Redwood Park Treehouse in Surrey

The Brown brothers’ treehouse at Redwood Park in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

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The Treehouse at Redwood Park (Purchase)

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   The treehouse at Redwood Park in Surrey, BC was one of the spots I liked to visit with my parents when I was a kid. After a short walk through the woods the treehouse would appear and I always found it interesting to look at. The original treehouse (built in 1878) was constructed by Peter and David Brown, twin brothers who were given the land by their father. They planted many trees on the property instead of farming on it, and lived in the treehouse until their deaths in 1949 and 1958.

   This, unfortunately, is not the same treehouse. The Surrey Parks page says this is a replica of the original treehouse that once stood here, but the sign next to it says it is a different design. Why they would erect a new treehouse that didn’t match the old one, if the old one was too rotten to repair, is not a decision I understand. However, this is still a nice park to walk through, and I still like the new treehouse. I’m sure that kids who are as old now as I was back when I first saw this are just as interested.

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Redwoods and Redwood Park Treehouse (Purchase)

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   While the treehouse is the main attraction, there is also a grove of mature Sierra Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum which is also known as the Giant sequoia) at Redwood Park. The Brown brothers filled the area with their favourite trees from around the world. Many of the trees here are labelled with signs bearing their common and latin names. There are a few of these species I plan on photographing this fall as well as many native Maples that look like they’ll be spectacular if the weather is right.

You can view more of my photos from the City of Surrey in my Surrey Gallery.

Seabird Island with Mount Cheam and Maria Slough

Mount Cheam reflected in the waters of Maria Slough on Seabird Island, Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada

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Mount Cheam and Fall Foliage Reflecting in Maria Slough at Seabird Island (Purchase)

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   As you’ve probably noticed fall is my favourite season, so I’m going to post a few photos from the 2017 season before I make new ones for 2018. This is Mount Cheam that can be seen from most points in the Fraser Valley (and further west). I’ve viewed Mount Cheam from Seabird Island on many occasions but I don’t often get the right conditions for good photographs. Either the mountain is hidden behind the clouds or more frequently Maria Slough doesn’t have a lot of water in it and the reflections aren’t quite like they are above. So it was good to see great fall foliage, a clear view of the mountain, and a great reflection in Maria Slough during this stop at Seabird Island. I also have a vertical composition of this scene.

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Bigleaf Maple Fall Foliage Reflecting in Maria Slough at Seabird Island (Purchase)

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    I was not aware of the name of Maria Slough until recently when it was mentioned as a potential barrier to the Mount Hicks Fire spreading onto Seabird Island. The fire has since been contained, thankfully. I’ve also had my eye on this Bigleaf Maple tree (Acer macrophyllum for a few years – but was never driving by when it had good fall leaves and Maria Slough was full of water. On this day I found what I was looking for and made this panorama including the Maple tree and some of the surrounding shoreline.

You can see more photos of the Agassize area in my Agassiz – District of Kent Gallery.

Alouette Lake Sunset at Golden Ears Park

Sunset at Alouette Lake on an early summer evening in Golden Ears Provincial Park.

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Sunset at Alouette Lake Beach

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   Early this summer I went to Golden Ears Park to photograph Lower Falls on Gold Creek. While this was my primary goal I was also hoping for some photographs of Alouette Lake during the day or perhaps with some sunset light in the clouds.

   I tend to visit Golden Ears Park in the spring and fall, and avoid the warm summer days as the park is quite popular and the parking and crowds can become a problem. The day I visited was early in the summer, but was also a weekday so the crowds that show up in the summer weren’t frequenting the lake yet. As I’m writing this the park gate is temporarily closed, and has been closed many days for the last few weeks as the parking lots fill up. There is a lot of parking at Alouette Lake, and I can’t imagine what the place is like when it is that busy! So I stick to the times of year when there are 10 cars in the parking lot and the place is a bit more relaxing.

