View of Vancouver and North Vancouver from Burnaby Mountain

View of Vancouver, North Vancouver, and beyond – from Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

view of the city of vancouver after sunset from above

View of Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Burnaby (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

As with many of my better images these photos of a view of Vancouver were not really planned. I had a plan, but when that fell through (as they often do) I had to adjust (more on that later). This is the view of Vancouver from the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area near Simon Fraser University. I’ve been surprised both times I’ve photographed here that I have not seen other photographers (beyond those with cell phones) as the view is quite popular. When I went to school at SFU this was a busy area at sunset as people parked their cars to watch (and do other things) – and this was much the same last week when I was on Burnaby Mountain. Two separate people were even brought by their drivers, and had their own security. Why this area is popular is understandable as the view is spectacular on a nice day!

The panorama above shows many notable buildings and locations in and around Vancouver (best viewed in the larger “lightbox” version if you click on the smaller version above). On the left the blue lights are from BC Place and above the stadium you can see Mount Arrowsmith on Vancouver Island. Then we have the towers of the downtown area of the City of Vancouver and the Port of Vancouver structures next to Burrard Inlet. Beyond Vancouver you can see other areas of Vancouver Island (including the light of Nanaimo), and ships waiting to load/unload in English Bay. The darker area before you get to the Lions Gate Bridge is Stanley Park, and then you have the bridge itself, and the lights of the City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver. In the foreground you have Capitol Hill in north Burnaby (I can see the house I lived in for a few years in this photo), and then the Burnaby Refinery (Parkland) next to Burrard Inlet.

view of vancouver after sunset

View of Vancouver from Burnaby Mountain after sunset. (Purchase)

I had initially planned to photograph a few scenes in Port Moody (which I was able to do) and then photograph some blue hour photos of snow on the mountains to the north (Mount Seymour, etc). I didn’t expect a sunset due to cloud cover and I have had a few ideas for those photos for a few years. It became immediately clear that there was not a lot of snow on the mountains (visible) and that plan was going to have to be abandoned.

When I was editing these photos I was reflecting whether these images would have been possible for me to make maybe even 5 years ago. My camera at the time would have done a good job, but I’m not sure I’d have been able to get in the right position and more importantly, the right frame of mind, to make these photos. I used to over plan my photography days, and if I’d shown up here to make blue hour photos of mountains covered in snow (and not found those scenes) I might have still been stewing on this and unable to make the transition to shooting something else. You just can only shoot what is actually there, and even if that thing isn’t what you initially wanted or expected, there is almost always something else to photograph. Knowing more about what locations are nearby and what potential they have also helps! Even if you photograph nothing at a location, seeing what might be possible there in the future can help a lot.

For more of my photographs of Vancouver visit my Vancouver Gallery.

Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

The Parliament Buildings (Centre Block) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Centre Block contained the House of Commons, the Senate chambers, offices of some MP’s (Members of Parliament), and administration offices.

canadian parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Parliament Buildings – Centre Block (Purchase)

I first saw the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa when I was 18. In the Vancouver area we don’t really have as much in the way of impressive, historically significant buildings, so I still remember the first time I saw the Centre Block building. During my trip to Ottawa last fall I was happy to see these buildings again, and to have a chance to photograph them. I also found a historical architecture equivalent of a bad sunset or clouds hiding the mountain thats we get with landscapes sometimes: construction.

peace tower at canadian parliament buildings in ottawa canada

The Peace Tower at Parliament Hill (Purchase)

The first session of the Parliament of Canada was held on Parliament Hill in in November 6, 1867, before the buildings were completely finished construction (which had begun in 1859). Parliament Hill has 3 main buildings – East Block (opened in 1866), West Block (opened in 1906), and Centre Block (which held the “House of Commons” and Senate Chambers). Most of the Centre Block standing today is not the original, a fire in 1916 burned down the original building. Only the Library of Parliament survived the fire intact. It seems the library clerk at the time had the presence of mind to close the large iron main doors before the fire reached the library. It is also for this reason that there is a different architectural style in the newer Centre Block compared to the Library of Parliament or the East and West Block buildings.

