Posts Tagged ‘frozen’

Frozen Fraser River and the Golden Ears

Ice on the Fraser River with the Golden Ears Mountains in the background – photographed from Brae Island Regional Park in Fort Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

frozen ice fraser river winter golden ears langley british columbia

Ice on the Fraser River with the Golden Ears Mountains in the background (Purchase)

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   Winter is usually a fleeting concept for much of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. We get the odd snowfall, a few cold spells below zero, and it doesn’t always have a lot of impact (easy for me to say, usually working at home). Sometimes we have extended cold snaps with snow that lead to interesting conditions we don’t see all the time. In late December and early January we had almost a foot of snow on the ground and temperatures were getting down to -12°C at night, which is more winter than we are used to! I headed to the Fraser River in early January to see if I could get some good photographs of the ice on the river and the snow on the mountains – not conditions I get to see all that often.

   Brae Island Regional Park is a location I have photographed before for its good views of the Fraser and the mountains to the north. The best view is often from Tavistock Point though there are other northern facing spots as well. Unfortunately, most of those had fallen trees and brush from the winter storms blocking them. In the few spots I could get down to the water without going off the trail the river ice had ridden up the bank making venturing further a bit too risky not knowing if there was sand or water below. The above photograph was made at Tavistock Point after sunset. As this was facing north, there was only a slight “Belt of Venus” effect in the sky which isn’t really noticeable here. The approximately 2.5 km of trails to get to this point normally takes me about 25 minutes to walk, but as there was snow this trip took me about 50 minutes. Many people had walked the trails in the previous days since the last snowfall, and we had one above zero day in between, so the trail was sheer ice or very slippery. The frozen river conditions made this well worthwhile but if you have similar conditions and aren’t up to falling on your butt a number of times on the way I’d skip it for warmer days!

frozen ice fraser river winter golden ears langley british columbia

Golden Ears Reflections (Purchase)

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   The photograph above was made slightly earlier in the evening than the panorama. This was photographed near one of the spots I mentioned with fallen trees, but I was able to get near the water enough to make this photo, though I had to edit out a small tree branch I just couldn’t get out of the way. The frozen Fraser River was enough of a subject to keep me busy, though I do wish that I had been able to find more spots with mountain reflections in the water. The Golden Ears Mountains (Mount Blandshard) themselves are a great subject, and consist of McPhaden Peak, Edge Peak and Blandshard Peak. The mountain that is reflected in the Fraser on the right hand side (in the first photograph) is Mount Robbie Reid.

For more of my Panoramas please visit my Panoramas Gallery.

Locked Behind A Gate At Silver Lake

   In early December 2013 British Columbia had a cold snap. This isn’t unusual in winter, but came a bit earlier and slightly more severe than usual. On the day I headed to Silver Lake Provincial Park with Steve Cole the temperatures in the area were around -12°C (10°F) ignoring the windchill. I hadn’t really considered the possibility of seeing the lake frozen over, but Silver Lake was covered in ice. Unlike a few nights of winter photography I enjoyed a few years ago at Chilliwack Lake – I was properly dressed this time. One tends to learn a lesson after 4 hours in such weather wearing jeans and tennis shoes. Well, hopefully.

ice covered silver lake provincial park

Winter at Silver Lake in Silver Lake Provincial Park

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   At some point during our photography along the edge of Silver Lake some “hunters” stopped on the opposite side and starting shooting into the lake. I presume this was an exercise in shooting the ice trying to break it or determine its thickness. Or perhaps some people just like shooting guns. I didn’t think to much of this until I started throwing rocks onto the ice (after we were finished photographing) to see how far they would go. I guess I revert to being 5 when around a frozen lake, as it doesn’t happen often. Rocks on frozen lakes can travel quite far apparently, which made me think about whether a bullet could skip/slide across a lake. We decided to walk aback through the woods rather than along the lake shore for this reason. I had no desire to catch a bullet from idiots trying to kill some frozen water.

