Jack Darling Park, Mississauga

It was a cold and overcast Sunday morning when we took Bailey for a walk in Jack Darling park in Mississauga.


Webster’s Falls, Dundas Ontario

A group of us from Google+ went on a hike to Webster’s Falls in Dundas, Ontario. It was an absolutely beautiful day which is great for hiking but not so great for long exposure shots of waterfalls.

This is my favourite shot from the day. I used the 3 stop ND filter built into the LX7 plus another 3 stop filter plus a polarizer. The polarizer really helped to bring out the colour in the rainbow and added saturation to the sky and foliage.

Webster's Falls, Dundas, Ontario

Tew’s Falls, Dundas Ontario

I recently went on a photo-walk to Tew’s Falls in Dundas, Ontario with a group of photographers from Google+. Tew’s Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Hamilton area with a height of 41m (135 feet). The hike in takes about 45 minutes through the woods, along Logie’s Creek. There’s a very pretty smaller falls called Lower Tew’s Falls along the way to the main falls and we all stopped to take photos there. The weather was fantastic for hiking but not so great for photography with a beautiful blue sky with very bright sunlight. Lower Tew’s Falls is shaded by trees but there are gaps and you end up with very bright spots of light in your image. Lighting at the main falls was even worse with half of the falls in shade and the other half in direct sunlight. The dynamic range exceeded the capabilities of my Panasonic LX7 so I used HDR to come up with the images you see below.

Logie's Creek
Logie’s Creek, just downstream from Lower Tew’s Falls.

Lower Tew's Falls
Lower Tew’s Falls

Lower Tew's Falls
Lower Tew’s Falls

Tew's Falls
Tew’s Falls

Tew's Falls
Detail of Tew’s Falls

Lower Tew's Falls
Lower Tew’s Falls

Here’s how I processed the last image of Lower Tew’s Falls.

I used the auto-bracket feature of the LX7 with a 3 EV bracket because of the bright patch of sunlight in the top left corner. I set the camera to aperture priority at f/5.6 and under-exposed by 1/3 EV resulting in 3 exposures: -3.3 EV, -0.3 EV and 2.6 EV. After loading the raw images into Lightroom 5, I disabled all sharpening and added a bit of noise reduction. Here’s what the three images look like out-of-camera.

1.0 sec at f/5.6, ISO 80

As you can see, there’s a bright patch of sunlight in the top left plus some patches of sunlight on the water and surrounding rocks.

1/8 sec at f/5.6 ISO 80

8 sec at f/5.6, ISO 80

I then export the three images to SNS HDR using its free Lightroom plugin. Once in SNS, I adjusted the image to even out the brightness between the hot-spot in the top left and the rest of the image. Here’s what the TIF file that comes out of SNS looks like:
I then take the TIFF file into PhotoShop CS6 where I start processing the image using a few of the Nik plug-ins.

The first is the Nik RAW pre-sharpener since up until this point there hasn’t been any sharpening applied to the image. I find that if you sharpen the image prior to processing it with your HDR software you end up with noisy artifacts that are difficult to remove later because HDR processing tends to emphasize micro-contrast.

Then I used Nik Viveza and added some control points to the water to reduce saturation and to increase structure, adding back some fine detail to areas that tend to become white blobs.

Next is Nik Color Efex Pro where I applied the following filters. First is one of my favourites, the Pro Contrast. I used two control points to restrict the filter to the water with Dynamic Contrast set to 40% and Correct Contrast to 18%.

Next is the Skylight Filter at 20% that adds warmth to the image. Control points are used to exclude the filter’s effect from the water.

Finally the White Neutralizer is used with control points to restrict it to the water.

The last step is output sharpening with the Smart Sharpen filter set to 100% and 1.0 pixels with Gaussian Blur. Here’s the final image again. As you can see, the main difference between the final image and the TIFF is that the water is brighter and has more detail, plus the image is a little warmer overall.

