A few months ago I was in Salt Lake City visiting some close friends. I am not Mormon but my ancestors were and so are my close friends. So while there I took the time to visit the temple grounds and took a tour of the convention center. This panorama I took while standing on the convention center roof.
My ancestors were the original settlers of Salt Lake City. So we also visited the cemetery to see where they were buried. Through help from my friends and a little sleuthing we found the graves where my great-great grandparents were buried. They’re in the Salt Lake Cemetery, which is the resting place of many of the original pioneers.
It was for me an amazing experience because I came away learning about my heritage that heretofore I’d only heard from my grandmother before she died. It goes without saying the Mormons are big on ancestry and so they were more than happy to help me fill in the gaps. I am fortunate to have such a recorded history and now that I know a little more I’m eager to share it.
Back home the other day I was taking some photos along the waterfront. Two Mormon missionaries approached me and rather than ignore them I engaged them in conversation. I pulled out my iPhone and shared this photo and told them about my experience and ancestors. They seemed genuinely surprised to meet me and equally happy to see a picture of their main temple. It was a fun encounter. While I am not planning to convert to the Mormon faith, there are many things we share in common. And for that connection and fellowship I am truly grateful.
I took this last January and as usual it was raining in Vancouver. Even so I spent most of the day outdoors taking pictures. The scenes, energy and images are so different from my home in Florida, I easily get carried away and forget the time. When I finally got back to the hotel both me and my camera were soaked. When I tried to dry it off it didn’t want to work. I should have known better. I laid it on the desk, changed into some dry clothes and went for dinner. By the time I got back the camera was fine. But I made a mental note that if I ever see a nice camera rain cover I should pick it up. I just did from Peak Designs so here’s the link in case your interested.
We get rain here in Florida also, but it’s not the same by any stretch. In the summer we get crazy tropical thunderstorms and the lightening gets a little scary. Basically you don’t want to be outside when lighting is in the air, yet it creates all kinds of other artistic opportunities.
Rain is good for photography, if you take the time to look you’ll see all kinds of unique compositions. For street photography the rain puts everyone a little off center and so they are carrying umbrellas or running for cover. If you’re doing landscape photography then it means the clouds will be full of drama. Either way rain is good for photography yet maybe not so much for cameras. My advice is to get a shell to save your camera so you can worry less about the equipment and concentrate more on the scenes in front of you.
This is from a couple of years ago in Vancouver. Normally when I stay in a big city the hotel looks out at the back of other buildings, but this time I lucked out. The room was thirty floors up and facing west so I could watch the sunset in the evening.
Getting access to a high vantage point in a big city is a big plus. Its a perspective I always find fascinating because of all the little details. Its a little like having a window seat on an airplane and watching the ground as you gain altitude, it’s all looks so different.
Nowadays drones provide these kinds of perspectives, at least they used to. Most cities restrict drone flights for number of reasons so short of that, getting access to a high floor is still the way to go. One of my favorite things to do is go the observation decks of well known buildings; Hancock in Chicago, Empire State in New York and the CN Tower in Toronto. But on this occasion all I had to do was open the curtains to my room.
In the center of downtown Vancouver is an Ice rink at Robson Square. At night it’s an awesome place to hang out, there are food trucks all over and people come to shop, eat and just have fun. The lights on the rink are constantly changing colors so even if you don’t skate its pretty cool just to look at. Of course if you really want to see skating you should head over to the arena a few blocks away to watch the Canucks on home ice, but I digress.
Actually, regarding that, I just thought of something. Everyone knows how much Canadians love hockey. But if you want to see the local NHL team play on home ice it could cost you an arm and a leg and, they’re usually sold out. Canadians are serious about hockey, everybody knows that. The cheaper option is to come downtown and watch the game at a bar or, …something a little less obvious. I live in Tampa which is home of the Lightning, another NHL team. People like hockey down here also but not nearly as much as Canadians. So, if you’re a Canadian and you come to Florida you can get a ticket to see your team playing an away game for about twenty-five bucks. Big difference, eh?
A few Canadians I’ve talked to down here always make it a point to go to a game when they come down, they can’t believe how cheap it is. One guy told me it’s almost worth it for him to catch a cheap flight to Tampa to watch his own team.
I think this digression has completed its course, we started at a skate rink in Canada and ended up in Florida. The moral of the story is that if you like watching people skate, it might be cheaper to just go downtown to Robson Square, otherwise you might end up in Florida.
The Victoria’s Secret store in Vancouver has these big billowy pink satin windows. Because I’m using a Sony A7R2, I cranked up the ISO to 10000 and still was able to handhold street shots like this. I was shooting in aperture priority and this image ended up having a shutter speed of 1/1000. That’s impressive when you think about the opportunities it opens up for low light street photography. I like doing street photography, but doing it at night is like another world.
I am not so bold when taking pictures of people on the street, I’m really quite furtive and do my best to not attract attention. In a busy area a person with a camera does not stand out. Having the technology that allows me too be quick at night is an advantage over what was even possible a few years ago.
This was taken with a telephoto at 31mm, so I was fairly close, just at the edge of the sidewalk where people were walking in front of the window. In the last few months a few prime lenses have become available that allow wide open apertures which come in handy for scenes like this. I take a prime, but I find that when I have a zoom I use it more. I should just try leaving the big boy at home and using just the prime for a few days.
