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SeptemberGrams 2014

SeptemberGrams – My favourite Instagram posts from September 2014. Follow my Instagram account for these and more fun pics.

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Take a deep breath and BLOW! :) #dandelion #fluff #fall #flower #b&w

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Another beautiful view in my neighborhood. #farm #vancouverisland #Cowichan #westholme #explorebc #LovingIslandLiving View on Instagram

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I was treated to this foggy view from my kitchen window this morning. #LovingIslandLiving #explorebc #Cowichan #fog #forest #beauty

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A foggy morning to start off another beautiful day. #Cowichan #explorebc #fog #beautiful #ILiveHere View on Instagram

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The vines at Cherry Point Vineyard. Be sure to visit on your Vancouver Island wine tour. #wine #Winery #wineroute #vancouverisland #Vineyard #grapes #vines

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A scene right out of a farmland story book. #farm #tractor #barn #SimpleLife #cheesepointefarm View on Instagram

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The Cowichan River. Beautiful as always. #cowichan #river #explorebc #beauty

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#Sunset and #moonrise from my back door. #vancouverisland #explorebc #beautiful #lovingislandliving View on Instagram

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Just another day at the beach. :) #maplebay #cowichan #ilivehere #lovingislandliving #explorebc #vancouverisland #endlesssummer

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#Sunset #reflection in #Shawnigan Lake. #explorebc #cowichan View on Instagram

Cherry Point Estate Winery – Savour Cowichan

This past weekend marked the beginning of the Savour Cowichan Festival in Vancouver Island’s beautiful Cowichan Valley. With 40 artisan food and beverage producers participating it will be an incredible 10 days of  tastings and special events in the Cowichan Valley. The event runs from September 26 to October 5, 2014.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting some of the participants, one of which was Cherry Point Estate Winery.

Cherry Point Estate Winery – About the Winery

Cherry Point Estate Winery is located in Cobble Hill, BC on Cherry Point Road (see map below). Tours are available year round but must be booked at least 48 hours in advance, and take about 45 min to complete. The tasting room is open every day from 10am to 5pm giving you an opportunity to sample their award winning wines.

Cherry Point Vineyard

Cherry Point Estate Winery – Savour Cowichan

Cherry Point Vineyard and the Amuse Bistro served Spanish Paella and Sangria to celebrate the wine and culinary festival to thank the community for their continuous support. After indulging in a wine tastings by the wine maker (the whites were my favourite), we sat and enjoyed our paella and sangria on the beautiful garden patio followed by a wander through the vineyard to sample some juicy grapes. (shhh!)

Cherry Point Vineyard Cherry Point Vineyard - Wine Maker

Cherry Point Vineyard - WinesCherry Point Vineyard

Cherry Point Estate Winery – The Wines

2009 Pinot Noir

2009 Pinot Noir

Cherry Point Wines - Pinot NoirSweetness: 0
Price: $24.00

This 2009 Pinot Noir is produced from a single vineyard block that was carefully tended to during the spring to ensure early ripeness. This wine was aged in old oak barrels for 10 months and has big cherry aromas with hints of raspberry and undertones of clean cedar. A silky mouth-feel is brimming with cherry, strawberry and raspberry flavour notes. A perfect wine to pair with smoked salmon, roast beef or any favourite west coast dinner.

2009 Coastal Red

2009 Coastal Red

Cherry Point Wines - Coastal Red 2009Silver Medal, North West Summit Competition
Sweetness: 0
Price: $16.95

A delicious blend with aromas of orange blossom, wild blackberry and spice. Juicy dark cherry and black current flavor notes with a kiss of oak are followed by a peppery, berry finish. Food friendly wine, ideal while picnicking al fresco, barbecuing or just sipping on the patio.

Bête Noire

Bête Noire

Cherry Point Wines - bette_frontOur Bête Noire is a cross varietal, cross-vintage blend of our better vintages and a wine representative of soils and climate which are unique to Cherry Point. Pinot Noir 2007, Agria 2009 (the true black beast) and Castell 2009 have been crafted together to create a wine reminiscent of the Rioja region in Spain. Rich red in colour, an earthy nearly dusty aroma introduces the wine followed by plum and spice with a savory oak finish. ThisBête Noire has a great backbone; perfect pairing with steaks and mature cheeses.