flag on peace tower at parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Canadian Flag on the Peace Tower (Purchase)

Construction on the current Centre Block building began in 1917 after the fire, and was completed in 1927. The original buildings were constructed in a “Victorian High Gothic” style while the newer Centre Block is a “Modern Gothic Revival” style. The original Centre Block also had a large clock tower in the middle, though that tower was called the Victoria Tower. During the fire the original Victoria Tower Bell fell to the ground, and is still displayed on the Parliament Hill grounds. After the fire and reconstruction, the new tower was called the Peace Tower. The Peace Tower is 92.2m (302 ft) in height and flies a new Canadian flag each weekday. Canadians can request this flag but as this is quite a popular idea – the current waiting time is 99 years!

canadian flag on peace tower at parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Canadian Flag on the Peace Tower (Purchase)

If you look at the lower right corner of the Peace Tower (in the two photographs) you can see some scaffolding covered in similar coloured tarps. The Parliament Buildings are all undergoing rehabilitation. The West Block building had its repair begin in 2011 and recently finished – and now contains the interim House of Commons as the Centre Block is just beginning its 10 years of rehabilitation. The Senate chamber has been temporarily relocated to the Senate of Canada Building (formerly the Government Conference Centre) near Parliament Hill. So while my photograph above contains some construction equipment and scaffolding, I probably did actually come at a fairly good time as the place is going to be closed for the next 10 years. A previously overcast day giving way to blue sky helped a lot too!

For more photographs from the Ottawa area visit my Ottawa Gallery.

Iconic White Rock Pier Destroyed by Windstorm

Lights on the White Rock Pier reflected in the water of Boundary Bay in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.

lights on the white rock pier at night

Lights on the White Rock Pier (Purchase)

I photographed these lights on the White Rock Pier reflecting off the water of Boundary Bay back in October 2018. I had no idea this would be the last time I would photograph the pier while it was whole. On December 20th, 2018 this part of British Columbia had a historic (in terms of damage) windstorm that damaged the current pier so badly it will eventually be replaced. 300,000 customers lost power (my lights didn’t come on for 30 hours, and I was relatively lucky) and many areas had winds stronger than 100 km/hr (62 mph). The estimated cost of entirely replacing pier is around $16.2 million. The City of White Rock looks to be planning a $5 million fix to get the pier open later this year before replacing the structure entirely.

The White Rock Pier was opened on November 14, 1914. Since then it has become a tourist attraction and one of the main draws to the Marine Drive area of White Rock. I tend to avoid the very busy summer months but this first photograph here was on a quieter evening in the fall where the crowds weren’t an issue, though the pier was still busy. Unfortunately the photograph below shows what it looks like now. There is a large section in the middle of the pier that is completely gone, and there is a lot of damage to the rest of the 104 year old structure. A post I made in 2017 shows a bit more of the pier when it was still intact. Note the marina in the second to last photo on that post and specifically the dock with sailboats that broke free and repeatedly was driven into the pier which caused much of the damage. Some of those sailboats broke apart and sank, the rest washed up on the beach with varying levels of damage.

view of mount baker from white rock pier

Destroyed section of the White Rock Pier

The photograph below shows one of the reasons the pier was popular, it offered not only a nice walk, but great views of the surrounding scenery such as Mount Baker. I photographed this scene in October 2018 during a poor sunset, but with good light to the east.

view of mount baker from white rock pier

View of Mount Baker from the White Rock Pier (Purchase)

This next photograph is from early 2017 and shows the pier in better days just after a nice sunset. Photographed from the East Beach side of the Promenade looking west.

evening view of the white rock pier

View of the White Rock Pier after sunset (Purchase)

This is the White Rock at White Rock Beach that gave the city its name. The White Rock is a 486-ton granite boulder that was left by a retreating glacier (glacial erratic). The rock was once used as a navigational aide for boats as it was a frequent target for seabird guano. Now it is covered in white paint and is a frequent target of graffiti instead.

the white rock of white rock

The White Rock at White Rock Beach (Purchase)

For more photographs of the White Rock Pier and other scenes from the area visit my White Rock Gallery.