   When we got back to Steve’s truck I was momentarily alarmed as I didn’t spot it right away – and there was a truck driving away down the road. Turns out his truck was there, but I didn’t like the momentary thought that we could be stuck this far from anywhere without a vehicle. There was one car and another truck parked outside the main park gate when we left.

ice covered plants on the shore of silver lake provincial park british columbia

Frozen shoreline plants at Silver Lake Provincial Park

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   Driving down the short road to the junction with Silver Skagit Road took just a few minutes. It was not a nice feeling to discover that the gate at the Silver Skagit Road and park road junction was LOCKED! We got out, and sure enough – there was a nice padlock sticking up freshly applied to the chain and metal post. This was not a calming moment. The options seemed to be freezing in the truck all night or walking the roughly 9km (5.5 miles) for the one way trip back to Hope, BC. Neither sounded like any fun in dropping temperatures (it made it down to -15°C/5°F that night). I was sufficiently pissed off that I contemplated acts of vandalism, but we drove back to the two other vehicles to see if those people had any appropriate tools to extricate us from the situation. The other truck and car were already on their way out of the park. The lady we talked to expressed some panic over the situation, had no tools, but also indicated she had just talked to someone about gates. She pointed out that she and the other man had talked to the people in the truck we saw driving away. They had discussed the gate, but nobody had indicated to her that they were about to lock it, or that it would be locked in the future. These two were locals from Hope, BC and regularly visited the park on weekends – and had never seen the gate locked before. In my own trips to the park in the fall after closing I had never seen that gate locked either. There are also no signs indicating that gate is ever locked, could be locked, or is locked during certain times or seasons.

frozen eureka falls and silverhope creek

Silverhope Creek flows past a frozen Eureka Falls

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   At this point Steve and I indicated to the man and woman that we would go back to a makeshift campsite we had seen along Sowerby Creek where I had seen various rocks and the remains of a post with a cement base. I wouldn’t dream of vandalizing property in most other circumstances. However, when someone locks 3 vehicles in an area that far from town, with temperatures that cold – ON PURPOSE I will certainly consider it. When we drove back towards the gate we passed the woman who was still there but the gate was OPEN! She didn’t know what had happened, but my presumption was the guy had busted through the gate somehow – probably using his old truck. All of this certainly has made me think of what tools and supplies I have in my own car when I go on such excursions!

frozen silver lake provincial park and mount grant

Ice patterns along the shore of a frozen Silver Lake

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   In the following days I was sufficiently ticked off by this incident that I contacted BC Parks asking who was in charge of this gate. The BC Parks website for Silver Lake Provincial Park indicates the following:

The Silver Lake Provincial Park campground is now closed for the season and will reopen May 2014. Those wishing to enjoy the lake may still do so by walking the 1 km in from the main gate.

As the gate that was locked is beyond 1km and is closer to 2km from the lake, I had assumed that the main, locked, park gate was the gate in question above, and I still believe that. BC Parks contacted me, expressed concern about this incident but also told me they are not in charge of the gate that was locked. The BC Parks area supervisor indicated to me that the gate was under the control of a logging company (Tamihi) and that their supervisor had told him he would talk to me about the incident. A few weeks of calling and a few voicemails later I’ve gathered the impression that this willingness to discuss the issue has waned, as I was never able to have that conversation. It is possible the truck driving away that had discussed the gate with our fellow prisoners did not contain those who locked it, but it does seem pretty coincidental. Perhaps the brave ice hunters we heard shooting across the lake locked it, but that seems unlikely.

