Read about our favourite topics on photography and vancouver

10 Tips for Brilliant Sunny Day Photography

Vancouver has been full of sunny days recently, and we love it! We are sure you have been out and about taking photographs of our beautiful city. However, you probably have noticed that shooting in the broad daylight is challenging–dark shadows, blinding highlights, portraits with unsightly contrasts, and of course the eternal question “can you shoot facing the sun?”–make sunny days an unexpectedly challenging quest. Today we will shine the light on this sunny problem so that you can maximize your photo potential.  If you are an advanced photographer, we hope you will still find some tips useful.

1. Subject vs. background

Sunny days produce harsh contrasts making it easy to practice a very important photography technique of subject vs the background. In order for your photograph to be easily perceived by the viewers, you should strive to place your subject (e.g. people, natural elements like trees and rocks, architectural details, etc.) against a contrasting background. On a sunny day, look for brightly lit branches against dark buildings, or pedestrians dressed in dark clothing against the light gray of the pavement.

Black and white photography

2.Black & White Photography

Shooting in black and white on a sunny day can be an exciting way to experiment with shapes, contrasts, and negative space. By eliminating colour, you can create stark images, especially in an urban setting.

3. Shadows

Sunny days bring well pronounced shadows. Hunt down funky-looking shadows between the afternoon and the golden hour. At this time of the day, the shadows are getting longer but they are still well pronounced.

4. High-speed Photography

Sunny days are perfect for having fun with fast shutter speeds like 1/4000 of a second. Head to nearby fountain for a quick practice.

5. Portraits in Light Shade

Unless you are going for a stark contrast intentionally, you probably want to avoid shadows on your model’s face. Seek semi-transparent tree shade and sunlight reflected windows.

6. HDR-High Dynamic Range Imaging

Our eyes can see a lot of variation between light and dark. Our cameras–not so much. HDR is a photography technique, where several photographs (typically three) — underexposed, medium, and overexposed — are taken and overlayed in photo editing software. Many phones also can take several photographs on the fly, and overlay them, too. By using HDR, you will be able to increase the dynamic range (range from darkest to brightest) on your photograph.

10 Tips for Brilliant Sunny Day Photography

Vancouver has been full of sunny days recently, and we love it! We are sure you have been out and about taking photographs of our beautiful city. However, you probably have noticed that shooting in the broad daylight is challenging–dark shadows, blinding highlights, portraits with unsightly contrasts, and of course the eternal question “can you shoot facing the sun?”–make sunny days an unexpectedly challenging quest. Today we will shine the light on this sunny problem so that you can maximize your photo potential.  If you are an advanced photographer, we hope you will still find some tips useful.

1.Subject vs. background

Sunny days produce harsh contrasts making it easy to practice a very important photography technique of subject vs the background. In order for your photograph to be easily perceived by the viewers, you should strive to place your subject (e.g. people, natural elements like trees and rocks, architectural details, etc.) against a contrasting background. On a sunny day, look for brightly lit branches against dark buildings, or pedestrians dressed in dark clothing against the light gray of the pavement.

Perfect example of dark vs light and vice vera. Photograph by Jordan Oram.
Perfect example of dark vs light and vice vera. Photograph by Jordan Oram.

2. Black & White photography

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10 Exciting Ways to Photograph the Rain

As we say, they do not call us Raincouver for no reason! Vancouver is indeed famous for its rainy weather, although summers here are dry. Living in Vancouver prompted us to learn many different ways to capture the rain and to become rain photography experts (as proclaimed by us). Here are several exciting ways to photograph the rain in all its lush and refreshing glory (you can tell we have been under the dry spell for a while).

1. Explore the city at night. Rain looks stunning at night. During the day urban environment may look gray and washed out (literally). However, at night the artificial light adds a colourful pallet to the scene.

Gastown
Gastown looking fabulous at night.

2. Shoot from a distance.  Landscape (or cityscape) photography in the rain does not sound very glamorous. Indeed, you will probably get soaked. However, shooting from a distance allows you to capture the weather and the stormy epic sky that accompanies the rain.

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How to Take Better Cherry Blossom Photos

Clouds of white and pink hovering over street walks have finally arrived in Vancouver. Of course, cherry blossoms will inspire many of us to take out our cameras and photograph away. We want to give you a few helpful tips that will make the cherry blossoms look as beautiful as they do in real life.

Hands-on tips and tricks from our talented photo-guides on our Cherry Blossom Photowalks, every Saturday in April at 10am. Save $30 with the promo code April30 when you book online (valid for all photowalks in April)!

