The Great Outdoors

An Unedited Sunrise

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This is so rare I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever done it, but here are two shots of this morning’s sunrise straight out of the camera — no editing whatsoever. You can even see the dust/dirt marks on the lens that I usually clone out.

I’m sure there are photographers who would HDR these to death (can you tell I’m not a fan of heavy HDR?), but nature does just fine on her own.

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Edited versions in the album: Portugal [Autumn 2014]

Mississauga Family Shoot

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

2013 has been one PACKED year, and I am still catching up with blogging the commissioned shoots I’ve done in the past six months. This one from June was one of my favourite family shoots, because I adore the location and everyone was relaxed, happy, goofy, and up for anything I suggested, including climbing trees. (I do this as much as I can! Eg., A&J, A&T, Sandy.)

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

I did ask for goofy. It’s a family shoot after all!

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

Siblings pretending to like each other:

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

The “boy” is heading off to university, so I asked for a story about when he was little, and his mom told me he used to cling to her, hanging on so tightly she could barely move around. Aw!

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

We had perfect weather (it had recently rained, which brings out the greens), and hardly anyone was around on a Saturday afternoon. That’s one of the reasons I love the location — it’s quite private, even though it’s a public park, and it’s very photogenic, with an open bridge, reflective pond, landscaped gardens, and lots of trees. If you’re in Mississauga, head over to the UofT campus towards Lislehurst, the principal’s residence at the end of Principal’s Road past the Forensic Anthropology Field School, a left turn off Outer Circle Road, from Mississauga Road.

Mississauga family shoot, UTM

For the rest of the family shoot album, see below:

[thumbnails]
[full-screen slideshow]

Sunday At Serralves: Festa De Outono

Serralves (Porto): Sweetgum Tree Avenue

Serralves: Sweetgum Tree Avenue

Serralves is Paulo’s favourite garden in the city of Porto. We spent all of Sunday here, to take in an Autumn Festival (“Festa De Outono”) loaded with family activities. As you can imagine the park was teeming with kids, but most of the time it is very tranquil. Serralves is much more than a garden, however, it’s actually a very large complex and grounds which would take much more than one visit to explore.

Official site: Serralves (Portuguese), English version

Serralves (Porto)

From Wikipedia:

Serralves is a cultural institution located in Porto, Portugal, and one of the most important of all the country. It includes a Contemporary Art Museum, a Park and a Villa, each one an example of contemporary architecture, Modernism, and Art Deco architecture. The Museum, designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira, is now the most visited museum in Portugal (more than 300,000 visitors per year) and one of most relevant in the contemporary art circuit in Europe.

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

We’ll be back again soon, when there isn’t an event going on. I’ve started an album here:

[thumbnails]
[full-screen slideshow]

Kim + Greg: Winter Engagement Shoot In Ottawa

Kim + Greg's eshoot in Ottawa

Mother Nature didn’t cooperate in Toronto for the first planned date of Kim and Greg’s engagement shoot at the end of December, so we took the shoot to Ottawa a week later, where we had perfect weather. I think Mother Nature wanted me to shoot in Ottawa after all — look how photogenic it is! I fell in love with that big tree on my last visit to Ottawa at Easter, and little did I know I would be using it the following winter.

I’m also convinced Mother Nature was telling me I needed to ditch Toronto for a weekend, because the whole trip ran like clockwork, from ride-sharing to the engagement shoot to spending time with friends.

Kim and Greg are outdoorsy people, which I wanted to capture by photographing them outside, in their natural state. The thing about Ottawa is you have to embrace winter, including willful ignorance of the NO TOBOGGANING signs.

I saw more people jogging in Sunday’s snowfall than I saw pedestrians. That’s hardcore! But that’s the only way to truly enjoy winter: get outside. However, we were also very lucky with plenty of sunshine on Saturday so we made it an all-day shooting session.

Kim and Greg are having a summer wedding, which is also outdoors — hooray!

The full album (which will probably grow a bit more from today) is best viewed as a full-screen slideshow.

