Archive for the ‘British Columbia’ Category

A Summer Evening at Steelhead Falls

Salmonberries and Ferns surround Steelhead Falls at the Hayward Lake Recreational Area in Mission, British Columbia, Canada

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Steelhead Falls on a Summer Evening (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I returned to Steelhead Falls in Mission’s Hayward Lake Recreational Area to make some photographs. The first time I photographed Steelhead Falls was an overcast day in late spring – quite different conditions than I found on this sunny day in mid August. To get to the falls you must first find the parking lot at the top of the hill (just to the east of the Stave Lake Dam). From there the falls can be found after a short hike along the Reservoir Trail heading south. There is a short trail down to the viewing platform and the falls after you cross the bridge over Steelhead Creek – which is the second creek you’ll cross.

   This first photograph here is the main view of the falls you see from the viewing platform. You can see some direct sunlight in the upper right corner. I usually photograph waterfalls on an overcast day as direct sunlight can be pretty difficult to deal with. An alternative to this is waiting until the sun starts to set and the direct sunlight is no longer falling on the falls. The effectiveness of this will depend on the location. This worked out quite well at Steelhead Falls though I had to wait until those spots of sunlight made their way up the hill and were no longer shining on the water.

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Upper Half of Steelhead Falls (Purchase)

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   You can see quite a difference between my photographs of Steelhead Falls a few years ago and these ones even though some of the locations and compositions are similar. The overcast days tend to lead to more saturated colors while the conditions I had a few weeks ago cast a warmer glow over everything – and I quite like that effect (best seen in the last three photographs here). You may also see a bit of a difference in the amount of foliage around some of the spots I photographed. It seems in the few years since I was last there Steelhead Falls has become a bit of an Instagram place to be seen and has attracted a lot of people who could learn a bit about “leave no trace”. “The shot” people are after seems to be from the bottom of the falls, so there is a “trail” down there now and a lot of the foliage (mostly Salmonberry and various fern species) are trampled or have died. When I was there clearly someone had used a machete or something similar to hack a trail along the edge of the creek towards an upstream area. The area isn’t totally defoliated like I’ve seen at some sites, but if the popularity here remains, I’m sure that will be the eventual outcome.

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Uppermost Falls at Steelhead Falls on Steelhead Creek (Purchase)

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   This last photograph shows the very top of Steelhead Falls that you can’t see from the angle of the viewing platform. There are a lot of different tiers to this series of falls and together they make a good photography subject as there is no shortage of composition possibilities. Trampling foliage off the trail to get the Instagram shot from the bottom of the falls just isn’t necessary.

steelhead falls in missions hayward lake recreation area

Upper Half of Steelhead Falls (Purchase)

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For more photographs of this location visit my Waterfall Gallery.

Canadian Forces Snowbirds Over White Rock

Canadian Forces Snowbirds in a Big Arrow formation above White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.

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The Snowbirds in the Big Arrow Formation (Purchase)

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   Earlier this month I had the opportunity to photograph the Canadian Forces Snowbirds flying over White Rock, British Columbia. The 431 Air Demonstration Squadron have been performing in airshows with the Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet under the name Snowbirds since 1971. They fly around 60 air shows in North America per year. I’ve seen them before at the Abbotsford Air Show but as I haven’t attended that event in over 20 years I have not seen their performance in a long time. When I learned that they were performing in White Rock I decided to photograph them for the first time since probably the late 1980’s. This was going to be a lot different than shooting them on film when I was around 14!

Purchase)

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   Armed with my new camera I picked out a good spot along the promenade in White Rock to watch the show. I chose a location that was slightly west of the pier, as I figured that would be the focal point. As the Snowbirds were going to perform around 6pm I decided I’d rather spend time looking south and east away from the sun than looking (and photographing) into it. This proved to work quite well, as I only had to stop tracking the jets through my camera to avoid the sun a few times.

Purchase)

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   Normally I photograph relatively still objects – mountains, trees, waterfalls etc. They don’t move around, and so the focus tracking capabilities of my various camera bodies have rarely mattered. Photographing the Snowbirds is quite a different thing than I usually work with, so I was curious how the auto focus on my new camera would work out. At the end of the evening I had roughly 300 photos of the performance and none of them were out of focus. Normally I’m used to having to delete some photographs with subjects like this as they are blurry but this was not the case this time. Picking the images I wanted to process took a bit longer as I didn’t have unfocused shots to throw out, but I’m not complaining at all!

