I visited Second Beach on the Olympic Peninsula in April. It was my first visit to this picturesque stretch of the Pacific Northwest. Heavy waves rolled in with sunset and I had a great time framing them amid the sea stacks, along the beach and against the rocks. When the sun was sinking into the water, one wave exploded inside the keyhole. The silhouette of the spray had me imagining figures and forms. It was a cool moment to recall a great evening on the ocean.
When I was on the west coast a couple of weeks ago, I spent one morning photographing along the Port Angeles shoreline. It had been a little while since I have been on the ocean and I was hypnotized by the ebb and flow of the waves along the beach. I always am.
There is a beautiful balance of running water, ice forms along the river’s edge and drifts of snow at Elbow Falls right now. Following an early start, photographing the waterfall before dawn, I stayed for a long time playing with these elements. This is one of my favorite waterfalls and was happy to find a few new ways to photograph it on this visit. A couple of American dippers kept me company and I eventually turned my attention to them as splashed around hunting for breakfast in the fast-moving water. I look forward to sharing those images soon.
The early light worked well with a few interesting clouds hanging above Elbow Falls on the day I was up there this weekend. The soft pink ahead of sunrise shared the sky with the waning full moon early. As the clouds turned to a deep peach color I moved just above the waterfall. From there the reflections of colour on the excited water were beautiful and I watched the morning open up.
With the early snows of the past week, I was eager to get into the mountains to see how things looked up there this weekend. I went up to Wedge Pond which sits below Mount Kidd in Kananaskis. This small, shallow pot lake is a great location in the fall as it is ringed by a variety of trees and catches the mountain’s reflection in its quiet waters.
It was overcast when I headed out but the sky was more promising in the mountains. Before dawn, the mist started to rise off the water. It was cold and seemed to be perfect conditions for the creation of low clouds and heavy mist. That worked for me and I enjoyed photographing along the shoreline through sunrise.
The leaves on the deciduous trees are just starting to change color so I will make sure to return in a couple of weeks to catch their golds and oranges. The elk rut should start around the same time so I’m looking forward to hearing their bugling in the forest surrounding the pond then too.
This is a short section of the Ashnola River in British Columbia’s Cathedral Provincial Park. I saw a wonderful diversity of riverscapes as I went up and then back down the gravel road that runs closely to the water. This section drew me in but I look forward to going back with the luxury of more time to explore them.
I went up to Elbow Falls last weekend for the sunrise but I stayed for the American Dippers (Cinclus mexicanus).
I love watching these aquatically adept birds stalking, diving and swimming in the middle of the rapids. On the last visit to the waterfall, there were three Dippers flitting about moving between the bottom of the waterfall and the rocks at the top.
They chased each other down river a couple of times but spent most of their time fishing alone. On a quiet morning in Kananaskis, it was nice to spend my time watching them.
From a small pond in Granville Island where a light rain was falling. The circular ripples created by the raindrops hitting the water distorted the reflections of trees above.
I woke to a grey morning on the Pacific earlier this week. As the sun rose, its light diffused across the dull silver clouds and carried on to the waves rolling in. In these images I stretched some of these waves out with longer exposures (1/30 to 1/2 seconds) and swung the camera around a bit just to play with the idea a bit more.
Amid the abstract work, a few seals skimmed by. One of these glided inside a wave as it rolled into shore – which was fantastic to watch. I hope to share images from those encounters as well as a few with Brown pelicans from the same morning soon.
Over the weekend I was in Vancouver for some photography work. With my friend Jack we visited the wonderful birds preparing for spring in the Lower Mainland. We spent time in the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary with Wood ducks and Sandhill cranes, the owls along Boundary Bay, Great blue herons (Ardea herodias) around the marinas and waterways in Ladner, and a few other great spots. Although I lived in Vancouver for university, I had not visited any of these locations for wildlife before. I was amazed by the birds and their numbers at almost every location. I am looking forward to sharing some of the images soon.
This Great blue heron was a highly proficient hunter and it collected fish steadily for the hour that we watched it from a bank in Ladner off of River Road. The heron moved along the shoreline as the tide was going out and kept up its hunting pace the whole time. Great opportunities to watch the heron’s behaviour and its technique. I learned a few tells of when it is readying to strike that yielded some really nice images. I’m having fun working through the collection.
I was looking through my image library for abstracts that I could use for a print series I’m working on and found the image above. I had photographed a reflection pool from the fourth story of a hotel in Mandalay, Myanmar. Leaning out of the window and using a longer lens, I was first drawn to the koi swimming in the shallow water. However, the trees on edge of the courtyard were casting energetic shadows across the gently rippled surface. I photographed the fish with the shadows for a little while and then dropped the fish altogether. The patterns of the distorted tree shapes in the water mesmerized me. I think of dance in the one above.
