The Champlain Lookout at Québec’s Gatineau Park

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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?

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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.

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Fall Foliage above the Rideau River and Hogs Back Falls in Ottawa (Purchase)

For more photographs from the Ottawa area visit my Ontario Gallery.

Pink Lake (Lac Pink) in Québec’s Gatineau Park

One of the viewing platforms along the Pink Lake Trail loop at Pink Lake (Lac Pink) in Gatineau Park, Québec, Canada. Photographed during the “Fall Rhapsody” festival celebrating fall foliage colours in Gatineau Park.

fall foliage at pink lake in gatineau park

Fall Foliage Pink Lake (Lac Pink) in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

Much of my trip to Gatineau Park in October was photographed a short distance from the roads or parking lots (due to time available). For Pink Lake (Lac Pink), however, we walked the short loop trail around the lake. I’d seen Pink Lake advertised as a great place for fall foliage but this year it was just getting started in early October. The Pink Lake Loop Trail isn’t that long, maybe 2.5km, but there are some up and down stair sections that can make it feel a bit longer! The first photograph above is looking down from probably the most popular viewpoint and shows one of the many wooden viewing platforms on the loop trail. These are present in part to keep the lake relatively uncontaminated (they are made from heat treated, not chemically treated, pine) and to minimize the erosion along the shoreline – two things that damage the lake. There are a lot of phosphates in the rock surrounding the lake, and their leeching into the water creates algae blooms which deplete oxygen and also indicates the lake is aging prematurely.

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Viewing Platform along the Pink Lake Loop Trail in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

I probably learned about this term years ago in Limnology class, but Pink Lake is a “meromictic lake” – an interesting feature I didn’t really know prior to arriving. Normally, lakes undergo something called turnover which is a mixing of lake water which equalizes temperatures. Wind causes this in most lakes, with the various temperature layers that form in various season then mixing. Another benefit to this is the mixing of nutrients from deeper water to the surface, and the distribution of oxygen to various depths as well. In a meromictic lake such as Pink Lake, however, this turnover mixing does not occur. Due to the cliffs surrounding the lake, the winds are never strong enough at the lake’s surface to cause the lake to turnover. Consequently, there are a lot of heavier suspended particles in the deep parts (15-20m) of the lake, which also cause a resistant to mixing. The deeper water of Pink Lake (below 13m) has not been in contact with the surface air for 10,000 years, and contains no oxygen!

hikers taking a rest at pink lake loop trail in gatineau park

Taking a rest along the Pink Lake Loop Trail in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

The other interesting feature to be discovered here was the amount of mica in the rocks on the loop trail. Everything had a bit of a sparkle in the sunlight! On the north side of the lake there are the remains of at least two shafts leading to the Pink Lake Mica Mine which closed for good in 1946. The hikers relaxing along the water’s edge here (likely a bad thing for the lake, actually) are near the old mine shafts and probably saw a lot mica in the rocks there.

For more photographs from Pink Lake and nearby locations visit my Gatineau Park Gallery.

Dunlop Falls on Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park

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

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Dunlop Falls in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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

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Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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

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Fall at Dunlop Falls in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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

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

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Fortune Falls in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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

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

Meech Creek Valley in Gatineau Park

Meech Creek Valley covered bridge (1932) in Chelsea, Québec, Canada (Gatineau Park).

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Meech Creek Covered Bridge in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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   In my last post I showed some fall foliage I’d seen at Gatineau Park in Québec. Those images were from the southern part of Gatineau Park, so I thought with this post I’d show some of the scenes I found in the northeastern parts of the park. The fall foliage color wasn’t quite as pronounced here, but was still nice and as always adds a bit of color to a photograph that wouldn’t be quite the same with green leaves. This first photograph is the Meech Creek covered bridge in Chelsea, Québec, just within the eastern border of the park. Unlike a lot of the other covered bridges I photographed during my week in the east, this bridge doesn’t appear to have an official name and doesn’t have the year it was built posted on it. There is an information sign further up the road which indicated this bridge was built in 1932 as a Depression era make work project, but while it calls it the “Meech Creek Covered Bridge” it doesn’t appear to be as official a name as that given to some other covered bridges.

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Fall Foliage in Chelsea, Québec (Purchase)

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   This old gravel road (Chemin Cafferty) is near the eastern edge of the park (near Autoroute 5) and eventually joins up with a trail called Cross Loop which heads to Lac Carman in Gatineau Park. I may have been standing in the exact same spot for this photo as the one below with the hay bales and the fall colours on the Gatineau hills behind. Either way, I think this photograph of the fall foliage and the gravel road disappearing into the forest – is one of my favourites of the whole trip. At least so far. The photo makes me want to walk through the trees and see what is around the corner.

