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!

New Theme On It’s Way!

After 10 years of wrangling the old theme I’ve had on here it is time for something new. The old one did well, and then when it didn’t I put in my own responsive code so it would work on tablets and mobile as well as desktops. However, a lot has changed with WordPress in 10 years, and how themes work in general, so it is time to move on. The new is mostly new behind the scenes, but is much much faster than the old one.

If you see something broken here in the next day or so I am probably working on it. There will be a few small things I need to change as they don’t elegantly collapse when the window is resized, but this may not actually affect any visitors here. Something I’ll change after this theme is implemented. After that I’ll begin working on the front page of the website and edit that to match the new style of the blog.

Dunlop Falls on Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park

Dunlop Falls on Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park, Québec, Canada.

dunlop falls in gatineau park

Dunlop Falls in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

    There are a few nice waterfalls in Québec’s Gatineau Park and Dunlop Falls is probably the easiest to access. After just a short walk up from the parking lot the trail heads along Fortune Creek (Ruisseau Fortune in French) which leads you up to the main falls. Fortune Creek has a few nice scenic spots itself even before you reach the falls, such as this stretch where a bridge on the Dunlop Trail crosses the creek. You can just see Dunlop Falls through the trees above the bridge in the photo below.

fortune creek in gatineau park

Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

    After just a few minutes we reached Dunlop Falls itself. As can often be the case in popular locations such as this, I had to wait for a while for another photographer to clear the bridge above the falls. After maybe 5 minutes they were satisfied and moved on, which had given me time to work out a composition I liked. While the fall foliage here was not spectacular, there is a bit of colour, and the fallen leaves covering the rocks do convey an autumn feel even without a lot of colourful leaves in the trees. I made a few different compositions from that location before heading up the brief, steep, climb to the bridge above the falls.

dunlop falls in gatineau park

Fall at Dunlop Falls in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

    The best view of these falls is from just below the bridge, but there is a view looking upstream along Fortune Creek as well, though that area is probably better to photograph with more water in the river. After photographing from the bridge briefly, we headed down the other side of the river to go back to the parking lot.

    Before visiting here I looked at a lot of park maps and tried to get a good handle on what points of interest were around. This last photograph shows a bit of a surprise. The creek here on is on the map, but is not named, and there is no indication of the waterfall itself either in the maps. After my trip I went through about every topographical map I could find in the hopes of discovering the name of the creek and or the falls. I came up with nothing. In a last ditch effort to name these I phoned the Gatineau Park Visitors Center. They were well aware of this waterfall and the creek, but indicated they had no names for them. So I decided that I’d just name it anyway, and chose “Fortune Falls” as Camp Fortune is nearby and the Fortune Parkway is just above the falls in this last photograph.

fortune falls in gatineau park

Fortune Falls in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Photographing this spot was a bit of a challenge. As with many nature scenes, there is a lot of chaos, with branches and twigs sticking out of the water and all over the bank. A nice, neat, composition was not really going to be had here. Other than the waterfall itself, the yellow/gold reflection in the water attracted me to this scene. The difficult part was including the brightly lit foliage above (along the Fortune Parkway) that was providing the color in order to give the reflection some context. Without it one might be tempted to ask why the water there is yellow and the rest of the scene is not. There was bright sunshine on much of this foliage, however, so I included just a bit of it for context. Hopefully the image above and the other shot of Fortune Falls in my image library convey where the coloration is coming from!

For more photographs from this area visit my Gatineau Park gallery in my Image Library.

2019 Nature Calendar Now Available!

cover for 2019 nature calendar - lower falls golden ears park

2019 Nature Calendar Cover – Lower Falls in British Columbia’s Golden Ears Provincial Park


   My 2019 Nature Calendars are now available! I have put together some of my favourite recent photographs into a 11″x17″ (28cm x 43cm) calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape and nature scenes from British Columbia, Québec, Ontario, and Washington State.