Reflecting mountains

Mt Chephren reflected in Lower Waterfowl Lake. After I posted my third photo last week, I thought I was done with this view. Not so! I found yet another photo, this one taken the morning after the previous sunset shots. But I think this​ is definitely the last πŸ™‚

No sooner had I posted my photo last week, and declared it my last of Mt Chephren, I found myself poring over the photos from that same 2009 trip to the Rockies only to come face-to-face with yet another picture of this mountain and the lake. It’s pretty obvious why I took it – a mirror-calm lake and morning sunshine on the mountains. Postcard material really.

One thing that doesn’t come across in any of the photos of Mt Chephren is its scale. With the camera at its widest viewing angle (equivalent to 28 mm), the top of the mountain and the tip of its reflection don’t quite fit into the frame. And of course there’s nothing else in the photo to lend a sense of scale. That’s the frustration with mountain photography. All too often you get a lovely photograph of some scenery, but without a sense of really being there, or an idea of how imposing the mountains are.

I think of photos of Garibaldi Lake in particular. When you’re at the lake, the mountains and glaciers on the far side look impressive, despite their distance. But not a single photo of them really captures that feeling. Thinking about what that has in common with the photo above is the fact that they’re mountains on the opposite side of a lake, and those photos are inevitably taken at lake level, reducing the mountains to a two-dimensional backdrop as the third dimension into the scene is compressed.

So what can you do as a photographer? It’s hard to get a human out in the middle of the lake, at least not without ruining the reflection πŸ˜‰ Getting some height over the lake often helps as it expands the depth of the scene. Or just accept them as they are, and treat them as being the view from a comfortable chair by the side of a lake.

National Puppy Day

Okay so all the National Puppy Day photos got the better of me and I had to add my own πŸ™‚ He’s not a puppy in this picture (taken in 1987? 1988? when he was already 11 or 12) but he’ll always be my pup (our pup). His name tag is still on my keyring, 26 years later.

Ah, Scooby… The first pets we had when I was a kid were named after cartoon characters: we had a budgie called Tweetie Pie, and Scooby Doo was our family dog. (I think the goldfish went unnamed.) My sister broke with “tradition” when she called her rabbit Smoky; I would have called it Bugs of course.

I don’t normally pay much attention to dog photos on Instagram, as I’m not entirely comfortable with dogs in the backcountry, mostly because the majority of dogs are simply not trained well enough (it’s an owner problem more than a dog problem), or have the right temperament (after all, many types were bred specifically to hunt). On top of that there are issues surrounding water quality and animal encounters. But yesterday’s National Puppy Day outpourings had me reminiscing about my childhood pet enough to take a picture of one of my fading prints from the ’80s and post it for the world to see.

As a teenager I loved having a dog. It got me outside pretty much every day, and we were fortunate enough to live next to some woodland with good paths through it. Of course, I didn’t have to worry about bears, cougars, coyotes, or skunks so it was easy to let the dog run off the leash. What helped, though, is that Scooby was well trained and would come back to us the minute he was called and I could keep him at my side even off the leash. He also wasn’t an aggressive dog – I can only recall one or two brief scraps that were always initiated by the other dog – but he certainly had his moods. He bit me once, badly enough to break the skin through my sock, though you could argue that it was largely my fault.

There’s a part of me that would really like a dog, but living in an apartment in a city makes that unfeasible to me, especially given the size of dog I’d be willing to look after. In the meantime, I’ll just have to enjoy time with friends’ dogs.

And that was Once Around the Sun

Throwback to the final photo in my photo-a-day project from 5 years ago. I began the project looking for (and failing to find) these fawn lilies, and was lucky enough to find them on my final day, which made it all seem worthwhile. At least, it did at the time: I have no intention of doing another! And it just so happens that this photo could have been taken this week as these flowers are at exactly the same stage πŸ™‚

So this is the last you’ll hear about my Once Around the Sun project (aka “OATS”). I’m done with it. Again. πŸ™‚ It was certainly a handy source of inspiration for Instagram posts, though I put my own artificial constraints on the choice of photos by insisting on using photos taken the same week five years previously. That meant I wasn’t always posting my best shots from OATS, but I guess I was overly enamoured of the whole “five years ago today” kind of feel. Nostalgia can be powerful, and isn’t always rational. Maybe I’ll sift through some of the other photos in the project and post some of my favourites that didn’t make the initial Instagram cut. We’ll see.

