Adventures on the shores of Lake Winnipeg

On June 5th, 2012 Venus was crossing in front of the sun, to say this was a once in a lifetime event is an understatement. The next time that Venus will cross in front of the sun won’t be until 2117. There was also a good chance to see the auroras that night as well. So myself and a another photographer headed out to a place call Lakeshore Heights Beach (which is close Grand Marais Beach) to meet up with a couple of other photographers.

I borrowed a solar filter to attach to my lens in order to see and photograph the Transit of Venus. I only had a 70mm-200mm lens on me so I was zoomed in to 200mm on this shot plus I did some cropping on it as well. It’s amazing to see the scale of the Sun compare to Venus. Another thing that was neat is that we were able to see the sunspots on the sun which are responsible for releasing flares that cause the Auroras.


After we were done capturing some images of the Transit of Venus we decided to explore the beach and look for areas to shoot the sunset. It was a beautiful night in southern Manitoba and the sunset was gorgeous. Some cloud come in that were located above the horizon which added some nice color reflection, texture, and drama! While I was shooting the sunset I had my rubber boots on which I like to use in the spring time as the lake is quiet cool. I miss judged how high the water was (something that happens when your navigating in shin high water with a camera and a tripod!) and gave myself a booter. Boy that water was cold!

One of the photographers brought out this powder that colors the fire different colors. Manage to get this shot. Fire is always fun to shoot!

We waited until midnight to see if the Auroras would make an appearance but all I managed to capture was a faint green low on the horizon.

While I was checking to see if the auroras had made an appearance I managed to break my flip flops! Next time I am going to wear different sandles Smile .  We packed it up and headed home. Another great night with a great group of photographers.

Long Weekend in Matlock, MB – Sunrise, Star Trails, and More!

We headed out to the cottage for the long weekend. I had hoped to use the pier at Matlock Beach for a sunrise shoot and to try out star trails for the first time. To my surprise the pier at Matlock Beach wasn’t up yet but I knew there were a few others up it was just a matter of finding one that had a beach! So I headed to Whytewold and their pier was up, along with a tiny beach. This is the pier that I used for my sunrise shoot and star trails. I had brought my camera along with my neutral density filter to try out a couple of shots. I have a 10x neutral density filter, so it is quite dark. On a filter such as this, you will need to create your composition and focus before putting the filter on. I would also suggest turning auto focus off as auto focus has difficulty focusing in low light conditions.  It had just finished raining, so there wasn’t a lot of color it was mostly grey and gloomy so I decided to convert that image to B & W.

Sunrise was at 538a on Sunday Morning, so that meant getting up at 445a to watch the sunrise. It was a cool morning and there was some low level ground fog which is always a nice bonus! The sunrise was beautiful some clouds create a dramatic and colorful sunrise. When shooting the sunrise or sunset I like to do a lot of bracketing and HDR work. Taking multiple images and blending them together to create the best exposure possible. I also like to do some silhouette shoots, which means exposing for the colors in the sunrise as to not overexposure them but underexposing the foreground.

After the sunrise and on the way back to the cottage I notice how the lighting was hitting the grass and how beautiful the heavy dew was looking. So I figure this was good excuse to stop and try out a macro shot. Manage to get a great reflection of the grass in the dew.

That evening I wanted to head out to the beach and try my hand at startrails. Since this was my first time doing the start trail I ask the members of the Manitoba Foto Friends if they had any tips. I got a great response and got some useful tips. There are two different ways of doing star trail – the 1st is to do a long exposure this can lead to some long exposure noise in your image which isn’t something that you want. The 2nd way was to do multiple exposures using an intervometer or using the camera continuous shooting mode. Since I didn’t have intervometer I used the camera’s continuous shooting mode by locking the shutter button and just letting it go. The reason that you want to shoot on continuous is so that you don’t have any gaps in the star trails.  For this one you should also do a couple of test shoots to test out your exposure and composition. Then the images are stacked together using a specific program. A big thanks to Sheila for suggestion the following programs to use and best of all they are free! or StarStax. You always want to shoot at a wide open aperture and an ISO around 800. Since it was a new moon there wasn’t any moon light to light up the foreground so you had to do some light paint. I also had the added bonus of having cars drive by the pier to help light it up. I had wanted to try both ways to see what the difference in the results would be

The first shot was taking using the first method that I describe. The exposure was 16 minutes. ISO 800 and the aperture was f/3.5


The 2nd shot was taken back at the cottage as it was a pretty cool May night. So I set the camera up on the deck and try letting it take multiple images while I was inside the nice warm cottage. I used the fire to help light the tree for a bit until it burnt out and then I had to use a small LED flashlight to help light up the trees. I let the camera run for 30 minutes; I had just over 50 shots that uploaded into the starstax program. This is the image that I can up with.

All in all I prefer the composition in the first image but I like the way the star trails look in the 2nd image. So from now on I am going to be taking multiple shots and stacking the images together.

On the last day of being at the cottages we decided to take a walk down to a different pier. One that normally won’t go to but since the beach that we normally go to didn’t have the pier up we went to this on. I notice that the water was very low and that the rocks were showing. So I decided to come back with my tripod and neutral density filter so that I could use a slower shutter speed to show the movement of the water amongst the rocks. Since there was no beach I had to put my rubber boots and get a little wet. I set up the tripod in amongst the rocks. Since I wanted the greatest depth of field possible and to get a slower shutter speed I set the aperture to f/22. The bigger the aperture number the smaller the lens opening, the smaller the number the bigger the lens opening is.  Making the aperture smaller lets in less light.  I ran the image threw a bleach filter.

