A quartet of coltsfoot

A quartet of coltsfoot, another early bloomer that’s easy to overlook as it looks kinda weedy from a distance and grows in wet marshy ground. But get close up and it shows off its lovely florets, not to mention its pretty good golf ball impression. Enough to make anyone smile πŸ™‚

It was only last year that I truly appreciated the flowers of palmate coltsfoot for the first time. I’d taken photos of it before and generally thought it was a straggly-looking plant without much in the way of interesting flowers. After being put firmly right I decided that this year I would endeavour to take some photos that showed just how nice a flower it really is. My favourite photo is probably the first one, showing the florets as they begin to flower.

From a distance, the florets don’t look like much – just some dots on the end of green stems. Then there’s the fact it grows in wet places which likely puts off most people from getting anywhere near it in the first place. The second photo is my attempt to show this with the muddy stream I had to jump across and NW Marine Drive in the background. See what I mean? Why would anyone stop to take a closer look at these flowers? I’m sure I got a few strange looks from passing cyclists and car occupants as I stooped and crouched to get the angles I wanted.

The most obvious feature of coltsfoot when it’s in bloom is its golf-ball-like head of florets on a cabbage-green stalk, surrounded by a handful of leaves. This year I was pleased to find a really lovely golf-ball impression with the third photo. OK so it doesn’t look quite as much like a golf ball when viewed close up, but from a distance it’s quite convincing. I really like how the florets look a bit like birds’ nests complete with eggs in this photo.

Finally, like a floral firework, the florets open out to produce a veritable feast for pollinators with dozens of tiny flowers to visit. The fourth photo caught my eye as it looks a bit like a smiley face. Doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

So there you go – a quick tour of an under-appreciated wildflower. Maybe it’ll tempt you to check it out for yourself?

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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

Raining in the sunlight #rain #rainbow #morninglight #vancouver #iloveithere

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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.

VanCity Views II

Part II of a variety of Vancouver views and vistas.

1. Vancouver on a beautiful, chilly November morning

How can you resist taking such a photo? So calm, so still. So just take the photo and get on to work!

2. It’s all a matter of perspective

I’m a big fan of perspective in photographs (and art in general) and I liked this view underneath the Cambie Street Bridge looking over towards Cooper’s Park in Yaletown. It’s not the most exciting photo but I thought the light was good enough to capture the scene. I would have liked the tide to have been higher to cover up some more of the untidy rocks and bridge the reflections on the pillars closer together. I think that would have been more effective. Maybe someday I’ll repeat it.

3. Vancity. Nuff said.

Another day cycling in to work. I was stopped at the traffic lights at 10th and Cambie and just liked the scene to my left: the Vancity sign and mountains on the horizon. I’ve just noticed that this photo is not level. Oops – that’s going to bug me for eternity…

4. Stoned

Stoned #vancouver #englishbay #westend #seawall

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A bit of a silly shot: I spotted this kinda spaced-out looking face on the rock as we were walking the seawall between English Bay and Stanley Park. I was never happy with the colour cast in this photo, though I think I posted it before I had tried out Instagram’s own editing features. It’s also not the kind of photo I normally take but then that’s partly why I started my Instagram account in the first place as somewhere to post odds and ends kind of photos. It’s since evolved way beyond that and I probably take it far too seriously now!

5. After the rain. Next up, the cold…

I remember the days leading up to this photo when it absolutely poured with rain. Cold, cold mid-winter rain. Even the short walk from the bus stop to the office was enough to get me soaked. But then the skies cleared and the temperature dropped further. I longed for a zoom lens for this shot, but in the end I quite like the overhanging tree acting as a frame for the main subject – the snowy mountains of course!

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.

Downton panorama

Panoramic view of the Downton Creek basin, taken on our first visit 5 years ago today.

It’s a funny thing looking back at trips from 5 or more years ago. So many of them felt like they’d been on our to-do list for many years, and yet when I think about it, they were on that list for less time than has since elapsed. Time is a strange thing. Downton Creek was one of those areas that had been talked up on Club Tread as an exceptional destination, and in Sep 2012 we spent a weekend there exploring some of the area.

We had a fantastic couple of days, but I remember coming home and feeling a little disappointed with the photos – it didn’t seem to me that they’d captured the feel of the area. I’ve had this reaction on multiple occasions before and the only solution is time – leave them alone and go back to the photos some time later. This has the disadvantage of delaying putting any photos online; I’ve read many trip reports that were composed within a day of getting home, but I don’t seem to be able to do that. I like to savour the feeling of the weekend in my own mind before jumping in to the photos.

For me, one of the biggest problems with photos is that, once you’re away from the place, they define your memories of it. That’s another reason that taking a bit a time to get back to the photos works for me. Then I’m in a position where I’m having to rely on the photos to relive the experience.

And so it was several years after I took this panorama that I revisited it, reprocessed the 18 or so photos, and recreated the panorama with Hugin. And now when I look at it, I can sit back and enjoy the view and remind myself of what it was like to be there. I like the soft light, the autumn colours, and the mountains seem more impressive than I remembered. Here’s the full panorama (as linked from Flickr):

Downton Creek, 22 Sep 2012

Well played

Well, that’s one way to end the weekend. Well played Vancouver.

I threw the camera over my shoulder on a whim as we headed out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Walking back from the restaurant, we saw the sky glowing orange and took ourselves over to False Creek to admire the glassy calm water reflecting the gorgeous colourful sky. Definitely one of the most colourful sunsets in a while.

Some dislike it, but I am a fan of the distinctive roof of BC Place, if nothing else because it breaks up the monotony of high-rises on the city skyline. Add in the coloured lights used in the stadium and the scene is made.

I’m so glad I took the camera.