And so I need to come up with a new source of inspiration for Throwback Thursdays, although that shouldn’t be hard: I have a ginormous backlog of photos, many on Flickr but even more that have never seen the light of day. The difficulty is going to be deciding which one to use… But that’s a challenge for next week!

Chephren the Third

Mount Chephren the Third – a calm, clear summer night at Lower Waterfowl Lake for the last of my 3 photos of this view.

Taken half-an-hour later than last week’s photo of Mount Chephren, the sky begins to turn indigo as night falls while the north-western sky still retains its post-sunset glow. For this reason I really enjoy summers in the Rockies. Being a bit further north than Vancouver brings longer days, while, on top of that, the mountains are near the western edge of the Mountain time zone so sunset occurs at a “later” time than expected for that time zone. (See this page for a demonstration.) Since I’m not a morning person, I don’t miss the corresponding lack of daylight in the early hours, but at that time of year it hardly matters.

Spring green

A floret of green – the soft, delicate leaves of Pacific bleeding heart dotted with raindrops.

It’s that time of year when I go in search of the first buds and shoots that herald the beginning of another spring. Based on a Musqueam story I saw at the Museum of Vancouver, I headed to Musqueam Creek to look for fawn lilies. I found no lilies, but I did see lots of false lily-of-the-valley (tiny green spears poking up through the soil), indian plum, skunk cabbage, and the subject of this photo, bleeding heart. The foliage of bleeding heart must be one of the softest things I’ve ever touched, especially when it’s this fresh.

Bird sightings/soundings included: Anna’s hummingbirds, Swainson’s thrushes, varied thrushes, robins, pileated woodpeckers, flickers, some kind of wren (possibly winter?), bald eagles, black-capped chickadees, a house finch or two, and possibly bushtits. Musqueam Park in the spring is definitely a good place to hear a lot of spring-time bird song!

On a wing…

I have a soft spot for flickers (well, pretty much any woodpecker really), so I was pretty chuffed to get this shot of one spreading out its wing, beautifully backlit by the afternoon sun, in a nearby tree-top.

OK so this is one of those photos that I was really happy with at the time but I find painful to look at these days. The image quality is just awful, and it’s just so obviously taken with a small-sensor compact camera. The chromatic aberration, the sharpening haloes, the highlight/colour response – yuck!

Having said that, I was so delighted to get this shot, to see a flicker close enough to photograph and especially to capture that moment where it spread out its wing, catching the afternoon sun to show off the lovely red feathers. It’s the memory of this shot and what it evokes that I’ve come to appreciate, more than the photo itself. I’m sure that’s a feeling many photographers have experienced!

Chephren at dusk

Take 2 for Mount Chephren, this time at dusk. We were making our way north away from the rain around Banff towards clearer skies in Jasper and the campground at Waterfowl Lakes was the perfect overnight stop for our first dry night in several days.

Another view of Mt Chephren, actually taken before the one I posted last week. Back in 2009, we spent two weeks in the Rockies, the first spent exploring the Mt Assiniboine area, and the second for us to do some touring and day-hiking. The weather had been mixed; we finally got fed up of the rain down in the Banff-Lake Louise area and noticed that things looked better in Jasper. Destination Jasper, then!

We took our time heading north on the gloriously scenic Icefields Parkway, stopping off at the viewpoints and fitting in a quick hike to Helen Lake. Along the way we cased out a few campgrounds before settling in for a comfortable and – more importantly – dry night at Waterfowl Lakes. The clouds drifted away, the skies cleared and sat outside for the first time in what felt like ages!