When I was on a catamaran sailing along the Na Pali Coast we had a close encounter with a small pod of dolphins where they swam alongside for several minutes. I loved watching the deceptive power in their movements. The cat was under full sail and the dolphins seemed to expend little effort to speed past the bow and slip in and out of the waves.
On the return trip to the harbour, close to the first visit, a couple more dolphins (different I think as they seemed to be gray coloured versus the blue bodies of the first ones – although that could be a change in the light) came by and this time had a couple of humpback whales with them. The dolphins get very excited when the whales return for the winter and the two species are often found playing together and generally hanging out together until the whales head off around the globe again. The whales did not make any spectacular breaches but I felt no disappointment as just seeing them in their waters was magical.
(please click on each image to open a higher resolution version)
Ke’e Beach is further up the coast on the north shore. The waves were big and came in haphazard sets with some breaks sending waves slamming into other ones. I did not expect to see anyone surfing there but on one of the days we spent on the beach, watching the coastline and keeping an eye out for seals, I saw one fellow sitting on a surfboard watching the waves. He watched for quite a while and then headed out, presumably having found the right spot and the right way to get out to it.
I kept an eye on his progress and when he started catching waves it was awesome. He knew what he was doing and it was great to watch him navigate through the chaos, pick a wave and then grab a good ride.
(please click on each image to open a higher resolution version)
Nukoli’i Beach seems to be an unpredictable surfing location in the winter. The waves moving west were great the first few days on this eastern beach that we were in Kaua’i at the beginning of December. However after one huge storm that raged across the island, they remained choppy and were not frequented by any surfers or bodyboarders for the rest of our stay. Those first few days I did get out twice to photograph some of the bodyboarders. The waves were breaking pretty far out but a long lens helped to make a few images.
This trip to Hawai’i I spent my time in the ocean photographing underwater and that squeezed out any time that I might have gone bodyboarding or surfing. I’ll make up for that on the next visit. It was really fun to watch these guys ripping along the waves. I can’t wait to join in!
I love the ocean, I suppose many people do. I grew up on Kootenay Lake in southeastern British Columbia and there could be rough water but nothing like on the ocean. Whenever I am on a coast, I enjoy watching the waves. In December, the waves off of Ke’e Beach at the northern edge of Kaua’i’s Na Pali coast are tall and heavy. They can be spectacular to watch.
The last day that we went to Ke’e, the waves were not disappointing.
With the sun falling low, a few waves even tried to take a bite. It was a good day.
I went for a hike in late afternoon along the West Fork Trail which starts a few miles north of Sedona. The trail follows Oak Creek as it runs against the contours of the steep Oak Creek Canyon walls. These steep walls keep the heat found in Sedona at this time of year at bay and I found it to be a really nice temperature for a walk. The trail itself is fairly level all the way up to the very last stretch so it was less a hike and more of a walk. The forest with patches of wildflowers, many types of lush trees, birdsong and chittering insects was very enjoyable. I spent a couple of hours on the trail, stopping to photograph a small outpost of butterflies, reflections of the scenery in pools formed in the shallows of slabs of red rock and everything else that caught my eye. I saw this beautiful overhang of rock drawing the eye out to the greenery along the trail on my way up but it was a bit too bright for the image I had in mind. When I came back that way on my back down, the light had cooperated and I was able to create what I was looking for.
I have not been up to Elbow Falls in a couple of months so I went for the sunrise on Sunday. The sky wasn’t too cooperative – the clouds hid behind the K-Country mountains instead of catching the morning light while anchored above them, but there was a skiff of snow from the night before that was a nice element to work in.
With the low water and lack of snow around the waterfall, the rocks took center stage and looked beautiful.
Here the snow can be seen in the branches and dusting the rocks. I enjoyed the palette of colors and the softening effect, here and there, of the snow in these scenes.
When the sun first cleared the eastern ridges, it was softened by a bit of haze and the veins of the falls seemed to glow under this gentle light.
A short time later it rose above the haze and this was the last image I made with the sunlight still playing really well with this landscape.
It was another good morning at Elbow Falls. One of many special places in Kananaskis and a favourite place for me to spend time. I created a small gallery on my website from this morning which includes these images and a few more, check them out if you are interested.
