Gold Creek winds through the trees and rocks at Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada.
Gold Creek near the Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park
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Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, British Columbia has almost all I want in a photo location – everything from tall mountains and forests to creeks, lakes and waterfalls. A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon and evening hiking and photographing in Golden Ears Park, mostly along Gold Creek. The first photo above shows Gold Creek along the Lower Falls trail in a spot where I had intended to stop and take a water break, but ended up photographing as well.
Downstream from Gold Creek Bridge the bed of Gold Creek narrows into a rock lined “canyon” with fewer boulders to stir up the surface of the water. The emerald green pools of the creek are on full display in this stretch up until it empties into Alouette Lake at North Beach. The colours here are from minerals suspended in the water from its journey down from the mountains. This photograph was made along the North Beach Trail in one of the few pools I was able to find not filled with swimmers and boaters. The water levels here are what you would typically see in late August, but due to drought were at this level in late June. This did make for my best time shooting at Lower Falls, but I’ll make that its own blog post coming soon.
Another photograph I made this Fall at Silver Lake Provincial Park in the Skagit Valley near Hope, British Columbia. I was fortunate on both of my trips here last Fall to have a near perfect reflection on the lake – I only wish I’d had even more hours of light to work with all the possibilities!
A few weeks ago I made a weekend trip to Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada. One of the parks on my list to visit was Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park – and it did not disappoint. The main falls (top photo) – officially named Little Qualicum Falls is certainly much more spectacular than the Lower Falls (bottom) but both are nice.
Little Qualicum River below Lower Little Qualicum Falls (Purchase)
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I had initially thought that the best Fall colours might have already faded on Vancouver Island – at least judging from what I’d been seeing around Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The colours turned out to be perfect. There wasn’t much in the way of Vine Maple colour, but the Bigleaf Maples (Acer macrophyllum) had great colour – yellow and even some orange. It didn’t look like any of them had turned slightly then gone straight to brown which was common this year in some places.
I was also extremely fortunate with the weather. The entire weekend was forecast for rain, at times heavy. In the three Provincial Parks that I visited there was absolutely no rain. All the plastic bags and camera/lens coverings I had prepared were not necessary. While I’d intended on photographing mostly rivers and waterfalls – great subjects in the rain, I was still happy to not have to deal with the possibility of wet equipment and clothing.
Vine and Bigleaf Maples start to change into their Fall colours along the edge of Silver Lake in Silver Lake Provincial Park near Hope, British Columbia, Canada.
Fall at Silver Lake Provincial Park
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Last night I was in the Eastern Fraser Valley near Hope, British Columbia. My destination was Silver Lake Provincial Park. Years ago I stopped here after a storm had rolled through and managed to photograph a great reflection on the lake. Last night I was hoping that conditions would let me try this again, with a bit more exploration of the area. I was not disappointed, though there weren’t many clouds to make the sky a bit more interesting. The reflections were great, though the amount of fish jumping occasionally messed up the stillness of the water! The trees reflected in Silver Lake are Bigleaf Maples (Acer macrophyllum) and Vine Maples (Acer circinatum). It is a bit early for such Fall colours, but with the amount of dry weather this area has had for the last few months, it seems some of the trees are packing it in early.
When a photography plan goes awry, or the weather changes, there are almost always images that can still be made. I often can look back on such instances at photos that I never would have been able to make if my plans had come to be. Sometimes those are the most satisfying.
Years ago when I would go on a day trip I would try to plan very thoroughly. No matter how much forethought had gone into a trip I found myself throwing off the whole plan because the first or second location I’d visit had more photo opportunities than I had anticipated. I would then rush through the remaining locations and not feel that relaxed when doing so. I’ve realized how silly this was.
Now my planning tends to be towards becoming familiar with locations in the area and not always the order I plan to visit them. What locations might be good at sunset, for early morning, for the harsher midday light? I find getting this information beforehand, if possible, means that I can adapt to the conditions available. After all, the conditions will seldom adapt themselves to my plans!
During my last trip to the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia, I had to be flexible on many occasions. While attempting to photograph wildflowers in Kekuli Bay Provincial Park and the local populations of Osprey, Red-wing Blackbirds, and Killdeer I was instead presented with wind and near horizontal rain. This didn’t bother me much either, as I already had figured this could occur and had a place to go when the weather cleared. This change in my plan did create an unforseen opportunity, however.
So I relaxed in my car reading a photography magazine and eating cold soup for dinner. I watched the rain fly past my window horizontally. Looking out my car window I saw a Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris) peeking out from its burrow – then scurrying up the bank and eating some of the grass. I’d never seen a Marmot before – and I still might be able to say that if the rain hadn’t changed my “plans”. This was near a path up to a children’s play area near the campground – and I’d walked within a few feet of this burrow about 20 minutes before without noticing it. I turned the car around (less rain flying in my face) and made the above photo from inside the car. Getting my magazine wet was worth it!
