Witty’s Sooke Lighthouse Fort

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It may be a mouthful, but that title accurately describes the four locations on southern Vancouver Island I visited last weekend. Those locations are Witty’s Lagoon, Fisgard Lighthouse and Fort Rodd National Historic Site, and East Sooke Regional Park. I was over on the island visiting a high school friend (Colwyn) and we had a fun weekend exploring those areas and capturing some good compositions. An interesting side story is that my first photographic outing was with Colwyn and a few other friends in North Vancouver.

On Saturday morning we walked around Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park in Metchosin, just south-west of Victoria. This 58 hectare park has a beautiful coastal forest surrounding the lagoon along with coastal beach sections.

Bilston Creek and the Sitting Lady Falls had a fair amount of water flowing through and over it.

I like the twisted shape of this arbutus tree with the calm waters of the lagoon behind.

Speaking of the lagoon, the water was calm and the surrounding forest was mirrored in it. Here are two of my favourite compositions.

I was a bit surprised to see fall colours still present at this time of year. In this next composition, I selected a tight framing to illustrate the grey sinuous branches with the yellow leaves interspersed.

The next stop was the Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites with the impressive fortification and lighthouse overlooking Esquimalt Harbour and Juan de Fuca Strait.

The lighthouse was built in 1860 and is one of the oldest on the west coast.

Inside the light keepers house was this wrought iron staircase leading to the second floor and I thought it would make an interesting composition.

Just up the hill from the lighthouse is Fort Rodd Hill, a coastal artillery fort built in the late 1890’s. It was used from then and through the second world war to defend Victoria and Esquimalt Harbour.

Here is the gun placement in the lower battery section. I liked the layers of different colour and texture. The rings on the wall were used to secure the gun during firing.

I spotted this wrought iron gate latch and the years of wear on the brick wall.

During the day there was a mixture of cloud and a bit of sun. I captured this interesting composition with the multi-layer clouds and the textured ocean. Removing the colour emphasis the tone and texture without the distraction of colour.

On Sunday, we visited East Sooke Regional Park and walked from the Aylard Farm to Creyke Point and then along the coast to Alldridge Point.

Here is the view southwest from Creyke Point towards Alldridge Point.

The arbutus were plentiful and very photogenic. I liked this radial looking composition of the bark centred around the broken branch.

Looking across Beecher Bay at South Hill Rise and Middle Peak.

At Alldridge Point is this petroglyph of a sea lion, pounded into the sandstone using a harder rock hammer.

Nearing lunch time the sun made a welcome appearance and I captured this north-east view along the coast to Alldridge Point.

As I mentioned previously, the arbutus was not only plentiful, but contorted and even growing along the rocky headlands.

There was also shore pine growing in contorted and near shrub-like form.

Chasing the November Light

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Last weekend the good weather continued here in Metro Vancouver and I took full advantage of the opportunity. Rather than post photos from a single outing, I wanted to share my favourite photos taken over those two days with optimal light being the theme.

Starting off on Saturday morning with the sun rising over the Fraser River with the Port Mann Bridge. This was taken at Sapperton Landing in New Westminster.

Later on Saturday, I photographed in The Shipyards in the City of North Vancouver. I started just before sunset and captured Lonsdale Quay, Polygon Gallery, other buildings, and Grouse Mountain in the soft pink lighting.

I have been photographing sunset a bit more of late and I have found that I prefer those taken with some foreground subjects. The following two photos are examples of trying to include those. First off, looking southwest is this photo of the Lonsdale Quay sign, docks, and the downtown towers.

Second, the Polygon Gallery building had Christmas lighting and I wanted to use the strong roof element to lead the eye forward. The water feature mirrors the warm sunset colours well.

On Sunday just after sunrise I walked along the Alouette River dykes in the Jerry Sulina Park in Maple Ridge. It was a cool, crisp and clear morning with frost covering the grass. As I was walking along the dyke taking in the scenery, the rising sun started illuminating the area in a warm tone.

In this first image, the frosted grass and bare deciduous trees along the Alouette River are illuminated by that warm early morning light. The fog in the background is along the Pitt River. The mountains above the shorter set of trees are (R to L) Blanchard Needle, Edge, and Golden Ears.

The Alouette River in the early morning light with the Blanchard Needle and the Edge visible (Golden Ears are behind the cottonwood tree).

The next stop was Golden Ears Park and the trail along Gold Creek leading into a narrow valley. While direct lighting was almost non-existent, there were a few instances of  interesting lighting.

