Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park in Chilliwack BC

Bridal Veil Falls at Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

bridal veil falls provincial park

View of Bridal Veil Falls (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I went back to Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park (in the Popkum area of Chilliwack, BC) for the first time in many years. I had last visited the falls in 2011 and it was time to go back and see how things had changed and make a few new photographs. Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park is one of those spots I avoid all summer as it is often very busy with tourists as many tour buses stop there. I prefer to walk/hike/photograph without crowds so my last trip there in mid September was good timing as there were only two cars there when I arrived. I always laugh a bit at the sign on the way up there that suggests the “hike” to the top takes about 15 minutes when 5 minutes is more accurate. I guess it depends on your fitness level, but I don’t exactly run up that hill. I was also wondering if there would be enough water in the falls to get a good photograph as we’d had many months of almost no precipitation this summer. It turned out the water level was just about perfect.

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Small Waterfall on Bridal Creek (Purchase)

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   There are several small waterfalls on Bridal Creek just downstream from Bridal Veil Falls – and this one (second photo, above) was my favourite with lots of foliage around it to make it interesting. The breeze was quite strong at this point and you can see the trees and shrubs in the forest were blowing around while I made this photo.

bridal veil falls and small waterfalls downstream

Small Waterfalls and Bridal Veil Falls (Purchase)

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   Just downstream from the main falls there is a rocky area with lots of fallen trees. I wanted to get a photo from this spot as the creek flows through this area in a random sort of way with small falls forming over tree trunks, rocks, and other temporary topography. Downstream from this point Bridal Creek does form back into a more organized creek before heading down towards the parking lot.

You can view more of my photographs of the falls and Bridal Creek in my Bridal Falls Provincial Park Gallery.

Adult Barred Owl (Strix varia)

A Barred Owl (Strix varia) looks down from its perch in a backyard forest in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

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Barred Owl (Strix varia) (Purchase)

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   I have described myself before here as a “wildlife opportunist” in that I seldom seek out animals to photograph, but happily do so when they are nearby – as was the case with this Barred Owl a few days ago. I came home from some grocery shopping and decided to check out why the Northwestern Crows (Corvus caurinus) and Steller’s Jays (Perisoreus canadensis) were going a bit nuts in the forest next to my house, and found they were harassing a Barred Owl. I immediately went inside and grabbed my camera. As with any wildlife encounter, my camera had the widest angle lens on it at the time, so I had to switch to my 70-200, replace the battery, and put in a new memory card. Luckily the Barred Owl was still in the trees when I returned. The crows and jays seemed more worried about my presence than they were motivated to harass the owl, so they moved on pretty quickly. I made a few photographs of the owl but as usual with the owls I see, there were plenty of branches and leaves in the way. I did what I could, but then another bird species actually helped me out – an Annas Hummingbird (Calypte anna).

barred owl strix varia fraser valley

Adult Barred Owl (Strix varia) (Purchase)

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   Hummingbirds can be quite aggressive and territorial, and this one was living up to that reputation. A group of hummingbirds is called a “troubling” which makes sense in this context. Another name – a “charm” of hummingbirds doesn’t seem quite as relevant. This summer I saw a Bald Eagle fly over the house – without the usual assortment of crows etc harassing it. What was after the eagle was a small swarm of Hummingbirds orbiting it like angry wasps. The Hummingbird in this case would strafe the owl, hover, move off, and then repeat. Occasionally it would perch nearby before continuing the harassment campaign. What worked out in my favor was that the Hummingbird actually ran into the back of the owls head at one point, and so the owl moved to a different location about 20 feet away. Also lucky for me was that this actually put the Barred Owl in a better position for me to photograph it without (as many) distracting branches and leaves in the frame.

   When I photograph wildlife I try to make sure I am not disturbing their normal behaviour as much as possible. This owl seemed much more interested in what was happening on the ground below it with the occasional glance at me or to track the latest strafe from the Hummingbird. This was maybe an hour before sunset so perhaps it was starting to think about hunting. I’ve found a few owl pellets on the ground near here this fall, and found a number last winter, so there is a chance I’ll see this individual again.

barred owl strix varia fraser valley

Barred Owl (Strix varia) in the Fraser Valley (Purchase)

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For more photographs of owls and other birds visit my Bird Gallery.