As this was Vernon and not an area near Vancouver, the rain didn’t last too long, and the storm moved on. I then headed bakc in the direction of Ellison Provincial Park to see what the sunset might have in store. I’d noticed a few spots down there earlier in the day that would be great for a sunset shoot. I drove to the parking lot, walked part way down the path and realized that sunset light was just not going to happen. So I left in order to see what else I could find to photograph.
Just as I exited the parking lot I noticed a few Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) laying down in the Pine forest along side the road. They didn’t seem to mind me photographing them, though I didn’t get out of my car either. Just as I turned onto the main road on the park border – I noticed about 15-20 Columbian Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) grazing in a field. I parked the car, put the 1.4x extender on my 70-200mm f/4 L IS lens for just a bit of extra reach. I suppose deer are pretty common in the area, but I liked how they were grouped together, and in the earlier photo I posted how they seemed pretty unconcerned with my presence. Though in the above photo I certainly looks like I’d been spotted!
So what I am trying to suggest is that if you are planning your photo trips too tightly – relax! I enjoy photography a more when I’m not as concerned with where I have to be next. The planning I do helps me adapt to changing weather conditions and my own timing – allowing me to make photos during times when I would have just considered that moment a failed plan. Photography is a lot more fun that way.
A few weeks ago I headed to Golden Ears Provincial Park to hike to Lower Falls on Gold Creek. The trail was very muddy, and hard to walk on for much of the way but it was one of the first really nice days this Spring. To be out walking without the heavens pouring down was nice. I was never able to find the trail from Lower Fall to the above trail that I had intended to hike though. This gave me more time to make photographs between the Gold Creek bridge and Lower Falls. I made this photograph next to the Gold Creek bridge at the end of the Golden Ears Park road. Gold Creek is pretty wide in parts at this location, and while I did concentrate on some details of rocks and ripples, this wider view shows the overall look of this part of the creek.
Alpenglow on Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak from Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park (click for larger version) 6 exposures stitched, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM @ 144mm
When I spend time shooting I will normally take a quick overview of the days results immediately. There are often a few shots that will stand out – and those are often processed and sometimes show up here on the blog right away. I have learned that taking a long step back from a series of new photos can be beneficial to me in terms of my objectivity in culling the weaker shots. If I were to go through all the shots immediately I still carry my mental image of what I had planned for a photo. Not everything I try works out of course, and sometimes my initial expectations turn out to be too high. Sorting and processing images a month or two later gives me a lot better perspective of what is a “good” shot or a bad one – as many of my initial expectations have settled down. This has generally worked out so far – and I think I am better at choosing strong images than I used to be in part because of it.
I recently had an experience where the month+ delay in processing a panorama didn’t really seem to help. I processed and stitched this panorama 3-4 times – never quite happy with the colour of the sky. Things got to the point where I was no long able to view the photo at all objectively.
For this particular panorama I stood in the snow next to Chilliwack Lake for over an hour, freezing, taking the odd shot but waiting for the right light. When it came – I shot about 3 panoramas (and many single shots) with a few different compositions. I like the composition of this one the best. The colour of the sky seemed quite purple compared to what my brain was telling me looked “natural”. This could be a case of over analysis – but I try to process images such that they are faithful to what I saw at the time. So I processed the 6 shots that make up this image again in Camera Raw with some PS adjustments to account for the colour. Then I did this again. Still not happy I put the image away for a few more weeks. I should note the purple color is present in the raw file – not as a result of some other colour processing I have done.
Now that I have picked up this panorama again, I am still not sure if this looks natural. I like the colour on the mountain peaks, this is how it looked when I was there – but the sky still bothers me. I have stared at it so long I no longer remember what it looked like in person – perhaps that is the downside in waiting to do post processing? Maybe I just have to drop an image for longer or toss it entirely? I again processed an alternate panorama – taken about 7 minutes before the one posted above – and the sky looks bland and the clouds undefined – the whole image is uninspiring.
So what is the good thing about all this?
During this process I learned a few more Photoshop techniques that I otherwise would not have. Tweaking sky colours using Selective Color in Photoshop, for example. Next time I have a sky colour problem as a result of changing colour temperature etc – I know how to fix it. I have also learned that sometimes I might need to move on from processing an image that just isn’t right – or leave it behind entirely.
A few days ago I drove out to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park to see if I could get a view of Mount Redoubt in the not so distant North Cascades National Park. Last time I was there it was fall and there was little snow on the peaks. This time I had a bit more than I bargained for as the park gate was closed and we had to hike in from the road. There was also about 8 inches of snow on the ground which I was not expecting. I shot about 200 exposures, a lot of panoramas of Mt. Redoubt, and some wider shots like the one above.
On the far left we have Mount Edgar. In the middle: Mount Redoubt (left peak) and Nodoubt Peak (right peak). Mt. Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak are actually in North Cascades National Park in Washington State while Chilliwack Lake is in British Columbia.
Still not sure about how I feel about this particular shot. I really like some of the panoramas, which I will post soon, but my post processing skills and the colour of the sky in some of them are still locked in a battle of wills.