The peaks of the Mount Cheam Range above Fraser Valley farmland – from Hillkeep Regional Park in Chilliwack, BC.
Mount Cheam Range Peaks (Cheam, Lady Peak, Knight Peak, Welch Peak) and Chilliwack Farmland from Hillkeep Regional Park (Purchase)
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Hillkeep Regional Park in Chilliwack
A few years ago I photographed the view from Hillkeep Regional Park (link) in Chilliwack, British Columbia. The day was cloudy and rainy, and I could barely make out the Chilliwack Airport below. It was a nice walk with a lot of lush growth in many areas but some of the trails were a bit overgrown and underused. Earlier this year after a question from a client I wanted to get some newer photographs of Mount Cheam (Lhílheqey) from a new angle. Hillkeep Regional Park (on a nice day) seemed like the perfect place to start.
The view at Hillkeep Regional Park is quite nice, and the walk up to the viewing platform is short but does require a small amount of elevation gain to get there. During some times of the year you may want to reconsider wearing bare legs as the trail can be quite close to Stinging Nettles. The first photograph above is an image I made of Mount Cheam and the peaks behind it in the Cheam Range from the viewing platform. In the lower part of the photograph you can see a mixture of farmland and houses that make up much of this part of the Fraser Valley.
Mount Cheam’s Stó:lō name is Lhílheqey (“mother mountain”) and is a significant physical and cultural feature of the valley. The peak names from left to right are Cheam Peak, Lady Peak (Dog Face), Knight Peak, and Welch Peak. Mount Archibald is in front of the Cheam Range between Knight and Welch Peaks.
Mount MacFarlane, Crossover Peak, and Mount Slesse from Hillkeep Regional Park (Purchase)
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Another noteworthy (though less prominent) peak you can see easily from Hillkeep Park and nearby parts of the Fraser Valley is Mount Slesse. At the end of a small range of peaks, Slesse is the most prominent and memorable. The photo above shows (from left to right) Mount MacFarlane, Crossover Peak, and Mount Slesse after some fresh, late winter snows. The word “Slesse” means “fang” in the Halq’eméylem language. Mount Slesse is also known as the site of the crash of Trans-Canada Air Lines Flight 810 in 1956 which killed 62 people and remains the 6th deadliest in Canadian history.
From the Hillkeep lookout there is not just view of the surrounding mountains but also Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway), the Chilliwack Municipal Airport (YCW), and a lot of housing developments and farmland. The photograph below shows a mix of all of these elements, with the airport in the foreground. The airport was fairly busy on the day I was at Hillkeep, and as a consequence many of my panoramas and photographs from this afternoon had multiple planes in them. One managed to get into almost every frame of a 10 frame panorama, which was a feat I think only a few (feathered) birds have accomplished in the past.
Chilliwack Municipal Airport from Hillkeep Regional Park (Purchase)
Mount Cheam from Agassiz
Here is a “bonus” panorama of Mount Cheam/Lhílheqey I made later in the day from Agassiz near the Fraser River. I’d classify this as a “mountain portrait” as it doesn’t have any of the surrounding land in the photograph. While I’ve made a few of these in the past I still enjoy Cheam as a subject – it is a peak with character, especially with some fresh snow.
Fresh snow on Mount Cheam (Lhílheqey) as photographed from farmland in Agassiz, British Columbia (Purchase)
I thought I’d begin sharing more of my photos here that don’t have enough of a story to warrant a blog post all their own.
Fallen Leaves at Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park
When I stopped to photograph a roadside scene of some fall foliage along Dunlop Road in Québec’s Gatineau Park last fall I heard a small creek nearby. I walked down and made the photograph below of some fallen leaves and Fortune Creek. Still one of my favourite “small scenes” I photographed on that trip. You can see the rest of my photos from the park in the Gatineau Park Gallery.
Fallen Leaves along Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park (Purchase)
Love in the Rain
Love in the Rain is a sculpture created by Bruce Voyce and is currently located at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The sculpture is for the attachment of “love locks” which couples can attach and then dispose of the keys in a nearby receptacle. Previously the locks were becoming a problem on fences and other structures in the city. When I first set up to photograph this composition there was someone sitting along on the bench, which I liked in contrast to the two “lovers” in the foreground. Then they got up and left. I wasn’t willing to sit on the bench myself for this as being 20 feet away with my back to my equipment was a bit risky in a reasonably busy park, so I didn’t. Maybe having the bench empty is a happier photograph anyway? More of my Vancouver photographs can be found in the Vancouver gallery.
Love in the Rain Sculpture in Queen Elizabeth Park (Purchase)
Mount Blandshard – “The Golden Ears”
At this point I have a lot of photographs of the Golden Ears (Mount Blandshard) from various locations. This is one I made from the banks of the Pitt River (in the Pitt Addington/Smohk’wa Marsh) during a cool stretch of weather in February.
There are occasions in winter where I am essentially snowed in – more than a foot of snow or so on the road can make it tough for me to get my car out of the driveway. This year with balding all season tires and that much snow, I didn’t even attempt this. So what to do? I went in the backyard and instead of photographing my usual Chickadee photos from the rose bushes, I went for this grass seed head poking up through the snow. A bit more minimal than subjects I usually photograph.
A flowering Cherry or Plum tree along a dike next to the Fraser River in Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada. Mount Cheam, Mount Archibald (right), and Hopyard Hill are in the background.
