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.

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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.

Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

The Parliament Buildings (Centre Block) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Centre Block contained the House of Commons, the Senate chambers, offices of some MP’s (Members of Parliament), and administration offices.

canadian parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Parliament Buildings – Centre Block (Purchase)

I first saw the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa when I was 18. In the Vancouver area we don’t really have as much in the way of impressive, historically significant buildings, so I still remember the first time I saw the Centre Block building. During my trip to Ottawa last fall I was happy to see these buildings again, and to have a chance to photograph them. I also found a historical architecture equivalent of a bad sunset or clouds hiding the mountain thats we get with landscapes sometimes: construction.

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The Peace Tower at Parliament Hill (Purchase)

The first session of the Parliament of Canada was held on Parliament Hill in in November 6, 1867, before the buildings were completely finished construction (which had begun in 1859). Parliament Hill has 3 main buildings – East Block (opened in 1866), West Block (opened in 1906), and Centre Block (which held the “House of Commons” and Senate Chambers). Most of the Centre Block standing today is not the original, a fire in 1916 burned down the original building. Only the Library of Parliament survived the fire intact. It seems the library clerk at the time had the presence of mind to close the large iron main doors before the fire reached the library. It is also for this reason that there is a different architectural style in the newer Centre Block compared to the Library of Parliament or the East and West Block buildings.

flag on peace tower at parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Canadian Flag on the Peace Tower (Purchase)

Construction on the current Centre Block building began in 1917 after the fire, and was completed in 1927. The original buildings were constructed in a “Victorian High Gothic” style while the newer Centre Block is a “Modern Gothic Revival” style. The original Centre Block also had a large clock tower in the middle, though that tower was called the Victoria Tower. During the fire the original Victoria Tower Bell fell to the ground, and is still displayed on the Parliament Hill grounds. After the fire and reconstruction, the new tower was called the Peace Tower. The Peace Tower is 92.2m (302 ft) in height and flies a new Canadian flag each weekday. Canadians can request this flag but as this is quite a popular idea – the current waiting time is 99 years!

canadian flag on peace tower at parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Canadian Flag on the Peace Tower (Purchase)

If you look at the lower right corner of the Peace Tower (in the two photographs) you can see some scaffolding covered in similar coloured tarps. The Parliament Buildings are all undergoing rehabilitation. The West Block building had its repair begin in 2011 and recently finished – and now contains the interim House of Commons as the Centre Block is just beginning its 10 years of rehabilitation. The Senate chamber has been temporarily relocated to the Senate of Canada Building (formerly the Government Conference Centre) near Parliament Hill. So while my photograph above contains some construction equipment and scaffolding, I probably did actually come at a fairly good time as the place is going to be closed for the next 10 years. A previously overcast day giving way to blue sky helped a lot too!

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

Iconic White Rock Pier Destroyed by Windstorm

Lights on the White Rock Pier reflected in the water of Boundary Bay in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.

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Lights on the White Rock Pier (Purchase)

I photographed these lights on the White Rock Pier reflecting off the water of Boundary Bay back in October 2018. I had no idea this would be the last time I would photograph the pier while it was whole. On December 20th, 2018 this part of British Columbia had a historic (in terms of damage) windstorm that damaged the current pier so badly it will eventually be replaced. 300,000 customers lost power (my lights didn’t come on for 30 hours, and I was relatively lucky) and many areas had winds stronger than 100 km/hr (62 mph). The estimated cost of entirely replacing pier is around $16.2 million. The City of White Rock looks to be planning a $5 million fix to get the pier open later this year before replacing the structure entirely.

The White Rock Pier was opened on November 14, 1914. Since then it has become a tourist attraction and one of the main draws to the Marine Drive area of White Rock. I tend to avoid the very busy summer months but this first photograph here was on a quieter evening in the fall where the crowds weren’t an issue, though the pier was still busy. Unfortunately the photograph below shows what it looks like now. There is a large section in the middle of the pier that is completely gone, and there is a lot of damage to the rest of the 104 year old structure. A post I made in 2017 shows a bit more of the pier when it was still intact. Note the marina in the second to last photo on that post and specifically the dock with sailboats that broke free and repeatedly was driven into the pier which caused much of the damage. Some of those sailboats broke apart and sank, the rest washed up on the beach with varying levels of damage.

