2020 Nature Calendar Cover – Silver Lake Provincial Park
My 2020 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.
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Fall foliage along the edge of Katzie Marsh Loop Trail in the Pitt-Addington Wildlife Management Area – Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada.
Fall Foliage along the Katzie Marsh Loop Trail (Purchase)
The Pitt-Addington Wildlife Management Area is a 2,972 hectare nature reserve in the northern part of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. Much of the reserve used to be known as Grant Narrows Regional Park, but that was dissolved in 2011 when the Katzie First Nation were given control of the area – now called the Pitt-Addington Recreation Area. I have photographed near Pitt Lake many times, but mostly from the easy to access roadside spots. There are great views of the Pitt River, Pitt Lake, and the surrounding mountains readily available without straying too far from the car. A few weeks ago, however, I wanted to see what views could be found on the trails along the various dikes that head from the roads out into the marsh. Despite the presumption that most of the fall foliage would be gone, and the fact the midday light was filtered through a lot of smoke, I wanted to see what the area had to offer regardless.
I decided to start with the Katzie Marsh Loop. From the main parking lot, past the boat launch, there is a gravel road called the Swan Dike Trail that heads straight towards the Golden Ears Mountains. The main view on this stretch of the trail is not of the Golden Ears, however, but of Pitt Lake, the mountains to the north, and the Katzie Marsh to the south. I expect I’ll be back to photograph these mountain views again when the snow blankets them in a month or so. Along this trail I saw a number of Great Blue Herons (as one would expect) but also had a few passing Osprey, Bald Eagles, and various duck and waterfowl species. Approximately 500 meters from the parking lot there is an observation tower to climb for a better view. I also photographed the marsh plants below (likely sedges or reeds – I was unable to accurately identify them from my photograph) in this stretch of the loop trail.
Wetland plants (reeds or sedges) growing in Katzie Marsh (Purchase)
On the eastern edge of this part of the Katzie Marsh Loop the road continues to a (private) boat launch and dock. The loop trail itself turns south at this point, away from Pitt Lake (approximately 2.4km from the parking lot). While the trail is no longer a well maintained gravel road, the dike is easy to walk on, and quite flat. Heading south there is a long stretch of water on the left hand side, with Katzie Marsh area on the right. There are a lot of interesting trees and patterns in the rocks along this stretch, and I think it gave a better view of the waterfowl using the marsh as well. The first photograph above shows some remaining fall foliage in the Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) trees at the base of the mountains to the east. Looking backwards to the north along this section of the loop trail also gives good views of the mountains to the north and some nice reflections.
After walking an additional 1.6km from Pitt Lake the trail turns a bit more to the southwest. This is where I found the pond below with a nice reflection of the trees behind it. There was a lot of waterfowl in this area, but many of them left as I approached (I hadn’t seen them until they flew away). There were a few cautious herons who remained, however. From this pond the trail turns even more westward and you come to another observation tower that gave a great view north towards the mountains, Pitt Lake, and gave a good overview of the Katzie Marsh itself. There were two large Kingfishers making a lot of noise in the area. They did not perch close enough to me to photograph, but they were continually on the move and if I’d had the time I likely could have made some good photographs from the cover of the tower.
Fall foliage reflected in a Pitt Marsh Pond (Purchase)
Near the observation tower the trail narrows and is no longer a wide dike trail. The trail for the remainder of the Katzie Loop not only was narrow with blackberries reaching out to grab all my clothing, but offered very little in terms of views of much of anything. This section of the trail is also right next to the water, and eroded in a few spots, so I had to pay attention to avoid a wet mishap. This made for a relatively uninteresting 2km trudge back to the parking lot.
A Row of tree on the edge of Katzie Marsh (Purchase)
I think if I had the time and were to walk the Katzie Loop Trail again soon, I’d turn back at the southern observation tower and go back up to Pitt Lake and then to the parking lot rather than do the whole loop. The last stretch is not interesting, maybe slightly dangerous if you aren’t paying attention, and doesn’t have much in the way of any opportunity for photography or views. All in all I walked 6.8km in completing the loop. Skipping the last stretch to the parking lot would make the “loop” a bit longer at around 9km total distance. This is likely what I will do next time I visit when the snow has arrived. Some of the trip back will be facing the mountains too which will be a great view.
For more photographs of the Pitt River and Pitt Lake area visit my Pitt Meadows Gallery.
Reflections of autumn foliage and Mount Maxwell on a rainy day along the shore of Blackburn Lake on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Mount Maxwell reflected in Blackburn Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)
I recently made a return trip to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia to visit friends and photograph some fall foliage on the island. I’d not been to Salt Spring in the fall before, and I was hopeful about the fall leaves I might find there. The leaf colour in the Fraser Valley had been decent this year, and I’d found previously that even when it was quite bad here, it was very nice on Vancouver Island. I was hoping for the same on Salt Spring and it turned out it was very nice there as well, but it did come with a healthy dose of rain.