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Hay Bales and Fall Leaves in Chelsea, Québec (Purchase)

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   On a hill just above Meech Creek and the covered bridge I saw these two men painting the bridge. An internet search reveals a lot of paintings of this bridge and the surrounding fields, so this appears to be a popular spot for painting (and photography). I’ve also seen several drone videos from the area. When I was photographing the bridge and the scenes around it there was a man flying a drone over the bridge and fields. I don’t know if it is legal to do so there, but it certainly seemed to annoy the painters! Drones seem like a lot of fun to fly and photograph with – but they certainly destroy the ambience of a nice quiet place like this one.

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Painting the Meech Creek Covered Bridge

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For more of my photographs from Quebec visit my Québec Photos Collection.

Fall Rhapsody in Gatineau Park

Fall foliage color at the Beaver Pond during Fall Rhapsody Festival at Gatineau Park in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.

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Fall Color at the Beaver Pond in Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I was in Ottawa, Ontario visiting family and we did a lot of driving around looking for fall foliage colors and other scenery. I was there a week before peak color, but I still saw a lot of foliage that was well beyond what I’d normally see even during a great fall color year in and around Vancouver. Much of the great color was in Gatineau Park, which is just across the Ottawa river in Quebec. I’d been following Gatineau Park happenings in social media for a few weeks, and while the peak of color was the following week, we also avoided all the closed roads and crowds!

   I have many photos yet to come from my trip to Ottawa, but I thought I’d start here with a few that show some of the best color I saw, but also from locations that don’t really merit their own blog post in the future. The first photograph here is from the “Beaver Pond” along the Gatineau Parkway. I couldn’t find a more official name for it, but the “Beaver Pond” is what most people seem to call it. This photograph, and the wider angle of it, show some of the reds and oranges that we rarely get (from native species) here in British Columbia.

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Lac Bourgeouis Trees at Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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   The second photograph here was made at Lac Bourgeouis but from the side of the Champlain Parkway. I’d been to Lac Bourgeouis the day before, but these colors had improved a lot from the day before, and probably show the most interesting foliage I saw on the trip. Clearly the Maple leaves have not turned to the extent one would see at “peak” foliage color, but there are lot of reds and oranges, as well as yellow and the summer greens. I like that this photo shows the whole spectrum from summer to fall foliage.

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Fall Foliage at Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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   This panorama shows off the lighter colors of the maple tree trunks with their brighter foliage above. This is another unnamed marsh/pond in Gatineau Park, but is near the “Shilly Shally Shelter” and the junction of the Lac Fortune Parkway and the Champlain Parkway. I have several (to be published later) photos of this location that show a wider perspective but I think this one shows the most interesting elements of the scene. There are some smaller conifers in this area which further contrasts it from British Columbia where they would be the dominant type of tree in a mature forest.

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Fall Leaves along Dunlop Road during Fall Rhapsody at Gatineau Park (Purchase)

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   Sometimes a good patch of color is just along the side of the road!

For more photos of fall foliage visit my Fall Photos Gallery.

Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Park

Scenes along the Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park – on the way to Lower Falls on Gold Creek.

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The Dragon on Lower Falls Trail (Purchase)

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   I have photographed the scenes I’ve found along the Lower Falls Trail on many occasions. The trail winds through the rainforest in Maple Ridge’s Golden Ears Provincial Park on the way to Lower Falls which I have also photographed many times. Lower Falls is the most popular photography spot along the Lower Falls Trail, but I think the view of the Golden Ears and Gold Creek near a bend in the creek is a close second. This first photograph here might show the third most popular spot – the “Dragon” log next to the trail. This log looks a bit like a dragon’s head, and I’ve heard many people refer to it as such. Normally there are also various rocks (like the pointed on in this photo on the end of the nose) that add to this look. There was a rock in the log for its eye when I passed the first time but it was gone when I came back and photographed it.

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Vine Maples (Acer circinatum) along the Lower Falls Trail (Purchase)

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   These overhanging Vine Maple trees (Acer circinatum) are a nice photography opportunity as well, and are the same Vine Maples you see in the first photo above of the dragon log. I did prefer the Lower Falls Trail more in the past when there was a natural trail here, and not crushed gravel, but at least the bears/cougars can hear you coming with the constant crunch crunch sound that walking makes!

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Red Alders (Alnus rubra) along Gold Creek (Purchase)

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   These last two scenes – Red Alders (Alnus rubra) and a view of Gold Creek with Mount Nutt in the background, are near the bend in the trail/creek I mentioned earlier. When I see scenes like this one with the Alder trees I do wish they would turn a nice color in the fall. Alder leaves, sadly, just sort of go brown and fall to the ground which doesn’t really lend itself to nice fall foliage photographs. I photographed these trees at the unnamed beach that is quite popular in the summer for swimming in (the probably cold) Gold Creek.

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Gold Creek and Mount Nutt along Lower Falls Trail (Purchase)

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   For more photographs of this park visit my Golden Ears Provincial Park Gallery.