Its the Canada Day and Independence Day long weekend in North America (ironically both celebrating an inverse Brexit) and the official kick-off for summer – so I thought that I would try to inspire you to get up early and stay up late by sharing the stories behind a few of my favorite summer photos.
Of course no summer long weekend celebration is complete without fireworks (here is an excellent tutorial on how to photograph fireworks).
This is a photo of a me lighting a stack of fireworks in a pail of sand at the beach at our family cottage. Single roman candles were not that exciting so I packed about ten into the pail and tried to light them all at the same time while not burning off my eyebrows.
This is the same location with my daughter waving around a couple of sparklers (here is a step by step tutorial on how to take this photo).
The hardest part about taking great fireworks photos isn’t capturing the actual fireworks – its the timing that is required to carefully balance the ambient light in the sky with the light from the fireworks or sparklers. Both of these photos would be much less interesting if I had waited until the sky way completely dark.
Although, if you live relatively far north, it doesn’t get dark enough for fireworks or sparklers until 9 or 10 o’clock – which means keeping kids up way past their bedtime is the real challenge here – especially the next day…
I am lucky to have some really amazing hiking trails nearby – in particular the Bruce Trail which runs along the Niagara Escarpment 890 km from Niagara Falls to Tobermory.
This photo is from a family hike to Greig’s Caves on the Niagara Escarpment near Lion’s Head, Ontario. The caves are on private property, so it is a little touristy, but even on a great summer weekend it wasn’t too busy.
This photo was taken near mid-day, so it was a challenge to balance the bright light in the background with the dark shadows inside the cave (here is another article about this series of photos with more detail about how they were captured).
The grotto is a natural sea cave on Georgian Bay and like many popular US national parks, it is overrun with tourists during peak season in the summer – so capturing a photo that has a sense of natural wonder, calm and serenity can be a challenge (to say the least).
We avoided the crowds by hiking in at dusk – when everyone else was leaving – and by the time we got there we had the whole place to ourselves for the sunset.
The Cottage Dock
No series of summer photos would be complete without some photos from the cottage dock.
Cottage docks are good for three things: jumping off of, drinking coffee on and drinking beer on…so here is the same dock with all three.
Here is another article with more of the story behind these photos.
Canoeing & Kayaking
To me canoeing is the quintessential summer activity. It combines everything that is great about summer: being outdoors, water and peace and quiet.
This photo was from a family canoe trip to Algonquin Provincial Park.
I particularly love this photo because the lake is so calm and peaceful in the early morning. We were at the beginning of a twenty kilometer paddle back to the car when I took this photo and within an hour the wind was blowing the dog off the chain and made for a very challenging paddle out.
Car campsites (ie. campsites that are accessible by car) in Algonquin are overrun with tourists in the summer too, but all you need to do is paddle a few kilometers into the backcountry to avoid the crowds.
If you have ever been on a canoe trip, you know that there is something mesmerizing about watching the swirl of water behind your paddle after each stroke – I tried to capture that feeling from both above and underwater.
I feel the same way about kayaking as I do about canoeing, except kayaking is a bit more of a solo activity. This is a photo of my wife enjoying one of those amazing summer moments – drinking her morning coffee while sitting on a tranquil crystal clear lake.
No series of summer photos would be complete without swimming. This is my favorite photo of all time of our old Bernese Mountain Dog Daisy.
Daisy suffered from degenerative myelopathy where her hind legs were almost completely paralyzed – but in the water she could swim and move like she used to – so we would put a dog life jacket on her and she would swim around in lazy circles for ages.
Some of my fondest memories of childhood are sitting on a blanket at the beach at the cottage and falling asleep while watching the stars.
This is a photo that I took of me and my son sitting at the beach watching the Persedes Meteor shower. It was barely visible to the naked eye but the green on the horizon is actually the northern lights, which is rare this far south and in the summer – which made for one of my favorite summer photos ever.
What’s Your Favourite Summer Moment?
Hopefully I have inspired you to grab your camera and get out there to capture some genuine summer moments this summer.
If you have a favorite summer moment that you’d like to share – please leave a comment below!