Harvest moonrise

Watching the Harvest Moon rise over Burrard Inlet.

A clear evening for a full-moonrise is not that common in Vancouver so I jumped at the chance to scope out a good place to set up my camera for this one. Using the Photographer’s Ephemeris I decided on the Stanley Park seawall with a clear view towards the Second Narrows bridge to the east and, with moonrise at around 7:25 pm, I knew I had just enough time to get home from work and get down to the park. I hoofed it down from the parking lot by the aquarium onto the seawall and walked along to my designated spot, pulling out the tripod on the way and extending the legs just as I reached a convenient bench.

I had only a few minutes to set up, check focus and exposure before the bright yellow limb of the moon rose over a distant ridge. As with my full moon shoot from January 2017, I was surprised at how quickly the moon appeared to rise for those first few minutes, even though I’m well acquainted with sky rotation (being a former astronomer and all). I snapped away for those minutes, alas making a fatal error and not refocusing as I changed the zoom setting on my lens. Of course I didn’t realized this until afterwards…

This moonrise wasn’t quite as good as the one back in January last year, because the moon rose after the sun had set. This meant that the sky was much darker as the moon brightened, making it much harder to balance the exposure. In the end I mostly exposed for the moon itself, but the reflection on the water was too good to resist. I also didn’t have such an impressive backdrop, and I think I might have been better off trying to get the moon to rise directly over the steel girders of the bridge, although I didn’t want the moon to disappear behind Burnaby Mountain too soon.

Still, I’m pretty happy with the results. The photos on Instagram were from a quick processing session immediately afterwards. I took my time a couple of days later and processed the photos slightly differently to put on Flickr, with different lighting adjustments, noise reduction, crops, and a half-baked attempt to remove some of the red fringing around the bottom half of the moon caused by the lens being slightly out of focus. See for yourself.

Harvest moon rise, 24 Sep 2018

Harvest moon rise, 24 Sep 2018

Harvest moon rise, 24 Sep 2018

Harvest moon rise, 24 Sep 2018

No time-lapse video this time, though. For reasons unknown, my phone and camera were most definitely not on speaking terms, and of course I hadn’t checked that out beforehand. So, another lesson learned from my meagre time lapse experiences! There’s always next time…

Kits Beach

Kits Beach is a 20-minute walk from our apartment. If ever we need a quick dose of outdoors, and don’t feel like taking the bus or driving anywhere, then we walk in the direction of the sea and usually end up by Kits Beach. It’s a great place to catch the low tide, and it’s been our go-to spot for photographing the aurora, at least for 2017 when we were treated to two great displays in May and September. I’ve already written a number of posts about photos taken at or near Kits Beach. What’s one more for Throwback Thursday?

1. Crescent moon at sunset.

For a few years I was quite obsessed with taking photographs of the moon in all its phases. These days it takes something more than the moon itself to inspire me to take a photo, such as a colourful sky, or a colour gradient, which is perhaps more likely to catch my eye. I like how the moon is holding on to the blue sky while the sunset tinges the sky pink and orange below it.

2. Admiring the sunset.

We’ve seen quite a few sunsets at the beach over the years. I particularly like the colours in this one, reflected in the blissfully calm water, with Maria walking across the sand to stand and admire the view from the water’s edge.

3. Blustery day at Kits Beach.

In stark contrast to the photo above, a rare windy day whipped up some great waves, their white caps standing out against the bottle-green water. Dark clouds over the North Shore complete the picture. One of my favourite phone photos: not only did it turn out quite well (at least for viewing at Instagram size) but it was a clear example of the best camera for the job is the one you’re carrying.

Stormy (mountain) Monday Blues

Stormy (mountain) Monday blues – Crown Mountain reflected in the mudflats at the blue hour.

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago on Christmas Day as we walked along the sand on Locarno Beach. I was really pleased to get the top of Crown reflected in the still water ponded on the mudflats, something I’ve tried many times before without much success. It wasn’t until afterwards that I really noticed the low cloud hanging in the Capilano River valley, spilling out across the flanks of the enclosing mountains, and adding to the atmosphere of the scene. I had to work around the dust on the sensor of our RX100II, but I had a square crop in mind from the beginning so that was easy.

I came up with the title based on the weather forecast for the beginning of this week, which should surprise no Vancouverite: rain, rain, rain. And today is “Mountain Monday” on Instagram. The title is actually the name of an old blues tune, “Stormy Monday Blues”, of which we have a wonderful recording from 1948. The first couple of lines of the song are:

They call it Stormy Monday
But Tuesday's just as bad

which seemed fitting (given the weather forecast). Of course, with the photo being taken at the start of the so-called “blue hour”, the song naturally popped into my head.

