West Vancouver and the Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Evening at the Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver (Purchase)
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A few weeks ago I headed into Vancouver to see what fall foliage I could find. This was not a stellar year for foliage around Vancouver or in the Fraser Valley, at least not in the areas where I ventured. I found some good colour in Queen Elizabeth Park, but I have photographed there a lot before. I decided to go to areas that I hadn’t really visited often after that. After going through downtown I went to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. I had only photographed this location once, and there were promises of a decent sunset and a few subjects I wanted to photograph again with my newer, higher resolution, camera.
I had seen photographs of the pier before, but didn’t realize how close it was to Ambleside Park – probably less than a 10 minute walk from where I’d parked. On the way to the pier I photographed a few things along the beach, ships in English Bay, and the Lions Gate Bridge. When arriving at the Ambleside Fishing Pier, much of the sunset was gone but it was perfect timing for a blue hour photograph of the pier and parts of West Vancouver to the north. I had to compose around a construction crane but otherwise things went as planned. Ambleside Pier itself is a nice spot to view the surrounding area, and is set up with a table and hose to cut bait for fishing or crab traps, and to clean one’s catch.
This second photograph of Ambleside Pier is from Ambleside Beach looking west. When I visited the pier there were several groups there fishing and crabbing. One of the crabbers was waiting to pull up their trap as there was a seal hanging out in the area and apparently it is adept at raiding the traps as they come to the surface!
For more photographs of this area visit my Gallery.
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)
Fog nearly hides the island at Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Fog at Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver (Purchase)
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I mentioned in an earlier post that some of my early October photography plans were somewhat thwarted by the fog rolling by the shore in West Vancouver. I was happy to find almost no fog in Horseshoe Bay but I visited Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver shortly after and as you can see, there a lot of fog just offshore. Part of my plan was to photograph one of the BC Ferries as it passed, but obviously this was not possible. There are almost no photography days where everything goes according to plan, so I embraced the fog and stopped at Whytecliff just to photograph it. Quite often a change in plans just means I manage to photograph scenes I could not anticipate ahead of time. I did enjoy photographing this scene with the fog as it is not something I get to work with very often, so this was a nice change. It was a bit cold though, which made for a more peaceful visit than usual. Going to Whytecliff in the summer means the beach will be elbow to elbow with beachgoers.
Good weather and sunny days can be hard to find on occasion in Southwest British Columbia during the fall so last week I headed to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. I had never before visited Horseshoe Bay except to board a ferry to Vancouver Island, so a sunny day seemed like a good opportunity. My initial plan was to stop at Lighthouse Park, Whytecliff Park and then Horseshoe Bay and enjoy the waterfront view along Marine Drive. However, a fog bank hung just offshore which made it clear visiting Lighthouse Park would be an exercise in disorientation. I was happy to find that Horseshoe Bay had no fog, with just a small amount visible off in the distance in Howe Sound.
After parking at Horseshoe Bay Park I walked down to the beach and onto the Horseshoe Bay Public Dock. From there I photographed the panorama above showing some of the shoreline in the park as well as the Lookout Coffee Shop (Blue building) at Sewell’s Marina. I had heard of Sewell’s Marina before, if only because it was into these boats and docks that the Queen of Oak Bay had “hard landed” back in 2005. The video of that incident is interesting, and nobody was injured. It does appear many of the boats at the marina were not that lucky.
The BC Ferries vessel pictured below is the MV Coastal Renaissance – one of the newer Coastal Class ferries making the run from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay (Nanaimo) or from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Victoria). I photographed the MV Coastal Renaissance on this occasion as it approached the ferry terminal to dock. I didn’t consult the ferry schedule before my trip but was lucky to photograph both the MV Coastal Renaissance (arriving) and the older Queen of Surrey (departing) while at Horseshoe Bay.
BC Ferries’ Coastal Renaissance docks at Horseshoe Bay (Purchase)
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I had the impression that there was more to Horseshoe Bay than what I found, but it was a very nice spot to stop and photograph. If I were the sort eat lunch at a restaurant after hiking nearby this would be a good spot to do it. I tend to have a thermos of soup or a sandwich in the cooler instead though. The most (maybe only) interesting building along the shore is the Lookout Coffee Shop. The rest of the buildings there are rather generic – the great scenery here is the winning feature, not the architecture.