A Summer Evening at Steelhead Falls

Salmonberries and Ferns surround Steelhead Falls at the Hayward Lake Recreational Area in Mission, British Columbia, Canada

steelhead falls in missions hayward lake recreation area

Steelhead Falls on a Summer Evening (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I returned to Steelhead Falls in Mission’s Hayward Lake Recreational Area to make some photographs. The first time I photographed Steelhead Falls was an overcast day in late spring – quite different conditions than I found on this sunny day in mid August. To get to the falls you must first find the parking lot at the top of the hill (just to the east of the Stave Lake Dam). From there the falls can be found after a short hike along the Reservoir Trail heading south. There is a short trail down to the viewing platform and the falls after you cross the bridge over Steelhead Creek – which is the second creek you’ll cross.

   This first photograph here is the main view of the falls you see from the viewing platform. You can see some direct sunlight in the upper right corner. I usually photograph waterfalls on an overcast day as direct sunlight can be pretty difficult to deal with. An alternative to this is waiting until the sun starts to set and the direct sunlight is no longer falling on the falls. The effectiveness of this will depend on the location. This worked out quite well at Steelhead Falls though I had to wait until those spots of sunlight made their way up the hill and were no longer shining on the water.

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Upper Half of Steelhead Falls (Purchase)

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   You can see quite a difference between my photographs of Steelhead Falls a few years ago and these ones even though some of the locations and compositions are similar. The overcast days tend to lead to more saturated colors while the conditions I had a few weeks ago cast a warmer glow over everything – and I quite like that effect (best seen in the last three photographs here). You may also see a bit of a difference in the amount of foliage around some of the spots I photographed. It seems in the few years since I was last there Steelhead Falls has become a bit of an Instagram place to be seen and has attracted a lot of people who could learn a bit about “leave no trace”. “The shot” people are after seems to be from the bottom of the falls, so there is a “trail” down there now and a lot of the foliage (mostly Salmonberry and various fern species) are trampled or have died. When I was there clearly someone had used a machete or something similar to hack a trail along the edge of the creek towards an upstream area. The area isn’t totally defoliated like I’ve seen at some sites, but if the popularity here remains, I’m sure that will be the eventual outcome.

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Uppermost Falls at Steelhead Falls on Steelhead Creek (Purchase)

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   This last photograph shows the very top of Steelhead Falls that you can’t see from the angle of the viewing platform. There are a lot of different tiers to this series of falls and together they make a good photography subject as there is no shortage of composition possibilities. Trampling foliage off the trail to get the Instagram shot from the bottom of the falls just isn’t necessary.

steelhead falls in missions hayward lake recreation area

Upper Half of Steelhead Falls (Purchase)

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For more photographs of this location visit my Waterfall Gallery.

Canadian Forces Snowbirds Over White Rock

Canadian Forces Snowbirds in a Big Arrow formation above White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.

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The Snowbirds in the Big Arrow Formation (Purchase)

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   Earlier this month I had the opportunity to photograph the Canadian Forces Snowbirds flying over White Rock, British Columbia. The 431 Air Demonstration Squadron have been performing in airshows with the Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet under the name Snowbirds since 1971. They fly around 60 air shows in North America per year. I’ve seen them before at the Abbotsford Air Show but as I haven’t attended that event in over 20 years I have not seen their performance in a long time. When I learned that they were performing in White Rock I decided to photograph them for the first time since probably the late 1980’s. This was going to be a lot different than shooting them on film when I was around 14!

Purchase)

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   Armed with my new camera I picked out a good spot along the promenade in White Rock to watch the show. I chose a location that was slightly west of the pier, as I figured that would be the focal point. As the Snowbirds were going to perform around 6pm I decided I’d rather spend time looking south and east away from the sun than looking (and photographing) into it. This proved to work quite well, as I only had to stop tracking the jets through my camera to avoid the sun a few times.