2009 Forté

2009 Forté

Cherry Point Wines - forte_2009_frontSweetness: 0
Price: $25.80

Cherry Point Estate Wines premium red wine is made with the best performing Castel, Agria and Zweigelt grapes. Forte is aged in old French oak barrels for 18 months giving the wine a supple velvety texture. This wine is dominated by a cherry aroma, with hints of plum and raspberry. The full-bodied fruity taste is suitable for pairing with all red meat dishes.

2011 Pinot Gris Reserve

2011 Pinot Gris Reserve

Cherry Point Wines - pinot_gris_2011_frontSweetness: 0
Price: $19.75

Pale yellow with a lovely citrus fruit and spicy bouquet, juicy pineapple, mandarin orange and pink grapefruit flavor notes on the palate, with a long honeyed finish; Delightful with poached salmon and white sauce, pasta primavera and crisp shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy.

2010 Coastal White

2010 Coastal White

Cherry Point Wines - Coastal White 2011Bronze Medal, Northwest Summit Competition.
Sweetness: 1.
Price: $16.95

This Germanic style blend of Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe and Sylvaner has a light straw hue and aromas of honeysuckle and fresh citrus fruit, pear and orange flavor notes are followed by a long crisp finish. Ideal for summer sipping or as an aperitif. Great with seafood, poultry and Asian dishes.

2011 Gewürztraminer

2011 Gewürztraminer

Cherry Point Wines - gewurz_2011_frontBronze Medal, Northwest Summit Competition.
Price: $23.20

This stylish aromatic white has subtle tones of lychee and peach on the nose with floral undertones and a crisp grapefruit finish typical of our terroir.

2011 Ortega

2011 Ortega

Cherry Point Wines - ortega_2011_frontDouble Gold, All Canadian Wine Competition
Silver Medal, North West Summit Competition
Sweetness: 0

This Cherry Point classic is pale straw in colour and displays aromas of grapefruit and apricot with underlying floral notes, typical of the varietal. A full palate of ripe peach lingers with balanced acidity. Pairs well with risotto, pasta and chicken.

Cherry Point Estate Winery – Wine Tour Photos

(click for larger image)

 Cherry Point Estate Winery – Location

The winery is located at 840 Cherry Point Road in Cobble Hill, BC. For more information visit the Cherry Point Estate Winery website and/or follow them on Facebook.

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake on Vancouver Island

Nitinat Lake is considered to be the jewel of Vancouver Island for kiteboarding. It is an ideal place for both novice and expert kiteboarders to practice their skills.

Nitinat Lake is a tidal, saltwater fjord, 23 km long and 1.2 km wide. The southern end of the lake lies in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which also includes Nitinat Hill on the lake’s northern shore and Nitinat Cone on the southern shore.

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake

Kiteboarding Conditions

The wind on the lake picks up around 11am – 12 noon and brings great conditions for both kiteboarding and wind surfing throughout the day. The windy season at Nitinat (also known as Nitnat) Lake runs from May through September with the windiest months being July and August. During these months a normal day will deliver thermal winds in the perfect 18-20 knot range, and then slowly dies off in the evening. For weather and wind forecasts, visit Windfinder.com.

Every summer Nitinal Lake hosts the Windfest kiteboarding competition which attracts kiters from the USA, and more recently the world. For more information visit Windfest.ca.

(For more photos of the kiteboarding and scenery at Nitinat Lake, please visit the set on Flickr.)

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake

Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake
Kiteboarding at Nitinat Lake

How to Get to Nitinat Lake

Access to Nitinat Lake is by gravel logging road via Lake Cowichan/Youbou. It’s approximately 3.5 hours from Victoria and 3 hours from Nanaimo, and 2.5 hours from Duncan. Make sure your vehicle is equipped to handle the dirt roads, as they can be slippery and riddled with potholes.

Where to Stay at Nitinat Lake

The Nitinat Lake Recreation Site provides rustic camping, managed by the Ditidaht First Nation.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get a spot right on the lake.