Sneak Peek: Ring In Winter

Kim + Greg's eshoot in Ottawa

Not buried in snow here in Toronto (most of it is melted), but buried in work. Here’s a preview of the outdoor engagement shoot in Ottawa last Saturday, where we did everything from ice skating, tobogganing, making snow angels and snow people, to lots of running around. We kept warm all day! It’s the best way to enjoy winter in Canada, especially in the capital region.

Last weekend was memorable for two other reasons:

  1. For the first time I used Craigslist rideshare as a passenger instead of a driver. (I’ve done a fair amount of rideshare driving, without incident. All my passengers were good.) Now I know what it feels like to be on the other side.
  2. I finally escaped from Toronto after the longest unbroken stint in the city ever: 3 months. Last year I set a new record of 2.5 months without an escape: September to mid-November, but then I caught up after that. For someone who is not a homebody, who enjoys very frequent weekend escapes, this was far too long without the mental break from work and I won’t ever do that again!

Kelley + Rob: Riviera Maya Destination Wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Now that the principal photography is out of the way for this season, it is high time I started posting the highlights albums… starting with Kelley and Rob’s beach wedding in Mexico. I posted some photos before (to illustrate how overcast is better for pictures), but here is a selection from the day and the rest will autoplay as a slideshow at the bottom.

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

The set has 102 photos, but only 85 are public (the rest are behind a guest pass).

[full-screen slideshow] — best viewing
[thumbnails]

The set will autoplay as a smaller slideshow below:

Jennifer + Andrew: Sneak Peek

Jennifer + Andrew's wedding

It’s not every day that s’mores make the wedding playbill, along with wedding cake and a First Dance. But this is Jennifer and Andrew’s wedding and it fits perfectly with them. Remember their engagement shoot in an apple orchard?

I had the distinct pleasure of shooting their wedding yesterday at Kortright Conservation Centre and this is just one frame of a record number of images in the collection. Stay tuned for hula hoop-ing, boogie-ing, wedding party-ing, and sparklers!

First Nightshots, Spring 2012

facing west

facing west

I had to run an errand further west and brought my camera along to try and catch some fog shots, but the sun totally disappeared and took the atmosphere with it. The sky became a flat grey and there was no visibility at all, so I ran the errand and returned to the lakeshore near my house after dark to see if the fog burned off.

It did, but the air wasn’t completely dry yet, which meant the first long exposure pictures I took lacked some clarity, as if the camera couldn’t quite focus through the mist. It took some post-production to get the pictures to look how I saw them in my head.

facing west

facing west

the boardwalk

the boardwalk

facing east

facing east

Aya + Kyle’s Engagement Shoot At The Beaches

Aya + Kyle

Aya and Kyle live in New York City, and when they emailed me back in early October to set up an engagement session in Toronto near the end of November the first thought that popped into my head was: “I sure hope I can convince them to shoot outside.” I mean, it’s the end of November and the end of autumn — chilly and windy, the trees were pretty bare, and since they don’t live in Toronto I had one morning to work with, plus a rain date (turned out, it rained that day). But I still wanted to shoot outside because it always looks better, in my opinion.

I sent along some suggestions with links to photos that I’d taken in those places, and they decided on Ashbridges Bay Park and the eastern beaches. (Real estate agents and most of the locals call the area “The Beaches”, but you know what? We have beaches in the West End, too. Anyway…) Then I crossed my fingers.

You’ll see in the photos that we got really lucky — not only did the sun shine from the hours of 9-11 that Friday morning, the wind didn’t pick up by the lake until the end of our session. The set is best viewed as a full-screen slideshow,  or just sit back and watch the set autoplay at the bottom of the post. Clicking on the slideshow will take you to the thumbnails in Flickr.

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Ashbridges Bay Park

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

Edited With Radlab

Ashbridges Bay Park

Ashbridges Bay Park

Enjoying my latest editing tool, RadLab from Get Totally Rad (out of California, natch), in a bid to make myself enjoy editing more (or hate it less). Haven’t been using RadLab long, but it’s definitely user-friendly, quick, and lighter on the hardware resources — all the things I want out of editing software. It’s a plugin, not an action, so you can preview everything instantly, including strengths for all adjustments. So far, so good, Radlab!