Purchase)

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   Normally I photograph relatively still objects – mountains, trees, waterfalls etc. They don’t move around, and so the focus tracking capabilities of my various camera bodies have rarely mattered. Photographing the Snowbirds is quite a different thing than I usually work with, so I was curious how the auto focus on my new camera would work out. At the end of the evening I had roughly 300 photos of the performance and none of them were out of focus. Normally I’m used to having to delete some photographs with subjects like this as they are blurry but this was not the case this time. Picking the images I wanted to process took a bit longer as I didn’t have unfocused shots to throw out, but I’m not complaining at all!

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The Snowbirds starting a loop in the Big Diamond Formation (Purchase)

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   The website for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds shows the various formations they use for their performances. It took me a while but I think I’ve correctly named all the formations and looping/burst maneuvers I photographed. If I had this to do again I’d probably record audio of the broadcast that accompanied the performance to more easily determine all the formation names after the fact.

Purchase)

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For the 23 additional photographs I made of the Snowbirds visit my Transportation Gallery.

Young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit – S. floridanus

A young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) eating the dandelion leaves in a backyard garden in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

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Baby Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Purchase)

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   On occasion I do not have to venture too far for some wildlife photography. Earlier this year I photographed a young Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit munching on dandelion leaves about 20 feet from the house. I’d noticed this small rabbit emerging from the lavender bushes a few times, but I was always across the yard and wasn’t in any position to go get a camera and come back. So on this occasion I saw him active there, and decided to actually treat this like I would other wildlife. I got my camera gear together, walked outside and, sat down, and waited. One of the ways to ensure that you aren’t disturbing wildlife is to have them come to you, or stay put and see how they react. Not only do you avoid freaking them out or disturbing their routine, you get more natural photos at the same time – and often they’ll come closer if they don’t feel threatened. The most agitated this one got were a few apparently dirty looks in my direction. This method is not something to try with potentially dangerous animals though such as bears, moose, cougars, or killer rabbits.

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Young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Purchase)

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   After about 5-10 minutes the young rabbit emerged and after looking me over for a while, started eating dandelion leaves in the lawn. I was surprised how many leaves this rabbit ate – I photographed it for about 15 minutes and it never stopped vacuuming up dandelion leaves the entire time. Young rabbits leave the nest when they are rather small, and I’ve seen ones smaller than this navigating their way through the yard in search of new lands to conquer. I guess once they are a certain size all there is left to do is find a nice quiet spot, stay away from predators, and eat as many leaves as you can in order to grow larger. This cottontail was only about 15cm (6 inches) long though the adults around here tend to be around 44cm (17 inches) long. I’ve never had them eat anything I am growing in the garden (that I know of), but there are also plenty other plants around to much on in the all you can eat dandelion buffet.

   I shot a number of photographs together in a sequence which nicely formed a very short timelapse of the consumption of a dandelion leaf which you can view below (on Vimeo).

baby rabbit eating dandelions video

For more wildlife photographs visit my Animals and Wildlife Gallery in the Image Library.

Kayaking at Jade Bay at Cultus Lake Provincial Park

   Two kayakers at Jade Bay on Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Photographed from the Jade Bay Boat Launch at Cultus Lake Provincial Park.

kayaking at jade bay on cultus lake chilliwack bc

Kayaking at Cultus Lake in Cultus Lake Provincial Park (Purchase)

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   Jade Bay is one of a number of boat launches on Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, British Columbia’s Cultus Lake Provincial Park. I’ve often stopped here in the fall as it is one of the areas you can get a good view of the lake from the east side. There is no visitor parking here, however, as the parking lot is strictly for vehicles with boat trailers. Nevertheless I made a brief stop in the spring to take a look at the lake as I was passing through Chilliwack, and made this photograph of Jade Bay and two people in kayaks paddling nearby. The mist around the mountains (which I believe are Teapot Hill, Black Mountain and Tsar Mountain) in the background looked like they might yield some interesting photos, though I was hoping they wouldn’t intrude on my plans to photograph other mountains later in the day.

