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.

lower falls on golden creek in golden ears park

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.

lower falls on golden creek in golden ears park

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.

lower falls on golden creek in golden ears park

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.

Spring Views at Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island

Rowboat on the shore of Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

boat on shore of saint mary lake on salt spring island

Rowboat at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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   Last week I headed back to Salt Spring Island here in British Columbia for a 3 day trip to photograph and visit friends. Last time I was on Salt Spring was in March of last year, and it was nice seeing the views with green grass and the leaves on the trees! I also had better weather overall this time around, with only some rain on my main photography day. As with any weather situation there is always something to photograph, so while I didn’t get as many of the wide, sweeping, ocean shoreline views as I’d wanted, the thin overcast cloud did work for many other situations.

saint mary lake on salt spring island

St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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   One of many locations I visited for photography was Saint Mary Lake. St. Mary Lake is between Ganges and Vesuvius, and serves as both a recreation area (fishing, swimming, boating) and drinking water supply. I was not able to find all that many publicly accessible spots around the lake to photograph, but this one along North End Road gave me these views of the docks, swimming platforms and general scenery at the lake.

st mary lake on salt spring island

Private Dock at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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   Most of the boats I came across at various locations on Salt Spring Island were not secured – usually just pulled up on shore. This kind of honour system would not likely work well in Vancouver! This boat in the first photograph was not tied up either. I’m sure the majority of the time this works out well for the boat owners on the island, but there was a sign next to this one asking for a boat to be returned that, evidently, had been liberated from it’s unsecured location.

swimming platform st mary lake on salt spring island

Swimming Platform at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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More photographs of this island can be found in my Salt Spring Island Gallery.

Iconic Locations and Iconic Misbehavior

Sunset light on Mount Shuksan reflected in the tarn at Huntoon Point in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest, Washington State, USA.

tarn reflection mount shuksan evening sunset huntoon point

Reflection of Mount Shuksan in a Huntoon Point Tarn (Purchase)

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   I’ve written and posted about this iconic location many times, as it is one of my favourites to visit in the early fall – the Mount Shuksan/Mount Baker area in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest of Washington State. The location in this first photograph is often photographed, but not nearly to the extent of the Picture Lake area nearby. There isn’t really a lot of things I can say about my trip here in the fall of 2017. I had good conditions, great light, and was planning on going back 4 days later. Unfortunately, there was about 30cm of new snow 4 days later, and the road to Artist Point was closed, so those ideas will have to wait until later in 2018. I am happy with my photos from the one day I had, but they don’t lend themselves to discussion as well as some of the bad photographer behaviour I witnessed while up there. So lets get into some of that – I feel I need to purge these stories from my brain from time to time for my own health. I’m sure these won’t surprise you much, especially if you’ve photographed at popular, iconic locations before.

mount shuksan evening sunset huntoon point

Evening view of Mount Shuksan (Purchase)

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   Most photographers reading this have probably seen others behave poorly while photographing the same locations. A few of these, I’m sure, are just awful people no matter what activity they are doing. I suspect others are just putting way too much pressure on themselves to copy exactly what they saw online or in a magazine. Generally I’ve seen most of the bad behaviour at an “iconic” location, or near one. Most of these locations can deliver a wide variety of weather conditions, seasonal changes and other variable that can making matching that magazine photo you have in your pocket… difficult. If that trophy is all you are there for, then you are probably going to have far less fun that I would. Some of the people having a bad time of it feel generous enough to make sure everyone around them feels the same way.

   One example of poor behaviour I witnessed was at the location of the first photograph here – the tarn at Huntoon Point. This is a relatively common spot to photograph, though I’ve never seen lineups here like I have at Picture Lake. When I was here a few years ago, there was a man standing further up on the hill occasionally tossing pebbles into the tarn in order to ruin the reflection for others. He seemed much more pleased about this than the other’s photographing there at the time. I can only guess he had his photo and was thinking that his work would some how be more unique if nobody else could shoot there the rest of the evening. If I’d been trying to actually get a shot there I’d just have wandered away rather than engage with him verbally. This is a location with great 360° views, so it isn’t as though there is a shortage of subjects in the area. Actually, to avoid a photographer like that I might have wandered to a nearby spot and shot the second photograph in this post – a view of Mount Shuksan with some great sunset clouds above it, and hints of fall foliage below. Last fall I photographed both of these scenes within 5 minutes of each other, and without a pebble tosser to move me on.

sunset shuksan arm mount sefrit mountains north cascades

Sunset over Shuksan Arm and Mount Sefrit (Purchase)

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   Anyone who has been to Artist Point and looked towards Mount Shuksan from there has likely seen the tarn just to the east of the parking lot. The trail along the ridge runs right past it. Last fall this was the scene of one of the worst bad photographer behaviour spectacles I’ve ever seen – mostly because it went on for over an hour. Initially I didn’t know a photographer was involved. There was a family walking through (and playing in) the tarn near Artist Point with loud music blaring from a stereo. Beach balls and other props (I presume) were floating around in the tarn. A number of people stopped, jaws open, and stared at these people. Most did not say anything, but some went over and there were raised voices and wild pointing at the various transgressions. None of this made any difference. Then it became clear that the individual who was addressing the concerns of passing hikers was a photographer, there to do some sort of family photo shoot.

