Mount Cheam from Seabird Island

view of mount cheam from seabird island in the spring

Mount Cheam (Purchase)

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   Way back in 2007 I purchased my first DSLR – a Canon 30D. I only had the 50mm Canon lens with it (f/1.4) and was forcing myself to use that lens to its full potential before I bought something else. This meant a lot of “zooming with my feet” and compositions that were slightly constrained. Though this was largely due to budget concerns, I do think this helped me choose my next lenses wisely. I always waited at least 6 months between lenses to make sure I knew what I “needed” next. I have not regretted any of my lens choices so far.

   I made this photograph in 2007 with the 30D and it remains one of my better photos of Mount Cheam. This location is on Seabird Island just outside of Aggasiz, British Columbia, Canada. I have returned to this location many times, but still cannot seem to find a time where that slough is full of water. A big muddy expanse just isn’t as photogenic!

Mount Matier Black and White

And now for something completely different…

mount matier in joffre lakes provincial park near pemberton british columbia
Mount Matier
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   I have never posted a B&W photo before as this is the first one I’ve ever created. I decided to do a little something different with my processing of this image of Mount Matier. Mt. Matier is just inside the border of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park East of Pemberton, British Columbia. I was on an epic 13 hour daytrip drive from Langley to Pemberton, through to Lilooet (complete with a wrong turn that also took me to Birkenhead Lake), then down through the Fraser Canyon to Hope, then back to Langley. There was no stopping to wait for good light, so this image suffered greatly in harsh sunlight – at least for the colour version. I quite like how it turned out with this B&W treatment though. I have been looking at a lot of the great work by Olivier Du Tré and this inspired me to try processing this way. I used his guide to some of the techniques he uses to create his photographs to process this image. This is the first BW I have ever put online – constructive feedback is welcome!

Table Mountain from Bagley Lakes Trail

Table Mountain from the Bagley Lakes Trail at the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State, USA.

table mountain at bagley lakes mount baker wilderness

Table Mountain at Bagley Lakes (Purchase)

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    This is a photo I made in late September of Table Mountain in the Mount Baker Wilderness. This was along the Bagley Lakes Trail – and was one of the first short hikes I’d done in the area other than walking along the ridge near Artist Point. Being late September I was expecting that there would be few (if any) wildflowers and the Fall colours would be well on their way to starting in the various Vaccinium bushes etc. Everything was still green and the wildflowers were either just past, or still going strong (as was the case for the Lupines). I went hiking there 2 weeks later – and there STILL were hardly any leaves turning. I am curious to see what this year brings for Summer and Fall weather.

Nooksack River and Mount Shuksan

Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack River in the North Cascades, Washington State, USA

mount shuksan and nooksack river washington

Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack River (Purchase)

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   One of the downsides of having a lot of backlog in my photo editing is that I tend to forget what I have. I purposefully wait a while in order to process my images, just so that I am somewhat subjective in terms of images that deserve scrutiny and those that don’t. I often have initial expectations that were not met when I review the images too soon, and sometimes that clouds what is really there. At least for me. I do occasionally go back over images that did not leap out at me during a first pass – sometimes I find something I really like. Sometimes this is due to my perception of the image changing and sometimes I have learned some new post processing skills that open the photo to new potential.

   This photo is another example of this phenomenon. I initially passed over it but this weekend viewed it again, and knew how I wanted to process it. I have many photos of Mount Shuksan, but this one is a bit different. This was not taken from Picture Lake, Artist Point or any of my usual places. This is along the North Fork of the Nooksack River (which later flows over Nooksack Falls) at the bottom of the hill near the Shuksan Campground.

Cheam Lake Fall Colours

photo of mount archibald and cheam lake fall colours
Cheam Lake Fall Colours
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   Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park is one spot in the Fraser Valley where I always go looking for fall colour. An old limestone mine, the park was created in 1990 and now is a great place to photograph not only fall colours, but wildlife – especially birds. Always a bit out of my telephoto range though.

   I visited Cheam Lake twice this fall. Someday I need to explore it further – it is close to so many other locations I like to shoot at that I tend to not have enough time. The first time I was there this year I did not find a lot of color but I did manage to make this photo of a Rabbit. I realize this may not be the most exciting or exotic species, but I’ve always like rabbits.

photo of mount archibald and cheam lake fall colours
Eastern Cottontail
(Sylvilagus floridanus)
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   This Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus – an introduced species here in British Columbia) allowed me to briefly make some photographs of it. A few more mouthfuls of grass and it took off into the deeper underbrush near the lake. Considering the amount of these I have in my backyard, I am surprised my first photo of one was taken over an hour away from home.