Fall Foliage at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park

The fall foliage of a Star Magnolia Tree (Magnolia stellata) at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

fall magnolia tree leaves at queen elizabeth park in vancouver

Star Magnolia Tree (Magnolia stellata) at Queen Elizabeth Park (Purchase)

During many trips to the “big city” I make a stop at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. QE Park is located not far outside the downtown core and is a great spot for fall leaves in the gardens. On this stop I was particularly interested in some of the Japanese Maples, the Gingko tree (Gingko biloba), and a specific Star Magnolia Tree. Queen Elizabeth Park is one of many locations where I had decreased how frequently I make a photograph while visiting as I’ve photographed many of the scenes before here. Now that I have a higher resolution camera, however, I do find myself re-shooting some of my favourite scenes just so I’ll have a few extra pixels should a print or licensing order need them. Plus, there is always room for improvement or slight changes to a composition.

The Star Magnolia tree above is one of my favourite things to photograph in Queen Elizabeth Park, and I was not disappointed with the fall foliage I found here in October. I’ve previously photographed the same tree, with similar compositions in early spring (flowering) and in the early fall. I’ve a few alternate compositions of the first photo in my Garden Plants gallery as well. Getting a winter photo with snow on the branches is going to be the tough one!

yellow gingko leaves at queen elizabeth park in vancouver

Fall leaves of a Gingko tree (Gingko biloba) at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver (Purchase)

The Star Magnolia was great but the Gingko tree was spectacular with the dark yellow leaves in the sunshine. There were very few people around the Magnolia as it isn’t quite in the main area of the quarry gardens, but the Gingko is well known, next to a waterfall, and is in the main loop around the gardens. This means some patience was required to photograph the waterfall below, and to a certain extent the photos of Bloedel Conservatory as well. As I was waiting for around 10 people to move on from underneath the Ginkgo, I backed up and made this composition looking up at the leaves. It kind of reminds me of the paintings people do by dabbing sponges into a canvas.

fall magnolia foliage at queen elizabeth park in vancouver

Fall foliage of a Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver (Purchase)

This photograph of the Bloedel Conservatory is a “iconic” view from one of the viewpoints at the west side of the quarry garden. I’ve photographed this scene on many occasions. My most popular photo of it is actually on a typical Vancouver day – grey and dreary. It was nice to finally photograph this location with blue skies and sunshine lighting up the fall leaves. Only the Maple trees denied me their full cooperation. Maybe next year!

bloedel conservatory at queen elizabeth park

The Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver (Purchase)

I’ve photographed this “waterfall” before (water is circulated by a pump) but it always looks best with some fall foliage around it. The Gingko provided some colour for this composition.

For more photographs of Queen Elizabeth Park and other garden scenes please visit my Garden gallery.

Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River

Hog’s Back Falls, the Rideau River and the Hog’s Back Bridge in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photographed from Hog’s Back Park.

hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Hogs Back Falls from Ottawa’s Hogs Back Park (Purchase)

During my trip to Ontario and Québec I visited a waterfall in Ottawa, along the Rideau River, called Hogs Back Falls (or Prince of Wales Falls, officially). Hogs Back Falls are not actually a natural waterfall, and are the result of construction of a waste water channel during the building of the Rideau Canal. Originally this section of the river was a 2000 meter long rapids, some of which is still visible below Hogs Back Falls.

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Hog’s Back Falls and Hog’s Back Bridge in Ottawa (Purchase)

The first two photographs here are from the first viewpoint we found in Hogs Back Park. It has a nice view up the Rideau River and looks directly towards Hogs Back Falls. I made this initial composition to try to portray what a visitor would see here. I often start with a “big picture” photograph of an area and then try to work on more detailed compositions of individual elements that make a scene interesting. At this viewpoint we noticed a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) hunting for prey next to a small waterfall below. Another photographer at that spot offered me the use of his 100-400 lens. I declined, but he insisted, so I put the lens on and made a few photographs which did not turn out. This lens was interesting to try, but I also knew this was the wrong angle to photograph the Heron and I could probably do pretty well at a better spot. The 100-400 is a nice lens, and there are times when I’d want to use one, but not enough to buy one. Rather expensive for the amount of use I would get out of it and also quite heavy and large for my already near capacity camera bag (and back). If I was a serious wildlife photographer I’d likely own one already, but until that happens I’ll stick with my 70-200 and the 1.4x extender that I usually have attached (since I moved to a full frame camera).

