Another month, another (almost full) moonrise, this time with the city as backdrop. We had seals for company (plus a few other photographers) on this clear, calm evening, perfect for picture-taking and kayaking…
I was hesitant to put in the effort to get yet another set of moonrise photos. After last month’s experience with getting less-than-sharp photos my hopes weren’t particularly high. Plus at the weekend I’d been reminded of how our telephoto lens has a sharp side and a very blurry side. With a city skyline as the likely feature of the moonrise photos, how could I work around this? Did I even feel like trying to work around it?
The weather and timing were in our favour though. I got home from work, we grabbed some food, and drove out to Locarno Beach with just enough time to spare. I ran over to the pier by the Jericho Sailing Centre, trying to undo the tripod as I went (not recommended, especially when on a sandy beach) as I could see the moon just clearing the tops of the condo towers.
I set up the camera and tripod as quickly as I could, remembering to take off the image stabilization but relying on autofocus this time as there was more light. I used the remote shutter release to take the photos, and I just kept pressing the button, changing the framing and/or focal length in between to capture different scenes. In retrospect this wasn’t the best idea as our tripod isn’t particularly sturdy and I ended up with more than a few blurry shots from camera shake. But thankfully enough turned out well enough, given the limits of taking distant photos towards a heat-hazy city, and I learned that the blurriness with this lens actually comes from the image stabilization mechanism; the lens itself is fine. Every single photo I took had uniform sharpness across the (important parts of the) frame. Yay!
- The moon just clearing the tops of the high-rises
- The moon on the edge of the belt of Venus, kayakers enjoying the calm evening
- The sun has set, the moon is getting brighter
- Set-up photo with my phone – I see a lot of these on Instagram and yes, I wanted to copy it 🙂
Well worth doing especially as the last couple of weeks of sunny weather has just given way to the first real taste of autumnal rain. Will I be able to make it three full (-ish) moons in a row? I guess we’ll see…
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.
Last night’s sunset when the sun peeked under the clouds for a few short minutes before dropping below the horizon.
I’m sure I’ve commented on this before, but it seems to happen quite often in Vancouver that a grey day ends with a brief spell of intense sunset colour. We were walking back towards the car after a wander from Jericho to Locarno Beach when we noticed the sun had dipped under the cloud layer, lighting up everything around us a dusky pink. We walked down to the water’s edge, the tide just beginning to recede after peaking an hour earlier, and watched the waves lap against the shore, the white foamy tips of each breaking wave casting a fleeting mountain-like shadow on the wet sand which reflected the deep coloured sunlight, the underside of the cloud deck now lit up a fiery pink. So pretty.
I took a couple of dozen shots hoping to capture the right wave, but none really worked. In the end I liked this composition – though this version is cropped for the Instagram format, which weakens the line of the water that I had carefully placed across the image (in the full image the water’s edge extends to the bottom right of the frame)… Oh well. The original will go up on Flickr at some point!
Stature. I’ve taken so many photos of Crown Mountain over the past few years, yet very few have really captured just how imposing a mountain it is. This one comes close but I cropped in too close for it to fit into the stupid Instagram format. The full size version is on Flickr.
Given its impressive, jagged profile and the fact that we have a clear view from our balcony, Crown Mountain must be the most-photographed mountain in our photo collection. A quick check on Flickr shows that we have 79 photos tagged with “Crown Mountain”, which includes photos we took on Crown itself and those taken from neighbouring mountains. (Mts Garibaldi and Baker also feature highly in our photo stream.) Not bad. For the most part, the photos I’ve taken over the years have been what you could call “pretty mountain” photos – in other words, a scene that has intrinsic appeal but remains a bit abstract or detached from reality.
Now, I’ve come to realize that it’s hard to capture the scale of any mountain really, as you need something human-scale in the frame as well. People work well, but failing that buildings. And it helps to use a telephoto lens to compress the horizontal distance and make the comparison more immediate. These are aspects of photography that I already knew, and yet for some reason had never really put them into action, at least not until the other day down at Locarno Beach. It may have taken me a few years, but I’ve finally got a photo of Crown that does a passable job at capturing its stature.
Ruler of the roost
Another photo from our sunny beach evening, this time a heron that landed on a post near the Jericho pier. I liked the light, the calm water, and the fact that the heron looked taller than any of the high-rise buildings in the city skyline 🙂
A mild evening down by the water near the Jericho Sailing Club, between Locarno and Jericho Beach. I was hoping for some rich sunset colours to capture over the water but it was too cloudy. I walked out onto the pier and decided to take some long-exposure photos of the Vancouver skyline. A seal bobbed up every now and then.
There’s a short period of time around dusk when even cloudy skies look very blue (at least to the camera) and it’s possible to get photos with an interesting white balance. In this case I let the camera decide the white balance, which meant the city lights came out quite nice and white while the sea and the sky became a deep blue.
I spent a few more minutes taking longer and longer exposures of the city until the sky lost all its blue. The low clouds glowed orangey-pink with the reflected city lights and the skyline became a mass of light. Despite the cool breeze, the water was smoothed out by the long exposure, making for quite a nice effect.
Now that it was properly dark, the air was quite chilly and it was time for me to head home. My short walk back to the car was accompanied by a chorus of frog song from the marshes.