Southeast Saskatchewan and The Andre Gallant Workshop

Our day started out really early on April 26 and when I mean early I mean 3:00AM! There was a group of us photographers that were heading out to the Andre Gallant Workshop in Assiniboia, SK. Four of us were carpooling together and the leave time was 4:00AM. We had hoped to be in a good shooting position for the sunrise but that morning the sunrise was pretty boring. We had reach the outskirts of Brandon, MB by that time so we decided to stop for breakfast.

We arrived in Assinboia shortly after noon. We check into our motel which was a very nice.  Assinboia is a very small town with 2 hotel/motel in total. After checking into our rooms we headed to the restaurant for lunch after that we heading over to the venue were the Andre Gallant Workshop would be held the next day. They had a beautiful venue as well as a really nice art gallery. Afterwards we heading down to the trail tracks and the grain elevators to scout out that location. A lot of small towns in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are farming towns so there is usually a grain elevator and rail tracks.

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On Saturday it was off to the Andre Gallant Workshop from 9a-4p with an hour and a half in between for lunch. They had a couple of door prizes to giveaway and I was lucky enough to have won one! It was an autographed Andre Gallant book and I got to pick which one. I picked his new book called Inspiration. I didn’t know what to expect out of the workshop as this was my first one and I was really excited. Andre Gallant is an excellent speaker and put on an amazing presentation. He has traveled all over the world and has some amazing images! He taught us a variety of techniques, of which I was able to try out when I got back home. I have to say that I was really inspired when I left his workshop to try out some of his techniques!

Saturday night we were planning on going to a abandoned church on a hill but it clouded over and it didn’t look like it wasn’t going to clear, but we were wrong! As we came out from having supper we notice the lighting, and then looked to towards the west and saw what had the making of a beautiful sunset. Not having enough time to make it to the church we ended up heading down to the train tracks and I managed to get a couple of really great shots!

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On Sunday (our last day in Sask.) we decided to get up early and head out to do a sunrise shoot. We ended up stopping at the church on hill and I am glad that we did! Below are a couple of my favorite shots of the church!

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This is a 20 plus shot pano of the church after sunrise. The lighting is beautiful as the sun is behind me and has just started to peak over the hill.


Our next stop was this beautiful stone cottage with silos close to it.

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On our way back to town for breakfast we stop at this abandoned farm that was on a hill. We would have love to have gotten closer to it but the fields were wet and flooded. This is another pano shot of the abandoned farm on the hill.


After breakfast we packed up and headed home. We stopped in the ghost town of Horizon, SK. on the way home. This place was a photographers dream. There are two abandoned silos on the track, a playground, and a couple of houses that were left.
The group had an amazing weekend at the workshop with a lot of laughs and we learned a lot too!



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The minute I saw this play structure I knew I had to shot. I had a image of my head of a post apocalyptic seen like something out of The Walking Dead.


As mention above I learnt a lot from the Andre Gallant Workshop and one of which was how to do panning correctly. I managed to try this technic out when another photographer and I went to Fort Whyte Alive. The below shot is an image of dogwood. I then process the image using one of Andre Gallant’s editing technique called dreamscape. To create the dreamscapes I open the image in photoshop, then I duplicated the layer so that I have two layers that are the same. I brighten the first image and then I used the guassian blur filter that comes with photoshop. After that I went under the layers drop down menu and selected multiply to allow the first image to merge with the second. You may have brighten up the image after it has been merge as sometime it can be a little dark. This creates the dream look effect.


Why Shooting in Inclement Weather is a Good Idea – Part 1 Rain

When most people see that it is going to be raining or snowing they stay inside. Being a photographer shooting in these conditions can be amazing which can result in some unique and fantastic images.

Back in October I decided to head out to do some shooting in the rain. While I admit shooting in the rain is quite difficult, there are a number of things that make it easier. First would be to dress for the weather and the 2nd is never leave the house without a lens coat, makes great lens coats and best of all they cover the body so its not just the lens that is protected. If you don’t have a lens coat you can always use a shower cap with a whole cut in it for the lens. I decided to head to the Basilica, the Basilica is one of the most photographed places in Winnipeg. Trying to find a unique way to photograph the facade is a challenge. This is why I thought that shooting it in the rain and at night would be something unique and different. I had shot the Basilica a couple of nights before in the rain but hadn’t gotten the shot that I wanted. Being able to visualize a shot before you shoot it usually results in a much better image.