Aya + Kyle At The Beaches: Sneak Peek

Aya + Kyle

Aya + Kyle

This is just the tiniest of sneak peeks at this morning’s engagement session at Ashbridges Bay Park and the Beaches with Aya and Kyle, who are in town for the American Thanksgiving long weekend. Among many of the beautiful spots along our way, I loved this big yellow tree along the boardwalk that hung onto its leaves longer than the others.

Lots more nature goodness to come from their engagement shoot…

Laura + Paul In High Park: The Sneak Peek

What a gorgeous, gorgeous day in High Park. And what a perfect day to shoot an engagement session! Couldn’t ask for better weather, so we took advantage of it. Here’s one of my favourites, having skimmed through after downloading the cards and before I rushed off to buy materials for my Loy Krathong boat (more on this later).

How cute are they? Aw.

gold over Grenadier Pond

gold over Grenadier Pond

There were lots of wildlife in the park, including lots of these little guys, getting fatter by the day.

checking to see if I'm bearing food

checking to see if I'm bearing food

Nothing says autumn quite like a greedy squirrel double-fisting.

Michelle + Robert Unplugged: The Corn Maze Sessions

Michelle + Robert

‘he’s sniffing my hair!’

This post has been so long in the works, it could practically write itself. Only I wish it had, because after we shot on October 23, I posted the preview that evening, then promptly got swept into a Vortex of Chaos — just like in a cartoon. Then when I was finally ready to post the photo album, the website domain host went down! Now that we’re back up again, we will rise above this technological hiccup and post some photos before something else happens!

Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze

doesn’t everyone want to run away and join the circus?

bridge patrol

bridge patrol

Michelle and Robert chose to shoot their engagement photos in the legendary “Uxbridge Maize” at Cooper’s CSA Farm & Maze in Zephyr, northeast of Toronto, and I was all “Count me in!” even before I looked on a map to figure out where on earth Zephyr was. Mind you, if I was asked to shoot in a swamp off Highway 400, I’d probably do that, too, just for the challenge. But this seemed a lot more fun.

And Michelle and Robert are game people! Game for all my outrageous directions: shoot corn guns, get rained on by corn cobs from the skies?

this hail turned into corn on the cob!

fore!

corn missiles

it’s a weapon of mass destruction

You know it’s love when you can get your fiance to put on a hat with cat ears, stick straw in his mouth, and pretend to be a scarecrow. Then ambush him.

scaring the scarecrow

scaring the scarecrow

I put them in corn stalk jail, they did jumping jacks holding corn, and this even before I turned them into pumpkinheads.

They also milked a cow together, but stay turned for those photos (haven’t uploaded them yet).

Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze

Rule #7: no inappropriate language

Each year the maze has a different theme, and this year the farm donates $1 of each on-farm maze admission to the Heart & Stroke Foundation. You go through the maze, and at various points along the way there is a multiple choice question. Each answer sends you in a different direction, with the purpose of educating you and getting you royally lost if you choose the wrong answer, of which there are usually two or three for every question.

We managed Phase 1 pretty well, between the three of us. But Phase 2 is harder, and we got very, very lost! We’d been shooting all through the maze and lost track of time, until we realized the farm was closing and we still hadn’t gotten past Question 8. We had to throw in the towel as a group and concede defeat to a corn maze attendant who looked younger than the internet. I don’t know if we’ll ever live this one down! Although I do think the point of this year’s maze is for the Heart & Stroke Foundation to send everyone scurrying around for the exercise.

hay bale distortion

did hay bales go from square to round overnight?