Like many rainy days here though, I was able to find gaps in the showers and photograph scenes like the reflection on Blackburn Lake above. The main fall foliage around the lake was the one pictured Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) tree that provided a nice yellow/orange color along the shoreline. The clouds often hid Mount Maxwell in the background but alternated often enough I could make this photograph while it was mostly visible. The dock I was photographing from is often a “clothing optional” area but there was nobody there this time as it was about +5°C!
The sun emerges at Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)
During my second day on Salt Spring Island I went for a 6km hike to a small lake in Ruckle Provincial Park. I mostly wanted to scout the lake and this route also provided more shelter during a hike in the rain than the ocean side trails. This turned out to be a long trudge to a lake surrounded by dead trees and zero inspirational scenery at the time. It was also a chance to give a failing grade to my new rain jacket which didn’t measure up to the task. After lunch, however, the weather started clearing and I spotted the above scene at Saint Mary Lake. The sun only found its way through the clouds for a few minutes but while it did – this stand of Black Cottonwood (P. balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) trees lit up rather nicely. There are some subject I tend to prefer to photograph in the shade (waterfalls/streams creeks), others in direct sun, but for fall foliage it really depends on the scene. Some fall subjects like these trees look great lit by direct sunlight, while others can look a bit washed out in full sun.
Driving further south from St. Mary Lake I visited Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park. Burgoyne Bay lies just south of Mount Maxwell and often has good views of the mountain. When I arrived, however, there were still a lot of clouds, spotty showers, and I couldn’t see the mountain. As I was interested in checking out a few subjects that did not require a friendly sky, I hiked out into the retired farm fields anyway. There are a lot of old rows of trees and shrubs on the edge of the trails I wanted to potentially photograph. It wasn’t 10 minutes after I left the car that the majority of the cloud had disappeared, and there were again great views of Mount Maxwell from the park trails. It is rare I see conditions change on me so quickly but I welcomed it this time! The photograph below is from one of the Burgoyne Bay trails looking towards Mount Maxwell (complete with a dog walker further down the path). Most of the fall foliage color in this photograph comes from the numerous Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees in the area.
Mount Maxwell from Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (Purchase)
From Burgoyne Bay I headed further down the road to the Fulford Harbour area and the Saint Paul’s Catholic Church. In a previous post I’ve written a bit about the history of St. Paul’s Catholic Church (1885) so I won’t get into that again here. The blue sky and the fall leaves (mostly Bigleaf Maples again) combine in the photograph below to make my favourite shot so far of this particular spot.
St. Paul’s Church and Cemetery at Fulford Harbour (Purchase)
Duck Creek Park is a small park in the northern part of Salt Spring where many people seem to enjoy walking their dogs. There is a small stream, Duck Creek, which winds through one end of the park which has yielded a few photographs for me in the past. In the area of the park with open fields, I concentrated on one large Bigleaf Maple tree with my longer telephoto zoom lens. The idea here was to show what these trees generally offer in the fall – yellow foliage colour with their characteristic mossy trunks. Fall leaves on the Bigleaf Maples can be tricky – some years they go mostly brown and others they can be spectacular. This particular tree showed a lot of variation – in this photo you can still see some green on some leaves and orange, yellow, and brown colours on others.
Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) in Duck Creek Park (Purchase)
For more of my photographs of this trip to the island visit my Salt Spring Island Gallery.
The Point Atkinson Lighthouse after sunset at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The Point Atkinson Lighthouse (1912) in Lighthouse Park at Sunset (Purchase)
Recently I posted a photograph of the Point Atkinson Lighthouse in Lighthouse Park to Twitter and realized it had been probably 8 years since I’d been there. A few days later I drove out to the park on an initially clear day that was later infiltrated by a lot of high cloud. The glare from this kind of light is one of my least favourite light conditions, but I decided I was going to explore a number of trails I was unfamiliar with in the park regardless.
First I went to Juniper Point. From there I followed the Shore Pine Trail to Shore Pine Point. The Beacon Lane Trail is a direct route to Lighthouse from the parking lot but it is wide and easy to walk compared to some other trails in the park. Those familiar only with the Beacon Lane Trail would be well advised to pick better footwear and clothing for the Juniper Point and Shore Pine trails as they often resemble walking down a steep creek bed. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks. It isn’t difficult, but it isn’t something to attempt in sandals either. Both Juniper Point and Shore Pine Point offer nice views to the south and west of Lighthouse Park. Views of Bowen Island, the Salish Sea, and even to Vancouver Island can be found here. The trails on this side of the park can be narrow, but also offer nice views of old grown Douglas Fir trees, and there are plenty of Salal (Gaultheria shallon) and various fern species to give the location that temperate rain forest feeling.