My goal for this shot was to include the Basilica’s iron gate in the shot. In order to do that I would need to take multiple images as the dynamic range in the shot was quit drastic. The gates are black and aren’t well lit but the Basilica is bathed in light. I learnt the technique for the shot below in a book by Lance Keimig called Night Photography. Night Photography is an excellent book that I highly recommend. The below shot is was 7 images merge together with photoshop HDR. In order to take the 7 shots your camera should be set to manual, I used my auto focus to get the focus right and then I switch off auto focus before I started taken my shots. I used f/9 as an aperture and ISO 800. Make sure that your camera is on a tripod as you will have longer shutter speeds. Take 1 shot with what your cameras meter shows as a perfect exposure then take 6 shots from there 3 by stepping down your exposure by 1 stop each time and 3 others by stepping up your exposure by 1 stop each time. So you should have 7 shots with the following exposures +3 EV, +2 EV, +1 EV, 0(which is what you camera meter shows as a perfect exposure), -1 EV, -2 EV, -3 EV. You should have 7 different images with 7 different tonal ranges. See below images for examples.

Final Result

1. What your cameras light meter thinks is the perfect exposure for the scene

2. -1 EV

3. -2 EV

4. -3 EV

5. +1 EV

6. +2 EV

7. +3 EV

As I said above the reason why I took multiple images is because of the Dynamic Range in the scene. This makes it hard for the camera meter to get the perfect exposure. Image #1 is what the camera meter though was a perfect exposure and you will notice that the highlights on the basilica are a bit overexposure so you lose the detail. If you look at the images that are underexposed you will notice more details in the highlights (lighter areas in the scene) but you lose all the details in the shadows (darker areas in the scene). The opposite is true with the overexposed images you have detail in the shadows but lose all the detail in the highlights. By merging multiple images together you should get a much better dynamic range.

I used Bridge to merge the images into photoshops HDR. Once the images are merge together this is where you can adjust your HDR settings. With this image I only adjusted the detail which I set to around 100%. In photoshop HDR you can go as high as 300% for a surrealistic HDR look. I had wanted a more realistic HDR look so this is why I went with 100% detail. After making your adjustments you will have to save the image. After this I opened the image up in Camera Raw and adjusted the white balance – because the scene had a lot of yellow in it I add some blue to the image is cuts down on the overall yellow tone in the image. I also adjusted the blacks to make sure that the sky and gate looked black. I added some fill light to make sure that the gate stands out as much as possible without adding any noise to the image. I also added a little contrast +10, and a bit of clarity to the image. Below is the final image.


Part 2 on shooting in blowing snow coming soon!

A Foggy Frosty December Morning

I woke up Saturday morning to a photographers dream (while at least this photographers dream) of dense fog and hoar frost! There is nothing more beautiful then hoar frost clinging to the trees and adding in the fog makes it all the more beautiful! Although on a cloudy day with lots of fog the hoar frost doesn’t pop as much as if it were a clear sky but still beautiful!

I had wanted to head out to the abandoned town of Ste. Elizabeth to shoot the abandoned buildings but with the dense fog outside of the city I figured it would be safer to stay inside the city to shoot. I went to several locations throughout the morning. I started in the exchange district, and then I made a stop at the St. Boniface Basilica. After finishing up at the Basilica, I headed to the area around the mint and finally my last stop was the floodway in the south part of the city. The floodway is just outside the city of Winnipeg and it protects the city from major flooding by diverting the water around the city. Even driving out to the floodway was a bit of a challenge trying to merge into traffic when you can’t see anyone coming is a little nerve racking but well worth the shots that I got out there.

There is a trick to photographing fog. Your camera’s light meter has a hard time reading fog so, if you expose the image for what your camera says is the right exposure you won’t capture the scene as your eye sees it. You will have to overexpose your image by 1 stop or so (it’s best to play around with your settings to make sure that you don’t overexpose the image too much) either using the exposure compensation function on your camera or if you are shooting in manual you can manually overexpose the image.

The 1st stop was the Exchange District. The Exchange District has a lot of older brick buildings. This image was taken about 20 minutes before sunrise.

The next stop was near The Forks. This is a walkway that goes from Waterfront Drive to Provencher Blvd. This image was taken just before the sunrise.

This is a view from the St. Boniface side of the Red River towards Downtown. You can barely see the bridge!

The St. Boniface Basilica is one of my favorite places to shoot in Winnipeg. I have never shot it in the fog before and I find that the fog really adds to the image. I also had the added bonus of having a photographer walking in the image.

This is shoot from inside the Basilica ruins out towards the street.

This image was taken near the Mint off of Fermor Blvd.

One of the last stops was the floodway. The frost was even thicker outside of the city and it clung to the plants beautifully.

This is the overpass that goes over the floodway. There is a road that goes under the bridges and I was able to get a different perspective to really illustrate just how thick the fog was that morning.

This image is one of my favorites. It was taken near the Mint and because of the thick fog you can’t see the residential neighborhood that is in the background. The fog also helps to give this image a high key look.

