Latest News

Coyotes Eat Shooters?

Posted on: November 11th, 2012 by gregvanriel 4 Comments


There’s a MASSIVE AWESOME Power Plant in Milton just west of Toronto that I’ve always wanted to capture.  It’s one of those colossal post-industrial power facilities from a bygone age – the 1980’s.

This summer I was shooting a job in Milton and thought I’d scout the plant.  Here are some different angles of the place.





















I waited for night to fall.  At dusk I parked nearby and started walking across a big grassy field scoping out the shot.  As I trudged along with my camera gear I suddenly saw a coyote.  It was leaping along in the tall grass.  I stopped in my tracks.  Not having any experience with coyotes I wasn’t sure what to do.







I watched the coyote closely and saw it join another one nearby.  Now my mind started racing. If there are 2, will there be more? Do coyotes hunt in packs?  Do they attack humans? Do I look appetizing to a coyote?










Looking at the Power Plant I started getting annoyed. The sun was setting now.  The Plant had some pretty nice light on it.  I didn’t want these coyotes to ruin my chance of getting a good shot.

But getting the shot I wanted meant staying there until after dark.  With a pack of coyotes lurking in the shadows, I felt a little vulnerable.  I decided to shoot the Plant from where I was and do some research on coyotes before coming back to shoot the night shot.

This is one I got that day.







When I got home I found out that coyotes are generally harmless, don’t hunt in packs and stay away from humans (most of the time).  The advice for scaring them away was to make a lot of noise, use a powerful flashlight, and by no mean feed them.

My brother in law, Steve, came over from England and he was keen to come along on the shoot.  He liked the idea seeing some Canadian wildlife.  So we set off with a trumpet (noise), hockey sticks (defense) and powerful flashlights.  My 11 year old son, Michael, also came along.  He took these shots of the power plant.

















And this one of Steve.  The old low lighting horror film shot.







I shot a whole bunch of images of the Plant and ended up with this one that is 3 shots merged together.  1 for the sky, 1 for the plant and the lights, and one for the foreground.







And yes, we did see coyotes.  Just one was checking us out from a distance.  All we could see were its eyes when we caught it with a flashlight.  We didn’t even have to play the trumpet to keep it away!

Let me know which shots of the Plant you like. Or maybe you prefer the shots Michael took.  And remember, always bring a trumpet when you're out shooting in remote places!


The Princes’ Gates Shoot

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by gregvanriel 3 Comments


I’ve been looking to shoot The Princes' Gates at Strachan and Lakeshore Blvd in Toronto for quite some time. But she was always under construction. The other day I drove by to take another look and there she was, in all it's glory. No scaffolding in sight. Great! I started to get excited. The Gates face south east so it would mean an AM shoot. I checked the weather and it looked good for the following Saturday. My friend and fellow shooter, Jerry Abramowicz, turned me on to a FREE piece of software called TPE. It allows you to type in a location and see it on a map with a graph of the sun’s direction during the day. So, with the help of TPE I figured I should get to the Gates by 6:15 AM. When I got up at 5:30 AM the sky looked quite clear, but once I arrived at the Gates, clouds had rolled in. I figured I’d just scout with the lens, as they say, and see what happens. I put on the Nikkor 24 – 70mm zoom (2.8) and set it to f11. I like to shoot handheld at 250th of a second to make sure there’s no camera blur. So the ISO had to be 1000. I walked around the Gates just firing off some test shots like the ones below.

I found an angle I liked which would be different from the ones you always see. That’s a little challenge I like to give myself when it comes to shooting places that are well known and have been shot a lot.

Suddenly the sun came out.  Just a shaft of light hitting the left column and the angel.  It was like the buildings across the street were acting like giant flags blocking the sun so it only hit a few sections of the Gates.  I banged off a few like these.

I thought they were kind of cool. But there was that giant flagpole on the left of frame that wasn’t great. That’s when I started using the tree on the left to block it out. Also, it’s always nice to shoot through something or frame the shot.

Then the sun disappeared.  After about 15 minutes it came back and this time it illuminated the entire Gates.  Not for long though.  I had to shoot quickly and I got the one below.  It turned to be the shot I liked best.  I spent a little time processing it in Photoshop.  I also tweaked it in Photo Tools.

When I looked at the final image I saw that it has a lot of contrast so I thought it would convert to B&W quite well.  I used a red filter to turn the blue in the sky dark and it came out like the one below.  I selected the angel and then inverted the selection.  I brought down everything in Exposure a hair. It’s pretty subtle but the angel is a touch lighter than everything else, just to draw your attention to it a bit more.  It’s a more dramatic shot in B&W then in color I think.

So all in all I felt quite lucky because the sun never came back out. I got one that turned out pretty good.  You never know what’s going to happen.  That’s the exciting and challenging part.

I hope this was helpful.  Don’t forget to download TPE and keep on shooting!