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) fishing in the Rideau River (Purchase)

After I changed locations to a spot closer to the bridge, I was able to view and photograph the heron much easier than at the first viewpoint. The photograph above is the result. A number of people have picked it as their favourite out of my “top 10” favourite images from 2018 post. I like Herons. Not only do they “pose” nicely and sit still quite often which makes a photograph easier, they seem to have an air of elegance or something about them. Except when they don’t. Years ago I photographed one strutting around near the Capilano Fish Hatchery in North Vancouver (Great Blue Heron at Capilano River). I still quite like that photograph, but I most remember that heron as appearing young and inexperience by trying to eat some discarded gills (from the hatchery) that were laying about. It seems gills are quite rough and hard to swallow, as the heron appeared to choke for about 10 minutes before expectorating the gills back up onto the rocks. I chalked this up to an inexperience Heron, but perhaps they just aren’t that bright?

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

A Great Blue Heron bites off more than it can chew

The Heron at Hogs Back Falls also had an embarrassing moment in public. At one point it snagged what looked like a Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and then tried to swallow it whole, as Herons do. It appears that no matter how willing the Heron, its esophagus was not up to the diameter required for the task, After several inelegant minutes attempting to choke down this Bass, it too was spit back onto the rocks, only to fall into the river. The Heron then returned to fishing for something a bit more manageable. After photographing the Heron we worked our way over the Hogs Back Bridge and photographed the Rideau River and many smaller water falls on the rocks below.

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Fall Foliage above the Rideau River and Hogs Back Falls in Ottawa (Purchase)

For more photographs from the Ottawa area visit my Ontario Gallery.

Pink Lake (Lac Pink) in Québec’s Gatineau Park

One of the viewing platforms along the Pink Lake Trail loop at Pink Lake (Lac Pink) in Gatineau Park, Québec, Canada. Photographed during the “Fall Rhapsody” festival celebrating fall foliage colours in Gatineau Park.

fall foliage at pink lake in gatineau park

Fall Foliage Pink Lake (Lac Pink) in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

Much of my trip to Gatineau Park in October was photographed a short distance from the roads or parking lots (due to time available). For Pink Lake (Lac Pink), however, we walked the short loop trail around the lake. I’d seen Pink Lake advertised as a great place for fall foliage but this year it was just getting started in early October. The Pink Lake Loop Trail isn’t that long, maybe 2.5km, but there are some up and down stair sections that can make it feel a bit longer! The first photograph above is looking down from probably the most popular viewpoint and shows one of the many wooden viewing platforms on the loop trail. These are present in part to keep the lake relatively uncontaminated (they are made from heat treated, not chemically treated, pine) and to minimize the erosion along the shoreline – two things that damage the lake. There are a lot of phosphates in the rock surrounding the lake, and their leeching into the water creates algae blooms which deplete oxygen and also indicates the lake is aging prematurely.

pink lake loop trail in gatineau park

Viewing Platform along the Pink Lake Loop Trail in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

I probably learned about this term years ago in Limnology class, but Pink Lake is a “meromictic lake” – an interesting feature I didn’t really know prior to arriving. Normally, lakes undergo something called turnover which is a mixing of lake water which equalizes temperatures. Wind causes this in most lakes, with the various temperature layers that form in various season then mixing. Another benefit to this is the mixing of nutrients from deeper water to the surface, and the distribution of oxygen to various depths as well. In a meromictic lake such as Pink Lake, however, this turnover mixing does not occur. Due to the cliffs surrounding the lake, the winds are never strong enough at the lake’s surface to cause the lake to turnover. Consequently, there are a lot of heavier suspended particles in the deep parts (15-20m) of the lake, which also cause a resistant to mixing. The deeper water of Pink Lake (below 13m) has not been in contact with the surface air for 10,000 years, and contains no oxygen!

hikers taking a rest at pink lake loop trail in gatineau park

Taking a rest along the Pink Lake Loop Trail in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

The other interesting feature to be discovered here was the amount of mica in the rocks on the loop trail. Everything had a bit of a sparkle in the sunlight! On the north side of the lake there are the remains of at least two shafts leading to the Pink Lake Mica Mine which closed for good in 1946. The hikers relaxing along the water’s edge here (likely a bad thing for the lake, actually) are near the old mine shafts and probably saw a lot mica in the rocks there.