Lower Tew's Falls

Of course, all of the above processing can be done without using the Nik plug-ins and just PhotoShop adjustment layers however the plug-ins are very convenient and do a great job. The control points make it easy to control where the effect is applied. I originally owned Color Efex 4 Pro and received the entire collection for free when Google acquired Nik.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

La Défense, Paris

My visit to Paris coincided with a photowalk of the La Défense section of Paris hosted by Clement Mesnier. La Défense is the business district of Paris where office towers are located since buildings over 7 stories in height are banned from the core of Paris. This is in response to the horrific Montparnasse Tower which is widely considered a blight on the city. 

Eight of us attended the photowalk and we all enjoyed the fantastic weather. Here are some of the architectural shots I took.

This is the Total Tower.
Tour Total, La Défense, Paris
Tour Total, La Défense, Paris
Total Tower, La Défense, Paris

This is the EDF Tower.
EDF Tower, La Défense, Paris
Tour EDF, La Défense, Paris
Tour EDF, La Défense, Paris
And finally, these are the Ariane Tower and hte Opus 12 Tower.
Tour Ariane and the Tour Opus 12, La Défense, Paris

Paris Sunsets

We recently returned from just over a week in Paris and enjoyed it more than ever. We ended up walking the streets at sunset on a few days and I managed to take these shots. I hope you enjoy them.

This was taken from the Ponte Alexandre III and shows the Pont des Invalides.
Eiffel Tower sunset, Paris

Here’s another image from the Ponte Alexandre III.

Sunset from the Ponte Alexandre III, Paris

These tour boats called bateaux mouches (fly boats) cruise up and down the Seine using powerful floodlights to illuminate landmarks on the shore. This one is illuminating the Galerie du Vert which is at the tip of the Île de la Cité, just in front of the Pont Neuf.

Bateaux Mouches on the Seine, Paris

If you turn to your right from where I took the previous photo, you’ll see this statue of Henry IV on the Pont Neuf.

Henry IV, Pont Neuf, Paris

We had a wonderful dinner at Alain Ducasse’s seafood restaurant La Rech and decided to walk back to our hotel. We came to the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile during the blue hour and I took this shot, bracing my camera against a light post to get the 3.2 second exposure.

The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile

Here’s the Musée d’Orsay, famous for its collection of impressionist masterpieces, at sunset.

The Musée d'Orsay at sunset

Finally, this is the Cafe Le Depart St.-Michel.

Cafe Le Depart St.-Michel

Sunrise over Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic

Last week I stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to attend a destination wedding. Beach vacations aren’t my cup of tea but a chance to get together with so many family members for a happy occasion was not to be missed. I managed to get up before sunrise on a couple of days and headed off to the beach to see what kind of photos I could take, just to prove that I didn’t spend the entire week indolently moving between beach and bar. You’ve got to admire someone who gets up before the sun for art. Right?

Here are some Caribbean sunrises that I hope you’ll enjoy.

My wife came with me this morning to see what it was that I was doing out here all by myself. It wasn’t as exciting as her imagination may have led her to believe but I’m glad she came as her silhouette is my favourite part of this image.

Watching the sunrise

I used a B&W ND110 10 stop ND filter on this next shot to get a 30 second exposure. I like the sense of motion from the blurred palm fronds and clouds.

Sunrise, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This was one of the more dramatic sunrises of the week. It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the crescent moon in the top right corner, partially obscured by the palm frond. I debated cloning it out but in the end I left it in.

Sunrise, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Here’s another view of the same sunrise but zoomed in on a little boat that was anchored just offshore.

Sunrise, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Now that I’m back, it’s time to try and shed the pounds I put on with my week of leisure and gluttony.

Lower Westcliffe Falls, Hamilton, Ontario

I went to the Chedoke Radial trail in Hamilton and took this photo of the Lower Westcliffe Falls. I used a B&W ND110 10 stop filter to get a 15 second exposure then finished it off with some contrast adjustments and a border from Nik Color Efex Pro 4 in CS6.