We ended up spending the entire day at the farm which sounds hard to believe, but between two corn mazes, a big barbecue lunch, spending time learning all-things-dairy from an inspector with the Canadian Dairy Association, hanging out with goats and hogs, staging a pumpkin massacre, and shooting around the property, we got our Groupon’s worth at the farm!

how to warm up in October

how to warm up in October

how to stay warm in October

how to stay warm in October

I’m posting some of my favourite photos of the day here (that didn’t appear in the preview post), and the rest are best viewed as a full-screen slideshow, or thumbnails, or just sit back and watch a smaller slideshow autoplay below:

Read More»

Michelle + Robert: The Pumpkinheads Sneak Preview

peace out, fellow pumpkins!

peace out, fellow pumpkins!

My imagination ran amok for this engagement shoot at Cooper’s CSA Farm & Maze in Zephyr, northeast of Toronto, and I have to thank Michelle and Robert for letting me have total freedom (read: much silliness) for their engagement shoot!

Michelle

Michelle's alter ego

Scarface pumpkinhead

Scarface pumpkinhead

A gang-land slaying?

casualty in the pumpkin wars

casualty in the pumpkin wars

We even had a shoot-out in the corn maze, just like in the Wild West:

duelling corn

duelling corn

We were laughing until our sides hurt and then discovered we were lost in circles in Phase 2 of the corn maze (it’s 10 acres!). Completely lost! At least we didn’t call 911.

I have scads o’ great photos to show, but I’m sticking to a sneak preview so I can take care of business. And sleep.

But finally, to round out this post and show you that they are perfectly normal people and not actual pumpkinheads:

Michelle & Robert

Michelle & Robert

More to come!

How’d Ya Like Them Apples?

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I’ll be the first to admit, when I saw what the weather was like this morning, I wanted to crawl back into bed. It was cold, windy, and threatening to rain. I called Jennifer and Andrew before 9am and asked them if they wanted to postpone the shoot until tomorrow afternoon, which was our second Rain Date. The shoot was already postponed once before, on October 2, after I finished Run For The Cure, which I did in the rain. The way things were going for us, weather-wise, I was starting to wonder if this might turn into a winter shoot. If we postponed until tomorrow, it might end up to be more of the same.

We were all sitting on the fence about it. I suggested we toss a coin. Finally, we decided to do it.

OK, let’s do it!

I sure hope this ladder is stable

I sure hope this ladder is stable

And we did it! 346 images later, I’ve got a boatload of fantastic photos and a sore gut from laughing so much.

The sun didn’t make much of an appearance, but just as well it worked out this way — we had practically the whole farm to ourselves which meant I didn’t have to worry about people wandering into the frame. We were told it was so busy the weekend before that they had to close the gate and turn people away. We would’ve had a tough time doing a photo shoot on a farm overrun with families.

biggest pumpkin wins

biggest pumpkin wins

One reason why I don’t use a studio is because I always prefer environmental shooting to studio work. Most people I know would’ve postponed a shoot this morning, but unless it’s torrential rain I know we have plenty of opportunities to get good shots. And we did!

champion jumpers

champion jumpers

Jennifer and Andrew were such good sports about everything I asked them to do — juggle green apples, launch red apples behind them like a quarterback, launch apples overhead, make apple pyramids, do yoga with apples, sit on pumpkins, climb ladders, run through the orchard balancing apples on their heads, sit in wheelbarrows…

… engagement shoots with me are a lot of work play!

orchard games

orchard games

apple pyramid-building

apple pyramid-building

getting off the bandwagon

getting off the bandwagon

rebels

rebels

I’m still in the editing process, but the preview album thus far can be found as a full-screen slideshow here or viewed as a smaller slideshow below:

Read More»

Alison + Jeff in High Park: The Sneak Peek

Alison + Jeff in High Park

sunset over Grenadier Pond

A few pics from a beautiful Thursday evening that appeared out of nowhere, after enough rain that made this shoot get postponed once already. We were all on standby today, and when the clouds parted in the afternoon we pounced on the opportunity and headed to High Park. The light was divine!

Alison + Jeff in High Park

divine light

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but you’ll occasionally find the fiancee fruit:

Alison + Jeff in High Park

agile Alison

Alison + Jeff in High Park

Ultimate, for two

Alison + Jeff in High Park

golden hour

Alison + Jeff in High Park

sunset over Grenadier Pond

Alison + Jeff in High Park

last light

Spring Scouting In Streetsville

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There I go with the alliteration again. I must be sleepy. (9 out of 10 posts are written in the middle of the night, with one eye open.)