This time of year the northern coast of Kaua’i receives the heavy swells that hit the shoreline unchecked from the open water of the Pacific. I was waiting for the sun to rise and the low light of dawn allowed me to use a shutter speed of four seconds. This long exposure blurred the rows of spiky waves softening them into a supporting role, allowing this dramatic chunk of rock standing apart from the shore to be the dominant subject in the image.
I have been to the island of Kaua’i a couple of times before and each time I have enjoyed exploring the north shore particularly along the Na Pali coast. If you drive up to Ke’e Beach and the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail, right near the end of the road you will cross over the Limahuli Stream.
On my last trip on one trip I passed the creek and I was captivated by the scene and wished we had time to stop. Unfortunately, at that moment, we could not stop and I have honestly had many dreams about this location and photographing here over the past three years since that trip. On this last visit, we made time to stop and I really enjoyed having a little time in this beautiful place. Here are a few images from Limahuli.
Just a couple of nice abstracts from a stretch of water near my home. It was well after sunset so I was able to get a very slow shutter speed to really stretch out the lines traced out by the moving water. These are two of the long exposures both were 30 seconds at f/16, creating smooth edges to the small rapids in this creek.
I was photographing ducks, geese and seagulls on the edge of the Bow River at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary this evening. It is a favourite spot and as evening falls, flights of birds come in from all points of the compass to bed down on the rock islands that lie in the middle of the river. As the sky darkened the street and building lights from the far side of the river appeared brighter and brighter reflecting in the water.
I found a nice bend in the shallows where the light was broken up by the current and the rocks and photographed until the stars stood out against the black sky. Most of the exposures were 30 seconds with the camera on a tripod to allow the stones to stay sharp while the water softened and stretched the lights.
We were on the road for much of this weekend driving to Shaunavon, Saskatchewan for some family business. To break up the drive there and back, we stayed just outside of Brooks on Thursday and Friday night. We spent both nights at the Lakeshore Bed & Breakfast which backs onto the northern shore of Lake Newell – a lake that family friends used to take me boating on when I was 4! I have scattered memories of those days but I remember the massive number of birds that summered there so I was eager to see what I would find when I got out before dawn on Saturday morning. As we are halfway through October and winter is one storm away, I was not surprised when I felt the biting cold carried off of the water and across the beach. With ice on the car windows, I took that as a cue to layer up so I headed down to the beach decked out for an Arctic expedition.
It was about 6:30 when I started photographing and I started with just a faint line of colour to the east. With the sky brightening quickly, I kept reducing the length of my exposures to hold the intensity of the orange glow pretty consistent across the images I made over the next hour. Starting with two minute exposures (f/11 and ISO 400), I was down to 1.3 seconds (f/16 at ISO 100) by 7:30.
As dawn approached, I started to see more of the features around that part of the lake. We had arrived late on Thursday night, left early on Friday and returned in darkness again that night so I had not done any scouting of the shore before Saturday morning. Not ideal for planning but it was interesting to see shapes of trees, rocks, buildings and islands separate from the blackness. By 7:30, there were three things that had grabbed my attention and pulled the type of images I was working on in a different direction. Steady flights of gulls and ducks flew in front of the eastern sky and I could see hundreds of birds all gliding towards an inlet several hundred meters ahead of me. The cold air was rolling over the lake producing a steam that started gently but had increased to an endless rolling fog that would continue until well after sunrise. The third item I first thought was a tower as I walked towards the steam and the increasing congregation of birds but realized it was a lighthouse built on a small island at the mouth of the inlet to assist boaters sailing back to the marina in darkness during the summer months. The birds, the steam and the lighthouse were all in the same place so it was an easy decision to walk over there.
With the sun rising I worked with the lighthouse and shoreline in silhouette against the bright sky.
When the sun cleared the trees I worked several different compositions including this one below and the first photograph in this post.
Once the sun was up, the steam was rising higher and I was able to isolate these two elements against the clean background created. It was a great morning to play with different approaches and try to create a range of images across the shoot.
Lake Newell is a major birding lake on the prairies and I’m looking forward to returning next spring when the pelicans, cormorants and terns who summer there return and are joined by loons, four types of grebes and all manner of ducks and geese. As it was, for a late fall morning on the prairie, I had a great time there. The warm shower, hot coffee and delicious breakfast were the final pieces to a really good start to the day.
Kayaking is a sport I’ve always been interested in. On the weekend, my friend Jeff and I met up with a team of kayakers at Canoe Meadows on the Kananaskis River. We had arranged with their coach to meet the team during one of their training sessions and photograph them while they practiced on the water.
The fast pace of the downstream sections provided a nice opportunity to drag the shutter and abstract the action a little.