Stellar Steller

Steller’s jay sightings are pretty much guaranteed at Fawn Lake. We sat and watched this one pick up leftover popcorn from previous hikers to feed its recently fledged chick. While these birds are pretty good at begging for handouts, I haven’t yet encountered any as bold or aggressive as their grey cousins.

Although I’ve spent some time lately cursing the camera for not focussing properly, I have to admit that eventually I was able to get quite a few nice photos of this jay as it hopped around. (I think I have a dozen that I’m happy with – most of which won’t go on Instagram because, well, there’s not much point in posting a dozen almost-identical photos!) Of course birds are rarely still, so getting a good shot becomes an exercise in predicting where it might go next. I’d watched it hop up onto this rock a few times, so I let it do its rounds, saw that it was approaching the rock, and set up my composition and focus. Oh and I made sure that the sun was behind me to avoid just getting a silhouette. As soon as it appeared in my viewfinder I took as many shots as I could (I forgot to put the camera on continuous shoot though). Bingo!

They’re such photogenic birds with brilliant blue feathers taking on shades of azure, cobalt, and sapphire among others. We’ve seen them at this same spot almost every time we’ve visited, and I’ve been wanting to get a good photo of one for some time. I think this’ll do just fine.

Spahats Falls

Spahats Falls, a panoramic view from 2011, because it’s waterfall Wednesday.

At the time we visited Wells Gray back in 2011, we only had the standard 18-55 mm lens for our SLR (28-82 mm 35-mm equivalent). The gorge into which this waterfalls drops is immense and can’t be captured in a single shot, so I took about a dozen photos to capture the scene and stitched them together later in Hugin. And I have to say I’m pleased with the end result. There’s still little idea of the actual scale of the waterfall – it’s a 60-m/200-foot drop – but overall, I feel it captures the gorge quite effectively. It definitely helps that the spring runoff was at its peak as later in the season the waterfall was barely a trickle by comparison.

One of things I remember most about Wells Gray is not the waterfalls, but the volcanic features: the canyon walls contained enormous thick layers of columnar basalts. It must have been quite the scene to see such a huge lava flow.

Not bluebells

Fields of camas – I was amazed to see so many around the park! Such a beautiful sight! I think I’ll be spending more time here next spring…

Recently I’ve been seeing lots of camas (and other wildflower) pictures from various Instagrammers and it’s been making me want to drop everything and head over to Vancouver Island (or one or more of the Southern Gulf Islands) to check out the spring wildflowers. Vancouver seems a little lacklustre in the spring wildflower department by comparison, and the only ones I make an effort to photograph are white fawn lilies and trillium.

I hadn’t even thought about looking for flowers at the time we arranged a trip over to Vancouver Island to visit some friends, but the sight of all those Instagram pictures had me suggesting we head into town for the afternoon. And I was really quite blown away by how extensive they were in Beacon Hill Park. I didn’t expect that at all, thinking that with it being a city park that it would be dominated by cultivated flowers and manicured grass. So it was a wonderful surprise to find the park has patches of unmanicured meadows and trees. And the camas was growing everywhere! I’ve never seen such a bloom. My first reaction was that I was seeing a field of bluebells, but I was delighted to find that it was a lovely spread of camas instead. They even look similar when first budding and I really had to look twice in a few places.

So my mind is made up: I think I need to make a spring pilgrimage to southern Vancouver Island every year now… 🙂

Mountains at sea

A view of Golden Ears from the entrance to Active Pass on our ferry ride home.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I love being out on deck as the ferry goes through Active Pass. I’ve seen killer whales here several times, seals most times, eagles, and the occasional sea lion. On our outward journey on Friday, I saw a couple of deer feeding in one of the meadows on Mayne Island.

As usual, I was up at the bow, primed to get take a picture of the other ferry coming towards us, only to be reminded of the glorious view of Golden Ears framed between headlands on Galiano (left) and Mayne Islands. Since it caught me by surprise, I was a little late in taking the photo, and as a result, it’s not as well framed as I feel it could have been; I would like the headlands to be a little closer together. I’ll have to make sure I get it right next time! Maybe the light will be more favourable too?

Flow

Not a waterfall but flowing water nonetheless – some soft wave action from a glorious couple of minutes at sunset a few weeks ago.

This photo was taken the same night as this one when the sun broke through the clouds only moments before sunset. I was captivated by the gentle wash of the waves and the reflection of the pink light on the wet sand, which gave me the idea of taking a photo with a long-enough exposure to blur the waves and give the viewer a sense of that motion. It took many attempts as I did not have a tripod, plus I had to wait for the right combination of waves and wet sand. But eventually I got one that was more or less exactly what I had in mind (indeed, this was one of those rare photographs that I actually envisioned before I took it). To top it off, the contrast between the blue water and the pink reflection is just lovely to my eye.

Mt Robson

The classic view of Mt Robson from the visitor centre.

This in indeed the classic tourist photo of Mt Robson, but it’s far from the best angle. (That honour goes to the view from Highway 16 heading south-east.) From here at the visitor centre, the mountain is diminished by the presence of the foreground trees and the surrounding mountains that are not as high, but much closer. However, when the light is right, it’s still a spectacular sight, and we were lucky enough to have another of rare day when the summit was clearly visible.

Earthshine crescent

So the sunset didn’t amount to much, but then the moon appeared.

I was so hoping that last night’s sunset would be as awesome as the one ten years ago so I could post a glorious photo today and wonder at two sunsets on the same day a decade apart. While it looked promising, I either missed the peak colour or there wasn’t much to get excited about.

As it got darker I suddenly had a thought: I’d checked the phase of the moon a couple of days ago and figured that by now it must be visible in the evening sky. I went back out onto our balcony and there it was: a gorgeous slender crescent, with more than a hint of earthshine. Camera time! I really like the fact that there are some clouds in the sky, and the moon is even shining through them. Very photogenic.

As a side note, I think Earthshine Crescent sounds like it would be a lovely road to live on 🙂