Adventure: Canada’s Wonderland

Last weekend I visited Canada’s Wonderland for the first time with some friends. Although roller coasters and scary rides terrify me, it was still fun! I went to the water park, got a sunburn, and enjoyed the amusement park atmosphere. Best of all, I brought my camera with me and got to explore while my friends rode said scary rides. A bonus of living in Toronto is going to this place!


Engagement: Sarah and Mark

Grande Prairie Engagement

Well 2016 ended (literally, the last day of the year!) with an engagement session for Sarah and Mark in my hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta. It’s a bit of a neat story. Sarah and I have known each other since we were probably 3 years old through play school and our older sisters being Kindergarten pals in school. We grew up making elementary art projects together, gallivanting around school playgrounds, and swimming in the pool (Sarah, being an actual pro swimmer, made her lap around the deep end much easier than me, flailing and bobbing like I did).

As time passed, we went our separate ways and haven’t really spoken for many many many years. So what a pleasant surprise to hear from her about photographing their wedding in 2017! I was so touched and excited and managed to meet up with them over the holiday, which was great! Sarah and Mark are so cute and lovely and were game for anything I suggested, even being jacketless in crazy falling snow and jumping on the spot to stay warm, sitting in the snow and wandering around in the forest. They bounce off of each other so well and are both so sarcastic which is honestly the funniest. They had me laughing like crazy! Hearing them tell me their stories was the best because I could really see and feel their love for each other and did my best to capture that in their photos. Here are some shots from their December 31st engagement session.


 

 


Adventure: Toronto Islands

Several weeks ago I managed to get a day off to take a few hours to go to Toronto Islands! Toronto Islands are a chain of islands just off of the shores of Toronto itself! You have to take a ferry to get out there. It has an airport, summer amusements, beaches, yacht clubs, and get this, some pretty cute old squashed houses! I wasn’t expecting them, for some reason.

I decided to go on one of the chilliest days in late October. I took a ferry across at 3:30. Despite the cold I made sure to stand outside and watch the wake of the boat and the giant city behind me getting a bit smaller as we got closer to the island. Because it’s the off-season, there isn’t much shelter there. So after 3 hours of wandering a bit (I only got through half of the eastern islands because I was taking so many photographs!) I was so cold it was time to hop on a ferry back! I wanted to make sure I got the sunset, and I definitely did. The Toronto skyline is a gorgeous site, I took too many photos! I will definitely be back to the Toronto Islands to check out all the sites I didn’t get to see.

The best part: walking around the back of the island and seeing Lake Ontario look like the ocean, a peaceful still mirror of the sky with giant maple trees dropping their leaves gently into the water.

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Adventure: Kensington Market in Toronto

This past weekend I decided to go outside with my friend Tamara and take a break from schoolwork to take photographs, explore, and learn new things about my neighborhood. I live not too from Kensington Market, which is this crazy neighborhood in Toronto. It originally started as a Jewish neighborhood where small shops started out of the houses; an influx of Caribbean and Chinese presence occurred after WWII and ¬†it has now grown and evolved into a mish mash of great dining, cool little shops, vintage clothing, and intriguing bohemian Rastafarian-inspired places of enterprise. It can get crazy packed but it’s so fun to wander and just stare at people and stores and eat food! For example, I had the most delicious takoyaki (octopus balls) I’ve ever had, just from a little temporary stand in an alley. We also wandered down alleys, found cool graffiti, and all sorts of stuff! I’m excited to get to know this city better. ūüôā Any recommendations for places to go take photographs in Toronto, feel free to let me know!

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Technique Tuesday: Choosing a Lens

Hello! Long live Technique Tuesdays! It has been awhile since I’ve been able to post one; I spent the summer absorbing my last few months in Vancouver before moving to Toronto a month and a half ago. Suffice to say this last month has been CRAZY trying to get used to school again! But being here has sparked my work ethic (haha) so I want to make sure I keep putting these out there for everyone!

The number one question I get asked the most is:

What type of lens should I use?

This is always an intriguing question to me. Lenses can be versatile, but my number one reply to this question is:

The lens is not as important as the person!

I don’t say this with a passive aggressive undercurrent of being like “oh, haha,¬†lenses?¬†How absurd. I am above them.” The only reason I say this is because I want people to know that THEIR eye is more important than the lens eye. A creative angle, thought, or light choice can happen no matter what the lens. I cannot express how important this thought is:¬†depend on yourself and your eye and not your technology.

(I might also say this because I can’t afford new technology… but that’s beside the point!)

OKAY. So you’ve asked me that question and I’ve responded with the above.

The next thing to consider is:

What do you want to take photographs of?

Lenses can be very situational OR they can be very versatile. Here is what I mean:

Most affordable lenses these days are zoom lenses, otherwise known as telephoto lenses. What I mean by that is that it has a ring on the lens that lets you change your distances (or mm). For example, my favorite of these is 18-200 mm, meaning it can go wide and zoomed out at 18mm all the way up to 200 mm, which is closer to your subject. This is very handy and I LOVE my telephoto lenses because they are versatile. Downside: their image quality is not as good as a prime lens.

What is a prime lens? A prime lens is a lens that focuses on only one distance. An example of this is my beloved 50 mm. These lenses are often more expensive, but their image quality is gorgeous.

giphy-2Oh George! Buy an SLR! Source.

The NEXT thing to think about is¬†image stabilization (IS).¬†This is your camera’s/lens’ ability to stay still when taking photographs, even when zoomed in (which is tougher). Some companies have IS in their camera body, like Sony. More often than not it will be in the lens (such as Canon and Nikon). This is lame, because the lenses with IS can cost 500+ more than their non-IS version (for Canon L lenses for example). This frustrates me because I feel IS should be in every camera no matter what–common sense? Otherwise, say you have an 18-200 mm zoom¬†with no IS; you zoom in to take a photo of a bird–snap snap–and then it’s fuzzy! It will always be fuzzy unless you have a tripod.