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The Snowbirds starting a loop in the Big Diamond Formation (Purchase)

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   The website for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds shows the various formations they use for their performances. It took me a while but I think I’ve correctly named all the formations and looping/burst maneuvers I photographed. If I had this to do again I’d probably record audio of the broadcast that accompanied the performance to more easily determine all the formation names after the fact.

Purchase)

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For the 23 additional photographs I made of the Snowbirds visit my Transportation Gallery.

Young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit – S. floridanus

A young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) eating the dandelion leaves in a backyard garden in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

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Baby Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Purchase)

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   On occasion I do not have to venture too far for some wildlife photography. Earlier this year I photographed a young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit munching on dandelion leaves about 20 feet from the house. I’d noticed this small rabbit emerging from the lavender bushes a few times, but I was always across the yard and wasn’t in any position to go get a camera and come back. So on this occasion I saw him active there, and decided to actually treat this like I would other wildlife. I got my camera gear together, walked outside and, sat down, and waited. One of the ways to ensure that you aren’t disturbing wildlife is to have them come to you, or stay put and see how they react. Not only do you avoid freaking them out or disturbing their routine, you get more natural photos at the same time – and often they’ll come closer if they don’t feel threatened. The most agitated this one got were a few apparently dirty looks in my direction. This method is not something to try with potentially dangerous animals though such as bears, moose, cougars, or killer rabbits.

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Young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Purchase)

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   After about 5-10 minutes the young rabbit emerged and after looking me over for a while, started eating dandelion leaves in the lawn. I was surprised how many leaves this rabbit ate – I photographed it for about 15 minutes and it never stopped vacuuming up dandelion leaves the entire time. Young rabbits leave the nest when they are rather small, and I’ve seen ones smaller than this navigating their way through the yard in search of new lands to conquer. I guess once they are a certain size all there is left to do is find a nice quiet spot, stay away from predators, and eat as many leaves as you can in order to grow larger. This cottontail was only about 15cm (6 inches) long though the adults around here tend to be around 44cm (17 inches) long. I’ve never had them eat anything I am growing in the garden (that I know of), but there are also plenty other plants around to much on in the all you can eat dandelion buffet.

   I shot a number of photographs together in a sequence which nicely formed a very short timelapse of the consumption of a dandelion leaf which you can view below (on Vimeo).

baby rabbit eating dandelions video

For more wildlife photographs visit my Animals and Wildlife Gallery in the Image Library.

Kayaking at Jade Bay at Cultus Lake Provincial Park

   Two kayakers at Jade Bay on Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Photographed from the Jade Bay Boat Launch at Cultus Lake Provincial Park.

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Kayaking at Cultus Lake in Cultus Lake Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Jade Bay is one of a number of boat launches on Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, British Columbia’s Cultus Lake Provincial Park. I’ve often stopped here in the fall as it is one of the areas you can get a good view of the lake from the east side. There is no visitor parking here, however, as the parking lot is strictly for vehicles with boat trailers. Nevertheless I made a brief stop in the spring to take a look at the lake as I was passing through Chilliwack, and made this photograph of Jade Bay and two people in kayaks paddling nearby. The mist around the mountains (which I believe are Teapot Hill, Black Mountain and Tsar Mountain) in the background looked like they might yield some interesting photos, though I was hoping they wouldn’t intrude on my plans to photograph other mountains later in the day.

   I am sure at this time of year the parking lot is chock full of boat trailers, but on this afternoon there were none – literally zero cars/trucks/trailers in the lot. So I parked (at the opposite end) to make a quick walk down to the water. When I was making this photograph someone (not a park employee) pulled into the lot and drove over to where I was in order to chastise me for not having a boat trailer. I found this a bit amusing considering how empty the place was, though I presume that this is a big problem when the parking lot is packed. The spot feels like a perfect day use area, and I’m sure people try to use it as such during the summer when the park can be rather full. Pointing this out when the area is deserted and there are no other vehicles or boats in the area seems a bit strange, even if there are problems in the summer. If I had this encounter to do over again I might point out that the person scolding me didn’t have a boat trailer either, but my usual idea at the time is to get uncomfortable conversations over as quickly as possible. This one was over in 30 seconds. Photographers who come over and want to talk about gear honestly tend to make me more uncomfortable than the self deputized boat trailer sheriff did.

For more photographs of BC’s Provincial Parks visit my British Columbia Provincial Parks Collection of galleries.