First was this photograph of the low angle winter sun streaming through the forest. I would say that I don’t normally photograph this type of photo were I know the results will produce over exposure and lens flare. So I was pleased that I took the photo as the result was very good.

At Hikers Beach, I captured the mist rising from Gold Creek with the coniferous forest in varying stages of illumination.

With the sun descending in the mid-afternoon, I captured this strongly side lighted forest along the river. I like the coastal forest look and feel with the moss and ferns.

Richmond Olympic Oval At Night

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The Richmond Olympic Oval is an impressive building with soaring arches and wood lined ceilings located along the Fraser River in Richmond. It was constructed for the speed skating competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Out front in the Water Sky Garden are two “sky lanterns” illuminated by adjacent lighting.

Looking along the side of the building, the cantilevered roof elements are supported by massive wood posts.

Here is a view looking upwards at the wood lined ceiling and those cantilevered roof elements.

Adjacent to the oval is the River Green residence sales centre building. The window coverings on a few sides has curved lines illuminated by changing coloured lights. I used a red light to complete some light painting.

Along the river walking paths in front of the oval is this First Nations art installation.

The walking path also has this water sculpture, a reference to the salmon migration in the Fraser River.

On and Adjacent to Westham Island

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An area I haven’t explored before is the south Delta area along the Fraser River, including Westham Island. This time of year is perfect for exploring local sights given the shorter daylight and fickle weather.

As you drive further west out of the community of Ladner, the more back in time the whole area feels. Here is one such sight, the 1912 wood truss single lane Westham Island Bridge spanning Canoe Pass on the Fraser River.

One of the attractions of Westham Island is the annual migration of the Lesser Snow Geese. We briefly joined the crowds and chaos on the side of the road and captured a few photos of the geese. They make a remarkable journey from Russia.

Further along the rural road on the island, is this barn with multiple sections.

Beside the barn was this bare leaved tree with a small pond. I was very taken with the sinuous form, the green grass and the big sky behind.

On a side road was another barn and in front was the most vivid fall colour yellow I have seen.

Across Canoe Passage on the mainland, is a trail along the dyke leading to Brunswick Point. Views of Westham Island, the Fraser River, and the other sights are plentiful.

I liked the impressionistic view of this birch tree in a heavy gust of wind.

These small warehouse buildings used for the fishing industry were another example of the time standing still in this area.

Further along were the remains of piers, presumably from a cannery or fishing buildings.

I waited several minutes waiting for the sun to re-emerge and illuminate this cottonwood tree.

I liked the sinuous branch form and the blue sky behind of this cottonwood tree

Looking north with the dyke and the Strait of Georgia.

Ramble from the Seymour River to the Lynn Creek

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On Saturday I photographed various areas from the Seymour River to Lynn Creek, accessing them from the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. With the overcast conditions, I was primarily interested in capturing the beautiful coastal forest.

This hemlock tree with the distinct branch form resulting from mistletoe infection made an interesting composition.

I spotted this large boulder erratic sitting in amongst the coastal forest and thought the study in vertical versus round and rough versus smooth would make an interesting composition.

Along the Fisherman’s Trail, is this side trail leading to the Seymour River. The early morning light is streaming through the moss covered forest.

A little further along the trail the vine maple leaves were yellow. 

In the soft diffused lighting and with no wind, Rice Lake afforded some beautiful mirror style photos.

Descending down to Lynn Creek, I noticed how the western hemlock understory aligned vertically with the mature Douglas-fir and western hemlock forest behind.

In the Lynn Creek canyon, a small waterfall descends into Lynn Creek framed by the vertical forest.

Here are two views of Lynn Creek and the softly illuminated coastal forest.

Moss covered trees rising from the canyon walls.

Along the trail above the Lynn Creek canyon, I spotted this triangle shaped composition with the fern anchoring the bottom and the sinuous vine maple trunks forming the side.

Morning and Evening at Stanley Park

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Recently I had the opportunity to photograph Stanley Park at sunrise and in the evening. For the morning shoot, Terry suggested that we photograph around the Brockton Point lighthouse to catch the sunrise prior to a club hike in West Vancouver. After that hike, my friend Jim suggested Stanley Park as the night location. It was interesting to work an area twice in the same day and find new compositions.

Stanley Park is without a doubt a real jewel for Vancouver and we are very fortunate that it was persevered. From a photography standpoint, there are lots of interesting subject matter, from the sunrise and sunset, city lights, Lions Gate Bridge, and the North Shore Mountains.

Arriving early, we photographed the sun rising over the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge and Burnaby Mountain.

Canada Place and the seawall with morning light.

