A Favourite Photo, Time and Place

I was excited to be asked to join Light’s #VantagePoint project. Light is a start-up camera technology company that has recently designed a 52-megapixel compact camera that looks awesome. For the project, I was asked to share a great photo taken in my favourite location and explain how my equipment played a role in getting the shot.

My favourite place to go in my neighbourhood is Pomona Mills Park. It’s just around the corner, but it truly makes you feel as if you have escaped the city. They have mainly left nature untouched, but do maintain it by planting new trees and removing dead branches from the paths. It’s in a valley, so the sounds of the houses are subdued and all you can hear is the river burbling, birds chirping and the occasional frog croaking or bee buzzing by.  I swear the air smells cleaner too. It’s not a big space but contains lovely winding pathways and a few benches where you can pause to take in the sights.

My favourite time of year to visit is in spring when all the wildflowers are in bloom. The park is bursting with colour and alive with birdsong.  I actually went very recently to take some photos specifically for the project but didn’t like them nearly as much. When almost everything is green in the summer, I just don’t find it as exciting to shoot.

My favourite photograph from spring was this one below. Buttercups are my favourite wildflower – I just really love yellow flowers – and in this photo, the yellow stands out perfectly against the dark green.

buttercup pomona.jpg

I love using my new Canon 70D with an 18-135 mm lens and notice a huge difference over my Canon Rebel XS especially with these kinds of photos. The auto-focusing system is incredible and focuses on what you’re shooting very quickly. I also really like how the photos come out very clear and sharp with rich colours. It’s a versatile camera and lens combo and works great with close-ups shots such as these. Though, I’ll be the first to admit that photography involves a lot of luck – sometimes you just have to keep at it until you get the image you want.

I set my camera on AV priority and open up the shutter as wide as it will go – 5.6 or lower. This photo was taken with a 5.6 aperture, which isn’t super low, but was able to give me the blurred out background I was looking for. I’ve been leaving my ISO and white balance on auto, and the camera is great at using the best settings.

For me, an image isn’t complete until I’ve run it through Photoshop. I’m not a purist and believe many important changes are waiting to be made post-process. It’s hard to get the perfect shot in the field and the LCD screen isn’t always super accurate, especially when shooting in bright sunlight. For this one, even though it wasn’t a RAW image I ran it through camera raw and made a few subtle tweaks to make the yellow slightly more vibrant. The final touch was to open the image in Photoshop and lower the offset just a fraction. I find this really helps to give the image depth, as I often notice that photos straight out of the camera are slightly faded with blacks a little bit on the grey side.

Photography can be fun, but frustrating too. It’s not always easy to get the camera to do what you want, but practice definitely helps! I’ve learned a lot by playing around with compositions, camera settings and Photoshop tools; learning what I like in a photo, and how to get there. It takes a lot of bad photos to get one good one!


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