West Vancouver Lighthouse

It is the lighthouse I photographed and wrote about in 2012 (see this post). And this time I photographed it again also after a snowshoeing trip to Hollyburn Trail.

Vancouver is such a nice place that one can easily go from the sea to the sky or the other way around to photograph both mountains and seas within a few hours.

 

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Winter Wonderland on Hollyburn Trail

Weird weather has been raging in North America (and perhaps also in many other parts of the world), and snow fall has been below average in Vancouver area. I have not been able to use my snowshoes yet this winter. Recent snow fall in the North Shore mountains has added a few feet of new snow cover but I am afraid it will melt and evaporate in a few days. So yesterday morning, while there was still light snow in the mountains, I went to Hollyburn Mountain with a friend. The sky turned clear and sunny not long after we set out on the trail. Winter wonderland around!

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Snow Camping Under a Full Moon

To snow camp on Huntoon Point, Mt. Baker, has become a sort of must-do for me since 2007 (when I first did that). This is irresistible because, firstly, the view up there is panoramic and breathtaking, with Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker in full view, and secondly the access is easy; the hike takes only about 1.5 hour even with a full load backpack. I may also add that there is a good chance of having the whole place all to yourself; very few people snow camp up there. Which is good if you photograph during the night.

So, when weather forecast promised a couple of clear nights a few days ago, I hiked up there with a friend. It was a full moon night. The moon rise was a bit disappointing due to the clouds on the horizon, but the bright moonlight it shed on the mountains soon after it broke the clouds gave us the opportunity to photograph with relatively low ISO, which means photograph with better image quality. My tent, a new one that I bought recently, was again used as a prop for some pictures. Star trails were difficult to shoot because of the bright moonlight, but I still managed to blend them up on a couple of pictures.  It became a bit cloudy and windy in the second half of the night, and none of us could fall in sleep. The sunrise was nice but short of being spectacular, also because of the clouds on the horizon. We hiked down to the parking lot an hour after sunrise.

Photos:

1. Snow mobiles playing around before the night fell:

Artist Point Snowshoeing

2. My tent glows under the moonlight, with Mt. Shuksan in the background:

Artist Point Snowshoeing

3.  With Mt. Baker in the background:

Artist Point Snowshoeing

4. With the stars of the northern sky in the background:

Artist Point Snowshoeing

5. With the star trails over Huntoon Point:

Artist Point Snowshoeing

 

6. Before sunrise:

Artist Point Snowshoeing

7. Enjoying the alpenglow on Mt. Baker

Artist Point Snowshoeing

8. Romantic blue tone of Mt. Baker at sunrise (setting moon in clouds on the right):

Artist Point Snowshoeing

9. Layers of mountains of North Cascades:

Artist Point Snowshoeing

10.  Baker Lake under fog cover:

Artist Point Snowshoeing

Two Simple Composite Images

At the request of a friend, I made two composite images yesterday using two model images I shot last weekend and free stock backgrounds. Very simple ones, which require not much beyond cut and paste and recolor. Finding the appropriate backgrounds took more time, actually.

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Landscape Shots by 400mm Lens

Of course, the lens (Canon EF 400mm f5.6 L) is meant for wildlife photography.  But no one says it can’t be used for landscape photography. Last Sunday, at White Rock Pier, between shots of the seabirds off the pier, I also took a few landscape ones (all hand held), and despite it was broad daylight time, the shots were not bad.

The first picture shows a cargo train moving towards east, with snow-covered Mount Baker looming big in the background, which is at a distance of about 77km direct from where I stood. The second picture shows an Amtrak passenger train moving west and just about to pass around the tip of White Rock, which is at a distance of about 4.5km from where I stood. In both of the compressed scenes, the lens brought together two interesting elements: the great nature and the civilization/human intelligence, the latter in this case being symbolic in the form of trains.

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Are You also Shooting Me?

A shot I took yesterday at White Rock Pier while following a birder tour with a friend. It was taken with a long lens, 400mm (which is actually too short for the main purpose of the day: photographing the seabirds off the pier).

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The Last Snow of 2013

Happy New Year!

This is a belated post on the last snow we had here in Vancouver, Canada. Heavy snow, it was. Bad for the commuters, but a lot of fun for those who did not commute to work, including me. Ho, ho, ho…

Below are a few photos I took within a few hundred yards from home in heavy snow on December 20, 2013:

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Colorful Clouds Over the Rockies

Before 2013 is over, I’d like to write one more post on my recent trip to the Canadian Rockies.

One reason we made this winter trip is the phenomenal ice bubbles of Abraham Lake in the Kootenay Plains popularized by photographer Darwin Wiggett. We hoped we could get a few pictures of the amazing icy Abraham Lake. However, the frozen lake was snow covered when we got there. And we were also told that the ice layer on the lake was too thin to tread on. So probably it will be a better time in January. As if to make up for our disappointment, we encountered, on our way back from the lake, another rare phenomenon (rare in Vancouver area at least), which is called cloud iridescence.  It is the occurrence of colors in clouds similar to those seen in oil films on puddles. I had seen such clouds a few years ago (see the last picture below), also in the Rockies, but it was the first time for my friends. All of us took a bunch of pictures of the phenomenon.

Shall I take the colorful clouds as auspicious signs of the coming new year?

Happy New Year!

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Rockies 2009

Castle Mountain and Morant’s Curve

No one who visits Banff National Park would miss taking a photo or two of Castle Mountain, an imposing peak standing prominently on the east side of Highway 1. It is another most photographed mountain in the Canadian Rockies after Mount Rundle. And it is easy to photograph, unless you want to photograph it from an angle other than the one that most people do it, which is from the banks of Bow River near the bridge at Castle Mountain Junction. In winter, the mountain is good for photography both at sunrise and sunset, as the sun is always at a low angle down south. The first picture below was taken at sunrise, and the second one at sunset.

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If you continue to travel on Bow Valley Parkway from Castle Mountain Junction towards Lake Louise, there is one spot many people would miss but you should not. It is called Morant’s Curve, after Canadian Pacific Railway’s staff photographer Nicholas Morant. Here you can take a picture that brings together the grandeur of the Rockies and the symbolic power of mankind, the railway.

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Canadian Rockies in Black and White

Winter snow landscape is probably one of the most appropriate subjects and backgrounds for black and white photography. One obvious reason is the extreme white of snow that tends to make things around it in strong contrast in terms of light. Another reason is that snow cover tends to smooth out the surface of many things and provides a different kind of surface that not only simplifies what can be seen but also shows shadows very well. So, if you want to take photos of snow landscape at the time other than sunrise or sunset, think of black and white photography. And then, in post processing your photos, make good use of the red channel, which tends to give your black and white photos better contrast (according to my taste) than other channels.

Here are some of the black and white photographs I made with the color images I took in my recent trip to the Rockies:

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