Cherry Blossom Photowalk

🌸 PICK THE RIGHT LIGHT (aka come early or stay late)

  • Cherry blossom petals are delicate, almost
    transparent
  • If you shoot in the afternoon or in the shade with a lack of sunlight, you risk cherry blossom flowers appearing flat and washed out
  • We recommend shooting in the early morning or a few hours before sunset, during the golden hour. Soft golden sunlight will add volume to cherry blossoms without making them appear washed out and desaturated
Cherry Blossom Photowalk

🌸 GET CLOSER 

  • Cherry blossoms are great photo subjects for macro photography
  • If you have that 50mm f/1.8 (or another lens with a low aperture), now is also a great time to dust it off and get shooting at low aperture (f/1.4-3.5)
  • This tip also works for most smartphones. All you need to do is get very close to your subject and tap on the screen where you want your camera to focus. You will be rewarded with some lovely cherry blossom bokeh (blur)
Rainy

🌸 EMBRACE THE RAIN

  • No reason to ditch your camera on a rainy day. You can take wonderful shots of cherry blossoms covered in water droplets
  • Rain droplets also help reflect light creating more vibrant colours
  • Tip: If you are lucky to come when it hasn’t recently rained, then adding a little mist to the blossoms will make them seem more fresh and dewy
Cherry Blossom Vancouver

🌸 CHOOSE A SIMPLE BACKGROUND

  • Cherry trees already look very busy with detail, and if you combine them with a busy background, the viewer will have a hard time reading your photograph
  • To isolate the flowers, you could cheat and bring a bright and contrasty coloured piece of paper to put behind your cherry blossoms. You will certainly get a look no one else has!
  • But you’ll need a friend to hold the paper while you get the shot. Or a reflector! This has the added benefit of being able to reflect light in addition to being a background
Cherry Blossom Stanley Park

🌸 EXPERIMENT WITH ANGLES

  • Most of the time we shoot from our eye level or chest level, because it is quick and easy
  • However, if you spot a row of cherry blossom trees, try a low angle shot with your camera placed around your knee height
  • A low angle shot will make your cherry trees appear more prominent. In addition, this approach could help you avoid a busy background since the cherry tree canopies will be placed against the sky or building facades


🌸 CONTROVERSIAL PRO TIP: OVEREXPOSE 

  • Anyone who has come on a photowalk with Suzanne will attest, she is a big fan of the exposure compensation dial while in aperture priority
  • It’s a personal preference, but she prefers brighter flowers, despite the more common practice of underexposing

Light, bokehs, angles… If you want to learn more about all of these exciting things you can come on our Cherry Blossom Photowalk, every Saturday in April at 10am. Use the promo code April30 and pay only $69 (valid for all photowalks in April)! Not sure yet? Read about Joyce’s fairytale experience on one of last year’s Cherry Blossom photowalks.

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christinHey, it’s Christin, like Christine but with no e. That’s usually how it goes when I have to spell my name. I moved to Vancouver from Germany a little while ago because I just couldn’t get enough of the city and its beautiful surroundings. I’m super excited to have found a place where I can play beach volleyball, hug a tree, hike a mountain and swim in the ocean, all in one day! I love traveling and capturing moments with my camera and I’m thrilled that at Vancouver Photowalks I get the chance to share this passion with people from all over the world. I hope you like emojis because many more will be coming your way! ✌️

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Best Night Photography Spots in Vancouver

We already shared our Top Ten Places to Photograph Vancouver with you, but since we also do night photowalks, it’s only fair to tell you about the best night photography spots in Vancouver, too! Here they are, our top 5 locations for epic long exposure shots. Don’t forget your tripod!

CANADA PLACE

We don’t start our Gastown Night Photowalk at Canada Place for no reason!

Canada Place Best Night Photography Spots
Canada Place Best Night Photography Spots
Canada Place Best Night Photography Spots
Best Night Photography Spots Vancouver

Sunset over Stanley Park, illuminated sails, panoramic views of the Port of Vancouver under a rich blue sky and starburst lights at the Convention Centre – Canada Place at night won’t disappoint!

GASTOWN

With the perfect mixture between old and new, Gastown by night will captivate you with its rich history !

Best Night Photography Spots Vancouver Gastown
Best Night Photography Spots Vancouver Gastown

  Mystical light around the famous steam clock, colourful illuminations, light trails and reflections, Gastown’s cobbled streets are picture perfect, day and night.

GRANVILLE ISLAND 

Golden hour, sunset, blue hour, dark night – Granville Island looks magical in every light!