The campground provides picnic tables and fire pits at $12.00 – 14.00/night – although no one came around to collect fees when I was there. 

A Few Camping Tips…

  • There is no cell service, no running water and no power at the campground.
  • Nitinat is bear country –  be ‘Bear Aware.’
  • Pack out your garbage when you leave, there is no disposal services.
  • There are outhouse facilities, but it’s a good idea to supply your own toilet paper, as they tend to run out.
  • Evening temperatures can vary during the summer from cool to tropically warm. Be sure to bring enough blankets for those cooler nights.
  • During the summer months, there is a good chance that there will be a campfire bans in effect.

The alternative to camping is the Nitinat Lake Motel. Room prices ranging from $65 – $100/night. For information and reservations, call 250-745 -3844.

For more photos from my time at Nitinat Lake, please visit the set on Flickr.

AugustGrams

AugustGrams – My favourite Instagram posts from August 2014. Follow my Instagram account for more fun pics.

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My favourite colour is sunset. This one was last night on Cpwichan Lake. #sunset #cowichan #lakecowichan #youbou #littleshaw #camping

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Loving island living! The view from the pub in Maple Bay. Gorgeous! #maplebay #cowichan #vancouverisland #view #oceanview #lovingislandliving

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Be careful where you park in Coombs! “No parking! Trespassers will be baptized.” #signs #church #baptism #church

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One of the giant trees at Cathedral Grove near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Such a beautiful forest! #trees #forest #cathedralgrove #vancouverisland #portalberni #nature

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Do you know where in Vancouver this abandoned building is? #broken #vancouver #abandoned #yvr

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Arriving at the sunny Nanaimo with @bcferries. #vancouverisland #explorebc #ferry #travel

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Loved this cute bike with flower basket. #bike #flowers #garden #vancouver

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The forest on the Varley Trail at Lynn Valley in North Vancouver. #forest #lynnvalley #northvancouver #vancouver #varleytrail #nature #explorebc

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I caught this bee mid-flight shooting this sunflower. Not bad for an iPhone pic! #bee #sunflower #nature #insect #bug #explorebc

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A perfect end to the long weekend last night, sunset on Shawnigan Lake. #sunset #shawnigan #explorebc #favouritecolour

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Dragonfly on a knot. So beautiful. #dragonfly #rope #knot #insect #beautiful

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My favourite colour is sunset. This one from last night while floating on Shawnigan Lake. #sunset #shawnigan #canada #explorebc #favouritecolour

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A Photowalk at the Cobble Hill Fair

The Cobble Hill Fair celebrated its 105th year this summer and the 4-H Club celebrated its 100th year in BC.

“The fair showcases everything about the Cowichan Valley that is good and its emphasis on agriculture is really a reflection of the founding of South Cowichan area,” said Cobble Hill Area Director and long-time fair volunteer Gerry Giles. “It began when people came into the area, cleared land to farm and really that tradition or heritage and culture has continued on through the years. When people come to the fair they get glimpses of our past and what agriculture means to the community.” 

If you missed the fair this year, be sure to keep an eye out for the 2015 fair date!

The Cobble Hill Fair Parade

Cobble Hill Fair 2014-25

Cobble Hill Fair 2014-22 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-3 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-18

The Animals of the Cobble Hill Fair

Cobble Hill Fair 2014-2 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-4 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-30 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-34 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-7Cobble Hill Fair 2014-5Cobble Hill Fair 2014-33 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-41 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-2

The Children of the Cobble Hill Fair

Cobble Hill Fair 2014 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-42 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-9 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-7
Cobble Hill Fair 2014-6
Cobble Hill Fair 2014-28 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-4 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-10 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-8 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-40 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-37 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-10 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-45 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-44 Cobble Hill Fair 2014-11

JulyGrams 2014

JulyGrams – My favourite Instagram posts from July 2014. Follow my Instagram account for more fun pics.

