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.

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.

The 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!


2.

Top Ten Places to Photograph in Vancouver

  • Granville Island –Not really an island, the industrial roots of this area make it another hot spot for both day and night photography. By day we have vibrant colours at the lively market, industrial remains and eclectic artisan shops. Book our Granville Island photowalk to join us for photos like this!

Top Ten Places to Photograph Vancouver
Beautifully stacked fruit at Granville Island. This macro shallow depth of field shot captures the essence of Vancouver.

19027784168_8468bc7c2d_b

granville-island-4

By night we have stunning views and reflections of the city, boats in the marina and the iconic
Burrard St. and Granville St. bridges that sandwich the “island”.Under the Burrard St. Bridge – south side. It seems strange, but one of my favourite places to capture the city is right next to Granville Island. See for yourself! It’s good for capturing Granville Island from the outside, and on most days the dramatic clouds in Vancouver make for an interesting shot. We don’t run public photowalks here, but you can check it our for yourself, or book a private tour with us anytime!

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  • Portside Park (used to be Crab Park) – at the north end of Main Street, and just after Gastown turns into Railtown, we have a bridge to the Port. This area boasts excellent and unique views of the city from the East edge (not many people make it to this area) but if you turn around you will see the core of our port culture. Fishing boats with fresh catches, container ships being loaded and unloaded, and a variety of other marine activity take place here. All of this with the North Shore mountains as a backdrop.
    We don’t run public photowalks here either, but you can check it our for yourself, or book a private tour with us anytime!
  • Canada Place/Convention Centre – We don’t run weekly tours here for no reason! We all know and love iconic Canada Place with the Sails, but next door is the architecturally unique Convention Centre West. You know the one, the angular building with the grass roof next to the 2010 Olympic Cauldron. This area has it all, views of the North Shore, and enough lines and angles to inspire any architectural photographer. The seawalk here has artistic elements, views of Stanley Park, and our Vancouver Special, the floating gas station and seaplane mecca.
    Photowalks available at this location: Canada Place, Gastown (do this at night)
  • Stanley Park – I probably couldn’t claim to be a photographer without mentioning Stanley Park. It is gorgeous inside and out. Whether you have a quick moment to drive around the perimeter, or if you get a half day to wander the trails in the interior. They don’t call it the jewel of Vancouver for nothing. You will be rewarded with postcard-worthy views of the city, colourful and cultural totem poles, mountains, and the open harbour once you make it around to the west side. Stop and enjoy the beaches or grab a bite at the Fish House or Prospect Point Café.
    Photowalk available at this location: Stanley Park

Top Ten Places to Photograph Vancouver
The totem poles at Stanley Park seen from a unique perspective.

Lions Gate Bridge – this one will require some walking and a zoom lens, but you can get some great images of Vancouver from the EAST side of the bridge while walking across. Depending on your time, go all the way to West Vancouver and come back on the other side of the bridge for some great views of the west side of Stanley Park and West Vancouver. I highly recommend cycling to speed up your travel time and get some exercise.

Vancouver Skyline from the Bridge

Olympic Village – At the end of False Creek near Science world is Olympic village. I swear, it was designed by a photographer, with all the colours, textures, backdrops and fun areas to shoot. There is a small stretch of railroad tracks, a big copper pipe, a lagoon, the colourful aquabus station, kayak and dragon boating kiosk, Science World (worth mentioning again), views of the city (see a pattern here?), BC Place and our historic salt building that is now home to the Craft Beer Market. And good news, we just launched our Olympic Village photowalk and have weekly day and night tours you can join.

Top Ten Places to Photography in Vancouver

Top Ten Places to Photograph in Vancouver

Kitsilano – If you like beaches, then kits is the place for you. Summer or winter, you can wander around on the rocks, or stay safely on the walking path. This lively area provides Vancouver’s main “urban beach “experience, with beach volleyball and stand up paddleboards in the summer, and … not as much in the winter. In the winter, visit the nearby Museum of Vancouver – with their own lagoon, epic views of the city, and if it’s raining go inside where they welcome photographers with open arms (more like open doors, but if I was there I would hug you).

UBC – Museum of Anthropology. This area is peaceful and calm. The museum also encourages photography and has rotating exhibits alongside their permanent first nations exhibit (which is amazing). If it’s clear, you can wander out back and capture amazing reflections of the unique building, and even head down the Cliffside to the golden beach. No views of the city from here, it’s all nature and ocean; if you’re lucky you’ll see a resident bald eagle.

Top Ten Places to Photograph in Vancouver

Top Ten Places to Photograph in Vancouver

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