St. Paul’s Church and Cemetery at Fulford Harbour

   The historic St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

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St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour (Purchase)

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   The historic St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island is a building I’d seen photographs of even before visiting Salt Spring Island. I do a fair amount of research online before I visit a location so I have a good idea of some specific places to visit while exploring in between. The trouble with this particular building is I wasn’t able to find out where it was, only that it was near Fulford Harbour which is a bit vague. Thankfully St. Paul’s Church is right next to the main road out of Fulford Harbour heading towards Ganges, and it was pretty easy to spot once I got close.

   Saint Paul’s Church is Salt Spring Island’s oldest church and was built between 1880 and 1885. Founded in 1878 by Father Doncklele who was the first Roman Catholic missionary on the Gulf Islands. The windows, front door, and bell were acquired from the “Butter Church” in Cowichan Bay and brought by canoe to Burgoyne Bay. The colored stonework on St. Paul’s Church was added in 1973. To an outsider like me this stonework feels appropriate for Salt Spring but I can also see the point many make that this kind of expression is not appropriate for historic buildings such as this one.

   The cross in the foreground is part of the church cemetery and marks the resting place of Alan Blackburn (1865-1925). There is not a lot of information about Blackburn online but Blackburn Lake is named for him in the area he purchased his farm.

For more photographs of the Fulford Harbour area visit my Salt Spring Island gallery.

Peace Arch Provincial Park Monument and Gardens

The Peace Arch as photographed from Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington State, USA looking towards Peace Arch Provincial Park in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

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Peace Arch State Park Looking Towards Canada (Purchase)

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   One of the first outings I made with my new camera was to the White Rock Pier but earlier that day I visited Peace Arch Provincial Park and Peace Arch State Park in British Columbia and Washington State. Parking in the provincial park lot, I walked across the road to photograph the Peace Arch monument and gardens. I’d tried this before a few years ago but there was so much of that orange snow fencing everywhere (lawn was under repair) that working around it for good photographs was not something I ended up attempting. Now there is a perfect lawn and no fencing in sight so it was a great time to revisit this location.

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Peace Arch Provincial Park Looking Towards USA (Purchase)

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   The Peace Arch is a monument completed in 1921 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Treaty of Ghent. This treaty ended the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. The Canadian and American flags fly on top, with the Canadian side (second photo above ) reading “Brethren Dwelling Together In Unity” and the American side (first photo above) reading “Children Of A Common Mother”. When walking through the arch you can read the words “1814 Open One Hundred Years 1914” and “May These Gates Never Be Closed” on the interior sides. The monument straddles the United States and Canadian border which feels a bit strange as you can just walk all around it. I tend to take my passport with me here, but apparently that isn’t really necessary. Both Peace Arch Provincial Park and Peace Arch State Park are situated between their respective border checkpoints, so you haven’t really crossed the border in an official sense by entering the parks.

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Gardens at Peace Arch Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Both parks have some gardens planted for visitors, though I’ve found much of the time some of these are empty of plants for some reason. The photograph above shows the pond and gazebo (made from many different species of BC wood) on the Canadian side in Peace Arch Provincial Park.

   The last photograph here is from last year when I made a trip down the Washington coast towards Anacortes. On the way I stopped at Blaine Marine Park in Blaine to see the view of White Rock and photographed the arch from that perspective. You can see the Canadian border crossing (officially the Douglas Border Crossing) beyond the arch.

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Peace Arch Border Crossing from Blaine (Purchase)

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For more photographs of this park visit my Peace Arch Provincial Park Gallery.

Rainbow at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park

A Rainbow over Chilliwack Lake with Mount Redoubt in the background. Photographed from the beach at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.

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Rainbow at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   A few years ago I would have categorized this photograph of a rainbow at Chilliwack Lake as “lucky”. The day I made this photo I had slowly worked my way towards Chilliwack Lake while exploring and photographing various points along the way in the Chilliwack River Valley. I’d run into the odd patch of rain, and that was okay as this was supposed to be a day of photographing rivers and those “in the forest” photographs that benefit from a lack of direct sunshine. When I pulled into the day use parking lot near the boat launch at Chilliwack Lake I was hungry – I really wanted to just sit and eat my soup for dinner. The sky had dark clouds and it was raining lightly. My soup beckoned from the thermos in my car’s trunk. Instead, I got my tripod and gear together and walked down to the shore of the lake just to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I jogged at the end of that walk. The way these things used to go is I’d sit in my car and enjoy some soup or whatever I was eating for dinner. I’d get my gear, head down to the water and I’d run into a few people walking back up asking if I’d witnessed the rainbow. I hadn’t – I’d only witnessed soup. So this photograph exists because I’ve learned soup can wait but meteorological phenomena won’t. It also helps curtail the sting of people asking if I’d seen that Bald Eagle fishing, one cloud lighting up way after sunset, the double rainbow – all things I’ve missed in the past by not just getting out of my car and having a quick look around.