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#SundayFunday! #Mojito #SummerFun #Shawnigan

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Happening now. :) Saturday afternoon at Shawnigan Lake. Life is good. #shawnigan #vancouverisland #lake #summer #explorebc #lovingislandliving

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It’s finally blueberry season! Mmm!! #Yay! #blueberries #bcfarms #explorebc #farmfresh #organic

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That’s a lot of gum! #gumhead #vancouver #douglascoupland #publicart #art #gum #gross

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I’m not a fan of the rain, but I do love the life a greenery it brings back to our forests. Lynn Valley is one of my favourite places. #LynnValley #Vancouver #I have a lunch tomorrow and then a coffee meeting after. #forest #nature #rain #rainforest

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It was a gorgeous morning at Shawnigan Lake this morning. #shawniganlake #vancouverisland #lovinislandlivin #lake #lakeview

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I found a bunch of these caterpillars on my hike today. I love nature! #caterpillar #bugs #nature #hiking #ilovenature #yellow #black

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Do you know what kind of egg sacs these are? I don’t, but I’d like to. #sealife #ocean #eggpod #maplebay #vancouverisland #explorebc

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Sunset is my favourite colour. This one was tonight at Quamichan Lake. #sunset #cowichan #quamichan #lake #kayak

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Today was Cowichan Valley winery your day! Cherry Point Vineyards was our first stop. #wine #cowichan #winery #cherrypoint

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9 Reasons to Visit Merridale Cidery on Vancouver Island

There are countless reasons to visit Merridale Cidery. I’ve listed 9 of them here, all of which place it near the top if my list of local Cowichan Valley tours.

Merridale Cidery is located on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island between Victoria and Nanaimo. Follow the Wine Route signs from the main highway to get to the orchard. (See the map below.)

Merridale Cider Works - Things To Do

9 Reasons to Visit Merridale Cidery

1. Orchard Tour

Merridale does not disappoint with its gorgeous orchard. Merridale is located in Cobble Hill, BC, one of the area’s main farming regions. It’s well worth taking a walk around the orchard and taking the fun and interactive self-guided tour to get a good thirst going before you hit their tasting room to sample their refreshingly delicious products. Be sure to ask any questions that may arise when you hit up the cider bar for a tasting.

Merridale Cidery - the Orchard

2. Orchard Faeries

Besides the resident bee hives, birds and other creatures, the orchard is home to a community of faeries! Bring your children along on your orchard adventure (they tend to come out when you sing as you walk) and when you get to the cider bar, they can sample Merridale’s apple juice and collect an Orchard Adventure Stamp.

Merridale Cidery - Orchard Faeries

The Brandy House Distillery

The Brandy House is one of the few artisan distilleries in the province and offers tours, and tastings of their spirits, fortified line, and fruit based vodka. The Brandy House is also an excellent venue for stand-up receptions and is a unique venue to host company or group gatherings. Merridale will be adding their first whiskey product to their already impressive product line later this year. Stay tuned here and to the Merridale website for updates.

Merridale Cidery - the Distillery

3. The Bistro

I try to plan my stop at Merridale so that I can enjoy lunch or a snack in the bistro. The food is inspired by traditional cider regions in Europe using local seasonal ingredients and fresh cut herbs. The bakery features an amazing outdoor brick oven.

4. Sunday Night Pizza and Music

Every Sunday throughout the summer, Merridale hosts their famous pizza nights on their covered deck.  Each week they feature several unique artisan pizzas straight from their brick oven featuring housemade charcuterie and local seasonal produce. Pair that with a fresh glass of cider and local musicians and you’ve got yourself a fun evening out to get your upcoming week started off just right. For a list of musical artists, visit Merridale’s events page.

Merridale Cidery - Yurts

5. Yurts and the Orchard Spa

Sip cider and nibble on charcuterie while you get pampered in the Merridale Orchard Spa! The spa is located in the Merridale yurts which include with a relaxation patio overlooking the pond. “What IS a yurt?” you may ask. A yurt is a portable, round dwelling used by the nomadic groups of Central Asia. Yurts have been around for at least three thousand years, and are known for their spiritual and calming benefits. The yurts are also available for romantic getaways from April to October. For rates and more information or to make a reservation contact Merridale staff.

