Posted on: April 6th, 2014 by gregvanriel 7 Comments


After this long winter here in Eastern Canada some of us are really looking forward to some fun in the sun.  Here is some eye candy to get you in the mood!

_DSC6339-2 _DSC5384 _DSC1169If you’re shooting pools the thing to keep in mind is that they tend to look best from a high angle.


DSC_7612Of course rules are meant to be broken.  I love this infinity pool and the setting.



Don't forget that you’re telling a story.  Like this next one.  Can you imagine lying in the hammock chillin’ out with a good book, magazines, and your favorite beverage?


Sometimes it’s nice to focus on some of the details and leave the rest to the imagination.


DSC_7236I hope you feel encouraged that yes, summer will be here again!  And I’m sure you’ll find time to relax and enjoy it just like this young girl here is...

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Feel free to leave a comment by clicking on "Comments" above.

Taking Another Look

Posted on: May 11th, 2013 by gregvanriel No Comments


Often I like to play a little game with myself when I’m shooting. After I think I’ve got the "Money" shot it’s time to see if I can up the ante.  Have another look. Try something else.

For example, I had this shot of the new Sheridan College Campus in Mississauga, Ontario.

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I walked around the building took some of these below.

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I quite liked the last one so I did some Photoshop work on it.  It took quite a while to get it look like this._DSC3625

The problem was that I messed up the section of the shot at the bottom right hand side.  You can see a white line where the edge of the building meets the sky.

I felt a little disappointed and abandoned it.  I ended up working on this shot here.

_DSC3635 smallA while later the low angle shot popped back into my head and I thought, why not strip in a different sky.  I’d shot some sky plates and had one I thought would work.  So I created a layer mask in Photoshop and came up with this one._DSC3625 copy small

It worked out kind of nicely and I think I saved the image. It’s always worth it to take another look!!

Rockin’ It With Street Photography

Posted on: April 7th, 2013 by gregvanriel 2 Comments


This post is a bit of departure since I mostly blog about shooting Architecture but why not switch it up once in while.  I was shooting in Holland a while ago and I came across this couple on the bench.  Something dramatic was going on.  I took some shots of them and I kept wondering what their story was.  It gave me the inspiration to do a series of “Intimacy” themed shots.Dutch Couple

When I got back to Toronto I started roaming the streets looking for some interesting opportunities to capture intimate moments between people like the one below.Chinese Couple

The thing about street shooting is that you have to be fast.  Set your camera to shutter priority – 1/250 sec and of course use a long lens.  Then keep your eyes open for a potential “story”.  I like it when the story is not straight forward like this one below.  Why is she looking off while he seems so intent on her.  Is he proposing?The Promise

I love the way the people in this next one are so full of love for the child in the stroller.Escalator Boy

In the one below I wonder if the young father didn’t get much sleep the night before.  What do you think?Father & Son

This shot of the woman in the fountain is interesting to me.  If you look carefully you can see a guy with a camera on the right side of frame.  He appears to be taking a picture of the woman.  Does she know him?  Is that why she’s laughing?Fountain Spray

I just love the expression on the woman’s face here.  What is he saying to her?  Let me know what you think.The Truth

This moment catching the people texting is intriguing to me. They’re having a lot of fun.LOL Text

I met this couple down at the Polson Pier and they were up for me taking some shots.  The woman looks quite protective of the guy.  Her eyes convey a certain wariness.  I wonder what celebration the henna on her hand is for?  The shot didn’t work in B&W so it’s the only one I kept in color.Indian Couple

I hope you like these. Please let me know if they resonate with you.  Till the next post!

It’s a Doggy Dog World!

Posted on: January 3rd, 2013 by gregvanriel No Comments


“You know Greggy, it’s a doggy dog world.”  That’s what my friend used to say when we were 18 year old budding photographers.  He was new to Canada and misunderstood the old saying, “It’s a dog eat dog world.”  It’s a fun memory, and a good segue into this blog post because it involves dogs…









Last summer I was shooting for Atlas Block.  They make stone products.  We arrived at the location a little late and the early morning sun was already up so we had to work fast.  The first set up was on the porch of the house as you can see here.

There were these two beautiful dogs around so I thought I’d try to work them into the shot.  But it can be tricky and as they say, “Never shoot with children, animals and water.”  I asked the homeowner to call them and I set the camera to shoot at 5 frames per second.  We got these shots below.


























We kept shooting but it wasn’t quite working for me so we moved on.  Then I saw the light brown dog on the patio below and shot this one.









I asked my client, Mary, if she would mind going down to the patio and play with the dog.  She knew right away that it could make a nice shot and was game.  I shot this one.









The table and the railing was a little distracting and I wanted to get in closer.  So I shot the two next shots in tighter.








I think it all came together.  I quite like the second shot where Mary is petting the dog’s head.  It’s quite a tender moment and tells a nice story.

A little later were shooting the stone around the pool.  The black dog wandered through the shot and stopped by the side of the pool and I got this image.

The dog at the edge of frame adds life to the shot.  It’s not a bad shot without the dog but I much prefer it with the dog in frame.  Let me know your thoughts.  And if you ever shoot with animals be prepared to shoot a lot.  Keep your eye out for the unexpected.  It’s those unexpected, fortuitous moments that can make a shot really come alive.


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!