught us a variety of techniques, of which I was able to try out when I got back home. I have to say that I was really inspired when I left his workshop to try out some of his techniques!

Saturday night we were planning on going to a abandoned church on a hill but it clouded over and it didn’t look like it wasn’t going to clear, but we were wrong! As we came out from having supper we notice the lighting, and then looked to towards the west and saw what had the making of a beautiful sunset. Not having enough time to make it to the church we ended up heading down to the train tracks and I managed to get a couple of really great shots!

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On Sunday (our last day in Sask.) we decided to get up early and head out to do a sunrise shoot. We ended up stopping at the church on hill and I am glad that we did! Below are a couple of my favorite shots of the church!

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This is a 20 plus shot pano of the church after sunrise. The lighting is beautiful as the sun is behind me and has just started to peak over the hill.

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Our next stop was this beautiful stone cottage with silos close to it.

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On our way back to town for breakfast we stop at this abandoned farm that was on a hill. We would have love to have gotten closer to it but the fields were wet and flooded. This is another pano shot of the abandoned farm on the hill.

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After breakfast we packed up and headed home. We stopped in the ghost town of Horizon, SK. on the way home. This place was a photographers dream. There are two abandoned silos on the track, a playground, and a couple of houses that were left.
The group had an amazing weekend at the workshop with a lot of laughs and we learned a lot too!

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The minute I saw this play structure I knew I had to shot. I had a image of my head of a post apocalyptic seen like something out of The Walking Dead.

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As mention above I learnt a lot from the Andre Gallant Workshop and one of which was how to do panning correctly. I managed to try this technic out when another photographer and I went to Fort Whyte Alive. The below shot is an image of dogwood. I then process the image using one of Andre Gallant’s editing technique called dreamscape. To create the dreamscapes I open the image in photoshop, then I duplicated the layer so that I have two layers that are the same. I brighten the first image and then I used the guassian blur filter that comes with photoshop. After that I went under the layers drop down menu and selected multiply to allow the first image to merge with the second. You may have brighten up the image after it has been merge as sometime it can be a little dark. This creates the dream look effect.

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Why Shooting in Inclement Weather is a Good Idea – Part 1 Rain

When most people see that it is going to be raining or snowing they stay inside. Being a photographer shooting in these conditions can be amazing which can result in some unique and fantastic images.

Back in October I decided to head out to do some shooting in the rain. While I admit shooting in the rain is quite difficult, there are a number of things that make it easier. First would be to dress for the weather and the 2nd is never leave the house without a lens coat, lenscoat.com makes great lens coats and best of all they cover the body so its not just the lens that is protected. If you don’t have a lens coat you can always use a shower cap with a whole cut in it for the lens. I decided to head to the Basilica, the Basilica is one of the most photographed places in Winnipeg. Trying to find a unique way to photograph the facade is a challenge. This is why I thought that shooting it in the rain and at night would be something unique and different. I had shot the Basilica a couple of nights before in the rain but hadn’t gotten the shot that I wanted. Being able to visualize a shot before you shoot it usually results in a much better image.

My goal for this shot was to include the Basilica’s iron gate in the shot. In order to do that I would need to take multiple images as the dynamic range in the shot was quit drastic. The gates are black and aren’t well lit but the Basilica is bathed in light. I learnt the technique for the shot below in a book by Lance Keimig called Night Photography. Night Photography is an excellent book that I highly recommend. The below shot is was 7 images merge together with photoshop HDR. In order to take the 7 shots your camera should be set to manual, I used my auto focus to get the focus right and then I switch off auto focus before I started taken my shots. I used f/9 as an aperture and ISO 800. Make sure that your camera is on a tripod as you will have longer shutter speeds. Take 1 shot with what your cameras meter shows as a perfect exposure then take 6 shots from there 3 by stepping down your exposure by 1 stop each time and 3 others by stepping up your exposure by 1 stop each time. So you should have 7 shots with the following exposures +3 EV, +2 EV, +1 EV, 0(which is what you camera meter shows as a perfect exposure), -1 EV, -2 EV, -3 EV. You should have 7 different images with 7 different tonal ranges. See below images for examples.

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1. What your cameras light meter thinks is the perfect exposure for the scene
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2. -1 EV
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3. -2 EV
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4. -3 EV
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5. +1 EV
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6. +2 EV
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7. +3 EV
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As I said above the reason why I took multiple images is because of the Dynamic Range in the scene. This makes it hard for the camera meter to get the perfect exposure. Image #1 is what the camera meter though was a perfect exposure and you will notice that the highlights on the basilica are a bit overexposure so you lose the detail. If you look at the images that are underexposed you will notice more details in the highlights (lighter areas in the scene) but you lose all the details in the shadows (darker areas in the scene). The opposite is true with the overexposed images you have detail in the shadows but lose all the detail in the highlights. By merging multiple images together you should get a much better dynamic range.

I used Bridge to merge the images into photoshops HDR. Once the images are merge together this is where you can adjust your HDR settings. With this image I only adjusted the detail which I set to around 100%. In photoshop HDR you can go as high as 300% for a surrealistic HDR look. I had wanted a more realistic HDR look so this is why I went with 100% detail. After making your adjustments you will have to save the image. After this I opened the image up in Camera Raw and adjusted the white balance – because the scene had a lot of yellow in it I add some blue to the image is cuts down on the overall yellow tone in the image. I also adjusted the blacks to make sure that the sky and gate looked black. I added some fill light to make sure that the gate stands out as much as possible without adding any noise to the image. I also added a little contrast +10, and a bit of clarity to the image. Below is the final image.