   I am sure at this time of year the parking lot is chock full of boat trailers, but on this afternoon there were none – literally zero cars/trucks/trailers in the lot. So I parked (at the opposite end) to make a quick walk down to the water. When I was making this photograph someone (not a park employee) pulled into the lot and drove over to where I was in order to chastise me for not having a boat trailer. I found this a bit amusing considering how empty the place was, though I presume that this is a big problem when the parking lot is packed. The spot feels like a perfect day use area, and I’m sure people try to use it as such during the summer when the park can be rather full. Pointing this out when the area is deserted and there are no other vehicles or boats in the area seems a bit strange, even if there are problems in the summer. If I had this encounter to do over again I might point out that the person scolding me didn’t have a boat trailer either, but my usual idea at the time is to get uncomfortable conversations over as quickly as possible. This one was over in 30 seconds. Photographers who come over and want to talk about gear honestly tend to make me more uncomfortable than the self deputized boat trailer sheriff did.

For more photographs of BC’s Provincial Parks visit my British Columbia Provincial Parks Collection of galleries.

St. Paul’s Church and Cemetery at Fulford Harbour

   The historic St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

st pauls church and cemetery at fulford harbour salt spring island

St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour (Purchase)

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   The historic St. Paul’s Church at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island is a building I’d seen photographs of even before visiting Salt Spring Island. I do a fair amount of research online before I visit a location so I have a good idea of some specific places to visit while exploring in between. The trouble with this particular building is I wasn’t able to find out where it was, only that it was near Fulford Harbour which is a bit vague. Thankfully St. Paul’s Church is right next to the main road out of Fulford Harbour heading towards Ganges, and it was pretty easy to spot once I got close.

   Saint Paul’s Church is Salt Spring Island’s oldest church and was built between 1880 and 1885. Founded in 1878 by Father Doncklele who was the first Roman Catholic missionary on the Gulf Islands. The windows, front door, and bell were acquired from the “Butter Church” in Cowichan Bay and brought by canoe to Burgoyne Bay. The colored stonework on St. Paul’s Church was added in 1973. To an outsider like me this stonework feels appropriate for Salt Spring but I can also see the point many make that this kind of expression is not appropriate for historic buildings such as this one.

   The cross in the foreground is part of the church cemetery and marks the resting place of Alan Blackburn (1865-1925). There is not a lot of information about Blackburn online but Blackburn Lake is named for him in the area he purchased his farm.

For more photographs of the Fulford Harbour area visit my Salt Spring Island gallery.

View from Mt. Erie Park in Anacortes

View from Mt. Erie (on Fidalgo Island, Washington State, USA) of the Straight of Juan de Fuca, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (Ault field), and the Olympic Mountains.

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View from Mt. Erie on Fidalgo Island (Anacortes) (Purchase)

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   Last fall I drove down to Washington State to visit Blaine, Anacortes and a few other spots along the way. My last stop was Mt. Erie Park in Anacortes, and I am glad that I wound up there at the end of the day. I wrote a bit more about that trip in a previous blog post which explains why I stopped at Mt. Erie Park and photographed the moonrise and the North Cascade Range as well as some nice sunset light on Mount Rainier. While I made them on the same evening, the photos here show a different view – looking south towards Whidbey Island.

   The photograph above shows the view from Mt. Erie looking south towards Whidbey Island. The cluster of buildings in the lower left corner is Ault Field which is part of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The body of water is the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the Olympic Mountains beyond.

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Rodger Bluff and Lake Campbell on Fidalgo Island (Anacortes) (Purchase)

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   Looking down from Mt. Erie you see a lot of farmland, islands, lakes and ocean. The most prominent and closest lake is Lake Campbell and I liked the view of the lily pads and other foliage growing at the west end of the lake next to Rodger Bluff. Pass lake is the lake you can see a bit further in the background. The panorama below shows a wide view looking to the south from Mt. Erie. In that photo you can see many of the locations I’ve mentioned above as well as Similk Bay and Mount Rainier (center).

panorama of whidbey island and olympic mountains from mt. erie in anacortes

View of Whidbey Island and the Olympic Mountains (Purchase)

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For more photography from the Washington State area visit the 7 galleries in my Washington State Collection.