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Summer Sunset at Alouette Lake (Purchase)

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   When I arrived at Alouette Lake in the evening I had to wait for a while for the colour to show up in the clouds. This was by no means a certain thing and I didn’t actually think it was going to happen. I wouldnt’ have minded though – my main reason for being here was to photograph the waterfall and I’d already accomplished that. Any sunset colour was just going to be a bonus. While there was almost nobody at the lake at that hour there were a few drunk (I presume) women wading in the swimming area for about 25 minutes that didn’t stop splashing, screaming and swearing at the top of their lungs. This is a nice, serene spot normally (in the evenings) but until they left it was anything but. Luckily the best colour in the clouds didn’t materialize until after they were gone and I had the beach to myself while I made these photographs. The color that did arrive was a bit strange, with much more purple than I’m used to in a sunset but I like the result regardless. Trying for sunset light in the clouds while looking to the north can be rather hit and miss, but I was happy with the results this particular evening.

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View of the beach and swimming area at Alouette Lake

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   This last photograph is the view of the beach in the late afternoon. There are a lot of mountains around Alouette Lake, and I think they make this a much more photogenic location than your typical lake in the woods. The closest peak on the left is Edge Peak, followed by Mount Nutt and Mount Gatey. Far in the distance (right) are Mount Clarke and Mount Ratney.

   You can see more of my photographs from this park in my Golden Ears Park Gallery.

Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park

A Summer evening at Lower Falls on Gold Creek at Golden Ears Provincial Park, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada.

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Summer Evening at Lower Falls in Golden Ears Park (Purchase)

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   A few years ago I photographed Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park during a period in June where there was relatively little water flow over the falls. I really like that photo but since then I’ve wished I had a photo of Lower Falls with higher water levels. During the winter and at the height of spring runoff – the water flowing over the falls consumes almost the whole width of the area. This can be quite a raging torrent, and the spray the wind may blow in your face can make both viewing and photography difficult. This year I thought that the amount of rain and the snowpack we had would sustain a higher flow than I’d photographed back in 2015, and I was correct. The photo above shows a more typical view of Lower Falls than that older photo.

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Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   June is also my preferred time of year to photograph Lower Falls as the kids are still in school, the heat of summer isn’t yet here, and camping season hasn’t reached its peak. I’ve been to this falls on a hot summer evening and it would be nearly impossible to photograph as the place is covered in people. In June most are smart enough to not venture into the pools above the waterfall (people dying or being injured here has happened way too often) as the water flow is still quite high. Later on, however, the amount of swimmers makes any photography nearly impossible – so I’d recommend early – mid June as the perfect time for photographing these falls. If you get your timing right, you can also photograph some Streambank Arnica near the falls as well!

   I talked to someone from Toronto while I was photographing Lower Falls. His friend, and I don’t know what would possess someone to do this, hopped across the boulders downstream and wound up on the opposite side of the river from the falls. When he emerged from the forest he slipped and fell. I thought he was going to slide into the water, but he caught himself before he did, though his phone was not so lucky. The photo below shows where he slid, and the eventual path of his phone into the water. It did land in a fairly shallow part of the creek, however, so he spent about 10 minutes trying to determine how to climb down and retrieve it. This all seemed to me like I was about to watch someone die so I pointed out to his friend who had stayed on the viewing platform side of the river that many people have died in this spot when the current was more than they could handle. Despite a few calls to leave the phone, the guy jumped into the water near his phone (after taking off his shoes and socks) and retrieved it. The jump looked bad enough – but I had no idea how he was going to get back out! When I left he was still contemplating this, and had tried several routes out of there that had not been successful. I decided to leave. There was nothing I could do to help, and I didn’t want to watch anymore. As there were no stories in the news the next day I presume he found a route out and hopefully without injury. His phone was unlikely to be as lucky, as it was submerged for a good 10 minutes.