Had a great weekend and can’t wait to head back out there to try out more Star Trails!

The Northern Lights in Southern Manitoba

On Monday Night (April 23rd) a group of photographers headed out to Sandy Bay Beach to see if we could capture the Auroras. I have been trying to see and photograph the auroras for almost a year with no luck. A number of things have to happen before we could see then in Southern Manitoba. The 1st of which is that there needs to be a solar event (i.e. a solar flare and that solar flare have to be headed towards earth). The 2nd thing is there has to a good number of particles hitting earth magnetic field. The 3rd is the Interplanetary Magnetic Field, which is part of the Sun’s magnetic field that is carried into interplanetary space by the solar winds. When this is oriented southward it allows more solar winds and particles to enter earth magnetic field which creates beautiful auroras and allows them to be seen further south than normal. The 4th is the KP index (which is the measurement of disturbance in earth magnetic field) should be above 5 which means a geomagnetic storm is in progress.  We were lucky enough to have all these combine together on Monday. One thing that you need when photographing the auroras is patience. Sometimes the auroras last for hours, which was the case on Monday night. Other times they last only minutes.  So if you are heading out to see or photograph them be prepared to be out most of the night.

A couple of tips for photographing the auroras. This was my first time shooting them, if I haven’t shot something before I like to do a little research so that I shoot them correctly. Here are some tips based on that research, and my experience:

1. A fast lens is ideal, anything with a f2.5 aperture or lower is the best – my wide angle lens has an aperture of f3.5 so that is what I shot at. Makes sure to take your lens of off auto focus as auto focus has a hard time focusing in the dark. Focusing your lens to infinity will ensure clear and crisp images.

2. Always take your filter off your lens before shooting otherwise it will create concentric rings on the image.

3. Try to shoot at the lowest ISO possible – I was shooting at 800-1600 for most of the night as the auroras were bright at one point.

4. As far as shutter speeds go, different photographers have different opinions.  Some swear that a 30 sec to 60 sec shutter works best, while others like it at 10 sec to 30 sec. For me I shot at 15 sec most of the time. However the next time that I head I will be trying a variety of different shutter speeds to see what kind of images I can get.

5. You will also need to be shooting on a tripod because of the slow shutter speed. A cable release is also a must.

I am part of a photo group called the Manitoba Foto Friends and there is a group that frequently goes out to capture the auroras. I figured it was time for me to try my luck again as a previous excursion resulted in the clouds not clearing.

We headed out to Grand Marais first. We didn’t stay there long as we couldn’t find a way down to the beach as it was too steep and trying to carry camera gear down there won’t have been pretty. I manage to get off a couple of shots as the auroras were active.

After that we head to Sandy Bay Beach. By the time we got there it had clouded over so we waited. Photographing the auroras with a group of people is great; the time passes more quickly when you are waiting for the clouds to clear or for the auroras to appear. Plus we had a lot of laughs! We knew the auroras were active because we could see them through the clouds.

Eventually the clouds started to clear and you could start to see the spikes in the auroras over the lake.

Then the clouds clear completely and then they really started to dances! At one point the auroras were so active I didn’t know which direction to point my camera in. Which lead me to say that I need a 2nd camera to shot the auroras that were going on behind me.

All in all it was a very successful and memorable night filled with a lot of laughs and some great images!





Different Lens, Different Looks to Your Images

Spring time in Manitoba means that the Prairie Crocus is in full bloom. On the Easter long weekend I decided to head out to the Rosser Cemetery which is located close to Rosser, Manitoba about a 20 min drive from the North Perimeter. The cemetery has not been taken care of for a long time, so the charm of it is in the native Prairie grasses and other plants including the Crocus which have taken over the cemetery.

Before heading out I decided that I wanted to photograph the crocus with three different lenses. The three lens were my Macro 100mm f/2.8, 10mm-20mm lens f3.5, and a 70mm-200mm lens.

The first image was taken with the Marco 100mm lens – Aperture was 6.3 and Shutter Speed was – 1/160. The great thing about a macro lens is the amount of detail that it picks up in the images. It picked up the fuzzies that are a staple with the Crocus plus it also picked up the pollen that is in the center of the flower.  The image below has a shallower depth of field then most images because it is shot with a Macro lens.


The second image was taken with the 10mm-20mm lens @ 18mm – Aperture was 3.5 and Shutter Speed was – 1/640. This is one of my favorite images of the day. I wanted to incorporate the tombstones in a image with the Crocus and this is one of the reasons that I choose a wide angle lens. When using a wide angle lens on smaller subjects you will need to get in pretty close so that you don’t lose the subject. I like to use the wide angle lens to incorporate the environment that my subject is in.

The 3rd image was taken with the 70mm-200mm lens @ 100mm – Aperture – 6.3 Shutter Speed – 1/100. On thing that I like about the zoom lens is how nicely it blurs the background in the image. By focusing on just the flower of the plant and having the rest of the image out of focus makes the flowers standout more.


While a lens doesn’t make a image it helps to create the image along with composition, lighting, and camera settings. Think of the look that you want to create with your images and pick the lens that best suits your vision.



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?




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!