Therefore, it is worth saving that extra bit to get a lens with IS; it will make all the difference! If you do not need this and can deal with never zooming in, always using a tripod, etc etc than you are fine getting a cheaper lens with no IS.

The NEXT thing to think about is f-stop. I discussed this briefly in my Depth of Field Technique Tuesday, however it is worth going over again with my handy very professional graphic:

 

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The circles in the image above show the f-stop on the box. The smaller the number, the blurrier your background will be a.k.a the more “bokeh” your image will have. People love this for portraiture, food shots, insects/plants, basically anything close up where you need your subject to be the main focus.

This is something to consider when buying your lens if you are looking into portrait photography. It may be cheaper to buy the 17-85 mm with the f/4.0, however that means your backgrounds will not get as blurry as say a prime 85 mm with f/1.4, which is a great one for small focus points and blurry backgrounds. So consider the f-stop number you may want when purchasing your lens ESPECIALLY if you think you will be taking portrait photos!

OKAY. So, three aspects of a lens to think about:

  • the zoom/prime
  • the IS or no IS
  • the f-stop number

you may want. These are 3 things I usually think about when purchasing a lens.

To go back to the main question though, you must answer yourself:

What do you want to take photographs of with it? 

This is important because if you go out and buy a 2000 dollar wide-angle lens and then NEVER use it because all you do is take photos of plant leaves and people’s faces, that’s a bad thing. A very bad thing. When you buy a lens you want it to serve a purpose. All of my lenses are integral to my photography. I constantly carry most of them with me because they all do different jobs that I actually utilize. This is key.

This does not mean you have to buy a unique lens for every single situation you may be in. This is the DREAM of course, but we are not all that rich (now I’m just thinking about all the new lenses I want!). All it means is that you have to think about the type of photography you enjoy, the type of photography you want to work on, and the type of photography you think matters to¬†you.

Below I’ve made a general list of the types of lenses and what their most common uses are. REMEMBER: you don’t have to fit inside this box! I’ve used my 50 mm for nature or landscape photos; I’ve used my wide angle for close-ups; all sorts of fun stuff!

CANON NOTE

I am a Canon user, so I’ll leave a tidbit for my fellow Canonites, just in case. There are two main types of lenses: EF lenses, which are lighter and have plastic components. They work well but they are cheaper and therefore not professional quality. Then there are L lenses, which are heavier, have metal components, and take high-end photos, particularly for enlargements. They tend to be more (by quite a bit) but depending on what you will use it for it could be worth it to save up!

Lenses are super fun and creative and amazing and constantly changing with technology to be better and better. However, in the end the really fun and creative stuff is on your end!

Happy shopping, and feel free to comment with any questions! ūüôā

PS: Because I am a Canon photographer I will be focusing on Canon lenses because that is what I know best. However, if you have something else just googling it with your camera type will often give you the equivalent!

REMEMBER: most telephotos can be used to get the prime lens ranges; the only difference is that their quality may not be as good. Also, using a prime is fun because it forces you, the photographer, to move your body around! Sometimes this is fun, also good exercise.

LENSES AND MOST COMMON USES

PRIME LENSES:

35 mm (f/1.8 etc) good for portraiture shots and low light situations

50 mm (f/1.8 or f/1.2) have to be a bit further away than 35 mm if taking portraits (can get about 2m from subject) — similar look though

85 mm have to go even further than 50 mm! up to 4m however a bit of a different focal length than the above (get more of surroundings around your subject)

100 mm¬†although this is technically a macro lens it makes for great portraits! If you get one with f/2.8 or around there you’ll get a good background blur.

**NOTE: I’ve never noticed a HUGE difference between these; they are the standard prime lenses for “portraits” but as I’ve said before, they can be used for different purposes. So many people love 85; so many love 50.

TELEPHOTO LENSES:

17-55 mm is thought to be a good focal range for beginners, often the mm used the most in other telephotos! Canon has a good one with f/2.8 and IS.

18-55 mm  this is the one your camera normally comes with! Utilize it!

70-200 mm starting to go into the long end of the zoom but this is useful if you like getting a bit closer shots!) good for event shooting (concerts etc

18-200 mm I use a SIGMA lens for this; I like it for more wide angle landscapes which make for great dramatic shots

24-105 mm¬†my favorite all-purpose telephoto if I don’t need that wide angle!

10-18 mm for wide angle shots¬†only. If you’re a newbie I wouldn’t recommend this, only because it has such a narrow and specific range. Of course, if you LOVE wide angle and it is your PASSION then go for it!

MACRO LENSES: I know this is up for debate a lot, but Tamron makes the best macro lenses, pretty much. I am not sure about specs because I don’t have one myself and don’t do a lot of macro photography; this is worth researching more!

PPS: When you go into a camera store, don’t be shy! Ask them if you can test the lens out. This is important! Sometimes they hover which can be awkward. I hate looking at cameras or lenses. I get all anxious. But if I’m going to spend money, then you bet I’m going to try it out first. Think of it like buying a 2000 dollar coat; you wouldn’t NOT try it on before buying it, right? Have this mentality when you go! Even when just looking. You do not have to commit right away, remember. I usually float into a store 4-5 times before I buy something. No pressure, my friends.

NEXT POST: will be about camera bodies and WHAT IN THE WORLD that tiny writing even means on the labels in the store. I know I’m going a little bit backwards, but that’s okay!¬†Just keeping y’all on your toes.