Forest light

Forest light: morning sunshine streaming through the trees picks out some young hemlocks on our way up Mt Gardner

Recently I’ve been enjoying Adam Gibbs’s YouTube channel and his exploration of the coastal rain forest of south-western BC. One of his main talking points is light. I’ve known good light is critical for good photographs but his discussion of some of the more subtle aspects of light has had me looking anew at various scenes.

Now let’s face it, the sunshine lighting up the young hemlocks is pretty obvious but having watched Adam’s videos and seen how he uses light in his photographs I immediately saw this as an opportunity to put into practice some of what I’ve been watching. I really like the contrast in light, but also the contrast in texture: the small, bright green hemlocks against the darker background of mature tree trunks. The diagonal trunk also adds an extra element, and the new ability to make local adjustments in DxO meant I could tone down the brightest highlights and preserve a more realistic look.

Overall I’m really happy with this photo and it’s inspired me to look for more scenes like this as we get our hiking season under way.

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A little water, falling

Cascades on Kill Creek for waterfall Wednesday – I think this was the first time I remember seeing this creek flowing.

Last Saturday we took a leisurely hike up Mt Gardner on Bowen Island, a lovely little getaway destination for a day especially when topped off with a serving of local gelato. As we neared the trailhead on our descent, I looked upstream to see a gorgeous little double cascade of a waterfall. Unfortunately I couldn’t fit both in to the Instagram format so I ended up cropping around the upper drop. For such a small waterfall – barely a metre high – it has quite a bit of character thanks to the way the water is running over the broken log.

Thankfully the sun was well hidden and I was able to use a low ISO (100) coupled with a moderate aperture (f/5.0) to get a roughly half-second exposure, long enough to blur out the water nicely. I even had a well-placed tree to balance the camera against (while trying not to fall down the short but very steep slope), though it still took several tries to get a photo that was not blurry. I would have liked to have been able to avoid the spindly branches sweeping across the frame but that wasn’t possible without getting into the creek itself. The main downside to this image is that I had to crop quite heavily to just focus on this little waterfall. While it doesn’t really stand up to close viewing on a large screen, I’m happier than I expected at how it looks on a phone or small tablet. If nothing else, it’s introduced me to a previously-unknown (to me) little waterfall I can capture another day.

Dusky pink

It’s ferry Friday – here’s the Queen of Capilano on her way back to Horseshoe Bay from Bowen Island at dusk last weekend.

A clear evening, a view of the ferry, and a pink sky. All I had to do was keep the camera steady. I was hoping to be able to push the colour a bit more to make it a bit more dramatic but it didn’t really look right, so I kept my adjustments modest. More realistic, albeit at the expense of being a little less eye-catching.

On the whole I’ll take realism any day – I see too many photos on Instagram (and Flickr and Facebook) where the colours have been pushed to ridiculous levels in the hope of attracting more likes. (And that’s before we get into discussions of HDR.) At least I assume that’s the case – perhaps the posters genuinely like their photos to look that way? Maybe that is “realistic” to them? Who knows? I don’t see exactly the same as them and my screens are setup differently.

It occurred to me as I was writing this that eye-catching is probably the name of the game for many people on Instagram. Given the continuous scrolling through dozens of photos, it takes something to literally catch your eye as you go, something to make you stop scrolling and take a closer look, tap the heart, or even leave a comment. Sure, I enjoy seeing those “like” notifications as much as anyone, but at the end of the day, if only a few others like my photos, I’m fine with that.

I will admit, though, that I do get a little irked when I see mediocre photos being lauded as “excellent work”, but I also recognize that the number of likes and comments is pretty much directly related to the number of followers, and I’d have to work harder to gain more followers in order to increase my likability. I’m not so heavily into my own self-promotion to do that. And do I want followers who can’t tell a good photo from a bad one? What’s the value of their likes to me in that case, other than for massaging my ego?

So I will go on just posting photos I like, those that can jog a memory or two for me, and, yes, I hope that others may find them interesting.

Afloat

Afloat. Mount Baker seems to float in the sky behind Vancouver as seen from the summit of Mount Gardner.

The hike up Mt Gardner is a pretty good one overall – it’s not the most interesting approach (especially if you have to start at the ferry terminal), and it can be confusing without a map, but there are a couple of great viewpoints and this stunning view from the summit. I always love the way that Mt Baker (Kulshan) seems to float on the clouds above and behind the city. Today was perfect: clear enough to get a good view of the city, and hazy enough to obscure the distant mountains.

I wrote up a quick trip report on Live Trails with a few more details of the hike.

A view from sea level

Last weekend we were up on one of those peaks; this week we’re happy to admire them from sea level. Howe Sound summits as seen from Deep Bay on Bowen Island.

Much as I wanted to get back up into the mountains this long weekend, part of me just wanted time to kick back and relax and not do battle with traffic getting back into the city. Hence we ended up on Bowen Island for a couple of nights for a bit of relaxation, visiting with friends, and maybe a hike up to Mt Gardner so we didn’t feel totally lazy!

This afternoon, after hanging out at one beach, we ended up back in Snug Cove where we wandered out to the Causeway to look for birds (lots of geese and a few common mergansers) and to take in the view across the water towards the peaks of Howe Sound that we’d seen at much closer quarters only a week ago. If we couldn’t be in the mountains, it was nice to be able to at least look at the mountains 🙂

Another sunset

Well that was quite the sunset tonight! Great clouds over Bowen Island lit up by the last light of the day.

I’d been watching the clouds all day hoping that sunset would provide a nice photo op. And I wasn’t disappointed! Such a lovely towering cloud over Bowen Island, and lit up perfectly by the setting sun. There was another big cloud over Cypress Bowl that looked to me a bit like one of the space invaders, but perhaps that was my imagination getting the better of me.

A splash of colour

Some welcome colour after the greyest of grey days

To say that today has been grey is an understatement. It hasn’t been raining the whole time, but it has been an oppressive, unrelenting dull grey. So imagine our astonishment when the clouds broke up towards the end of the day as we approached Bowen Island on the ferry. I couldn’t believe my eyes at first: straight ahead the view was the blue of approaching dusk, while to our left everything had a distinct magenta cast to it. I was sufficiently intrigued to go out on deck and was greeted by this incredible sight. Definitely one of the nicest and most dramatic sunsets we’ve had in a while.

After that, we met up with the Black Sheep for some Guy Fawkes’ night merriment and mayhem!