For more photographs from Pink Lake and nearby locations visit my Gatineau Park Gallery.

My Top 10 Photographs of 2018

Once again it is time to post my favourite images from the past year. Choosing these images is always a good mental exercise, and I get a bit of a head start when I design my yearly calendar sometime in late October. I like sharing these image every year, and viewing everyone else’s lists as well. I also make this post so I can participate in Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. His collection of these posts is a great place to find new photographers you may not have seen before.

If you click on a photo you’ll be taken to my Image Archive. I’ve also linked to corresponding blog posts that contain these images if you want more information about the location or to see other photos from that area. There are a few images here that will have blog posts for them soon, but they aren’t finished yet. These photos aren’t in any specific order though I think the first one of with fall foliage around the road in Québec is my favourite overall.

I hope you enjoy this years selections and am curious to hear if you have any particular favourites.

My Favourite Photos of 2018:

chemin cafferty in chelsea quebec
1. A closed road (Chemin Cafferty) disappears into the trees
(Chelsea, Québec)
Blog post: Meech Creek Valley in Gatineau Park

great blue heron at hogs back falls ottawa
2. Great Blue Heron at Hog’s Back Falls
(Ottawa, Ontario)
Blog post: Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River

fall maple foliage colour at beaver pond in gatineau park
3. Vine Maples Over Lower Falls Trail
(Maple Ridge, British Columbia)
Blog post: Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park

farmhouse and apple tree at ruckle provincial park
4. William Norman Ruckle Farmhouse and Orchard

(Salt Spring Island, British Columbia)

fall maple foliage colour in gatineau park
5. Fall Maples at Lac Bourgeois in Gatineau Park
(Gatineau Park, Québec)
Blog post: Fall Rhapsody in Gatineau Park

mute swan at fulford harbour salt spring island
6. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) in Fulford Harbour
(Salt Spring Island, British Columbia)
Blog post: Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island

dunlop falls in gatineau park
7. Dunlop Falls on Fortune Creek
(Gatineau Park, Québec)
Blog post: Dunlop Falls on Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park

almonte mississippi river ontario
8. Waterfall on the Mississippi River

(Almonte, Ontario)

lower falls on gold creek in golden ears park
9. Summer evening at Lower Falls on Gold Creek at Golden Ears Provincial Park
(Maple Ridge, British Columbia)
Blog post: Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park

pacific dogwood flower cornus nuttallii
10. Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) Flower

(Langley, British Columbia)

You can view my favourite photographs from 2017 here: My Top 10 Photos of 2017.

A Different Way to Display Images

Since this blog began in 2007 I’ve had thumbnails to show a smaller version of a photo so things fit in the space the blog provided. All of my older posts currently work this way – click a thumbnail and get the larger version in a lightbox with a caption. This came with limitations though. First, the visitors to this site (unless on a cell phone) have to click on a photo to see the larger version of it (which always looks better). Second, I had to create all the thumbnails and the larger versions too – which adds to the time it takes to make a post. Below is the newer way I’m thinking of doing these things for everything that isn’t a panorama, or maybe even the vertical images. Oh, and no sidebar on an individual post, maybe.

fall foliage at the beaver pond in gatineau park

Fall Foliage at the Beaver Pond in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

The photograph above is from my trip in October to Québec’s Gatineau Park and some of the great fall foliage I saw there. As it isn’t a blog post in itself, I thought I’d use it to illustrate an image without a thumbnail. Clicking on the image now takes you to my Image Library instead of to a larger version. I figure I’ll still display some panorama images with a “click to enlarge” like before, as those are sometimes still a bit small at 950px wide.

If you think this new way of doing things is some manner of travesty let me know in a comment!