McLean Pond in Campbell Valley Regional Park

A park bench overlooking McLean Pond on a summer evening at Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, British Columbia, Canada

park bench with view of mclean pond in campbell valley park

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.

reflections on mclean pond in campbell valley park

Reflections in McLean Pond (Purchase)

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.

canada goose in mclean pond at campbell valley park

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.

reflections mclean pond at campbell valley park

Reflections on McLean Pond (Purchase)

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?

dwarf savannah sparrow in campbell valley park

Dwarf Savannah Sparrow (P. sandwichensis brooksi) (Purchase)

You can view more of my photographs from this park in my Campbell Valley Park gallery.

Grand Falls on the Mississippi River in Almonte Ontario

Grand Falls along the Mississippi River in Almonte, Ontario, Canada.

grand falls on the mississippi river in almonte ontario

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.

mississippi river in almonte ontario fall leaves

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.

mississippi river at almonte electric plant in ontario

Mississippi River in Almonte, Ontario (Purchase)

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.

fall foliage and waterfall in almonte ontario

Waterfall along the Mississippi River (below Grand Falls) in Almonte (Purchase)

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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.

For more photographs of Ontario you can visit my Ontario Gallery.

Random Photos Volume I

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.

fall fall leaves along fortune creek in gatineau park

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

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.

golden ears from pitt meadows

The Golden Ears from Pitt Meadows (Purchase)

Grass Seed Head in the Snow.

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.

grass seed stalk poking up through snow

Grass Seed Head in the Snow (Purchase)

More photos like these can be found within the New Images Gallery in my Image Library.

Mount Cheam and Agassiz Farmland

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.

agassiz farmland and dike road near the fraser river with mount cheam

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).

maple tree farm field agassiz

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!

fraser river and mount cheam agassiz evening

Mount Cheam and the Fraser River in Agassiz (Purchase)

For more photographs of the Agassiz area visit my Agassiz – District of Kent Gallery.

Crescent Beach Pier at Sunset

Tourists and locals watching the sunset (and mountains on Vancouver Island) from the pier at Crescent Beach in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

sunset at crescent beach pier

Taking in the Sunset at Crescent Beach Pier (Purchase)

I recently made an evening trip to Crescent Beach for some photography. I was already in the area and hadn’t photographed the Crescent Beach or Blackie Spit area in several years, and thought I’d check it out again to see what has changed and make a few photos if I could. Places like Crescent Beach are locations I tend to prefer in the “off season” – there is less of a crowd and it feels more like being out in nature than it does otherwise. On this evening, a rare, warm evening in early April, it was much more crowded than I’d anticipated but everything still went well (only a few “yahoos”). I rarely photograph a sunset directly, preferring how that light reflects off of other things, but this sunset worked fairly well with the pier. Crescent Beach’s pier is much smaller than the White Rock Pier but still gives a nice view of Boundary Bay, the North Shore Mountains, and even the mountains on Vancouver Island (which you can see in the background on the above photograph). I think this is the first time I’ve photographed the Crescent Beach Pier itself, though I do have a photo of reflected light underneath it from a few years ago.

learning to sail at crescent beach

Learning to Sail at Crescent Beach (Purchase)

I’ve often photographed the view of Burnaby’s Metrotown area towers from Blackie Spit. They tend to provide a nice background with the North Shore Mountains’ Lions just above. While I was standing under the pier a number of small sailboats from the Surrey Sailing Club passed by with what looked like sailing class. The people in this particular sailboat seemed to be practicing leaning on one side which I think is called “hiking”. This had their sail at a near 45° angle to the water, which was would have seemed strange in this photograph I think. It took them several minutes before they were mostly upright and I made this image.

blackie spit and the golden ears mountains

The Golden Ears and Boundary Bay from Blackie Spit (Purchase)

These last two photographs show my other favourite landscape subject from the Blackie Spit area – the Golden Ears Mountains (Mount Blandshard). The Belt of Venus/Earth’s Shadow was not overly strong on this particular evening, but provides enough color in the northeast sky to make things interesting. The photo above shows a low tide at Blackie Spit. While not evident in this photograph at many times of the year once can see a lot of shorebirds running around in the area. The photograph below shows the Golden Ears as seen from underneath the pier looking northeast after sunset.

sunset golden ears at crescent beach blackie spit

The Golden Ears from Crescent Beach at Sunset (Purchase)

For more photographs of Crescent Beach and other areas in Surrey, BC visit my City of Surrey Gallery.

The Champlain Lookout at Québec’s Gatineau Park

Tourists take in the view from the Champlain Lookout at Gatineau Park in Chelsea, Québec, Canada.

champlain lookout tourists gatineau park view

Tourists taking in the view at the Champlain Lookout (Purchase)

The Champlain Lookout is probably one of the most well known and popular views in Québec’s Gatineau Park. The lookout is at the end of the Champlain Parkway and offers views of Québec farmland, the Ottawa River, and is a great place to take in the fall foliage displays. The lookout sits on the edge of the Eardley Escarpment which is the dividing line between the Canadian Shield and the St. Lawrence Lowlands. This was my first day in Gatineau Park, and the drive to this spot showed the potential for photography there, even if the fall foliage wasn’t quite at its peak yet.

The second photograph below shows the view of Chemin de la Montagne heading west toward Heyworth, Québec and the Ottawa River.

view from champlain lookout in gatineau park

View from Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

Just before you get to the Champlain Lookout you’ll see the Huron Lookout. Huron gives a view looking to the south where the Champlain looks more to the southwest.

view from huron lookout in gatineau park

View from the Huron Lookout in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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After visiting these lookouts I photographed Dunlop Falls which is another popular and easy to reach area of Gatineau Park.

For more photographs of this area visit my Gatineau Park Gallery.

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)

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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.

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.