Merridale Cidery - Yurts

6. Get Married!

Merridale Cidery is a magical venue for a wedding! Get ready with your wedding party in the yurts or the outdoor bridal suite. Then walk down the manicured lawn and exchange vows in the pond-side gazebo. Celebrate and feast with your guests with gourmet food and drink in the Ciderhouse with a panoramic view of the orchard below.

Merridale Cidery - Wedding Venue

7. Local Products

Not only does Merridale grow their fruit locally, but they also support other local farms and artists in the Cider Shop. You’ll find products from local cheeses and sausage to blown glass, paintings and cider-scented soaps. It’s definitely worth checking out to support the local community.

Merridale Cidery - BC Grown

8. Tasting: Merridale Ciders

Merridale makes a variety of beverages from ciders to ports to spirits, listed below. Tastings cost $5 (including tax) and all proceeds are donated back into the community to their charity of the month.

Merridale Cidery - Cider Bar

  1. Monarch Cider – It’s dry, bubbly, and created from a balanced blend of full bodied cider apples. 
  2. Traditional Cider –  It’s light, dry and effervescent. It appeals to true cider connoisseurs, and has been called “the best English-style cider in Canada” by wine expert Jurgen Gothe.
  3. House Cider – A lighter, sweeter version of our traditional cider, but still very dry.
  4. Scrumpy Cider – Scrumpy is strong and sharp, and rich in the flavours of our strongest cider apples.
  5. Cyser Cider – A traditional blend of pure vintage apple juice and wildflower honey, combined in a slow fermentation process that dates back to the Viking days.
  6. Merri Berri Cider – A refreshing blend of apple cider and the unfermented juices of a blend of BC berries and fruits.
  7. Somerset Cider – Dry and sparkling with balanced acids. Somerset is slowly aged for more than a year to become completely dry and is bottled Champagne style so it’s perfect to celebrate a special occasion.

Merridale Cidery - Cider Bartender

9. Tasting: Merridale Spirits & Fortified Products

  1. Winter Apple – A fresh and velvety sipping drink with an aroma of baked apples and buttery brown sugar.
  2. Pomme Oh! – A delicate balance of apple and brandy with a soft, slightly sweet finish. This is wonderful with soft cheeses. 
  3. Mure Oh! – Has a strong blackberry odour and taste with a bitter sweet finish. Great for dessert or with apple pie. 
  4. Stair’s Pear Brandy – Exhibits a clean fresh pear nose enhanced by the oak with subtle fresh aromas of pineapple and lemon zest finishing with strawberries and marzipan. 
  5. Cowichan Cider Brandy – Made from six different blends of cider apples which we then placed in French Oak Barrels. When tasting the brandy, it is best served in a ‘snifter’ at room temperature. Swirl it in the glass and enjoy the aroma.
  6. Frizz Vodka – This is not fruit infused vodka, but vodka made from fruit. It is a secret blend of spirits made from cherries, plums, apples, and some pear. To make it a little more fun and distinctive, they’ve carbonated it!
  7. Blackberry Oh de Vie – Unfermented blackberry juice is added to rough brandy for the final distillation. This brandy has hints of anise along with the blackberry notes.
  8. Apple Oh de Vie – Has a distinct apple and cider aroma with a slight floral undertone of spring apple blossoms. It is wonderful as a digestif or in your favourite martini. 

So what are you waiting for? Merridale Cidery is a fun afternoon outing for the whole family! Wander the orchard, search for faeries, learn about the cider making and distillery processes and then tickle your tastebuds with a bite and a tasting.

Have you visited Merridale Cidery? What was your favourite Merridale product?

Where is Merridale Cidery?

1230 Merridale Road, Cobble Hill, BC
Phone: 1.800.998.9908
Website: merridalecider.com

Follow Merridale on Facebook and Twitter.

Photography: 10 Composition and Creativity Tips

I’ve shared a whole schwack of photo tips over the past several weeks:

Now that we’ve covered the technical aspects, we will be getting into the fun part with some composition and creativity tips.

In photography, composition and creativity can be about following the rules or breaking them. It’s all about experimenting and trial and error. There is no wrong answer when it comes to being creative, so get out there and start shooting to see where your eye takes you.

