Lori Janeson: How the World’s Second-Largest Country Is One Gigantic Photo Opportunity

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It’s not exactly news that Canada is a beautiful country. Even if you’ve never set foot in this fair land, you’ve surely seen the pictures. Canada’s vastness is second only to its ecological diversity — virtually every temperate and arctic biome is represented here.

Lori Janeson, a longtime Manitoba resident who splits her time between the city of Winnipeg and a rural vacation home on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, knows a thing or two about Canada’s natural beauty. As an budding nature photographer, she spends much of her time out in the field. She hasn’t been to every great place to snap outdoor photos in Canada — no one has, because that would take lifetimes — but she’s done more than most.

Here’s why she’s so in love with photographing her home country — and why it might just be time for you to pick up your camera and head north.

Lori Janeson: Why I’m Spending More Time on Lake Winnipeg

There’s no place like home.

For Lori Janeson, home — at least, part of the time — is Lake Winnipeg, Canada’s sixth Lori Janeson kid with netlargest lake. Specifically, we’re talking about Hecla Island and its environs, protected by Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park.

Lake Winnipeg is enormous; Janeson freely admits she hasn’t seen the entire thing. Way up north, where improved roads are few and far between, simply accessing the shore is a challenge.

There are plenty of places to photograph within a couple hours’ drive of Winnipeg, though. The town of Gimli, arguably the epicenter of summer tourism on the lake, offers a great blend of rustic and urban photography. The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, held here each year (and every year since the late 19th century), provides a wealth of human subjects; Viking Park, the town’s unofficial outdoor gathering place, sports a gaudy Norse warrior statue that’s required viewing for first-time visitors.

Further north, on Hecla Island, things get wilder. (In the purest sense of the term.) Lori Janeson has spent more hours than she can count waiting atop the wildlife viewing towers at Grassy Narrows Marsh, holding out for the perfect shot of a blue heron stalking the waters or an elusive moose browsing the forested edges.

An avid kayaker, Janeson spends plenty of time on open-water photography, too. The land looks a whole lot different from the water, after all, and many geological formations that aren’t clearly visible from shore are easily captured by boat.

Home on the Range

Janeson isn’t originally from Manitoba. She grew up in rural Saskatchewan, several hundred kilometers to the west.

Her family still owns a farm out there — they raise canola, mostly, on about 9,000 acres. Her brothers handle the day-to-day, but Lori along with her husband, David Janeson and their family have an open invitation to visit pretty much whenever they want. They take advantage almost every summer — for Janeson, it’s a great opportunity to teach her kids the value of a hard day’s work and remind them how good they have it out in Manitoba.

Saskatchewan’s wide-open prairies and endless skies also make for fantastic photo opportunities, so it’s no sweat off Janeson’s back to visit. Whenever she can beg off farm work in favor of an impromptu outdoor photo session, she does.

Great Lakes, Great Photography

A few hundred kilometers to the east of Lori Janeson’s home lies Lake Superior, the largest of North America’s five Great Lakes. (Lake Winnipeg isn’t among them.)

The shores of the upper Great Lakes are rugged, rocky, wild — a stark contrast from the gentler limestone edges of Lake Winnipeg. According to Janeson, the best time to photograph Lake Superior in particular is during one of the lake’s famous storms, which can kick up breakers taller than an adult human and swells up to 30 feet. (On a lake the size of the U.S. state of South Carolina, that’s pretty impressive.)

The Great White North: Worth the Journey

It’s often said that Canada is five thousand miles wide and one mile thick. While that’s obviously an exaggeration, it’s true that Canada’s population is disproportionately concentrated in its southern tier. The vast majority of its inhabitants live within 200 miles of the U.S. border. Head north and you’re in charted, but otherwise very thinly occupied territory.

Canada’s northern boreal forest and tundra ecosystems are vast and, for the most part, pristine. You need a plane, boat, or both to get up here, but it’s absolutely worth the journey. Where else can you take photos of caribou, Arctic foxes, polar bears, and seals — all on the same day, within a few miles of each other?

Urban Nature Photography? In Canada, It’s Not a Contradiction in Terms

In Canada, the urban-rural divide isn’t particularly stark.

With few exceptions, the country’s major cities have excellent park systems and plenty of preserved natural space within their borders. Even densely populated Vancouver — Canada’s San Francisco — has a temperate rainforest within sight of its downtown core. (Not to mention stunning views of British Columbia’s famed coastal mountains.)

