Last week I visited Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver to photograph a potential sunset from Juniper Point. My plan for the day had been to hike and photograph in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park as the forecast was for a cloudy (but dry) day that would be perfect for exploring forest and river photo opportunities. As it turned out the day was mostly sunny with just a few clouds. After 10km of hiking and only a few photo I decided to switch gears and spend the evening at Lighthouse Park to explore some of the trails I hadn’t previously walked. Juniper Point seemed like a great place to start.
Sunset View from Juniper Point at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver (Purchase)
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Upon arriving at Juniper Point I found the opposite issue to what I’d seen in Lynn Headwaters – too many clouds. This is great for even light on waterfalls, rivers, and plants in the forest but not often conducive to ocean/sunset photography. I’ve learned to be happy with just getting the layout of an area on first visits, so not coming home with some good photos was going to be just fine. There were a lot of rock climbers at Juniper Point so I sat down and watched them for a while, and photographed the occasional boat passing on the water. It was nice to be sitting outside in the evening at Lighthouse Park and still be able to feel my fingers! As sunset was still well over an hour away, I had almost decided to wander a few more trails when I started talking to a local photographer Jason Darr instead. I am glad I did for a number of reasons but this also kept me at Juniper Point until the light became very worthwhile.
As you can see from the first photograph above, the relatively grey skies gave way to a pretty decent sunset in one area of the sky over one of the Grebe Islets, Bowen Island and the mountain peaks in the Sunshine Coast’s Tetrahedron Range. The main photography “star” of this spot is this one tree that hangs over the cliffs. While the area is called Juniper Point, this tree appears to be either a stunted Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) or perhaps a Grand Fir (Abies grandis) both of which are native to the park. The large cones on this specimen eliminate the possibility of this being one of the other tree species in the area from what I can tell. I am not always in biology mode when photographing, so as usual I came home without all the right evidence for a proper identification.
A vivid Howe Sound sunset from Juniper Point (Purchase)
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While I may still occasionally ignore the lesson to stay at a location until the light is entirely gone, the above photo illustrates the potential benefits of waiting. Even without the colourful light there were many great textures and patterns in the clouds above the sunset, but for just a few minutes they lit up too, though in a more subtle manner. I used one of Howe Sound’s Grebe Islets as a foreground element which lined up nicely with the sunset over the Tetrahedron Range, as well as those textured clouds higher in the sky. I prefer to do minimal post processing work on my images, so my 2 stop graduated neutral density filter had a lot of use in the various compositions I made with this particular scene.
One does not need vivid sunset light to make interesting photographs, though it certainly helps. When I first arrived at Lighthouse Park I found fairly harsh light showing through the clouds, with poor visibility in the distance (towards the south and Vancouver to the south east). This worked well for the photograph below of a small Hunter 280 Sailboat heading through the Salish Sea towards Vancouver. The mountains in the background are located on Vancouver Island – most likely near Ladysmith.
A small Hunter 280 Sailboat in the Salish Sea/Georgia Straight (Purchase)
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For more photographs made in West Vancouver visit my Vancouver Coast & Mountains Gallery.