This is The Royal Canadian Mint shrouded in fog. The Mint open in Winnipeg in 1976. The Mint in Winnipeg produces all the circulating coins for Canada as well as coins for over 70 different countries includes Cuba and Iceland.

This one was taken on the way home from shooting.




A Cold Manitoba Night, The Northern Lights, and a 3/4 Full Moon

A group of photographers headed out on Friday Nov 23rd to photograph the Northern Lights. It was a cold night in Southern Manitoba with the temperatures hovering around -20 celsius. One tip about shooting in the cold is that cold weather drains the batteries faster than shooting in warmer temperatures. The best bet when shooting in the cold is make sure you have extra batteries, and always keep that extra set close to your body so that it stays warm and doesn’t freeze! After going back and forth about whether or not to head up Lake Winnipeg and have the half frozen lake as a foreground, we ended up going to an Abandoned Barn and out building close to Oak Hammock Marsh. We bundled up and headed out at 7:30pm.  As we hit the Perimeter we noticed a band of Northern Lights dancing and intensifying the closer we go to the barn. Once we got to the barn we jumped out of the car and hurried up to get all our gear set up to to capture the amazing sight. By the time that I got set up and everything focus the band had started to disappear.

To get the angle of the shot below I had to trek threw knee deep snow! It doesn’t look like we had that much snow but out in the open prairie with the wind blowing it creates snow drifts.

Sometimes having a full moon takes away from the intensity of the Northern Lights but it was only 3/4 full so it light up the foreground nicely. There was also a fresh dusting of snow that sparkled in the moonlight which added a nice touch to the images.

A view of the abandoned farm with a northern lights band above.

After 3 hours my toes were frozen so I had to take a break and warm them up in the car. Shortly after I went to the car to warm up the group decided to call it a night even thought the northern lights were still out. We were all chilly, but I think the camera gear was colder then I was! By the end of the night the camera was covered in frost (there was a lot of moisture in the air that night) but I was really impressed with how well my batteries lasted during the cold night shoot.

Lest We Forget – Gun Salute Manitoba Legislative Building

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, the guns fell silent to mark the end of the First World War. It was a year later after the armistice was signed that Remembrance Day started.  Canadians pay tribute to the fallen soliders of WW1, WW2, the Korean War, the Afganistan conflict, and the peacekeeping missions with 2 minutes of silence.

Winnipeg marks Remembrance Day with a number of different tributes around the city. One of them is the 21 Gun Salute at the Manitoba Legislature Building. The 21 Gun Salute is fired for military and naval honor. After the 2 minutes of silence, the gun salute begins.



I was struck by this story that was shown on CBC today. This is the story of this years Silver Cross Mother. The Silver Cross Mother is chosen each year to lay a wreath during the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial  on behalf of all mothers that have lost there children in the service of their country. Her son was a combat photographer who was killed in Afghanistan. The images that are shown in the video are amazing and really tell a story which in my option is make of a great photographer.



                                 In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae

Northern Lights in Matlock, MB – Part 2

On July 12th, 2012 the sun unleashed an X-1 Class (X class flares are the strong type of flare) flare from sunspot AR1520. The sunspot was directly facing earth which meant that the CME that was associated with that flare was heading for earth.  The CME was supposed to arrive in the early am hours on July 14, 2012.


After some discussion with another photographer we decided that we would head out to Matlock with a group of photographers from the Manitoba Foto Friends. We had another location selected at the beginning but that location had a tree line around the lake which won’t work well because if the auroras were low on the horizon we wouldn’t be able to see them. The geomagnetic storm was supposed to be a good one so we hoped for clear skies and a good show.


As expected the CME arrived in the AM hours of July 14th. At 9pm we were heading out to Matlock. We were lucky enough to have clear skies but we did have smoke from the forest fires to content with. When we arrived at the Matlock Beach is was smoky and windy which helps with the mosquitoes!  We set up our cameras and waited for it to get dark and for the show to start.


At the beginning the northern lights were out but they weren’t very active.

Like clockwork around midnight (which is usually one of the best times to see them) they really started to dance. They got so bright that they lit up the beach!

I had shot the pier with the northern lights in June so I decided to look for different foregrounds. One of them was these wooden poles that were sticking up from the sand

I admit that I did take a couple of shots of the pier.

There is a small playground by the beach and I decided that the swing set would be an interesting foreground.

Around 1:30am most of the group had left and another photographer and I decided to check out Mustard Seed Church which is about a 5 min drive from the beach.  It is a cute little white church that is surround by a cemetery that is still in use and is nicely maintained. We decided to set up and take some shots. The only problem with this location was that the mosquitoes were horrible! In between 2-2:30am the skies exploded again and the entire sky was green and bright which lit up the church and surrounding area nicely.

