You live in the most beautiful place in the world…

I’ve threatened/promised to show you where I take pictures. Oh, I don’t mean only the after shots. I mean, I’m going to show you what the places I shoot look like as you drive or walk by them.

There is a terrible misconception that you can only take interesting landscapes in “interesting” places. Visit a popular photo sharing website like and you’d think that you could only ever take good pictures where the landscape is spectacular. It aint so.

Learning how to take photos where you live will make you a much better artist/photographer for when you do go on a photo holiday. Why spend your hard earned money paying a “photographer” to guide you to all of their “secret” spots in the best light when you can do it cheaper and more originally by yourself.

The forecast for the upcoming week around Edmonton is for unsettled and unremarkable weather so last night, Sunday, I thought it best to go out for a few pics while things looked half decent. About an hour before sunset the sky looked promising, There were light clouds overhead and the horizon wasn’t too cloudy. That’s  a big part of it. If the horizon is too dark, when the sun sets, you don’t get a decent sunset. It’s always a gamble but that’s part of what makes it interesting.

The two photos below show where I took the “final” pics. This spot is along side a set of rail road tracks so public access is guaranteed. I don’t want to trespass on someone’s property. It may be out in the country but it still is their property.

The tree above our puppy is the tree in the photo at the top. This is how most of the Alberta prairie looks when you’re driving along the road. Plain. Uninteresting. Bland.

Below is taken from close to where the dog was running. Changing your point of view makes all the difference.

What you see above is how the scene looks during what is probably the worst time of day to take photos. The light is flat and uninteresting.

Below is the another frame from the evening series. It was taken about ten minutes after the sun had set. That is usually my favorite time. Either that or ten or fifteen minutes before sunrise. In both instances, the light provides more depth and color than the mid day photo does. I’ll try and post more examples like this if you find it helpful. The intent of this is to demonstrate how important light and weather are when shooting landscapes. It’s not so much about where you are but when you are. Does that make sense?

Happy shooting,


A bit of technical stuff. Both of my evening shots are HDR’s processed in Photomatix, a program which I think is the BEST there is for easily achieving great results. I don’t get a penny for endorsements so don’t go to their website and type in code DANJURAK for a discount. I don’t do that endorsement stuff. This program is worth every penny.

NO FILTERS WERE USED. For all the baloney that is spewed by the “professional” photograhers on the Singh-Ray website, I don’t need em. My money is better spent elsewhere. My opinion is that most of the people that endorse the product there do so in the hope that the added exposure will drive more customers to their workshops. A great example of the blind or misguided leading the blind or misguided.

Below are small versions of the RAWs as they came out of the camera. Here is why I love HDR so much. Trust me, if there was a camera that captured the extreme range of highlight and shadow, I’d be using it and not bothering with the extra exposures. LOL

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~ by Dan Jurak on June 18, 2012.

9 Responses to “You live in the most beautiful place in the world…”

  1. Thanks! Very helpful.

  2. You’re right Dan. The light plays a huge role in making this a great image.

  3. We really think alike. Great post.

  4. Love the see the behind the scene, you always know how the catch the light at his best.

  5. @ Bruce, thank you.

  6. @ Anne, I hope to do more like this. There really shouldn’t be any secrets on how to do this stuff. The better those are around me, the better I become.

  7. Dan, you are so inspiring. So many of those “gorgeous” 500px websites leave me feeling like i am oh so inadequate, for the reasons you state above. I live in suburbia, have a full-time job and family, etc. So my passion for photography is a constant tug-of-war on my psyche. Your posts are so inspiring because they remind me that I only have to walk to the end of my neighborhood to find some pristine land, and that, alone, should be ample fodder if I just approach it the right way! Thanks!

  8. Great article Dan! Far away exotic locations are closer than they appear!

  9. This sentence spoke the loudest to me, “Learning how to take photos where you live will make you a much better artist/photographer for when you do go on a photo holiday.” I agree with you and am in the process of learning HDR Effects.

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