Harry Jerome, a Canadian Olympic track and field athlete, is immortalized in this Jack Harman sculpture.

Vancouver Wharves Terminal in North Vancouver with the distinctive sulfur pile and the north shore mountains.

Brockton Point Lightstation and the Lions Gate Bridge.

Lions Gate Bridge and the impressive stone work on the seawall.

Returning back to Stanley Park around 7pm we started at the Stanley Park Drive overpass to photograph the Lions Gate Bridge and the Stanley Park Causeway.

Two compositions of the buildings in Coal Harbour and downtown reflected in the still waters of Burrard Inlet.

Another composition of Harry Jerome, Canada Place, and the downtown towers. We used a flashlight to light paint on the sculpture to provide some details in the face and upper torso.

I was photographing the Lions Gate Bridge, seen in this next photo, and took a few different exposures.

Each of those were multiple seconds long and during one of them, I moved the camera forgetting that it was still exposing. The result of that moved exposure photo was a very intriguing abstract photo. I spent the next 15 minutes perfecting the movement that would provide a more refined abstract photo. I rotated the camera back and forth a few degrees along the horizontal axis while moving the camera horizontally left to right.

PIMBY

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PIMBY, Photography In My Back Yard. One might consider so called backyard areas as either not having photographic potential or been over photographed. The reality is that having good knowledge of local areas through frequent visits allows a photographer to understand the various seasonal and lighting conditions. Being close by allows quick access when those conditions are just right. All of that allows you to make unique and interesting compositions. 

Here are some photographs I recently took in the Byrne Creek Ravine Park. Close proximity allowed me to start photographing just as the rain stopped but before the clouds lifted and the wonderful details were overpowered with bright lighting.

I have photographed this tree before from a different position and while pleased with the result, always thought there was something lacking. It turns out that I have always approached the tree from either side along the same trail. On this outing, I used a different trail and as I approached the tree, I realized this was the better angle. It appears to show off the sinuous form of the branches better.

The park is full of vine maple and while it might not be red, the yellow to orange colour is beautiful. The dark sinuous branches contrasts very well with those vibrant colours.

Byrne Creek was surrounded by vibrant yellow, green, and orange vine maple.

Dark to Dark, Mountain to Sea

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It was a full day on Saturday, starting with photographing the sunrise from the High View lookout on Cypress Mountain and ending with night photography at The Shipyards in lower Lonsdale.

The views from the High View lookout offers an impressive view of the city south and eastwards. I started in the dark capturing the first hint of the sunrise with the city lights, Lions Gate bridge, and Mt Baker. The second photo is of the Lions Gate bridge and a ship entering Burrard Inlet with the sunrise along the eastern sky.

After the sunrise, I headed for the downhill ski parking lot and then hiked up to the south and north peaks of Mount Strachan in Cypress Provincial Park. The fall colours were strong with the blueberry bushes coloured deep red and the mountain ash in a yellow to orange range.

The views looking southwest over Howe Sound were very nice with deep shadows from the early morning sun.

The Lions are always an interesting subject matter and in this composition I used the twin alpine firs to mimic and frame the mountain peaks. You’ll notice in the lower right traces of snow from the late week precipitation.

I particularly like this composition with the soft focus on the red blueberry bushes. This is looking east across the Capilano River valley at the mountains.

I should mention that Terry was on the sunrise and Mount Strachan portion of the day’s outing. He told me that when he was skiing the Slash run a few winters back, he thought the snags along the run would make a good photo. So on the way back from Mount Strachan we bushwhacked down the run to find those snags. As it turns out, the view would be better later in the day but we did find a few compositions with the right vantage point.

The magenta tone in these leaves contrasted with the green and tan grass.

Mid-afternoon and we arrived back at the parking lot. I had a very enjoyable hike and photography outing in Cypress Park. I always seem to come away with good compositions here.

Next up was Caulfield Park, a small postage size park in West Vancouver overlooking Pilot Cove and Burrard Inlet. It has clear views of the downtown and Mount Baker. The lighting was a touch hazy at this hour but I wanted to include the photo for reference.

The highlight in this park on this trip was the rock and the various plants and flowers. First off, are a couple of rock photos with interesting cracks and texture.

I was surprised to see these daisy flowers still in bloom for early October.

With the soft lighting from the increased cloud cover, those flowers and the salal were perfectly lit.

Nearing dinner time, I headed over to the lower Lonsdale area for a quick meal before concluding the day’s photography at The Shipyards.