10 Composition and Creativity Tips

  1. Create a Project For Yourself – Coming up with shooting ideas can be tough sometimes when you’re running low on inspiration. To get around this, set yourself a project so that you have a focus. If you’re feeling particularly inspired one day, create a list of mini projects and write them on small pieces of paper. Drop them into a jar and pull one out every time you need some inspiration. Check out this article to get yourself started.
  2. Simplicity – Some of the greatest photo compositions are not about what’s in the image, but rather about what has been left out. Look through your viewfinder to see if there is anything you can remove that doesn’t add to your image and adjust your shot to crop it out.
  3. Straight Horizon – Make sure your horizon is level. There’s nothing worse than capturing a great shot but then finding out later that your horizon is totally crooked, sometimes rendering your image unusable.
  4. Rule of Thirds – The rule of thirds states than an image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally. Position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet. You can also apply the rule of thirds to existing photos by cropping them later. You’ll find more information on the rule of thirds here.Photography: Rule of Thirds
  5. Fill the Frame – Filling up the frame forces you to keep your background simple and clean. Getting in closer to your subject eliminates distracting elements and cluttered backgrounds that detract from your image. Use a wide aperture to render your background slightly out of focus to make the viewer focus directly on the foreground and subject being presented.
  6. Look For Reflections – Reflections in water or in glass can add symmetry to your image. You can also try to shoot reflections in isolation for more abstract compositions.
    Ucluelet Boat Reflections
  7. Try a Low Viewpoint – Get a more creative view by shooting from ground level for a different perspective on common subjects. For portraits of animals or children, get down to their eye level for a more intimate image.
  8. Try a Panoramic Image – I’m a big fan of the long thin panoramic images. They can add impact to your landscape shots. You don’t need to worry about stitching images together however, you can just take your high resolution image into your image editing software and crop it for the same effect.
    Vancouver - False Creek Panorama
  9. Shoot in Odd Numbers – Odd numbers give a more balanced composition than even numbers. Try to arrange your shot with an odd number of elements.
  10. Break The Rules!!! – The rules of composition can be helpful when you’re finding your eye and your vision, but they can also be a bit restricting. Once you have the rules down pat, get creative and start breaking them. For example, try putting the horizon at the top or bottom of the frame.

There are many more composition rules and ideas out there, but these should get you started.

Bonus Tip: Try shooting a picture everyday to get yourself into the habit of finding great photographic opportunities. We all have our smartphones with us all the time these days, so use your phone’s camera if you don’t want to lug your DSLR around with you everywhere. Post your daily pics to Instagram and see what people like. This is a great tool to find out what people find aesthetically pleasing. Share your Instagram profile link below so we can follow along and weigh in too!

Do you have any composition tips or tricks to add? Share them in the comments.

Photography: 10 Lighting and Colour Tips

In the past few weeks we have covered camera setup and shoot planningexposure and camera settings, and focusing and sharpness. Today I’ll be sharing some lighting and colour tips to help advance your photography skills even further.

10 Lighting and Colour Tips

  1. Take Advantage of Cloudy Days – You don’t need to wait for a sunny day to go out and shoot. Cloudy days are great for portraits, macro and even some landscape situations. The cloud provide a natural diffuser to the sun’s bright light and help eliminate harsh shadows.
  2. Shoot Into the Light – Don’t always shoot with the sun behind you. Experiment with shooting into the light for some interesting images. Try to position the sun (or light source) behind your subject to help minimize flare.
    Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, Canada - © 2011 Mariska Richters Photography

    Lynn Canyon, Vancouver, Canada – © 2011 Mariska Richters

  3. Shoot at the Golden Hour – The golden hour is one of my favourite times of day for shooting. The golden hour is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the sun is higher in the sky. At these times the light is much warmer and you will get much better colour. You will also get some interesting shadows and textures.
  4. Use a Reflector – A reflector can help you fill in shadows by bouncing light back into the darker areas of your image. If you don’t have a proper reflector, you can use anything from a white piece of paper or poster board to a sheet of fabric like a t-shirt.
  5. Experiment With Fill-In Flash – Use your camera’s built-in or external flash to lighten shadows when the sunlight causes dark shadows on your subject.
  6. Use a Diffuser – The sun can produce some pretty harsh shadows when it’s high in the sky. Experiment with placing a diffuser between the light and the subject to soften shadows.You don’t have to spend big money on an expensive light diffuser, you can easily make one yourself out of a piece of white cloth or paper.
  7. Shoot at Night – Night photography is where I’ve produced some of my favourite images. Experiment using long exposures and other lighting techniques like light trails and painting with light. Be sure to bring a sturdy tripod and remote shutter release to help capture sharp images.
    Granville Street, Vancouver, Canada