Pitt River Sunset Reflection

Widgeon Peak is reflected in a pond at the Pitt Marsh Wildlife Management Area on the shore of the Pitt River in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia.

sunset at the pitt river/addington marsh

Pitt River Sunset Reflections

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   A few weeks ago I shared another photograph from this location – the Pitt Addington Marsh near the Pitt River. I made this photograph and a few others of the great reflection in the pond in front of me. When the great light showed up in the sky later on, I tried to get back to this spot to make some more photographs of the reflection with the better light but it was not to be. I am hoping to get back to this location when it snows. Fresh snow on the mountains and the ground with a reflection would be pretty cool I think.

2017 edit: We had a ton of snow this last winter (by our standards) but this meant that there was too much for me to drive to this location. I’m still waiting for an opportunity for the snow photo in this location!

Mosquitopalooza at the Pitt River

sunset at the pitt river/addington marsh
Pitt River Sunset
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   Even though it is nearing the end of July, Summer has not yet reached Southwestern British Columbia. Normally we have had a warmer July than this, and we are just starting at least about 3 weeks with no rain and warm temperatures. Not this year. As I generally do not like hot weather anyway, I have not been too disappointed with this. No sunburns, no “heat domes”, no drought. The other side of this coin is we had a much cooler, wetter spring/early summer than usual. While that is nice weather for being outside a lot of the time, it can also mean mosquitoes.

   I have never purchased bug spray. I used it once, but it gave me a rash so I’ve just put it out of my mind for the last few years. With the exception of one evening up at Artist Point near Mount Baker, I have had very few run ins with mosquitoes. At worst an evening in the bush or near a lake meant a bite or two at the very worst. Returning last week to the Pitt-Addington Marsh I was in for a very different experience. Luckily, the light ultimately did turn some of the clouds a nice pink color, so I got the sort of shot I was looking for. What I was not looking for were the 45 mosquito bites I suffered while making this and other photographs of the area. The back of my neck was like bubble wrap the next morning, but the majority of the bites were actually through my shirt on my back. I will be buying bug spray soon!

   I have learned from previous experience that “stay until all the light is gone” is wise advice. I made this photograph after I had completely packed up my equipment having had decent but not awesome colour in the sky. I stayed in the location though, and the image above shows what ultimately showed up in the sky. I quickly setup my tripod again, got out the GND filters, and tried to take advantage of this light. From start to finish I had 4.5 minutes before it was completely gone, for good this time.

I made this image with my Canon 7D, EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens, B+W Polarizing filter, and my Sing-Ray 2-stop graduated neutral density filter.

Why I Save "Borderline" Images

late evening light on firs and cedars at ricksecker point
Late Evening Light at Mount Rainier National Park
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Save your photos! Well, some of them.

  Sometimes I read how others delete all the shots they aren’t immediately happy with, not just those that were out of focus etc. As I have written before I do go through and quickly delete photos that are obviously not up to par (focus accidents, test shots etc) – but then I tend to sit back and digest them for a while. Immediately after I shoot the impressions I have of the results may not be very objective. I wait for a while to process most images so I can more clearly see what is going on, and to distance myself from my initial expectations. Even after some distance and thought I do not always get things “right” in my choices, and sometimes images fall through the cracks.

  The image here is one such example. This is a late evening shot I made in Mount Rainier National Park in October, 2010. Ricksecker Point is a good vantage point for Rainier itself, but unless you get some really special light things will look just like all the other “iconic” shots from the same spot. I had gone there hoping to get some good sunset shots near the Tatoosh Range but this just wasn’t going to happen with that day’s conditions so I started looking for alternative compositions. I noticed the glow of the late evening light on these fir and cedar trees and made a few photographs of what I saw. When I first looked at these at home though, they did not really seem to stand out.

  A few weeks ago I was going through some of my folders of photographs from 2010. I like to review things occasionally and look over shots I have passed by in favour of images that, at the time at least, appear stronger. I noticed this shot and was somewhat surprised I had never really noticed it before. It had not been a throwaway but was not selected for bigger things at the time either.

I am curious what other photographers do with the shots they initially think are “borderline”? Do you purge everything but the strongest images right away or do you sit on a lot of shots so you can evaluate them later?