Frozen Eureka Falls

A frozen Eureka Falls “flows” into Silverhope Creek near Hope, British Columbia, Canada

frozen eureka falls and silverhope creek near hope british columbia canada

Eureka Falls frozen in a recent cold snap (Purchase)

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   I visit Eureka Falls several times a year on my way to Silver Lake Provincial Park near Hope, British Columbia. This was the first time I had been there in winter, however, and the place looked much different than I am used to. Normally I visit Eureka Falls in early spring when the water levels are higher and of course the foliage is green. The ice on the waterfall was quite thick, but you could still see water flowing underneath the ice. The lower water levels on Silverhope creek at this time of year also allowed me to try some new angles and get closer to the water than I normally am able. Now that I have some more appropriate cold weather clothing I have many locations I want to photograph this winter now that hypothermia is less of an issue! Now all we need is to get some actual snow…

Chilliwack River Winter Panorama

winter panorama of the chilliwack river near chilliwack lake provincial park
The Chilliwack River
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3 exposures stitched, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM @ 17mm

Now that I have written a post about getting away from solely using wide angle lenses for landscapes and to look for the details I thought I would post a wide angle panorama!

This is the Chilliwack River near Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park taken at the same time as some of my other Chilliwack River shots.

One thing I keep noticing with this shot is that the majority of longer exposure river shots I see are looking upstream while this is looking across/downstream. Does this make it look unnatural or different in a negative way?

Focus on the Details

the chilliwack river in winter
The Chilliwack River in Winter

   When I first started getting serious with a “real” film camera I had a 28-90mm kit lens. Eventually I wished to move on from just taking random snapshots and actually gain more skills and take better photos. I read a bit on the internet about lenses and bought a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. The “nifty fifty”. It was at this point that I realized the difference lens quality can make. I couldn’t believe how sharp and clear the shots with the 50mm were.

   A few years after buying the 50mm I upgraded to a DSLR – A Canon 30D. Wow not only could I take 100’s of shots at one time, I was not paying for film and developing so I could actually afford to experiment and try new things. The 28-90mm kit lens was a bit better on the DSLR (cropped out some of the edge anomalies) but still had nothing on the 50mm. On the APS-C sensor of the 30D (1.6x) the 50mm was more like an 80mm lens. I really wanted to go wider so that I could get more into a shot. I saved up and bought a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5. Good quality and really wide compared to the 50mm. I shot with the 10-22mm and the 50mm (the kit lens now relegated to a drawer for bad behaviour) for quite a while. I wanted to determine what I was missing the most before I went in that direction with a new lens.

nodoubt peak - part of Mount Redoubt - alpenglow
Alpenglow on Nodoubt Peak in North Cascades National Park

   A year or so after I bought the 10-22mm I filled in the gap between my lenses with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. At that point I had opted for crop sensors over full frame (largely due to price of both long lenses and the FF cameras) so the 17-40mm was not on my list. From there I went to a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM to get a bit more reach for wildlife. What I had not really anticipated is that I would be using this lens so often for landscapes.

the chilliwack river in winter
Abstract Chilliwack River

   Often as a beginning photographer I read about wide angle lenses as the be all and end all of landscape photography. Walking in to a camera shop and being asked what I like to shoot – the answer of landscapes would push wide angle lenses in my direction. I was rather surprised to learn what I had been missing in a longer telephoto lens for landscapes. In some scenes I have found it difficult to use the wider focal lengths in that they actually get too much into the frame. Ironic considering this is why I earlier had thought I needed a wide lens. The details of the scene are there, but are drowned out by distracting elements that take the viewer’s eye away from what is important. So my initial impression that I would always want to be at a wide angle all the time has actually changed to looking at the details and what is more essential.

eureka falls in spring
Eureka Falls

   I never would have predicted this sort of outcome when I started. I see many posts and articles devoted to gear and purchasing wide lenses for landscapes. I wonder how many of the beginners reading these thing will eventually start to favour longer lenses for their landscape photography? Would they be better off getting a telephoto lens before a really wide angle one? Maybe this is just a normal evolution for a photographer. Regardless, I am happy I have moved away from all wide angle all the time – the variety of shots possible at longer focal lengths is liberating.