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Lower Falls in Golden Ears Park

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   I have to say that while photographing these falls I made a number of mistakes I wouldn’t normally make, and the cell phone guy distraction is the excuse I’ll use this time. I did encounter some blowing mist/spray that was problematic. It was nice to know I had a weather sealed camera and lens, though I don’t get them wet on purpose and still wipe them down as much as possible. While talking to the fellow from Toronto and watching his friend risk his life for his phone… I failed to wipe as much spray off my front lens as I should have. Unfortunately this meant that a number of compositions were not usable which was entirely preventable. The photo above does have some spray effects you can see in the trees along the top, but most were much worse. I would normally consider that photograph non publishable but it did show the area where he fell better than other images. I may go back and try my luck here in a few weeks. Even if there are too many swimmers in the water – it is a great, short hike through a scenic area – and that is always worth it.

More photos from this park can be found in my Golden Ears Provincial Park Gallery.

Views from the Traboulay PoCo Trail – Golden Ears and the Pitt River

View of the Golden Ears, Raven Peak and Osprey Mountain (left) and the Pitt River from the Traboulay Poco Trail in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada.

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The Pitt River, Osprey Mountain, and the Golden Ears (Purchase)

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   It is relatively warm and spring-like now, but a few months ago I was still looking for winter photographs in my area of British Columbia. The Golden Ears (Mount Blandshard) are one of the nearest mountain views that I can reach from where I live, and so they are a frequent subject of mine. I have photographed them from many locations but hadn’t done so from the Port Coquitlam perspective, so I drove out to the Traboulay PoCo Trail in February to photograph the Golden Ears and the Pitt River.

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Osprey Mountain and the Pitt River (Purchase)

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   While the Traboulay PoCo Trail encircles Port Coquitlam entirely, I parked at the Prairie Avenue parking area and walked just the short distance between there and the DeBouville Slough. This gave me the great view (first photograph above) of the Golden Ears, the Pitt River and a few surrounding mountain peaks. I also made a few other photographs in this area, including this one of Osprey Mountain with some nice “belt of venus” sky coloration. This was not a view I’d anticipated, but that is hard to do in a location you’ve never visited. Some times trip planning on Google Earth etc is very useful, but it is never as useful as actually visiting a location.

   The last photograph here is a nice post sunset view – alpenglow on Mount Baker. The river in the foreground is the Pitt River in a spot near the DeBoville Slough while Mount Baker itself is in Washington State. I also made a photograph of Baker a bit earlier in the evening with what I would call “sunset light” on Mount Baker.

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Alpenglow on Mount Baker from the Pitt River (Purchase)

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   Not to wade to far into what is often a contentious discussion over the definition of alpenglow, but the photo above is exactly what I’d call alpenglow. The definition of alpenglow is that the light has to be indirect, so it is usually reflecting off of clouds or the atmosphere in some way. Sunset light can create a great glow, but is still direct light. So the photo I linked to above would be “sunset light” and the photo shown above is “alpenglow”. I see a lot of photographs where direct light is labelled as alpenglow. Alpenglow is great light, subtle, and is harder to find than good sunset light. Quite often it just doesn’t materialize when I am looking for it. I think this might be why actual alpenglow is a bit coveted, and why some want to move the definition towards something easier to obtain such as the direct sunset light. I do wish I saw light like this more often!

For more photographs from Port Coquitlam visit my Port Coquitlam Gallery.

Bee Hives in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Bee hives in an Abbotsford, British Columbia apiary.

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Bee Hives in Abbotsford (Purchase)

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   I was photographing a scene with farmland and Mount Baker the other day in Abbotsford, BC. This was to be my first stop of many on the way through Mission, the Harrison area and Agassiz. Some horses came over to the fence to say hello, but wandered off after they realized I didn’t have any treats or anything for them. With the horses came the flies, which was annoying. I made this photograph of the bee hives in the field (probably 60 feet away from me) soon after. I made 3 exposures. The first two were like this, and the third is very blurry. As I was making the 3rd exposure a bee flew partly up my nose (I thought it was a fly). After a failed “one nostril push” maneuver to get it out I grabbed it with my fingers. The result of this was a bee stinger lodged in that space between my upper lip and my recently invaded nostril.