Here are some apartment towers across the pond at the edge of the Vancouver downtown facing Stanley Park. Both the towers and trees cast a reflection on Lost Lagoon as I walked by here not too long ago. Lost Lagoon is a funny name for a pond in the middle of a big city, it conjures up images of a tropical island in the middle of the pacific somewhere, yet here it is in a big city. Maybe they figured no one would think to look for it here.
I once made up a rule about landscape photography, that the more elements a photo has the more interesting or impactful it becomes. By elements I mean fire, air water and earth. So…, the idea is that the more I incorporate in a photo, the more it resonates. Take this for instance, it has water, earth and air. There’s a hint of fire on the right from the setting sun. I have no idea if any of this is true, but it’s an idea and I kind of like it.
Speaking of lost, I wish they’d make another series like Lost. I was hooked on that real bad; wouldn’t it be cool if they did another one? Lost 2, or Lost Again, or better yet, Lost lagoon. I have the perfect location.
Here I’m facing south looking at a taxicab on Thurlow Street in Vancouver. This is where there are a lot of the towers of the financial district. It’s a section of town near the Marriott where I stay, you can see it to the right. For some reason this exact spot is a popular film location, it seems every time I come here a crew has setup shop with equipment trailers and catering vans; especially so on the weekends. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this spot in a car ad back in Florida; kind of cool, reminds me of LA in that regard.
All of the taxis in Vancouver are small hybrids like this red Prius. That’s an economical way to go however it might look a little strange if you’re coming from New York City. Also, the colors of the cabs are a mixture of different primary colors, so it takes a little more concentration as opposed to just scanning for a yellow car.
Are taxicabs a thing of the past? With Uber I wonder if cabs are going the way of the dinosaur. Vancouver seems to still have a lot and I’ve never tried using Uber here. Most large cities have regulations with respect to who can drop-off and pick-up at an airport so taxis will probably never go away for good. For me it’s more convenient to just wave down a cab, less guesswork involved, especially if I’m in a busy area. But outside of the central core of a city, Uber is the only way to go.
The Pacific Centre in Vancouver seems to be into the post holiday colors with a vengeance. There’s an enclosed bridge that goes over the street and it was all lit up in red. Add to that the reflections from the wet street and city lights and its too much for me to pass on. It looked like holiday lights but that was weeks before. I stood in the middle of traffic waiting for someone to cross the setting. Eventually someone did but by that time my camera and I were completely soaked. The things I do for a shot.
This was at the end of a mega-walk day, over 25000 steps according to my watch. But I was stoked nonetheless. By the time I got back to the hotel my camera started complaining and doing a funny things, I’m sure because it was so wet. I laid it down on the desk and went for dinner and by the time I got back it was fine. I suspect perhaps some moisture on the hot shoe. All in all I was pretty impressed that the SonyA7RII put up with the abuse I put it through this day.
I took a lot of photos from this spot, some I intentionally blurred. However this one was not blurred, I added the zoom effect in post production. I did that using both Photoshop and MacPhun Focus 2 Pro. For me the image is all about color and energy. The idea I had I’m my mind when I took this was a cacophony of colors all blurred together. The motion represents the energy of the city. This is just one of the many faces of Vancouver city life.
This is a west end evening in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago. The lights in the sky are fading and the lights of the city are beginning to glow. This is a popular spot because hundreds of people walk along the shore here in the evening, perhaps ending up on Denman Street for Sushi. I’m standing on a pile of rocks, and about 30 seconds after I shot this I managed to slip and fall. Camera was fine, ego not so much.
Sometimes I get questions regarding how I processed an image to today I thought I’d relate some of the steps.
I used a wide angle zoom lens for this at about 14mm, that gives the sky and water that zoomy effect, basically it causes everything to converge on the middle. I love the effect for landscapes, especially when the main subject is at the center of convergence as the city is here.
I combined three images into AuroraHDR Pro to get an overall dramatic effect to the image. I then applied a texture in the sky and did some final tone mapping in Lightroom, warming it up a tad.
The thing is I never do the same thing twice, every image is unique and the effect is non-repeatable even by me. That’s because there are a hundred other little things that I did that I could never hope to remember, it’s like painting with a brush, on one level it’s completely freeform and one of a kind.
So there you have it. Click, slip, fall and process. That’s my process from start to finish.
A street scene as I was approaching Howe Street on a Saturday night in Vancouver. I’m waking along Robson which is where a lot happens, it’s the nerve center of shopping in Vancity. The rain is never a reason to stay indoors and from what I can tell people ignore it. That’s a good policy and it will serve you well. If you can’t beat it, join it with a raincoat and umbrella.
It was kind of funny actually. I found myself here with these amazing conditions early in the evening and got pretty excited. This is a street photographers dream because of the lights and rain slicked surfaces. I shifted into the zone as I looked for things to unfold all around. At one point I walked up and down this block several times just taking photos.
To get these street scenes at night it takes a very high ISO, especially if I’m shooting without a tripod. I used my Sony A7RII and set the ISO to 10000. That’s a lot of zeros and up until recently, this just a dream and nighttime photography like this was not even possible. Thanks to the advances from Sony new possibilities have opened up for people like me that like shooting in very low light.
Tech talk aside, just getting out with my camera on a raining day, no matter where, is likely to provide a lot of subject matter to explore. Fortunately for me there is no shortage of rain in Vancouver and, I have both a rain coat and an umbrella.