As it happened, today wasn’t as wet as I expected, tomorrow’s forecast has improved, and I even got to see a barred owl chasing crows on the UBC campus. Not bad for a Monday.

Aurora

The aurora came to visit last night. Not as intense as I’d hoped but always a treat to see it. If nothing else, spending an hour on the beach on a calm, peaceful night was very relaxing, though not conducive to a productive day of work….

This photo so nearly didn’t happen. I knew there was a chance of seeing the Northern Lights last night, but when the time came to think about going somewhere to get photos, I was seriously considering just crawling into bed instead. But these chances don’t come around that often so off we went down to the beach again, to the same spot where we watched them back in May. The water was just as calm again, allowing for great reflections.

But ultimately I’m disappointed in the photos. The lights from the city were just too bright and show up so strongly in the photos, the brightest of them resulting in halos or showing up internal reflections in the lens. Plus I feel like I shot too wide – the aurora just looks like a little green line near the bottom of the frame. And I’m not convinced I’ve got my processing right either. However, I’ve since explored more processing options and found a way to make the photo more pleasing to my eye – that version is on Flickr as Instagram doesn’t support replacements (and I’m not going to simply repost a different version of the same image).

Aurora, 28 Sep 2017

So here’s to the next time we get chance to see the aurora in Vancouver, and perhaps I’ll be in a position to drive out of town to admire it!

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.

Waves, meet beach

A fine day at the beach from 5 years ago, the snowy peaks of the Tantalus Range on the distant horizon.

If I remember rightly, there were a few reasons for this photo. The first was the straight line in the pebbles on the beach marking the high-tide line. The second was the waves – it’s rarely windy enough here to whip up any significant waves. The third was the view up Howe Sound to the peaks of the Tantalus Range, 60 km away near Squamish. I still find it amazing that there are such impressive mountains within sight of Vancouver.

The full-sized photo is on Flickr.

A fine view

A fine view indeed – the North Shore mountains looked very photogenic today. You have to make the most of days like these and we ended up walking 10 km around the city 🙂 My feet are pretty sore now…

What a beautiful day to be outside – apart from the chilly wind and the blinding reflection of the sun off the water in English Bay (there’s no pleasing some people 😉 I ended up with about a dozen photos from today that I really liked, but this one is probably my favourite.

Walking the seawall in Coal Harbour I was drawn to the blue sky reflected in the water, and this perfect little cloud drifting over Grouse Mountain. I also took a landscape shot that took in all the mountains between Crown and Seymour, but I liked the way this angle neatly fitted into a square crop.

Otters

A trio of otters swimming around Stanley Park.

Everyone loves otters. They’re so cute. Except they’re not really. But everyone still likes seeing them.

I’ve seen a few around Vancouver, and remember watching one devour a fish near Kits Point. I was struck by the crunching noises as it chomped its way through that fish. But my sightings had always been single otters – until this day back in 2011 when we saw these three swimming along the seawall in Stanley Park, heading towards Vancouver harbour. We first caught sight of them rolling and playing in the kelp beds near Brockton Point, but as soon as they spotted us they took off and started swimming. I was a bit slow getting the camera on them, and this photo is more distant than it should have been (it’s heavily cropped for the Instagram version). We watched them for a minute or two until they were too far away.

Between sea and sky

Things that Kits Pool is good for in the off-season: sunset reflections.

As soon as the pool closes, the birds move in and it becomes a veritable no-go zone for people. (Apart from being closed to visitors, there is so much bird poop on the ground that it would be a distinctly unpleasant place to be.) But tonight I caught the pool still full, and empty of birds so it was completely still. I really liked the way the street lamps looked like they were continuous, and the blending of the pool and the sea beyond. I first noticed that blending effect a few years ago, and took a very similar photo, albeit on a warm summer evening. I think today’s photo is actually nicer though, with a simpler composition and fewer distractions.

Patience

Patience – a great blue heron waits for the right moment

A walk along the seafront on a cloudy day, and an experiment with a high-ish key photo. With our various compact cameras, I was always careful to not blow out highlights if I could help it, though this often resulted in shots that were mildly to seriously under-exposed. The SLR I used for this photo also tends to underexpose but after several years of looking at histograms I realized I needed to push up the highlights to make it more realistic, and then a bit more to give it a high-key look. It’s not a true high-key picture, so I may go back and play with the raw file to see if I can find a look that I like. One day…

Earlier in the walk we watched a seal splash around in the water, slapping its tail and breaching. Pretty cool. The heron never moved.