Mount Cheam and a Flowering Cherry Tree (or Plum) along a Fraser River Dike (Purchase)
A few years ago I found a new spot to photograph Mount Cheam in the farmland near Agassiz, BC. In the spring of 2018 I revisited the spot during the spring, in the hopes of photographing a different look to the surroundings and maybe more snow on Mount Cheam. The first photograph shows the view along a dike road next to the Fraser River to the west of Agassiz, with a flowering cherry or plum tree next to the farmland with Mount Cheam in the background.
It is pretty rare in this area to find a single tree not surrounded by other trees or bush so I made a photograph of this Maple in the farm field. When they aren’t challenged by other tree species in their immediate vicinity they seem to grow to be quite symmetrical. This does not appear to be a Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) but could be a Douglas Maple (Acer glabrum).
A Solitary Maple Tree in a Farm Field in Agassiz (Purchase)
After the afternoon photos above I scouted for some more photography locations in the area, and made a few photographs near the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge next to the Fraser River. I returned to my original location in the hopes of some good evening light on the mountains but it didn’t materialize. This photograph was made after the sun had fully set. When I was making this last photograph a small airplane flew overhead, but very low, probably only 150′ or so. It turned above my head, flew over the farmland to the north, then came back and flew very close to Hopyard Hill before it banked sharply and again followed the Fraser River heading upstream. I’d have a photograph, but this is not the sort of situation where I was able to change lenses and settings in the 30 seconds of availability of the subject! I’m mostly just happy it didn’t run into the hill, which from my perspective certainly looked possible!
Mount Cheam and the Fraser River in Agassiz (Purchase)
Mount Cheam reflected in the waters of Maria Slough on Seabird Island, Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada
Mount Cheam and Fall Foliage Reflecting in Maria Slough at Seabird Island (Purchase)
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As you’ve probably noticed fall is my favourite season, so I’m going to post a few photos from the 2017 season before I make new ones for 2018. This is Mount Cheam that can be seen from most points in the Fraser Valley (and further west). I’ve viewed Mount Cheam from Seabird Island on many occasions but I don’t often get the right conditions for good photographs. Either the mountain is hidden behind the clouds or more frequently Maria Slough doesn’t have a lot of water in it and the reflections aren’t quite like they are above. So it was good to see great fall foliage, a clear view of the mountain, and a great reflection in Maria Slough during this stop at Seabird Island. I also have a vertical composition of this scene.
Bigleaf Maple Fall Foliage Reflecting in Maria Slough at Seabird Island (Purchase)
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I was not aware of the name of Maria Slough until recently when it was mentioned as a potential barrier to the Mount Hicks Fire spreading onto Seabird Island. The fire has since been contained, thankfully. I’ve also had my eye on this Bigleaf Maple tree (Acer macrophyllum for a few years – but was never driving by when it had good fall leaves and Maria Slough was full of water. On this day I found what I was looking for and made this panorama including the Maple tree and some of the surrounding shoreline.
Sunset at Alouette Lake on an early summer evening in Golden Ears Provincial Park.
Sunset at Alouette Lake Beach
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Early this summer I went to Golden Ears Park to photograph Lower Falls on Gold Creek. While this was my primary goal I was also hoping for some photographs of Alouette Lake during the day or perhaps with some sunset light in the clouds.
I tend to visit Golden Ears Park in the spring and fall, and avoid the warm summer days as the park is quite popular and the parking and crowds can become a problem. The day I visited was early in the summer, but was also a weekday so the crowds that show up in the summer weren’t frequenting the lake yet. As I’m writing this the park gate is temporarily closed, and has been closed many days for the last few weeks as the parking lots fill up. There is a lot of parking at Alouette Lake, and I can’t imagine what the place is like when it is that busy! So I stick to the times of year when there are 10 cars in the parking lot and the place is a bit more relaxing.
When I arrived at Alouette Lake in the evening I had to wait for a while for the colour to show up in the clouds. This was by no means a certain thing and I didn’t actually think it was going to happen. I wouldnt’ have minded though – my main reason for being here was to photograph the waterfall and I’d already accomplished that. Any sunset colour was just going to be a bonus. While there was almost nobody at the lake at that hour there were a few drunk (I presume) women wading in the swimming area for about 25 minutes that didn’t stop splashing, screaming and swearing at the top of their lungs. This is a nice, serene spot normally (in the evenings) but until they left it was anything but. Luckily the best colour in the clouds didn’t materialize until after they were gone and I had the beach to myself while I made these photographs. The color that did arrive was a bit strange, with much more purple than I’m used to in a sunset but I like the result regardless. Trying for sunset light in the clouds while looking to the north can be rather hit and miss, but I was happy with the results this particular evening.
View of the beach and swimming area at Alouette Lake
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This last photograph is the view of the beach in the late afternoon. There are a lot of mountains around Alouette Lake, and I think they make this a much more photogenic location than your typical lake in the woods. The closest peak on the left is Edge Peak, followed by Mount Nutt and Mount Gatey. Far in the distance (right) are Mount Clarke and Mount Ratney.
You can see more of my photographs from this park in my Golden Ears Park Gallery.
Sunset light on Mount Shuksan reflected in the tarn at Huntoon Point in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest, Washington State, USA.
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.
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 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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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 (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.
Sunset light in the clouds above Mount Baker – photographed from Huntoon Point, Washington State.
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.
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.