VanCity Views III

Welcome to part III of my city sights for Throwback Thursday.

1. Very Vancouver

I love this view. The line of towers that tapers off in the distance just looks so pleasing, Science World adds a contrasting shape and texture and on a clear, calm day the reflections are lovely. I’ve photographed this view many times but more often than not have found myself not liking the results so I’m especially pleased with this one. Some of those I’ve taken have had a foreground of perfectly calm water, which can look two-dimensional and kinda boring. This is where the Aquabus comes in: perhaps counter-intuitively, the fact that the Aquabus disturbs the water in the foreground actually improves the photo no end. The straight line of the wake interrupts the foreground in a way that I think attracts enough attention to be interesting but not too much to be distracting. However, it’s the lines and curves of the waves that really make the foreground, curving round to point right at the Aquabus and drawing the eye into the scene.

At least, that’s how I see it. Of course, everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a pleasing photograph!

2. City of glass

In contrast to the photo above, I think this one works just fine as a simple reflection shot due to the symmetry and the uniformity. There are no distracting lines leading into or out of the photo, but just enough of a ripple on the surface of the water to lend some depth. The towers all look roughly the same colour in the warm light, giving the photo a two-tone appearance against the blue of the sky, both colours reflected nicely in the water below.

3. Raining in the sunlight

A passing morning shower at sunrise catches the first rays of light. Often in winter there’s a small gap in the clouds to the south that allows the sun to shine through as it first rises, bathing everything in a glorious warm glow. Within a few minutes the sun has risen enough that the clouds now block its light and everything returns to grey. But for a few moments there is magical light, and sometimes it coincides with a rain shower. I really like how the visible portion of the rainbow mimics the streaks of rain.

4. The Lions peek through a gap in the high rises

I was walking (or biking?) along the False Creek seawall when I happened to look up and see the Lions through a gap in the high-rises, peeking out above the flank of Hollyburn. The little boat cruising into the frame is just perfect (and, purely by chance, it’s flying the Union flag). But even without that, it’s the asymmetry of this photo that I like: the tall, imposing tower dominating the left half of the frame, apparently dwarfing the mountain peaks beyond, adding a touch of irony to the scene. In contrast to the tidiness of the left side of the picture, the right hand side is a jumble of different buildings of varying heights, adding a further contrast. Again, that’s what I see…

5. Sunrise on snowfall

I see the sunrise most often in winter because it occurs at or just after the time I get up. Winter sunrises also produce the best pictures of the North Shore mountains because of the snow and the fact they are illuminated from the south-east. By contrast in the summer, the sun rises over the mountains (further east than these peaks) and shines right into our bedroom so there’s really nothing to photograph. I photographed the sunrise a lot when we first moved into our apartment; these days not so much but occasionally the sheer simplicity and calm associated with a view such as this prompts me to wield the camera.

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Light on Brunswick

Light on Brunswick – the view from the sunny summit of Black Mountain.

We’d spent a good while basking in the sunshine on the rocks at Eagle Bluffs and on our return opted for the quick detour up and over the south summit of Black Mountain. To our amazement, the summit was silent. I was expecting at least one group of people to be there, but it was vacant. Not even a whisky jack or raven to be seen. The view towards the Lions and other nearby peaks isn’t that great from here (the view from the north summit is better) but it was good enough and we had some superb dappled light hitting Brunswick and the East Lion. Having just posted a whole series of photos of the Lions, I figured today should be about Brunswick Mountain!

I grabbed a couple of shots, ensuring I didn’t blow out the highlights (thinking back to Sean Tucker’s excellent recent video called Protect your highlights) which is still quite easy to do on the little Sony RX100II. This meant that the shadows fell really dark, but I felt that was the point of a photo like this one. With the dramatic dark cloud behind the peaks, my idea was to produce something “moody”, maybe a little ominous, in contrast with my photo of the Lions from Hollyburn a couple of weeks ago which had a more ethereal feel to it. I’m not sure I entirely succeeded with the processing I went with – perhaps I should have increased the contrast even more, especially in the mid-tones. I may re-edit the photo for the Flickr version.

Still, I like the way the clouds rise up over the summit of Brunswick, keeping their distance as if giving it some respect, and the gleaming white snow does look good against the dark background. And every time I look at Brunswick, I’m transported to the wonderful day we had up there.

Quiet

The beach is quieter at this time of year.

This is a photo from my phone and it doesn’t look as terrible as I imagined it would. I guess the light was good. I really like the scene with the empty beach, a line of logs echoed by a line of bulk carriers, the water and the mountains beyond.

After yesterday’s migraine, I wanted to be somewhere peaceful. Despite the number of people, it really did feel quite peaceful walking alongside the beach, the beach itself was mostly empty (save for a few die-hard volleyball players and picnickers). So here we are, in the middle (well, at the edge) of a big city, and we have this wonderful feeling of space, and peace. Works for me.

Lions in a frame

The Lions, framed at the north summit of Black Mountain.

Last Wednesday was a gorgeous blue-sky day and I couldn’t resist getting back out in the snow with my camera. The wind that greeted us at the north summit felt almost as cold as that in the Coquihalla at New Year and we quickly retreated to a nearby bump that retained a view of the Lions at least. And that’s when I saw the picture: the famous twin peaks were framed neatly between two snow-laden trees, and I had a nice foreground of smooth sunlit snow. Even the existing snowshoe tracks serve to frame the Lions.

Rainbow rising

A double rainbow from this morning to take your mind off politics for a while

Today is election day in the US – time to see who Americans think will be their best president for the next four years. I don’t want to think about how this might turn out, so I’m going to look on the bright side and just enjoy this superb double rainbow that greeted me this morning. I love how there’s a shadow cutting off the bottom section of the bow, and the golden light on the flanks of Black Mountain highlighting all the texture in the landscape.

After that I went looking for (and found!) salmon spawning the city creeks. Not a bad start to the day!

Raven

Pretending to be not interested in my trail mix

After watching the sunrise and moonset I went for a little hike up to Black Mountain. At the northern summit I was joined by a raven that sat on a rock and preened itself, all the while doing its best to look like it was ignoring the fact I was scoffing a few handfuls of trail mix…

West Lion

A different view of the West Lion – taken from the trail up to Black Mountain at the end of March 2010

The Baden-Powell trail up to Black Mountain from Cypress Bowl used to be a leisurely ascent via an old logging road before entering old growth on the summit plateau. It was an especially pleasant approach in the winter meandering past (or over) frozen ponds and gradually climbing up to the south peak. As part of the preparation for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Cypress Mountain ski resort expanded its ski runs on the east face of Black Mountain, wiping out the old trail in the process, which was re-routed up the north side of one of the ski runs turning it into a boring miniature “grind”.

Boring, yes. But the saving grace of this more direct route is that it makes getting up to the summit of Black Mountain easy on those lighter spring evenings, taking barely 45 minutes. And so after work one day I headed across to the North Shore and headed up to the top to catch the sunset. Alas I was too late to catch the sunset itself, but I did capture this gorgeous soft light on the west Lion, all newly bedecked in the metres of fresh snow that fell immediately after the Olympics…

One other thing I noticed that evening was that I was alone – no one else was venturing up on snowshoes, and I had the entire hike to myself. It was so still and quiet, especially after the ski lifts shut down, that I could hardly believe I was so close to the city. Really, quite a magical moment and well worth doing, even if I did take a wrong turn on the descent and ended up coming down on one of the ski runs…

I put up a set of photos on Flickr if you want to see what else I took that night.