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Part 2 on shooting in blowing snow coming soon!

A Foggy Frosty December Morning

I woke up Saturday morning to a photographers dream (while at least this photographers dream) of dense fog and hoar frost! There is nothing more beautiful then hoar frost clinging to the trees and adding in the fog makes it all the more beautiful! Although on a cloudy day with lots of fog the hoar frost doesn’t pop as much as if it were a clear sky but still beautiful!

I had wanted to head out to the abandoned town of Ste. Elizabeth to shoot the abandoned buildings but with the dense fog outside of the city I figured it would be safer to stay inside the city to shoot. I went to several locations throughout the morning. I started in the exchange district, and then I made a stop at the St. Boniface Basilica. After finishing up at the Basilica, I headed to the area around the mint and finally my last stop was the floodway in the south part of the city. The floodway is just outside the city of Winnipeg and it protects the city from major flooding by diverting the water around the city. Even driving out to the floodway was a bit of a challenge trying to merge into traffic when you can’t see anyone coming is a little nerve racking but well worth the shots that I got out there.

There is a trick to photographing fog. Your camera’s light meter has a hard time reading fog so, if you expose the image for what your camera says is the right exposure you won’t capture the scene as your eye sees it. You will have to overexpose your image by 1 stop or so (it’s best to play around with your settings to make sure that you don’t overexpose the image too much) either using the exposure compensation function on your camera or if you are shooting in manual you can manually overexpose the image.

The 1st stop was the Exchange District. The Exchange District has a lot of older brick buildings. This image was taken about 20 minutes before sunrise.

The next stop was near The Forks. This is a walkway that goes from Waterfront Drive to Provencher Blvd. This image was taken just before the sunrise.

This is a view from the St. Boniface side of the Red River towards Downtown. You can barely see the bridge!

The St. Boniface Basilica is one of my favorite places to shoot in Winnipeg. I have never shot it in the fog before and I find that the fog really adds to the image. I also had the added bonus of having a photographer walking in the image.

This is shoot from inside the Basilica ruins out towards the street.

This image was taken near the Mint off of Fermor Blvd.

One of the last stops was the floodway. The frost was even thicker outside of the city and it clung to the plants beautifully.

This is the overpass that goes over the floodway. There is a road that goes under the bridges and I was able to get a different perspective to really illustrate just how thick the fog was that morning.

This image is one of my favorites. It was taken near the Mint and because of the thick fog you can’t see the residential neighborhood that is in the background. The fog also helps to give this image a high key look.

This is The Royal Canadian Mint shrouded in fog. The Mint open in Winnipeg in 1976. The Mint in Winnipeg produces all the circulating coins for Canada as well as coins for over 70 different countries includes Cuba and Iceland.

This one was taken on the way home from shooting.

 

 

 

A Cold Manitoba Night, The Northern Lights, and a 3/4 Full Moon

A group of photographers headed out on Friday Nov 23rd to photograph the Northern Lights. It was a cold night in Southern Manitoba with the temperatures hovering around -20 celsius. One tip about shooting in the cold is that cold weather drains the batteries faster than shooting in warmer temperatures. The best bet when shooting in the cold is make sure you have extra batteries, and always keep that extra set close to your body so that it stays warm and doesn’t freeze! After going back and forth about whether or not to head up Lake Winnipeg and have the half frozen lake as a foreground, we ended up going to an Abandoned Barn and out building close to Oak Hammock Marsh. We bundled up and headed out at 7:30pm.  As we hit the Perimeter we noticed a band of Northern Lights dancing and intensifying the closer we go to the barn. Once we got to the barn we jumped out of the car and hurried up to get all our gear set up to to capture the amazing sight. By the time that I got set up and everything focus the band had started to disappear.

To get the angle of the shot below I had to trek threw knee deep snow! It doesn’t look like we had that much snow but out in the open prairie with the wind blowing it creates snow drifts.

Sometimes having a full moon takes away from the intensity of the Northern Lights but it was only 3/4 full so it light up the foreground nicely. There was also a fresh dusting of snow that sparkled in the moonlight which added a nice touch to the images.

A view of the abandoned farm with a northern lights band above.

After 3 hours my toes were frozen so I had to take a break and warm them up in the car. Shortly after I went to the car to warm up the group decided to call it a night even thought the northern lights were still out. We were all chilly, but I think the camera gear was colder then I was! By the end of the night the camera was covered in frost (there was a lot of moisture in the air that night) but I was really impressed with how well my batteries lasted during the cold night shoot.

Lest We Forget – Gun Salute Manitoba Legislative Building

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, the guns fell silent to mark the end of the First World War. It was a year later after the armistice was signed that Remembrance Day started.  Canadians pay tribute to the fallen soliders of WW1, WW2, the Korean War, the Afganistan conflict, and the peacekeeping missions with 2 minutes of silence.

Winnipeg marks Remembrance Day with a number of different tributes around the city. One of them is the 21 Gun Salute at the Manitoba Legislature Building. The 21 Gun Salute is fired for military and naval honor. After the 2 minutes of silence, the gun salute begins.

 

 

I was struck by this story that was shown on CBC today. This is the story of this years Silver Cross Mother. The Silver Cross Mother is chosen each year to lay a wreath during the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial  on behalf of all mothers that have lost there children in the service of their country. Her son was a combat photographer who was killed in Afghanistan. The images that are shown in the video are amazing and really tell a story which in my option is make of a great photographer. http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/TV+Shows/The+National/ID/2302756832/

 

 

                                 In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- John McCrae