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Destroyed section of the White Rock Pier

The photograph below shows one of the reasons the pier was popular, it offered not only a nice walk, but great views of the surrounding scenery such as Mount Baker. I photographed this scene in October 2018 during a poor sunset, but with good light to the east.

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View of Mount Baker from the White Rock Pier (Purchase)

This next photograph is from early 2017 and shows the pier in better days just after a nice sunset. Photographed from the East Beach side of the Promenade looking west.

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View of the White Rock Pier after sunset (Purchase)

This is the White Rock at White Rock Beach that gave the city its name. The White Rock is a 486-ton granite boulder that was left by a retreating glacier (glacial erratic). The rock was once used as a navigational aide for boats as it was a frequent target for seabird guano. Now it is covered in white paint and is a frequent target of graffiti instead.

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The White Rock at White Rock Beach (Purchase)

For more photographs of the White Rock Pier and other scenes from the area visit my White Rock 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).

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?

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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.

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.

Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver

West Vancouver and the Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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Evening at the Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I headed into Vancouver to see what fall foliage I could find. This was not a stellar year for foliage around Vancouver or in the Fraser Valley, at least not in the areas where I ventured. I found some good colour in Queen Elizabeth Park, but I have photographed there a lot before. I decided to go to areas that I hadn’t really visited often after that. After going through downtown I went to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. I had only photographed this location once, and there were promises of a decent sunset and a few subjects I wanted to photograph again with my newer, higher resolution, camera.

   I had seen photographs of the pier before, but didn’t realize how close it was to Ambleside Park – probably less than a 10 minute walk from where I’d parked. On the way to the pier I photographed a few things along the beach, ships in English Bay, and the Lions Gate Bridge. When arriving at the Ambleside Fishing Pier, much of the sunset was gone but it was perfect timing for a blue hour photograph of the pier and parts of West Vancouver to the north. I had to compose around a construction crane but otherwise things went as planned. Ambleside Pier itself is a nice spot to view the surrounding area, and is set up with a table and hose to cut bait for fishing or crab traps, and to clean one’s catch.

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Ambleside Pier at Sunset (Purchase)

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   This second photograph of Ambleside Pier is from Ambleside Beach looking west. When I visited the pier there were several groups there fishing and crabbing. One of the crabbers was waiting to pull up their trap as there was a seal hanging out in the area and apparently it is adept at raiding the traps as they come to the surface!

For more photographs of this area visit my Gallery.

Redwood Park Treehouse in Surrey

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

treehouse at redwood park in surrey bc

The Treehouse at Redwood Park (Purchase)

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

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

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Redwoods and Redwood Park Treehouse (Purchase)

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

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

Southern Gulf Islands Ferry Route Photos

The BC Ferries ship Spirit of Vancouver Island (built in 1994) in Trincomali Channel on the way to Tsawwassen from Victoria (Swartz Bay).

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Spirit of Vancouver Island in Trincomali Channel (Purchase)

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   I’ve been on a number of ferry rides that were in really rainy or windy weather which makes roaming the deck rather uncomfortable. For my last trip to Salt Spring Island, however, it was a nice sunny day that wasn’t too warm and the winds were calm. After the first 30 minutes of my ferry trip from Tsawwassen to Long Harbour on Salt Spring Island, I spent the rest of the time walking the deck with my camera.

