Tips for Photographing Landscapes

In landscape photography there are two times in the day that are the best times to head out and shoot. They are what photographers call the golden hours. The best time in the morning is to shot a half hour or hour before and after sunrise. In the afternoon it would be a half hour or hour before and after the sunset. The reason for that is because when the sun is lower on the horizon it creates shadows and different textures on the scenes that we are shooting. If you were to go out at noon when the sun is at its highest you won’t see a lot of shadows and the scene could be washed out meaning the colors are muted. One of my favorite times to shoot is called the “Blue Hour” which happens just before the sunrises or after the sun sets. It creates a beautiful blue hue to your images.

The images above are a great example of why shooting in the early morning hours when the sun is low in the horizon creates more visually interesting images. If the sun was higher in the sky you won’t have the beams of light coming threw the trees in both the images. The early morning ground fog also adds to the mood of the images.

Due to the time of day that you are shooting landscapes you will always need to have your camera on a tripod. Having your camera on a tripod will ensure that you don’t have blurry images, as most of the time you’ll have a slower shutter speed as the available light goes away. There are a couple of things that you need to do when having your camera on a tripod to make sure that it doesn’t produce blurry images. The first thing is if you have image stabilizing on your lens is to turn that off. The next thing is lock your mirrors. This will prevent the mirror from moving and therefore prevent any shaking which can cause blurry images. You should also have a cable release to trigger the shutter without you having to press the shutter button which can also cause blurry images.

Slow Shutters help to create motion in your photos. Taking a picture of moving water with cause a silky effect and taking one of the clouds will cause a softening effect. Both of these effects can be taking later in the day with a Neutral Density filter. It will darken your shot enough so that you can use a slower shutter.

You should rarely place the horizon line in the center of your image. Placing the horizon line in the upper or lower part of the photograph creates a strong composition and more vision interest in the image. If you look at all the top landscape photographers like Ansel Adams, most of their images have the horizon line in the upper or lower part of the image. Also look for a different perspective then everyone else, try and not shot at eye level. Getting lower down or higher up will great a different and unique perspective.

Being patient in landscape photography is a must. Waiting for the right lighting and weather conditions can make or break your image. If you shoot the shot in midday your image will look flat and washed out but if you wait till the golden hour you will have beautiful textures and shadows in your image which makes it more a three-dimensional image instead of two dimensional which is what the camera photographs in. While some of us may not like getting up before the sun rises, it is well worth it. There are many different elements that can be captured before and about an hour after the sun comes up. Fog, hoarfrost, glass like water(as there is usually no wind that early in the morning) are but a few. If you wait till the sun has been up for a while you’ll likely miss out on the fog and hoar frost because the sun will burn of the fog and the hoar frost will melt. While you won’t get the fog or hoar frost during the sunsets or twilight you will get glass like water and will be able to get some amazing reflections.

The shot above was taken on the 3rd day of hoar frost and fog that we had in Winnipeg. On both the 1st and 2nd day the frost and fog was gone by the time the sunset. As I wasn’t able to make it out in the morning to shot I was happy to see that late in the afternoon it was even foggier then before and the hoar frost was still there. The fog and the hoar frost add two unique elements to the shot which would have otherwise been just a shot of the train tracks.

In landscape photography it defiantly pays to get up early and stay up late!

 

How to Photograph Snow

Have you ever wonder why it is that when you take a picture of snow it turns grey and doesn’t appear white like you saw? It’s because of the way the light meter reads the scene. It reads everything in 18% grey. Why is that? The camera meter doesn’t see color it only reflects light off of grey shades. 18% grey is the middle.

How do we get the camera to see what our eyes see?

The best way that I have found to do this is to overexpose the image by +1-stop using the exposure compensation function. Now you many need to adjust how much you over expose your image, sometimes you may need to overexpose by +2 stops this will depend on the scene that you are measuring. You will have to take a couple of test shots to make sure that you have the correct exposure for the snow.

Above photo taken without exposure compensation – notice in the above picture how grey the snow looks.

Taken with exposure compensation +1. Curve levels, vibrance, and saturation adjust in Photoshop. Curve levels were adjusted to take out the overall yellow tone that was in the trees. Vibrance and saturation levels were adjusted to make the sky stand out more.

Is there anything else I can do?

One thing that is really helpful when photographing snow is to have your highlight warnings or “blinkes” on. This will allow you to see any areas that are overexposed and blown out, meaning no detail is in that specific area. Another must when photographing snow or any other photographs is to photograph in Camera Raw. This allows you to adjust a lot more of the image in post processing as there is more data contained in these images then in the JPEG images.

A Frosty Morning in Southern Manitoba

Living in the prairies can often mean long cold winters, except this year. This year has been different as it is the 3rd warmest winter on record in Manitoba.  The warmer temperatures combine with the high humidity, which create some great photo opportunities. The opportunities come in the way of a lot of fog and beautiful hoar frost that covers the trees. This week we were treated to four days of this weather and beauty. On the fourth day we were also treated to a clear blue sky which creates a great contrast to the frost white trees.