By the time we got home it was close to 4:30am and there was light visible on the horizon. The geomagnetic storm lasted an amazing 36 hours from July 14-16 and the northern lights were visible as far south as Wisconsin.

Another great night with a great group of people.

Storm Chasing and Photography

It seemed that almost every time there was a thunderstorm I would head out with my camera in hopes of catching some lightning. Never would I have thought to actually chase a storm. Until I meet a fellow photographer and friend. She introduced me to storm chasing. I have always been interested in the weather especially storms; I could sit and watch a thunderstorm for hours.

Well this hasn’t been the most active storm season in Manitoba, unlike in Saskatchewan which had more tornadoes in the month of July then the entire USA had this season. Manitoba still managed to get a couple of good thunderstorms.

The first storm of the season was one that I mostly missed out on. I left the house too late and only caught the tail end of the storm (too busy watching the Stanley Cup playoffs!). I did manage to get a good lightning shot. It did take quite a bit of shots to get the one good lightning shot, but worth the effort. I was photographing the lightning manual using a remote release. Trying to photograph lightning this way is tricky, you have to get a rhythm down and I hadn’t manage to get a good rhythm down that night. After that night I decided it was time for a lightning trigger which I was happy to get for a birthday present.

The first time that I went storm chasing with a fellow photographer we ended up in North Dakota, USA. Winnipeg is a two hour drive to the border.  We had planned on heading to Grand Forks because the forecast said there was a potential for severe storms. We ended up chasing a storm that was before Grand Forks. Unfortunately the storm started to die out and was starting to break apart. We stopped at a park which had a dam in it to take some shots of the storm. I did manage to get the following shot of the storm as it was breaking down and the sun rays were starting to come threw the clouds. Crossing the border was interesting, and I’m quite sure the border guard must have thought that we were nuts when he asked what we were up to.

Our next adventure took us to the Doppler radar station in Woodlands, MB. Woodlands is about 30-40 mins north/northwest of the city of Winnipeg. We saw the front of the storm as we were about 15 mins away from the radar station. The front of the storm had amazing texture!

We set up a camera at the radar station and waited for some lightning, but unfortunately the lightning wasn’t over the radar station but in a field across from the station. This was not the night for me to catch lightning everytime I would give up on a spot and move the camera that’s when the lightning would strike.

On July 29th Winnipeg was hit with a severe thunderstorm. It had a lot of rain and wind. The wind gusts were around 90 km. I had to stop by the gas station before we could head out chasing. I could barely get the door open to get out and pump the gas. By the time that I had finished pumping the gas I look like a drown rat! We headed out southeast towards Steinbach, MB as that was were the storm was heading. There was some amazing lightning in this storm unfortunately we were able to capture any of it because it was raining out! We managed to catch to the storm just south of Steinbach and ended up set up near a farmers field. The storm appeared to have stalled. I was able to capture this shot of the storm front during the sunset. I had my neutral density filter on to make it easier to photograph the lightning.

I had my lightning trigger on and for the first time I managed to fill up two 16 gb cards! The lightning trigger works by triggering the shutter when there is a flash of lightning (or any other light!) I managed to get some great lightning shots!

On Aug 1 we headed out to HWY 6 and found a nice wheat field to set up at for the approaching storm. We went back and forth about whether or not we should stay and wait out the storm and then chase it down again. We decided to wait it out. This storm had a hail core which you could see in the distance as well as heavy rains. The hail was only pea sized and we were just at the edge of it so we didn’t see a lot of hail.

Once the rain died down I headed back outside and set up my camera with my lightning trigger. I got a great lightning shot! It filed the frame nicely as it goes from one end of the image to the next.

There wasn’t a lot of lightning so we headed out to see if we could catch up with. On our way to our next location we ended up stopping again by a wheat field(we do live on the prairies!) to capture a rainbow that appear to be coming threw the clouds.I managed to capture this shot of the wheat field after the storm with the setting sun back lighting the wheat field.

By the time that we caught up to the storm it had gone a bit to far east. Which normally isn’t a problem but in Manitoba the further east from the city of Winnipeg you go you end up in a forest! Not the best for storm chasing as its very difficult to see the clouds and lightning.

I have learned a lot about storms this season so far. I now know that only 5 % of super cells will drop a tornado. An interesting statistic from NOAA – About 100,000 thunderstorms happen every year in the USA alone and only 10 % of those storms end up being severe thunderstorms.  Whether it be from talking with my fellow storm chaser or watching the storm chaser live streaming on TVN. I still have a lot to learn about what storms, I am even considering taking the storm chasers course with the University of Manitoba(best part about that course is you actually do some storm chasing in the states for 7 days!)