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Sturdies Bay Ferry Terminal on Galiano Island (Purchase)

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   I was not on a direct ferry to Salt Spring Island on this trip, but on a Southern Gulf Islands route with BC Ferries that stops at a number of islands (Galiano, Mayne, and Pender) before reaching Long Harbour on Salt Spring. The first stop was Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island. I was on the deck of the BC Ferries ship Salish Eagle which provided a pretty steady platform to photograph from while we were docked. I made this panorama of Sturdies Bay after most of the cars had disembarked onto Galiano but before we had left for the next island.

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Sandstone Cliffs on Galiano Island (Purchase)

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   Also at Sturdies Bay on Galiano were these sandstone cliffs that had a lot of interesting patterns and shapes. The house on this point has a great view but I bet things can get pretty wild in a good storm!

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Village Bay Ferry Terminal on Mayne Island (Purchase)

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   The next stop after Galiano was the nearby Mayne Island and the Village Bay Ferry Terminal (above). I am not sure if this was a normal delay or not, but we had to wait for about 30 minutes to dock at the Village Bay Terminal. This did give me a good chance to photograph various other BC Ferry vessels that were passing by on their way to other destinations. The photo below shows the BC Ferries vessel Spirit of British Columbia (built in 1993) navigating Trincomali Channel on the way to Victoria (Swartz Bay) from Tsawwassen. The island in the background is Prevost Island (front) with Salt Spring Island behind.

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Spirit of British Columbia in Trincomali Channel (Purchase)

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   The Queen of Cumberland (below) is an Intermediate-class Ferry which left Mayne Island heading for Victoria, BC while I was still waiting to dock at Mayne Island. A lot of the ferries that travel between the various gulf islands are these smaller types of I-class ferries.

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Queen of Cumberland Leaving Mayne Island (Purchase)

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My last stop before arriving at Salt Spring Island was Otter Bay on Pender Island. While docked there I photographed the BC Ferries vessel Coastal Celebration (built in 2007) navigating Swanson Channel on the way to Tsawwassen from Victoria (Swartz Bay). Salt Spring Island (and Mount Maxwell/Baynes Peak) is in the background.

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BC Ferries Vessel Coastal Celebration (Purchase)

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More photographs of various means of travel can be found in my Planes, Trains and Automobiles Gallery.

Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island

Boats in Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

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Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

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   Earlier this year I made my second trip to Salt Spring Island – one of British Columbia’s Southern Gulf Islands. During my last trip I also had limited time, so I was able to check out some new areas this time around and more thoroughly explore some others. One area I spent more time in on this trip was Ganges. Ganges is an unincorporated town on Salt Spring Island and has most of the shopping and small businesses on the island. Ganges is also known for the Salt Spring Island Market in the summer. Ganges Harbour has a lot of marinas, boardwalks, and small shops along it’s waterfront. I spent a few hours there making photographs the morning of the second day on this trip. The first photograph here shows some of the small yachts and boats in one marina, with Moby’s Pub and a few waterfront homes in the background.

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Boarding a Seaplane at Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

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   In addition to boats and marinas Ganges Harbour has a small Seaplane Aerodrome used by Harbour Air and Seair Seaplanes. I don’t know where this Harbour Air Single Otter flight was departing to, but it likely was heading to Vancouver or YVR (the Vancouver area’s main airport).

purple sea star Pisaster ochraceus in ganges harbour

Purple Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus) in Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

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   This Purple Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus) and the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) were both in the intertidal zone below the boardwalk. I do enjoy photographing Herons as they tend to move slowly when hunting and make goods subjects. I didn’t have to worry about the Sea Star moving around either! I watched the heron for about 20 minutes, and recorded some video of it hunting as well. Apparently if being filmed, Herons know to grab their snack and immediately run out of the frame to eat it. I saw this Heron catch a number of small fish, but it always walked out of the frame before swallowing them, unfortunately. While photographing the Heron I was switching to different subjects such as various boats and the Sea Plane taxiing for takeoff before switching back to the Heron.

great blue heron hunting at ganges harbour

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Hunting at Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

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Stay tuned for a number of other blog posts with photographs from Salt Spring but if you can’t wait – you can see all my photographs from the island in my Salt Spring Island Gallery.