To be an eagle

Oh the mayhem you can cause if you’re an eagle – a lone bald eagle stirs the entire flock of snow geese into flight, only a small portion of which can be seen here.

You never know what’s going to get a reaction on Instagram. I was sifting through some photos looking for inspiration for an Instagram post to fit in with one of the Friday hashtag themes, such as forest Friday, feathered Friday, or flashback Friday (among others). This one caught my eye because I’d recently watched a video on YouTube from a photographer I follow that talked about taking photos that told a story. As I looked at this photo, I immediately saw the story: the lone eagle and the flock of snow geese in flight, the predator-prey relationship, and the sense of movement from left to right.

But even better, to my eye, were the layers: the reeds at the bottom of the frame, the line of the ocean, the birds in flight, the clouds, and finally the eagle in clear sky; all separate, all contributing to the simplicity of the photo. (If I’m picky, there are too many layers, so the photo ends up quite busy, but I think it still works.) I found a square crop I liked, tweaked the exposure and contrast and posted it on Instagram.

I expected maybe two dozen likes at most – it’s a bit of a departure from my usual photos and it lacks a strong subject – but it’s had over twice that many. However, what surprised me more were the comments – it seemed that it really resonated with some folks, far more than I thought it would, which is both humbling and gratifying. It also makes me want to change up my photography style to find more scenes that tell a compelling story, rather than my usual approach of taking many photos to document as much of the story as possible.

However, it was only in the post-processing that I noticed there was even a story to be had. At the time I was just taking lots of photographs of distant birds, hoping they’d be in focus! Recognizing the story at the time will take more application, and I think I might be ready for it.

Here’s the original photo on Flickr:

Reifel Bird Sanctuary, 9 Nov 2014


From the beginning

Today is a Throwback-Thursday and, seeing as I didn’t start blogging my Instagram posts until I’d posted nearly 100, I thought it’d a fun way to fill in the gaps with some Throwbacks and Flashbacks. I might not post one every week, and looking back I will group together photos from a single trip or with a theme (as long as they were posted close together) so I don’t have to write another 90+ individual blog posts!

Be warned: all of my early posts originated on my phone. Indeed that was the whole point of getting an Instagram account in the first place, to give me a place to put casual phone pics, often processed in ways that I wouldn’t dream of with photos from our real cameras. Some (like the two below) work quite well as black-and-white, while others made use of either Instagram filters or the processing options in Google Photos that were available at the time as attempts to mask or at least draw attention away from the poor image quality. Was I successful? Sometimes…

I took these on one of the extreme low tides we get in the summer where we were able to walk out on Spanish Banks almost to the steep drop-off into the deeper waters of Burrard Inlet. Bright sunny days, with their high mid-day contrast, can often work well for black and white photos. And that’s exactly what I did for these two.

1. Low tide in Vancouver.

The first is unusual for me in that it’s almost street photography – I don’t normally put people in my photos, especially strangers. But I liked the fact the three people in the group were all looking the same direction – out to sea – as well as the curve of the breaking waves leading towards the high-rises of downtown Vancouver. As far as street-style photos go, it’s one of my favourites. If I want to get picky, I should be held the camera higher to avoid merging the heads and the background ship, but then, try seeing that detail on a phone screen on a sunny day…

2. Go no further.

The second was simply a record of where we were, looking over to the North Shore, with the sentry-like structure guarding the transition to deep water as if to say that we should indeed go no further. I like the simplicity and the fluffy clouds over the mountains. That’s it really.

Crown emerges

Clouds clearing from Crown.

Later on the same day that I took this photo of Crown Mountain, the clouds cleared some more but enough still lingered to add a bit of extra drama to the already dramatic profile of Crown.


Close-up of the base of Helmcken Falls – the rain in Vancouver feels a bit like this at the moment 🙂

Another view from the south rim of the bowl into which Helmcken Falls drop. I really like this close up shot of the water at the base of the falls where it’s spraying back up again. It begins to capture the incredible power of this waterfall.

It’s Waterfall Wednesday again, and tonight in Vancouver it feels like we’re living at the base of one giant waterfall from the sky…


Cornices on show on the West Lion and the three peaks of Unnecessary Mountain

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we hiked part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail from Cypress Bowl to Lions Bay last June. The section that traversed the three peaks of Unnecessary Mountain (on display in this photo) was some of the loveliest sub-alpine terrain we’d hiked. Just beautiful country.

If anyone wants to discover this view for themself, head up to Artisan Square on Bowen Island. Good chocolate and treats up there too 🙂