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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Canada

Lonely Planet Discover Canada (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography

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I recently visited Ottawa in Canada in the Fall, and as someone who is travelling more and more as a travel photographer, the need for good planning is becoming more important than ever to ensure the trip is as productive as possible, and that I am in the right place, at the right time.


Prior to a travel photography trip, I do the following things...

Research the location of all places of interest and prioritise the ones I should definitely visit.

Look into how to get to and from each place and the best route to take to ensure I capture as much as possible. I often plan this based on the position of the sun throughout the day, so I know where the sun will fall on buildings etc.

I check the Location of the airport, coach drop off point or public parking, as well as how long it will take me to get to the location so I can start taking pictures.

For my accomodation, I try and plan a central location as I don't want to have to travel far in the morning to start shooting or have far to go at night.

I will look at the time of sunrise and sunset, as well as what would be best to photograph for those times. I may also make a mental note thoughout the day of places I should come back to for the sunrise or sunset shot if I discover any good viewpoints.

I will download and print a copy of a subway or transit system and also research into how the ticket systems, work, ie London you can use a Oyster Card or get a paper ticket. Ottawa isn't that spread out so the need for public transport once I got there wasn't necessary.

I will ensure my equipment is all prepped, batteries are charged, memory cards are formatted and I have everything that I would possibly need for a shoot, one of the most important items for me being my tripod which I wouldn't go anywhere without.

I travel as light as possible so I can start taking pictures before checking into the hotel or hostel. In the instance of Ottawa, I was in the city before noon, but couldn't check into the hostel until 3pm.

My Ottawa Trip

Once I landed at Ottawa Airport, I commuted to a place closest to my hostel, I wanted to get a sense of direction so that I could easily get back there to check my belongings in later in the day. I then walked across the Mackenzie King Bridge towards the Parliament buildings, taking some pictures of cyclists down the canal and other interesting things on my way.
Close to the Parliament building there is the Canada National War Memorial, showing guards standing at the base.
Then I saw the gorgeous Central Chambers building, I later returned here at night to take a night shot as you'll see below...
At the Ottawa Parliament buildings I took several photos from different angles, and compositions trying to capture the building from close and far.
It was then lunchtime, so I went to Byward Market to have some lunch, here you will find some fantastic restaurants and outlets.
Afterwards I went to take some pictures from the Major Hills Park opposite the Ottawa Parliament buildings.
I had planned to take some shots from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River at night, so I scouted a location and captured these after the sun had gone down.
I was started to feel a bit tired at this point, so I decided to head back to the hostel for a bit, grabbing some dinner on the way. Once at the hostel I charged my camera battery and put my feet up. I was half tempted to not go out again but I'm glad I did. Ottawa is a beautiful place, both at day and night, and whilst heading back out I took these images of the Rideau Canal. I love the way the water appears black and you can see reflections in the water.
After capturing a few more images I then called it a night at about 11pm, so I went back to the hostel again to recharge my camera and human batteries, before I get up for some sunrise shots the next day.


Sunrise, the golden hours, where the light is often a beautiful golden colour and casts a much softer light. Getting up to shoot at this time is essential if you want to really capture beautiful photos of a place. You need to ensure you know where to go as well, as if you go to the wrong location, you may be shooting with the light hitting the wrong place.
After the golden hours, I went to my favourite coffee shop, Tim Hortons, to get a coffee and some breakfast and also to have a brief break before heading out for the rest of the day.

For the remander of my trip I took photos of Ottawa Streets, Monuments, trees and other places of interest.

A few of these shots are below...
So this was my third travel photography trip, and since I have started I have learnt a lot about planning as well as the best way to be productive and get the most out of the trip. One of the most important things to remember is....

Don't forget to take breaks!

When taking a short trip to a place, you may find it hard to stop and relax. And you might just keep going on your feet all day, trying to take in and capture as much as possible. I have done this before, and I felt sick and ill, and completely exhausted the next day. I still managed to get lots of shots I was happy with, but I think for your general health it's not good to push yourself that hard.

Submitting to Agencies

If you are thinking of submitting to an agency, why not ready my tips on how to get into Shutterstock. A word of warning, taking photographs and trying to make money is incredibly time consuming, competitive and your pictures wil be scrutinsed for any technical problems. This can be overcome by the pure satisfaction of seeing people buying your images, and potentially, if you're lucky, seeing your images used in a magazine or brochure. If you do read my advice or submit to Shutterstock, please use my referral links. This way you will be supporting me and allow me to continue to run this website and the tutorial sections. I am also happy to give you any private advice if you want, to help you get started. Just send me a message through the contact section.
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Buy images

Many of my images are available to buy from Shutterstock. Click here to go to my Ottawa set on Shutterstock..

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