Point Atkinson Lighthouse (1912) in Lighthouse Park after sunset (Purchase)
From Shore Pine Point I went down to the main viewpoint for the Point Atkinson Lighthouse – which is rather overgrown now and shows mostly the top of the Lighthouse. This wasn’t the view I was looking for so I went to West Beach via the West Beach Trail. This is one of the classic views of the lighthouse, but it also gives good views of passing boats and any sunset that may occur. I was fortunate that the high cloud I disliked earlier in the day stuck around, but the sky opened up a bit to the west creating a nice sunset. I tend to photograph most sunsets while facing east as I prefer the subtle colors in the eastern sky to the bombast of the sunset to the west. The light from the sunset itself is great for objects found to the east – with a nice warm glow often contrasting with a more purple/blue tint to the clouds in that direction. The first photograph in this post shows a nice glow on the rocks and a still orange light in the clouds to the east. The second photograph above shows the light as it was only 12 minutes later. A much more subtle glow on the rocks and the lighthouse with a very blue/purple tint to the clouds. A third version of this lighthouse at sunset shows both the warm glow on the rocks and purple hues in the sky.
Queen of Oak Bay (1981) on the Salish Sea (Purchase)
As with my last trip to Lighthouse Park where I visited Juniper Point, I had a goal of what to photograph but my favourite from the day is probably not one of the expected subjects. At Juniper Point I photographed this sailboat while waiting for the right light for other subjects. On this latest trip to Lighthouse Park I liked the shape of the clouds with some not overly brash sunset colours but likely wouldn’t have made the image without the ferry being present. The Queen of Oak Bay (built in 1981) was kind enough to sail into the scene returning to West Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. While these are interesting clouds – without the ferry (or something else) present this wouldn’t be a photo that I’d share.
For more of my photographs of Lighthouse Park visit my West Vancouver Gallery in the Image Library.
A park bench overlooking McLean Pond on a summer evening at Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada
A Park Bench with a View of McLean Pond (Purchase)
McLean Pond is one of the areas of Campbell Valley Regional Park that seems “new” to me. I don’t believe it was part of the park when I first started visiting it in the early 1980’s. I first explored this area starting about 8 years ago as I’d seen people parking there and decided to check it out myself. The majority of the area is a grassy field, but after a short walk through the grass McLean Pond comes into view. There is a small dock on the south end and one can reserve the pond for canoeing. At the north end of the pond there is a park bench (above) which offers a good spot to view the wildlife in the area.
I visited McLean Pond a few weeks ago mostly in order to try out a new lens I’d purchased (Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II USM) – mostly to try to get used to the new focal lengths. The wildlife I’d hoped to find at the pond was a good place to start getting acquainted with the new lens, as well as some smaller landscape scenes I was hoping to find. This particular evening had very little breeze, so I was able to get a nice reflection for the photograph below, a scene one can view from the park bench I mentioned above.
The pond (closed to fishing, btw) is home to muskrats and beavers – both of which I saw that evening. Turtles and a few frog species also live in the pond, but I didn’t happen to spot any on this visit. I did see the Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) in the photo below, as well as what I presume were this year’s crop of goslings. They were swimming around in the pond, happily picking pond weeds from beneath the surface. This particular individual had a watchful eye on me much of the time. I presume this was either the designated lookout or a parent still wary of its young’s ability to avoid dangers such as photographers with long lenses.
A Wary Canada Goose (B. canadensis) at McLean Pond (Purchase)
The photograph below of two fallen, dead trees along the shore of McLean Pond was one I’d wanted to make on a previous visit, but the conditions were never quite right. The reflection was nice this time and the water plants in the foreground (Watershield – Brasenia schreberi) added a bit to the scene – and they aren’t present in the spring when I’ve visited here the most.
On my way back to my car I heard this Dwarf Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis brooksi) singing in the bushes. I couldn’t find it, and didn’t want to move around too much, but it made it easy on me by landing on this branch within range of my longer lens. This usually happens when I have a wide angle on, but I was lucky this time, and was walking with my new lens. This was a new species for me, I’ve not knowingly seen Savannah Sparrows before, but now I’ll be on the lookout for more. The species name of this bird is interesting – sandwichensis. Was someone hungry?
Grand Falls along the Mississippi River in Almonte, Ontario, Canada.
Grand Falls on the Mississippi River in Almonte, Ontario (Purchase)
The town of Almonte, Ontario is located southwest of Ottawa and has some interesting locations to photograph. Unlike much of British Columbia, the cities in Ontario have a long history, and those such as Almonte seem to have done a better job of preserving historic buildings and locations. I had never heard of Almonte before visiting last fall, but it had been in the news recently as Dr. James Naismith (inventor of Basketball) was born there, and the Ontario based Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship. Much like Hogs Back Falls in Ottawa, Grand Falls along the Mississippi River in Almonte is right in the city. The first photograph here shows Grand Falls from the Almonte Street Bridge next to the old Almonte Electric Plant (1925) building which is currently home to the Mississippi River Power Corporation. The “waterfall” on the left is actually water that has gone through the power station.