I headed out to Birds Hill Park just before the sunrise to capture some images of the frost. Birds Hill Park is about 10 minutes from the Perimeter in Winnipeg (the Perimeter is a highway that surrounds the city). It is a great place to photograph the frost as well as some wildlife. One place that I really enjoyed shooting at was the Kudlowich Homestead its an early 20th century farmhouse that is located in a wooded area.

These are a couple of my favorite shots from the morning. I will talk more about how to photograph snow in the the next post:)

 

Creating goals before going out shooting

I find that it’s important to set goals for yourself before you head out shooting. By goals I mean what do you want to capture when you go out. Focus your energy on that and you will notice a difference in your photos.

I did this when I went out to Matlock, MB to shoot the frozen lake and the surrounding areas. My first goal was to showcase the colours in the sunrise. The second was to showcase the vastness of the prairies.

In order to achieve the color in the sunrise without throwing everything in the foreground into a silhouette, you’ll need to take multiple shots at different exposures and then blend them together. In easy way to do this is in Photomatix by using the Exposure Fusion application. Why do it this way? If you expose for the foreground you will overexpose the sky and the sun. if you expose for the sun and sky you will underexpose the foreground.

The second goal was to showcase the vastness of the prairie landscape in winter. This is all about the lens choice. I started out with my 24mm-105mm lens shooting at 24mm(which on a non full frame camera is about 38mm). As you can see in the picture below it doesn’t showcase what I wanted so this is when i decided to take out my 10mm-20mm lens. Shooting at 10mm(which on a non full frame camera is 16mm) I came up with the 2nd shot below. This is the vastness that I wanted to portray. Most of the time with photography it’s playing around with different lens and exposure’s to get the desired look that you want. This is why it is important to set a goal for yourself every time you go out shooting. Think to yourself what do I want to achieve today?

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Happy Shooting!

 

 

My top ten favorite places to shoot in Southern Manitoba – Part 2

#6 St. Vital Park – While this park is smaller then Assiniboine Park, it still has some great location to do portraits and landscapes. There are many well treed areas with walking paths throughout. These pathways add a great element to portrait pictures. One of my favorite things about St.Vital Park are the red bridges. They add a great element to any portrait shoot and add a nice pop of color to any landscape shot, especially in the winter!

#7 Town of Dunnator Train Museum – This is located about 5 minutes from Matlock Beach. It was moved from it original location and restored. It sits right beside the train tracks, which are still in use today. Although the train doesn’t carry passengers, it carries whiskey! This makes a great place for portrait photography. There are old suite cases and wagon’s around the museum that make for great props.

 

#8 The Exchange District – This area in Downtown Winnipeg has some great turn of the 20th century building. If you love to photograph old buildings then this area is the place for you. The exchange district covers 30 blocks, but the best place to shoot is in the
area of Albert Street. This is also another great place to do portrait photography as the buildings create unique backdrops.

 

#9 The Forks – The forks is also located in downtown Winnipeg. It gets its name from were the Assiniboine and Red River meet. There are a lot of interesting places to shoot around the forks. There is the skate park, Johnston Terminal, the balcony at the top of the tower which is located in the the forks market building. If you are lucky enough the river walkway will be open (sadly most of the time it is flooded out because it is right along the river).

#10 Train Museum located at the Via Rail Station – This is a very interesting place to shoot. There are a ton of old trains and other interesting objects at the museum. It is located on the 2nd floor of the Via Rail Station, which is located in downtown Winnipeg. The lighting isn’t the greatest so a tripod is a must for this place.

Happy Shooting!

My top 10 places to shoot in Southern Manitoba – Part 1

#1 Matlock Beach, MB – I grew up going to the beach in Matlock. As I got more into photography I realize what a great place it was. The wooden piers add a unique element to the pictures as they jet out over the water. It’s a perfect place for sunrise photographs
#2 Cooks Creek Church – Cooks Creek Church is an amazing place to photograph. There are some many different elements of the church and grotto that one can shoot. The church was built in the 1930′s by the people of Cooks Creek. The entire church inside
and out was hand painted, which gives it a unique look. The church is located in the town of Cooks Creek. Unfortunately due to vandalism of the church and grotto there are only certain times that you can visit the church. The church is open May long weekend to September long weekend noon-6p. They are only opened on the weekends.
# 3 St. Boniface Basilica – This is probably one of the most photographed places in Winnipeg. The original basilica was built in 1908 but most of it was destroyed in a big fire in 1968 leaving the ruins. This is a beautiful place to photograph, there are numerous trees
and a cemetery surrounding the Basilica, which allows for some pretty picturesque photographs. It’s a great place to do wedding and portraits
#4 The Whitemouth River – My husband stumbled across this view of the Whitemouth River when he was out hunting. The river is located in the Sandilands about an hour and a half outside of Winnipeg. The Sandilands is area that is mostly muskeg, there are is no soil under the trees but instead there is sand, hence the name. This area is particularly beautiful in the fall time when the tamarack’s have turned yellow.
# 5 English Garden’s/Leo Mol Sculpture Garden’s – The gardens are located in Assiniboine Park. This is a particularly good place to photograph flowers, bugs, and birds.
This is also a awesome place for wedding and portrait photo’s. The stone wall that is outside of the garden is beautiful and has flower pots that change with the
spring, summer, and fall seasons.
Sometimes all you have to do is look out your window and a shot will appear! Happy shooting!