   Now I categorize photographs like this one as a success due to learning to look around and make sure there isn’t something I might be missing when I would rather be eating instead. There were actually 3 rainbows here when I came within sight of the lake. A double rainbow so the south (the one I photographed, but it had faded by then) and another to the east. It was quite a sight – but I had to decide quickly what to photograph. I made one wider shot of the lake trying to get both rainbows in the same photo. That might have succeeded, but it wouldn’t have been a good photo, so I switched to a longer lens and made this photo which had the most important subjects. The lake, the rainbow, and one of my favourite mountains. With the dark clouds the rest of the scene was somewhat gloomy, but the rainbow helps balance that I think.

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Spotlight on the Forest at Chilliwack Lake (Purchase)

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   The second photograph here was made 2 minutes after the rainbow photograph. The rainbows had all completely faded but this one spotlight of sunshine lit up the forest and dead snags on the hillside below Mount Webb, but only for a minute or so. If I hadn’t had the longer lens on my camera for the first photo here I might have missed this. I think this part was a a bit of luck.

   This photograph (as well as the first) bring to mind another piece of advice I often hear for photographers – if it is suddenly stormy, that is when to go out and photograph. This isn’t bad advice, but I do believe some of the accuracy is predicated by where one lives. I’ve always lived in this corner of British Columbia, so weather patterns elsewhere are a bit of a mystery. Here, however, once it starts raining you can wait days (or weeks) until it stops or a spot of sunlight makes its way through the clouds. I imagine in other places storms come and go quickly, so getting out when a storm starts is perfect timing. Here, rushing out to photograph when it starts raining here may just get you wet. If I were to make a BC rainforest amendment to that “rule” I’d say the perfect time to go out is on a day when there are expected intermittent showers and maybe some sunny breaks. That is the kind of day where the above photographs were created, and when I’ve seen most of these kinds of scenes. So there.

For more photographs of Mount Redoubt and Chilliwack Lake visit my Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park Gallery.

An Evening at the White Rock Pier

Tourists watching the sunset at the White Rock Pier in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada. Photographed from White Rock Beach looking west across Boundary Bay towards the mountains on Vancouver Island.

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Watching the Sunset at White Rock Pier (Purchase)

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   The first outing I made with my new camera was to photograph a few different locations in South Surrey and White Rock. I’ve walked along the White Rock Pier several times in the past, but I haven’t tried to photograph there in any serious way in almost 10 years so it was clearly time to change that. The White Rock Pier is one of the focal points of tourist (and local) activity for the City of White Rock. Officially opened in 1914, it was constructed to create a deep water wharf and as a tourist attraction. The first photograph here shows 3 young people enjoying the sunset (or the birds you can see in the larger version) from the pier. Beyond the pier you can see Boundary Bay and the mountains on Vancouver Island to the west.

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White Rock Pier and Semiamhoo Bay (Purchase)

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   Just above the entrance from Marine Drive you can see this view of the pier, Boundary Bay, and Semiamhoo Bay in Washington State. The San Juan Islands (also in Washington State) are visible in the distance. This is one of the busiest spots along Marine Drive as it is the entrance to the pier but also where many of the more popular restaurants and ice cream shops are located.

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Walking along the White Rock Pier (Purchase)

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   The pier remains busy even after sunset during warmer evenings – it took some waiting to have just a few people in the photographs like this one as the pier was busy. I also noticed that people walking by made the planks bounce, so I had to photograph mostly when people weren’t nearby. The above photograph is the view along the pier looking south towards the United States.

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Boats Anchored at the White Rock Pier Marina (Purchase)

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   At the south end of the White Rock Pier there is a small marina which usually has about 15-20 small sailboats moored there. I am not sure if it has an official name or not, but I have seen it referred to generically as the “White Rock Pier Marina” which may merely be descriptive rather than an actual designation.

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Looking back at City of White Rock from the end of the pier (Purchase)

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   This is the view from the end of the pier looking back towards the City of White Rock.

For more photographs of White Rock and other nearby areas please visit my Vancouver Coast and Mountains Gallery.