Fall Foliage and the Mississippi River in Almonte (Purchase)
This second photograph shows the Mississippi River below Grand Falls and just downstream from the Almonte Street Bridge. While I find it is more difficult to make a pleasing image when facing downstream in most cases, here I liked the mix of the low water flow, colours, and fall foliage along the river.
This is the view just above the old power station building and shows the Mississippi River and Grand Falls from the side. I would think this is likely a much lower water flow than one would see in spring. I’ve seen other photographs of the falls with a lot higher water levels. In many ways, I find waterfalls are better photographed with lower flows – they often show more character.
Waterfall along the Mississippi River (below Grand Falls) in Almonte (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
I photographed this small waterfall from across the Mississippi River. The waterfall is actually just downstream from the second river photo above. The red maple tree on the right hand side of the top photo is the same one as you see on the right of the waterfall above.
I thought I’d begin sharing more of my photos here that don’t have enough of a story to warrant a blog post all their own.
Fallen Leaves at Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park
When I stopped to photograph a roadside scene of some fall foliage along Dunlop Road in Québec’s Gatineau Park last fall I heard a small creek nearby. I walked down and made the photograph below of some fallen leaves and Fortune Creek. Still one of my favourite “small scenes” I photographed on that trip. You can see the rest of my photos from the park in the Gatineau Park Gallery.
Fallen Leaves along Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park (Purchase)
Love in the Rain
Love in the Rain is a sculpture created by Bruce Voyce and is currently located at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The sculpture is for the attachment of “love locks” which couples can attach and then dispose of the keys in a nearby receptacle. Previously the locks were becoming a problem on fences and other structures in the city. When I first set up to photograph this composition there was someone sitting along on the bench, which I liked in contrast to the two “lovers” in the foreground. Then they got up and left. I wasn’t willing to sit on the bench myself for this as being 20 feet away with my back to my equipment was a bit risky in a reasonably busy park, so I didn’t. Maybe having the bench empty is a happier photograph anyway? More of my Vancouver photographs can be found in the Vancouver gallery.
Love in the Rain Sculpture in Queen Elizabeth Park (Purchase)
Mount Blandshard – “The Golden Ears”
At this point I have a lot of photographs of the Golden Ears (Mount Blandshard) from various locations. This is one I made from the banks of the Pitt River (in the Pitt Addington/Smohk’wa Marsh) during a cool stretch of weather in February.
There are occasions in winter where I am essentially snowed in – more than a foot of snow or so on the road can make it tough for me to get my car out of the driveway. This year with balding all season tires and that much snow, I didn’t even attempt this. So what to do? I went in the backyard and instead of photographing my usual Chickadee photos from the rose bushes, I went for this grass seed head poking up through the snow. A bit more minimal than subjects I usually photograph.
A flowering Cherry or Plum tree along a dike next to the Fraser River in Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada. Mount Cheam, Mount Archibald (right), and Hopyard Hill are in the background.
Mount Cheam and a Flowering Cherry Tree (or Plum) along a Fraser River Dike (Purchase)
A few years ago I found a new spot to photograph Mount Cheam in the farmland near Agassiz, BC. In the spring of 2018 I revisited the spot during the spring, in the hopes of photographing a different look to the surroundings and maybe more snow on Mount Cheam. The first photograph shows the view along a dike road next to the Fraser River to the west of Agassiz, with a flowering cherry or plum tree next to the farmland with Mount Cheam in the background.
It is pretty rare in this area to find a single tree not surrounded by other trees or bush so I made a photograph of this Maple in the farm field. When they aren’t challenged by other tree species in their immediate vicinity they seem to grow to be quite symmetrical. This does not appear to be a Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) but could be a Douglas Maple (Acer glabrum).
A Solitary Maple Tree in a Farm Field in Agassiz (Purchase)
After the afternoon photos above I scouted for some more photography locations in the area, and made a few photographs near the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge next to the Fraser River. I returned to my original location in the hopes of some good evening light on the mountains but it didn’t materialize. This photograph was made after the sun had fully set. When I was making this last photograph a small airplane flew overhead, but very low, probably only 150′ or so. It turned above my head, flew over the farmland to the north, then came back and flew very close to Hopyard Hill before it banked sharply and again followed the Fraser River heading upstream. I’d have a photograph, but this is not the sort of situation where I was able to change lenses and settings in the 30 seconds of availability of the subject! I’m mostly just happy it didn’t run into the hill, which from my perspective certainly looked possible!
Mount Cheam and the Fraser River in Agassiz (Purchase)