mount shuksan evening sunset huntoon point

Evening view of Mount Shuksan (Purchase)

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   When she started shooting she got the family into one spot, then was yelling at the top of her lungs things like “wow this is the worlds most photogenic family”, “that is just adorbs”, “yeah baby!” and other antics that would have embarrassed even Austin Powers. I suspect some of the over the top vocalizations were to mock those who had dared suggest this was bad behaviour, or at least that is the only “excuse” I can see for it. After this debacle really ramped up a few more people then went over and asked her to turn the music off, as well as get back on a trail (I’d have been fine with them just sticking to the rocks). One old man, who looked like he wasn’t one to swear yelled, in apparent exasperation – “What the **** are you doing!?” loudly at her. People were stopped in groups and clearly talking about them. None of this changed the behaviour. The family itself didn’t seem to act like anything weird was going on. One woman I talked to said she was going to say something (I hadn’t, having witnessed the futility of others who had tried). I suggested she go and get a business card under the guise of wanting portraits of her family. This was an idea I couldn’t easily pull off with a backpack and tripod of my own. Not sure if she did that, but I almost wish I’d tried so I could mention her here, possibly. All that aside, I went further up the trail and had a wonderful time once I was out of earshot.

reflections of mount shuksan in picture lake sunset baker

Sunset at Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake (Purchase)

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   The above photo is the iconic spot where Mount Shuksan can give a great reflection in Picture Lake. I have stopped photographing here for the most part, but always stop and take a look, as it is a very nice view. I also enjoy the occasional shock and surprise when asked why I’m not taking my gear out of the bag. One of the reasons I don’t linger in this location tends to be the behaviour of other people, though most of those seem to be photographers. The tourists walk on the boardwalk, enjoy the view, and don’t seem to do much inappropriate for the most part. If you look at the photo above you can see on the far left the road is right next to the lake. Remember that the next time someone describes the arduous hike to this location!

The crappy behaviour I’ve seen at Picture Lake includes:

• Yelling at people parking along the roadside I mentioned above. One photographer abandoned his equipment entirely and ran towards some tourists screaming about where they had parked. The poor tourists got back in their car and fled the area. Yes, cars can kind of get in the way here, but it is also easy to change the composition slightly so they aren’t an issue.

• Photographers standing in a clearly marked “meadow under repair” off the boardwalk area – harassing others because they shoot the wrong brand of camera. “That’s how I know your photos are going to be garbage”. Like an internet conversation but in person, which is much, much worse. I wouldn’t say I appreciate this kind of “Gear Preaching” when I see it online, but at least I have something worse to compare it to now.

• In a different people and a different year entirely – but the pebble tossers have visited at this location too. Photographers throwing rocks periodically into the water in order to keep the reflection messed up, which is a pretty messed up thing to do.

• Photographer holding up a magazine with a photo of Shuksan and Picture Lake trying to match the shot. Again, in the closed “don’t step here” area.

• This last one was someone who was trying to be nice, but it is still a silly thing to do. I guess they thought I didn’t know what I was doing so they tried to stop me from shooting in a vertical orientation. “Oh no no wait… (comes jogging over to me)… this is a horizontal shot”. Had I been in a more surly mood I probably wouldn’t have just pointed out that I always tend to shoot both orientations. The vertical shot from that day is only one of two photos of Picture Lake I have ever sold. It didn’t work nearly as well in a wider format, actually.

Glad I got all that off my chest. We now continue our regular programming…

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.

mount blandshard osprey mountain pitt river

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.

pitt river and osprey mountain in winter

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.

alpenglow on mount baker from the pitt river

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.

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.

fall foliage reflections at buntzen lake

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.

mist over the marsh at the south end of buntzen lake

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 .

Barnet Marine Park in the Evening

A small lighthouse at Barnet Marine Park on Burrard Inlet in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

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View from Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby (Purchase)

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    Barnet Marine Park is situated along Burrard Inlet along the north end of Burnaby Mountain in Burnaby, BC. This was my final stop of the day back in October, where I’d previously visited Sasamat Lake and Rocky Point Park hunting fall foliage. The cement structure between the lighthouse and the shore is the remains of an old scrap burner that was used for a lumber mill that was on this site until 1958. This spot is one I have visited for over 20 years, and I always enjoy the walk along the shoreline even if the light isn’t photo worthy. This is a great place to view wildlife (seals, crabs, herons etc.) as well as a wide variety of passing boats.

lighthouse at barnet marine park in burnaby

Lighthouse at Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby (Purchase)

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You can view more of my photography from this area in my City of Burnaby Gallery.