Lori Janeson has been all over urban Canada, capturing unexpected images that highlight the constant push and pull between nature and human habitation. Whether she’s snapping the sunrise over Lake Ontario from Toronto’s waterfront, capturing sweeping views of downtown Montreal from towering Mont Royal, or shooting the gentle bends of the Red River in her own hometown, Janeson is at home in any environment. She’d like her fellow photography enthusiasts to be able to say the same.

Five Thousand Miles from Coast to Coast

Canada stretches some five thousand miles from British Columbia’s stunning Pacific islands to the very tip of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. In between lie some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, bountiful wildlife, and inspiring horizons.

It’s impossible to travel through the Canadian countryside or wilderness without feeling a stirring in your soul. Lori Janeson knows the feeling well — she experiences every time she picks up her camera, packs her bag, and heads out for another round of shooting. If you’ve yet to feel it, there’s no time like the present to get started.

How to Photograph Wildlife the Right Way

By Lori Janeson

Taking pictures of wildlife is a bit trickier than taking photos of the stunning landscape around Lake Winnipeg. The landscape may not move, but animals do.

If you’d like to take better wildlife, whether it’s birds or moose, follow these tips to get better photos.

Tip 1: Practice Before You Head Out

Practice taking backyard photos with the camera you intend to use to shoot wildlife. Try taking photos of birds from a variety of distances and in various lighting. Adjust your camera settings and learn to create the best possible shots when you’re calm and relaxed. Practice changing settings until you can do it without looking at your camera.

Tip 2: Cultivate Patience

When it comes to photographing wildlife, remember that you’re not in control of the situation. The bird, moose or other wild animal is. Much of the time, you’ll be waiting for wildlife to arrive or move or do something. You’ll have to be patient.

Tip 3: Learn About Your Subject

You can’t just head out any time hoping to get a picture of a black bear. Wildlife follows its own patterns and before you try to capture an animal’s essence, study its behavior and normal activity.

 

“Learning about an animal’s behavior gives you a much better chance of capturing an amazing moment.” — Lori Janeson

 

Learn where your subjects typically inhabit at a given time of the year, read about their food sources and research typical behavior.

If at all possible, observe your subject animal over a period of time. Then when the real action happens, you’ll be ready.

Tip 4: Learn the Photography Rules for Wildlife

The rule of thirds, where you picture your subject within a square or line intersection of grid of nine equal squares, is as important when you shoot wildlife as it is in other types of photography.

When you photograph wildlife, however, the subject’s eyes become important. Eye contact is often considered the prime example of fine wildlife photography because an image of a wild animal looking at the camera seems more alive.

That’s not to say that the only way to take a dramatic photo of an animal is if it’s looking straight at you. In fact, many of the best wildlife photos are of animals being themselves; doing what they do naturally.

Don’t be afraid to break the rules to get great pictures.

Tip 5: Use Nature’s Light to Your Advantage

The sun is the perfect partner when it comes to shooting wildlife. Early morning and the light just before dark are ideal lighting conditions. Afternoon sun is typically too harsh, but if you’re willing to get up early and catch the animal at sunrise, you just might take a masterpiece.

Overcast skies have their own special aura. Clouds provide a natural light filter that let you photograph any time during the day.

As for the position of the sun and the light rays, the consensus is you should never shoot directly into the sun. The only problem with that is you may not always be able to move to a better position when you’re watching and waiting for an awesome wildlife moment to photograph. Experiment with your camera’s settings and take pictures anyway. You just might come up with a great shot even if you break the rules.

 

Lori Janeson is a nature photographer living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

How to Take Great Nature Shots With Almost Any Camera  

By Lori Janeson

Taking pictures of  wildlife and dramatic landscapes seems natural when you live on Lake Winnipeg. But, even if you don’t, photographing nature is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling hobbies you can have.

If you think taking great pictures means you have to buy an expensive camera and learn about all the settings before you start, don’t worry. You can begin learning the techniques to take awe-inspiring nature photos using any camera at your disposal, including your camera phone. All you need to do is begin.

Tip 1: Choose Your Camera

You don’t need a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera to get started. The latest phone cameras include technological advances that have the ability to take incredible pictures.

If you’re serious from the start, a DSLR is your best bet. Still, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on the latest and greatest. Look at online marketplaces for older versions of Canon or Nikon cameras to find more affordable options.

Tip 2: Know Your Camera

It doesn’t matter what type of camera you plan to use, familiarize yourself with the way it works and the different settings before you head out. Practice taking shots in your backyard. Try different settings. Experiment and have some fun while you’re at it.