Best Night Photography spots Vancouver Granville Island
Best Night Photography spots Vancouver Granville Island

Indigo skies, the setting sun under Burrard bridge and illuminations everywhere, Granville Island by night is the place to be for you and your tripod!

OLYMPIC VILLAGE 

Epic views of BC Place, Science World and Vancouver’s neon-lit skyline, shot from the seawall by False Creek.

Best Night Photography Spots Vancouver Olympic Village
Best Night Photography Spots Vancouver Olympic Village

GRANVILLE STREET

A street photographer’s paradise any time of day, Granville Street turns into a night photographer’s heaven when it gets dark and the nightlife begins!

Best Night Photography Spots Vancouver Granville St
Best Night Photography Spots Vancouver Granville St

Street lights, storefronts, neon signs – everything on Granville Street lights up after the sun has set!

In case you’re wondering how we created these super cool starburst lights or light trails in some of the photos, check out our blog to find out (or let us teach you on photowalk!)

3 Tips for photographing fast-moving objects

We have all been there. The coolest looking bird (dog, car, insert your own option) zooms past us, our photographer reflexes kick in, we aim, shoot, and get a sad photograph where our subject is out of focus completely or slightly blurry and smudged at best. Of course the question is, how does one prevent such disappointing outcome? Today we overview three important parameters that will help you get crisp images of of your favourite athletes at sporting events, your children riding bicycles, or simply your cat doing back flips.

Here motion blur adds interest to the picture, but what if you wanted to see the car in detail? This photograph was shot at 1/20s shutter speed.
Here motion blur adds interest to the picture, but what if you wanted to see the car in detail? This photograph was shot at 1/20s shutter speed.

1.Shutter Speed.

First and foremost setting that you need to address is your shutter speed. If your subject is moving fast, your shutter speed needs to be fast, too. Switch to S (Shutter Speed) mode on your camera or Tv (Time Value) to control the shutter speed. Set your shutter speed at around 1/1000 seconds or faster. Some cameras can shoot as fast as 1/4000 seconds or 1/8000 seconds. The faster your shoot the less light you get, as such you might want to increase your ISO or lower your aperture value. Read more on ISO here.

Shutter Speed: 1/1000s
These water droplets were moving very fast. To capture the detail we needed a shutter speed of 1/1000s.

2.Release mode/Drive mode.

Rather than taking one picture at a time, switch to the continuous shooting mode. Different camera models have different names for this parameter. The continuous shooting option allows the camera to take pictures continuously without stopping as long as you are holding the shutter button pressed in. You would normally find the continuous shooting mode in the same submenu as the timer mode. Look for an Icon that looks like this: Your camera might have a dedicated button for this setting or you will need to find it in the quick menu. In Nikons you would find this option in the Release Mode and in Canons in the Drive Mode.

4 Photographs taken within one second using continuous shooting mode.
4 Photographs taken within one second using continuous shooting mode.

3. Auto-focus mode

Most cameras have three basic automatic focus modes:

1)One Shot (Canon) or AF-S (Nikon) – for still objects, landscapes

2)AI Servo (Canon) or AF-C (Nikon) – for tracking moving objects

3)AI Focus (Canon) or AF-A (Nikon) – camera decides between the first two modes

As you can see, the 2nd option is the recommended choice for moving objects. In this mode the camera tracks moving objects and continues to refocus. For instance if the bird is flying away from you, the camera will continue to refocus on the bird as the distance between you and the bird changes. If you are shooting a scene where the bird is sitting but might fly away, you may want to change to the third option. The camera will then decide between the first two depending on the situation.

We highly recommend that you take advantage of these tips and apply them in your photoshoots. If you cannot find the settings in your camera, look back at your manual to find sections that provide you guidance on shutter speed, shooting/release/drive mode, and auto-focus modes.

Top Ten Places to Photograph in Vancouver

What’s a photography company without a top ten list? So many people ask us where the “best places to photograph in Vancouver” are. Well there isn’t just one. We try and take people to the best places, but there are a few that we don’t take groups to and you’ll be able to visit on your own. See below for our quick and dirty recommendations for the best places to photograph Vancouver!

1. Gastown

Brilliant day or night, this historic area has textures and buildings to satisfy photographers at any level. It’s being gentrified, so don’t forget your credit card! You’ll want to stop in at one of the cafes, restaurants or shops in the “modern heritage” buildings. You may have heard of the steam clock, this draws visitors from near and wide, and when you face West you will be rewarded with the Harbour Centre in the background.
Come see us day or night on a Photowalk in  Historic Gastown!

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