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I’m forcing myself to take a break from the wedding/engagement photo editing that’s gobbled up most of the weekend. Let’s roll back the clock to Saturday afternoon when I was location scouting in Streetsville for some places to photograph the upcoming wedding party. (Streetsville is an historic hamlet in the middle of the suburban sprawl that is the city of Mississauga, west of Toronto.) I found the church, which happened to be hosting a wedding in progress, but I wasn’t dressed properly and decided to continue scouting since I’ll be at the church on Thursday attending the rehearsal, anyway.

I went to the reception hall to scope the building, and noted the inn is smaller than I expected, which meant I had to come up with another plan. I can use it for my Rain Plan, but even if it’s just sprinkling I’d rather be outside. One criterion that is important when I’m searching locations is their proximity to the reception venue — my ideal radius is five minutes or less. It took me a while to find suitable spots where a limousine could access and park easily (that’s what ruled out Streetsville’s business district), but after about an hour of scouting, I found spots for the group at various locations around the University of Toronto campus. The best spot was one I almost didn’t find — it was only curiosity that urged me to drive all the way down this road after the second time I drove by.

University of Toronto, Mississauga campus

In case it isn’t obvious, I love location scouting. It’s a necessary part of preparation, but I love exploring anyway, and it’s given me the chance to become more familiar with places around the GTA. Consequently, I know parts of the city better than the locals do. I identify more as an environmental photographer, a studio is too confining for me. Shooting outside has its disadvantages, i.e., I can’t control the weather, but I’ll work with it. Improvisation is a very useful skill, in many areas in life.

(Here’s a tip: cemeteries are peaceful, well-kept spaces for reflection. Maybe not for a wedding party, but for yourself.)

Now that I’ve done my scout, let’s hope Mother Mature doesn’t make me resort to my Rain Plan.

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Howling At The Super Moon

shooting the moon

OK, I wasn’t howling at the super moon… instead, I was holding my breath to keep still while I tried to shoot long exposures without a tripod in a stiff wind blowing off the lake. shiver shiver I wanted to shoot it when it was that haunting shade of red and low on the horizon, but at that point I was on the freeway driving the assistant home and could only glance at it while keeping on eye on traffic. It’s been 18 years since the moon was this close to earth, and by golly, do I have to wait another 18 years for it to look like that again?

shooting the moon

I had a long day that included picking up the car from the garage, wedding venue scouting in the far reaches of the GTA (eg. Kleinburg Village), and training the assistant. When all that was over around 10pm, I made my way down to the lake and took some long exposures without a tripod — first resting the camera in the arm of a tree, then on a bench. I put the camera on self-timer to give myself enough time to pull my hand away, but not knowing exactly what was in the viewfinder… which you could probably tell by the shots toward the end!

nocturnal tree march

shooting the moon

shooting the moon

long exposure on a bench

shooting the moon

shooting the moon

Kortright Centre For Conservation

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It’s been a while since I shot here… two a half years, actually, which means it looks completely different because today there was no snow and it isn’t -20C! I’m shooting a wedding here next Saturday, and I wanted to check the lighting situation and the ceremony site in the forest. People were setting up for a wedding at the other ceremony site when I arrived, which was perfect because I wanted to see what it looked like with chairs and I could preview the outdoor dining arrangement.

http://kortright.org/

I shot these photos with two Nikkor lenses: 17-55mm f/2.8 and the 85mm f/1.4 (a super sharp prime I’ve used before).

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The best way to view all the photos is as a slideshow. The transitions will make you feel like you’re walking through the forest. Or sit back and watch the smaller slideshow below:

Cottage Cheese

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I’m back at my home computer for the first time in a week, and my inbox is going to explode. Excuse me while I do some housekeeping; have a look at some photos while you’re waiting!

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The photos are best viewed as a [slideshow], but you can also view them as thumbnails or in the Pictobrowser below:

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