    Granville Street, Vancouver, Canada – © 2010 Mariska Richters

  8. Play With Your White Balance – It’s easy to set your camera to automatic white balance, but the auto setting can be fooled in lighting some situations. If you’re shooting in a mixed lighting setting, try shooting a white or grey card and use this to help you learn about and set your custom white balance. Remember that as long as you are shooting in raw file format, you can always adjust the white balance with your software in post-production later.
  9. Shoot at Twilight – Just  before sunrise and just after sunset are great for capturing some moody landscape images. It’s also a good time to catch street scenes and cityscapes while the sky has a bit of light yet you still capture the city lights.
  10. Try Shooting In Black and White – I’ve found that I don’t shoot much black and white since the emergence of digital photography. It was far easier to do when you used a roll of black and white film in your camera. But harsh sunlight can produce strong shadows for some interesting high-contrast back and white images. Try it!

Do you have any colour or lighting tricks to add? Share them in the comments below.

Next week I’ll share Composition and Creativity Tips.

If you found this article useful, please share it with your friends via the social media buttons below.

Photography: 10 Focusing and Sharpness Tips

In the past couple of weeks I’ve shared some photography tips with you relating to camera setup and shoot planning, as well as exposure and camera settings. Today I’ll be covering 10 focusing and sharpness tips to help improve your photography even more.

 Get Tack Sharp Images – 10 Focusing and Sharpness Tips

  1. Nikon DioptreHold the Camera Properly – Hold your elbows close to your body and hold your left hand under the lens. Release the shutter just after you exhale to help hold the camera steady and minimize camera shake.
  2. Focus Your Viewfinder – Most DSLR cameras enable you to adjust your viewfinder for your personal eyesight using the dioptre adjustment dial. Make sure you adjust this to ensure you can see your subjects clearly through your viewfinder.
  3. Set the Right Focus Point – Set your camera to single-point AF mode, rather than letting the camera choose the focus point automatically. You can then position the active point on the subject that you want to be sharp. This is very useful when the main subject is not right in the centre of the frame.
  4. Use Focus Lock – Use this when your subject is not right in the middle of your frame. Position the subject in the middle, focus on it, use the focus lock and then re-frame the shot.
  5. Pre-Focus – If you have a moving subject and can predict where it is going to be, pre-focus on that spot to make capturing a great action shot easier.
  6. Shallow Depth of Field – A shallow depth of field (or wide aperture) to blur the background can make your subject appear sharper than when your whole photo is sharp. However, you should avoid using very small apertures unless you absolutely have to because lenses produce softer results at f/22 than at f/8.
  7. Hyperfocal Focusing – To get the full scene sharp with a wide angle lens, you should focus around one third of the way into the scene with an aperture of f/16.
    Studio-Portrait---Focus-on-the-Eyes
  8. Focus on Eyes – The eyes are usually the most important feature of a portrait, so make sure you focus on eyes of your subject. This is especially important if you’re shooting with a shallow depth of field and wide aperture.
  9. Nikon ML-L3 RemoteUse a Tripod – This is the best way to ensure sharp images, especially when shooting at long shutter speeds. A monopod may be a better option for action shots to minimize camera shake but still move around fairly easily. If you don’t have a tripod or monopod, brace the camera on a solid object like a post or a wall. When all else fails you can kneel or lie down to create a more stable position.
  10. Use a Remote – For long exposures, mount your camera on a tripod and then use a remote shutter release or the self timer to avoid camera shake when you press the shutter release button. (I use the Nikon ML-L3)

What focusing tricks do you use to get super sharp images? Please share in the comments.

Stay tuned next week for lighting and colour tips.

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