   I had not been stung by a bee since I was a kid, and it is still the unpleasant experience that I recall. It felt a bit like I’d been hit in the teeth with something. I quickly got in my car (I’d been standing next to it) and looked in the rear view mirror. Sure enough, there was a bee stinger in my face. I tried to flick it out with a fingernail but it stayed put. I then remembered reading that you can get them out with a credit card or something flat like that. If you grab a stinger with your fingers, the round part above the surface will act a bit like a turkey baster – and you’ll inject all the venom into the wound. I wished to avoid this, and a quick flick with a credit card got the stinger out of my face. All in all it was probably only in there for 10-15 seconds. Not having had a sting for 25+ years, I wasn’t sure how my body was going to react. Things like this can swell quit a bit, so I cut my trip short (after only about 25 minutes) to go home and endure whatever messy aftermath was to befall me rather than it playing out in public. I didn’t want a golf ball sized swelling on my face when I was trying to photograph either. So I grabbed the freezer pack from my cooler, stuck it on my face, and drove home. As it turned out I only had some minor swelling and it all settled down after about 30 minutes (the ice probably helped). I went out again to shoot a local park after dinner. I guess it was a relatively good outcome that the worst of this was that I had to postpone my trip one day. I’m also glad that I managed to complete shooting Mount Baker and the farmland successfully so I won’t have to return to that spot!

For more photographs of bees and other critters take a look at my Animals and Wildlife Gallery.

Sweet Violets – Viola odorata – Flowers and Leaves

Flowers and leaves of Sweet Violets (Viola odorata) in a backyard garden.

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Sweet Violets (Viola odorata) Flowering (Purchase)

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   While I enjoy photographing winter scenes I don’t often get up into the mountains in the winter so I tend to shoot a bit less during that time of year. So when the spring flowers begin to emerge I usually wind up in the backyard photographing the first ones I can find. The flowers here are called Sweet Violets, and are aptly named. Even 50 feet away you can still smell the sweet scent coming off the flowers, especially on a warmer, sunny day. I photographed these flowers and leaves in the last days of winter, but it certainly felt like spring. V. odorata (you can tell where that scientific name came from!) goes by a few other names such as English Violet, Garden Violet, Sweet Violet, and Florist’s Violet.

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Sweet Violets (Viola odorata) – Leaves and Flowers (Purchase)

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   Due to their powerful scent it is not surprising that Sweet Violets have been used in many fragrances and perfumes. The flowers are also made into Violet Syrup which is then used in such products as scones and marshmallows. The leaves can also be eaten and are also used in perfumes.

You can see more garden photographs in my Garden Photos Gallery.

Autumn Scenes at Buntzen Lake

The boat house at Buntzen Lake just north of Port Moody and the Village of Anmore – British Columbia, Canada.

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The Boat House at Buntzen Lake (Purchase)

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   I was quite busy photographing last fall, and am only now catching up on some remaining blog post about those photographs. These photos were made at Buntzen Lake which is a BC Hydro recreation area situated just north of the Village of Anmore in Port Moody, BC. This was a great day of photography, with good results from my stops at Sasamat Lake, Rocky Point Park, Barnet Marine Park, and here at Buntzen Lake. The first photograph above shows about as “iconic” view of this lake as you can have – a shot of the boat house near the main beach. I had not been to Buntzen in many years so I don’t remember all the views from the loop trail around the lake, but I think the boat house is one of the more distinctly identifiable scenes.

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Fall Foliage Reflections at Buntzen Lake (Purchase)

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   I did find some more interesting scenes at the south end of Buntzen Lake at the floating bridge that crosses the marshy area there. I always love good fall foliage reflections in lakes, and this was another opportunity to photograph that kind of scene. There is a variety of tree species in this photo but the colorful yellow leaves are most likely a Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera).

   As with the photographs I had made earlier in the afternoon at Sasamat Lake, there was some mist/fog around the south end of Buntzen Lake. This seemed to move around and change shape a lot, so I waited until it was in an orientation I liked the best and photographed this and a few other panoramas in order to try to get the nicest look to the scene I could. I shot a number of individual frames here but in the end I think the panorama (14 frames stitched together) show the area best.

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Mist at the South End of Buntzen Lake

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You can see more photographs like these in the Lakes & Rivers Gallery in my Image Library .