The Shipyards, adjacent Lonsdale Quay, is the City of North Vancouver’s multi year redevelopment of the waterfront. This area was used for nearly ninety years by the Wallace Shipyards and is now a mixed public space. There are piers and walkways with impressive views of the city, art installations, and historical remnants from the shipbuilding days.

The latest addition is this plate steel wall enclosing the Seaspan marine operation centre, mimicking shipbuilding. I liked the door and the way the address is cutout and shows the steel siding behind. I do like doors as you can see in these next two photos! The second photo of the new Polygon Gallery and is an interesting study in lines and texture. 

The daisy flowers were also in bloom here and I liked how the flowers were nestled in the grass and with the orange plate steel wall behind.

One of the remnants from the Wallace Shipyards is this crane. I used the wood sculpture to lead the eye inwards.

The siding on the Polygon Gallery offers endless compositions. I elected to convert to a black and white for this dusk shot of the sign.

The Lonsdale Quay sign and market made for a nice composition with the oncoming darkness.

The Burrard Dry Dock pier juts out into Burrard Inlet and offers impressive and uninterrupted views of the city and the adjacent docks. Harbour Centre and Canada place are prominent in this composition.

In front of the Polygon Gallery is a water feature with a thin layer of water moving away from the building. As it is thin, you can walk on the surface. I was certainly taken with the photographic possibilities all of that reflective and moving surface presents.

It was a full day outing lasting nearly 14 hours and I must say how pleased I was with the results of each of the four photography locations.

The Power of Overcast for Water and Fall Colours

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While this might be the fourth weekend in a row with unsettled weather in metro Vancouver, from a photography standpoint there are benefits to overcast conditions. Highly reflective surfaces such as water and fall colours in bright light will often wash out, so overcast offers ideal conditions.

With fall colours underway here on the west coast and overcast conditions, I was excited to explore the Kanaka Creek and photograph the colours there.

I started off the walk along the Kanaka Creek at the Bell-Irving Fish Hatchery. The Canyon trail leads westward through coastal forest intermixed with vine maple, big leaf maple, and red alder. The vine maple has turned a gold colour in this image.

I crossed the creek on the Pine Ridge trail and spotted these scaly cap (Pholiota squarrosa) mushrooms growing on an alder snag.

Down at the creek again, I liked how these dry brown big leaf maple leaves were laid out on the sandstone with the nearly round moss covered boulder in the middle.

The interesting feature of the Kanaka Creek is the sandstone substrate which has been carved into shutes, bowls, and potholes.

Just downstream from where those photographs were captured, Kanaka Creek drops down several cascades and a waterfall. Here is the start of those.

At that point that Kanaka Creek descends, it is joined by the North Fork Kanaka Creek which drops cleanly in one large waterfall. Kanaka Creek is on the left and on the right is the north fork.

The North Fork also has sandstone and more of those wonderful shutes, bowls, and potholes.

Just above the waterfall on the North Fork is this fan shaped cascade…and in case you’re wondering, yes I stood in the middle of the creek to capture this.

The other material in and alongside the creek is shale and it makes for interesting compositions.

On the walk back to the vehicle and with rain starting, I had time to capture a few more images of the fall colours along the trail.

Here and There in South Burnaby and Port Royal

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Here and there indeed as I rambled through various sites in south Burnaby and Port Royal last weekend.

In search of fall colours, I took a walk through Burnaby’s Central Park on Saturday. While the vine maple there was mostly green, there were several patches that had turned orange to red.

On Sunday, I walked through Byrne Creek Ravine Park in south Burnaby. Between the creek and the City in the Park residential towers is the site of an old farm, with this massive retaining wall and non-native tree remaining. I liked the sense of form with the strong vertical coniferous trees, strong horizontal wall, and the sinuous deciduous tree branches.

Walking further into the park, the trail descends down to Byrne Creek. It was then that I noticed this curved tree arcing through the backlit vine maples beside Byrne Creek.

Some fall colours were visible along the lower trail beside the creek.

Here is another composition with an interesting study of form, the curved vine maple branches arcing through the fall colours and the strong vertical cedar tree.

A short drive away in New Westminster is the community of Port Royal located on the eastern end of Lulu Island with the Fraser River splitting around the island. The stormy weather is clearly visible in this northeastern view of the New Westminster Quay and the Skybridge.

Walking along the river trail, I spotted this interesting composition of grass where the heads are interweaved with the lower stalks.

With the storm clouds lifting and the lighting increasing, I noticed the subtle reflection of the coloured condo building in the Fraser River. I find there is a sense of motion in the photo.

The last photo shoot on Sunday was at the City in the Park in south Burnaby near sunset.