Streaming

Streaming sunlight, streaming crows at tonight’s sunset.

I had ventured outside to photograph the rays of light shining up in front of the cloud when I noticed the crows flying east to roost for the night. Hoping I’d capture a large group of them flying over I snapped a handful of photos. Despite missing the largest groups, I was happy to see one photo in which the perspective of the crows’ flight seemed to mirror the crepuscular rays from the setting sun. Obviously, I would have preferred more crows (and it is a little hard to see them in the Instagram-sized version of the picture) but the effect is still there, at least to my eyes. Maybe that’s because I took it, and I knew what I was looking at?

Either way, even if you ignore the crows, it was still a spectacular sunset.

Advertisements

Ominous

Ominous clouds to the west

Today was one of those spring days where the weather gives us all four seasons in a day. We had sun while other parts of the area had hail and/or snow. Towards sunset, the clouds gathered and threatened a downpour. It never came – at least for us – but the clouds looks dark and foreboding as the weather system tracked north along the Salish Sea and up towards Howe Sound.

I looked out of our west-facing window to see the dark rain clouds. Thinking there must be a picture in there somewhere I stepped out onto the balcony and sized up a few photos. As I looked through them on the computer I found I just hadn’t been able to capture the feel of the weather. Until I got to this photo: the full 3×2 frame was just of the cloud formations, and I took it because it looked kinda interesting. However, when I first saw it on the screen I passed over it because it looked, well, boring and dull. It was only as I went through a second time with a more critical eye – having processed a couple of others and not feeling they conveyed anything – that somehow I instantly saw a square crop, the frame neatly divided into light and dark, with some really interesting cloud shapes along the boundary. I loaded it into DxO PhotoLab, desaturated the colours (after setting the white balance to “shade” to make it nearly grey) and applied some contrast to emphasize the extremes.

I set out to capture the dark clouds over the city and instead ended up with a more abstract cloudscape that actually captured the mood far better. I’m really happy with it.

City sights on a sunny Sunday

City sights on a snowy sunny Sunday – mountains, birds, the sea, the city, snow, ice, and signs of spring. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe that I live here.

Winter came to the city last night, and to everyone’s surprise, the clouds parted and we were treated to a gorgeous sunny day. Maria and I wandered out for some fresh air, heading down to the beach before grabbing a hot chocolate and walking home for lunch. And a lovely picturesque walk it was too!

1) The beach between Tatlow Park and Trafalgar Street has a nice tidal shelf with a few little raised rocks. This seagull was perfectly placed with the Vancouver skyline behind it, with the peaks of Mt Seymour and the Fannin Range forming the horizon.

2) I love this view of Kits Beach, especially when the tide is out a little like today. The ripples of the incoming waves add some lovely foreground interest – spot the seagull down on the beach too!

3) A couple of the streets offer a great view of Crown Mountain. I liked this one showing the street scene with the mountain as an imposing backdrop. The original version of this image (in a vertical 3:2 ratio) looks much better though. The square crop loses too much for my liking, and I wouldn’t post it alone in this format, but it works well enough for a multi-photo post.

4) I found some witch hazel still in bloom! Yay! This tree is the same one I photographed last year, and it’s a lovely hybrid tree with a mixture of yellow and red “petals”. Most are just one colour of the other, but this one blends the two into its own little spectrum.

5) I was hoping to find a scene like this: a dot of last night’s snow perched on top of some flowers. And with the blue sky behind, how could I resist?

6) Possibly the closest witch hazel tree to home, I hadn’t noticed this one before but it was a gorgeous pure yellow complete with a little icy hat!

Signs of autumn

Spring may be within sight, and I love the spring for the new growth. But I know many people favour autumn for its colour and feel. So this Thursday, let’s throw it back to a few autumnal shots from a couple of years ago.

1. Mushroom season is here – shaggy ink caps, I think.

I had just left work and was heading to the bus stop when I spotted a couple of mushrooms poking up through the grass. Then another, and more, and then this group which stopped me in my tracks. I took the photo with my phone, and thought about repeating it with one of our SLRs. Alas, not two days later the city had been past with their mowers and cut down every single mushroom on the verge. Mushroom massacre! So I’m really glad I took that chance and grabbed the photo when I did.

2. A sunny thing happened on the way to the Kits Farmer’s Market

It’s always nice when the sun makes an appearance in Vancouver, and today the sun lit up the yellowing leaves on the catalpa trees beautifully. I don’t like catalpas as a rule; there’s something about the colour of the leaves, and the fact that they’re big and floppy just puts me off, plus they produce these sticky slippery bean-pods after the leaves drop. But there’s a short time when a bit of sun catches them just right and all is forgiven.

3. A big big-leaf maple leaf

View this post on Instagram

A big big-leaf maple leaf

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

By contrast, I love big-leaf maples! The size of their leaves is incredible and the trees grow all manner of moss and licorice ferns. When my parents visited Vancouver a few years ago, I found a large leaf and handed to my mum who took it home and put it in a frame on the wall 🙂

However, not everyone shares my appreciation of these trees. They’re not popular near buildings as they can rot from the inside and collapse or fall without warning. Water can collect in the boughs where it can cause large branches to rot and fall off. I’ve heard the term “widow-maker” in conversations about big-leaf maples… But without those constraints, I think they’re awesome trees. And the leaves can’t be beaten. I mean, just look at the size of that one!

4. A 21st century Halloween horror!

Aaaaaarrrrrggghhh!!!! What a nightmare, eh? I spotted this pumpkin on the doorstep of an apartment building in Mt Pleasant and couldn’t resist…

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.

At last, a sunset!

It takes a good sunset to entice me to take its picture these days – or maybe it was just the novelty of actually seeing a sunset? Either way, I love the patterns on the underside of the clouds highlighted in pink.

I almost didn’t bother. I’ve been a bit out of sorts with photography lately, and just haven’t felt like picking up the camera or even looking through past photos (the gloomy weather may have had something to do with that). Yesterday we had a foggy walk along the seawall in English Bay and Stanley Park and I took the camera for the first time in a while; I even got a few photos I like (the highlight was the otter sighting). Earlier today I was doing some camera shopping in the hope of finding an upgrade to the DSLR I’ve been carrying since 2009. Perhaps between the two it gave me a bit more inspiration to look for photographs again. In any case I figured I had nothing to lose by taking this photo, so why not?

As I sized it up I immediately envisaged it working as a square crop which meant only one thing: after nearly a month, I finally felt like posting something on Instagram! I like the way the view is divided into four sections – the black horizon, the sunset glow, the lit clouds, and the blue sky above – even though they’re not equal, as well as the pattern of pink on the clouds. And I’m pretty sure I don’t have another sunset photo like this one, so I’m quite happy with it.

Snowdrops

I guess that’s why they’re called snowdrops.

A week or so ago I saw my first spray of snowdrops in someone’s front yard, and on our neighbourhood walk yesterday, I kept my eyes open for any poking through the snow. Alas it was mostly too deep but I did find one spot where the emerging flowers were slightly sheltered from the falling snow. Even better they were just budding, which I’ve usually missed. I crouched down and pointed the camera at the flowers – I couldn’t see quite what it was focusing on so I just had to trust it was doing it right. Sure enough, it missed my target bud by a small amount, but not enough to make a big difference thankfully. I know it’s “just” Instagram, but I probably should be a little more patient.