Sewell’s Marina and the Lookout Coffee Shop at Horseshoe Bay (Purchase)
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This is the Horseshoe Bay Public Dock which offers a good view of most of the sights in Horseshoe Bay. From here you can look at the ferries, the boats in the marina, and north towards Howe Sound and the mountain ranges further up the Sea to Sky highway.
The Horseshoe Bay Public Dock at Horseshoe Bay (Purchase)
Occasionally I look back at some of my older images with a bit of disappointment due to the new post processing skills I have since learned. This photograph of the Point Atkinson Lighthouse at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver is a good example.
Lighthouse – old version
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In the older version (left) I made a number of bad decisions, and just didn’t know how to get much out of the file. While going through older images recently to do some keywording and uploading to my Image Library I found this lighthouse photograph from 2011 and decided to improve the image.
Both of these versions were processed from the same single raw file using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Photoshop. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to edit out the rock “island” in the foreground. I did an reasonable job of making that seamless, but the decision to remove it (or manipulate anything to that degree) is now puzzling. This is not the kind of editing I wish to do to images any longer, and most with that level of manipulation have never seen the light of day anyway. The main issue with my previous version is the colour balance and the details in the sky. While the newer versions of ACR (and Lightroom) are much better at bringing out detail in highlight areas, I’m sure the older versions were capable of much more than I knew how to accomplish at the time. When processing the new version I fixed the colour issues (older version was way too warm in my opinion), brought out some details in the sky, and added a layer to function somewhat as a digital graduated neutral density filter. At the time I photographed this I did not own any ND filters that I recall, and even if I had this scene is a tough one to implement them with the trees on the left. Many seem to debate between a physical GND filter and a digital alternative but I tend to use both. I much prefer the results when using a physical filter but often tweak things in post slightly using a digital one (usually in Photoshop not the tools available in ACR or Lightroom). I hope you agree this new version is an improvement. : )
The Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, and downtown Vancouver from Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, and Downtown Vancouver from Ambleside Park (Purchase)
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After a bit of hiking last week around Mount Seymour, I headed to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver to see if that location would offer a favourable view of Stanley Park, downtown Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge. I have photographed the Lions Gate from Brockton Point and Prospect Points in Stanley Park before, and wanted a new view of the Bridge. As it turns out, I think Ambleside Park actually offers a better view of the bridge than from most of Stanley Park. Clear and unobstructed, and during dusk at least – with a nicer background that is more evenly lit. The only issues I had last week at Ambleside were the giant tankers coming into the port occasionally and the nearly full (and not super) moon just above the bridge.
I have reprocessed this photograph with new editing techniques and a few things I’ve learned since this post. Follow the link here to see the new version of this Point Atkinson Lighthouse photo.
This photo of the Point Atkinson Lighthouse was not what I pictured in my mind when I headed to Lighthouse Park. I had not been in Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver for any length of time since about 1996, so I was a bit rusty in terms of good photo locations. I quite like this spot though, and there may be better in the park I just haven’t investigated it thoroughly enough yet. However, I did envision an decent sunset, which did not occur. A band of clouds over Vancouver Island came in and obscured the direct sunlight. I find this version appealing but I think the sky will offer something more dramatic if I keep checking this spot out.
Drove to Stanley Park on Wednesday to get some night shots of downtown Vancouver. Now that I have a really nice tripod that can actually hold my camera steady for 30 seconds this was a lot easier than before. It became evident last year when I tried this that portrait shots on my old tripod were causing things to slip just slightly each time – which is quite evident on a 30 second+ exposure! On Wednesday there was a lot of construction on Stanley Park Drive including Brockton Point. This kept me away from the lighthouse but perhaps that was a good thing – it forced me to take this pano from further down the drive. I have never noticed this sort of reflection of the bridge lights on the water before – perhaps that is not as evident from the usual Brockton Point angle. Sometimes it is good to be forced to use new angles on a subject – and a reminder to seek those on my own.