Tip 3: Prepare Ahead of Time

If you want to take photographs of the stunning areas around Hecla Island or anywhere else, plan ahead. Wear comfortable hikers or boots, layer your clothing and take water and snacks in case your hike takes longer than you expect.

Take someone with your or let someone know where you’re going if you go out alone. Check your location’s regulations about where you can go and what you can shoot.

 

“If you plan to photograph wildlife, pay strict attention to the region’s rules about how close you can get and acceptable behavior around wild animals.” — Lori Janeson

 

Even if there are no set rules, keep your distance from wildlife to avoid stressing them and putting yourself in danger.

Tip 4: Take the Right Equipment

It’s very difficult to hold a camera steady with just your hands. Take a tripod to make sure you take clear pictures. If you don’t have one, try using a rock, tree branch or level ground instead. Consider purchasing a compact tripod. They’re lightweight, easy to carry and make taking great photos a whole lot easier.

Other equipment options to consider include a lens hood to prevent glare on sunny days and waterproof camera cover.

Tip 5: Learn to Set Your Shot

The rule of thirds is a long-standing photography technique. Divide the scene you want to photograph in your mind as a graph cut into nine equal squares. The intersecting lines indicate the space a human’s eye falls. Place the subject inside one of those squares or directly on intersecting lines for a dramatic photo.

Tip 6: Relax and Have Fun

Breathing fresh air while you wait patiently for the perfect shot provides a much-needed respite from the stresses of everyday life. Remember, even the pros take hundreds of pictures and only get a few great shots. Have fun, experiment and enjoy all the outdoor moments now as well as those to come.

Lori Janeson is a nature photographer living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

These 15 Canadian Parks and Natural Areas Beg to Be Photographed

By Lori Janeson

Canada is blessed with an abundance of pristine natural areas and scenic wonderlands. Much of the country is a boreal forest that evinces only minimal evidence of direct human impact — though of course it’s under the gun from insidious threats like climate change and water pollution.

These places begged to be photographed. Whether you’re a budding amateur shooter or a seasoned professional, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. Here’s what you need to know to plan your next nature photography trip in Canada.

1. Banff National Park, Alberta

Say the words “national park” and “Canada” in the same sentence, context-free, and nine out of ten listeners will assume you’re referring to Alberta’s Banff National Park. Perched in an impossibly beautiful section of the Rocky Mountains, with stunning alpine lakes and high peaks all around, Banff is almost too easy to photograph well. It’s particularly beautiful in the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun’s sharp angles play game with the snow-covered mountains.

2. Jasper National Park, Alberta

Jasper National Park isn’t as well-known as Banff, but it’s actually larger: 11,000 square kilometers, to be precise. And it packs a lot in, from the stunning Icefields Parkway to Mount Edith Cavell, one of Canada’s true natural treasures. (Due to the area’s environmental sensitivity, you’ll need a permit to trek up Mount Edith Cavell.)

3. Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

The Bay of Fundy is one of the world’s best-known tidal bores, and it’s definitely not boring. This rugged seaside landscape is at once intimate and grand. Whether you’re shooting delicate wildlife in its countless tidal pools or capturing the broad sweep of the shoreline, there’s a lot to take in here.

4. Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park, Manitoba

Among Canada’s most distinctive provincial parks, Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park protects more than 1,000 square kilometers of forest and shoreline.

 

“Come to photograph the charming village; stay to catch a glimpse of moose browsing in Grassy Narrows Marsh.”—Lori Janeson

 

The park is also home to a historic Icelandic settlement that’s one of the few surviving remnants of a semi-autonomous community within what was then Canada’s Northwest Territories.

5. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

Visitors to Gros Morne National Park are forgiven for checking their GPS coordinates. More Norway than Newfoundland, this stunning seaside park is characterized by dramatic fjords, soaring cliffs, and scoured rock landscapes displaying centuries of wind and water action. Don’t miss the Tablelands, a broad badland with stunning rock and water views.

6. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

A kinder, gentler version of Gros Morne, Cape Breton Highlands mixes watery lowlands with steep sea cliffs, rounded interior mountains, and endangered alpine ecosystems. Hit the Cabot Trail, a stunningly beautiful drive up the park’s west coast, across the interior, and back down its east coast. Mind the switchbacks and remember to stop often for photos.

7. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Waterton Lakes National Park functions as an extension of Glacier National Park, just across the international border in Montana — or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, the landscape here is just as stunning: clear blue alpine lakes, high peaks, and ancient glaciers threatened by a changing climate.

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