Mount Baker from Huntoon Point

Sunset light in the clouds above Mount Baker – photographed from Huntoon Point, Washington State.

mount baker fall foliage sunset from huntoon point washington

Mount Baker and Fall Foliage at Huntoon Point (Purchase)

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   As I have indicated in other posts, fall is the time of year I usually visit the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State. I usually photograph Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and the other North Cascade peaks and ranges in the area. Sometimes I am there along with some great fall foliage as well, though it has a much different look than near sea level. Where I live this leaf color is usually dominated by Bigleaf Maples, Vine Maples, and a few other species. Up in the mountains near Mount Baker, much of the color comes from smaller trees and shrubs such as the Vaccinium species (Blueberries / Huckleberries etc) and Sitka Mountain Ash (Sorbus sitchensis) as shown in the first photograph here. There is always a lot to photograph in the area between Picture Lake, the Chain Lakes, and Huntoon Point on Kulshan Ridge, even if there isn’t a nice sunset. One of my favourite spots and I always find new compositions when I am there.

mount baker sunset from huntoon point washington

Sunset at Mount Baker (Purchase)

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   When there is a nice sunset sometimes it can be difficult to photograph Mount Baker in that light. From this area you are looking southwest towards Mt. Baker. This can be problematic if the clouds aren’t cooperating in lessening the bright to dark one finds in looking from west to east across that view. Luckily there was some thin cloud cover in most of the sky, but not far to the west where the sun was free to shine through. These were near perfect conditions for sunset there, which I have not seen before myself. There was even some great light over the mountains to the north (the Border Peaks, for example) as well as above Mount Shuksan to the east.

mount baker after sunset from huntoon point washington

Mount Baker after the sunset (Purchase)

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Visit my Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest gallery for more photographs from this evening as well as the surrounding area.

My Top 10 Photos of 2017

   It is once again time to post my 10 favourite photographs – this time from 2017. I do this every year as it is a very good exercise (and not always easy) but also so I can participate in Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. His collection of these posts is a great place to find new photographers you may have been unfamiliar with before.

   If you click on a photo you’ll be taken to a larger version in my Image Archive. I’ve also linked to corresponding blog posts that contain these images if you want more information about the location or to see other photos from that area. These photos aren’t in any specific order though I am still enjoying the first one a lot as I probably wouldn’t have attempted to make it in previous years. Sorting images for my calendar often gives me a head start on this list. While it did help this year for some reason the images I chose as my favourites are fairly different this time around. This is partly due to the variety I want to show in my calendar as well as I try not to include any human made elements in those photos.

I hope you enjoy this years selections and am curious to hear if you have any particular favourites.

My Favourite Photos of 2017:

walking over the floating bridge at sasamat lake
1. Sasamat Lake

(Port Moody, British Columbia)
Blog post: Sasamat Lake on a Fall Day

fall foliage and mount shuksan from huntoon point in the north cascades
2. Mount Shuksan from Huntoon Point

(North Cascades, Washington State)

adult barred owl strix varia perched
3. Barred Owl (Strix varia

(Langley, British Columbia)
Blog post: Adult Barred Owl (Strix varia)

mount cheam fraser river fall leaves agassiz
4. Mount Cheam and the Fraser River

(Agassiz, British Columbia)
Blog post: Mount Cheam and the Fraser River in Agassiz

fall foliage reflection in rolley lake
5. Fall Reflections at Rolley Lake

(Mission, British Columbia)
Blog post: Fall Reflections at Rolley Lake Provincial Park

sailboat in burgoyne bay saltspring island
6. Sailboat in Burgoyne Bay

(Saltspring Island, British Columbia)
Blog post: Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park Farm Buildings

dogwood tree flowers eddies white wonder
7. Dogwood Flowers

(Langley, British Columbia)
Blog post: Dogwood Flowers – Eddie’s White Wonder

vancouver trade and convention center and coal harbour
8. Vancouver Convention Center & Vancouver’s Coal Harbour

(Vancouver, British Columbia)
Blog post: Vancouver Convention Centre

sunshine on mount webb in chilliwack lake provincial park
9. Spotlight on Mount Webb

(Chilliwack, British Columbia)
Blog post: Rainbow at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park

sunset at the white rock pier
10. Sunset at the White Rock Pier

(White Rock, British Columbia)
Blog post: An Evening at the White Rock Pier

   Ooops – there is an eleventh photo below! I included this one as an extra photograph because I like it and it also represents something new. I haven’t tried to photograph an airshow since I had a rangefinder camera with film in it in the 80’s – so it was time to try again! Thanks, in part, to the autofocus on my Canon 5D Mark IV, this experiment turned out quite well.

Canadian forces snowbirds in formation over white rock
Canadian Forces Snowbirds

(White Rock, British Columbia)
Blog post: Canadian Forces Snowbirds Over White Rock

My top 10 photos from last year can be found here: My Top 10 Photos of 2016.