Dusky pink

It’s ferry Friday – here’s the Queen of Capilano on her way back to Horseshoe Bay from Bowen Island at dusk last weekend.

A clear evening, a view of the ferry, and a pink sky. All I had to do was keep the camera steady. I was hoping to be able to push the colour a bit more to make it a bit more dramatic but it didn’t really look right, so I kept my adjustments modest. More realistic, albeit at the expense of being a little less eye-catching.

On the whole I’ll take realism any day – I see too many photos on Instagram (and Flickr and Facebook) where the colours have been pushed to ridiculous levels in the hope of attracting more likes. (And that’s before we get into discussions of HDR.) At least I assume that’s the case – perhaps the posters genuinely like their photos to look that way? Maybe that is “realistic” to them? Who knows? I don’t see exactly the same as them and my screens are setup differently.

It occurred to me as I was writing this that eye-catching is probably the name of the game for many people on Instagram. Given the continuous scrolling through dozens of photos, it takes something to literally catch your eye as you go, something to make you stop scrolling and take a closer look, tap the heart, or even leave a comment. Sure, I enjoy seeing those “like” notifications as much as anyone, but at the end of the day, if only a few others like my photos, I’m fine with that.

I will admit, though, that I do get a little irked when I see mediocre photos being lauded as “excellent work”, but I also recognize that the number of likes and comments is pretty much directly related to the number of followers, and I’d have to work harder to gain more followers in order to increase my likability. I’m not so heavily into my own self-promotion to do that. And do I want followers who can’t tell a good photo from a bad one? What’s the value of their likes to me in that case, other than for massaging my ego?

So I will go on just posting photos I like, those that can jog a memory or two for me, and, yes, I hope that others may find them interesting.

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Long blues

Long exposure at the blue hour.

I’ve always loved long exposure photographs. The first time I really remember being aware of the concept was when I saw a documentary about a photographer who used pinhole cameras to take hours-long exposures of popular city locations to reveal scenes devoid of people. I thought it was amazing. Since then I’ve seen other similar examples (plus I’ve seen how to mimic this in post-processing), but the most common subject for long-exposure photography is water; the ocean, a lake, a river, or waterfall. I don’t habitually carry a tripod around with me, which means I’m usually limited in my exposures to what I can take hand-held, and I’ve got quite good at holding a camera steady for up to 1/4 second.

But to get those glassy ocean shots needs much longer exposures and, therefore, a tripod (plus a neutral density filter – which I lack). My GorillaPod is proving to be too wobbly for the kinds of photos I’m after, so I made use of a number of logs on the beach to experiment with exposures of up to about 8 seconds. It took a few shots (owing to the fact that none of the logs were level), but I finally got one I liked. And somehow I felt it looked better when I kept the blue tint rather than using a more realistic colour balance. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough.

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?

Solstice sunrise

Summer solstice moonset over Vancouver Island – welcome to summer!

OK so it’s not a picture of sunrise itself, but it was taken more or less at sunrise…

I’m not a morning person but I love mornings, and every now and again I simply have to catch a summer sunrise, even if it does mean getting up at 3:15 am. And what better a sunrise to capture than that on the summer solstice. Of course, if it was just a matter of watching the sunrise itself I can do that well enough from home or by just walking down to the beach.

But this year the solstice coincided with a full moon which meant I wanted to be somewhere where I could watch the moon set. OK yes, strictly I could have done that from home as well, but I liked the idea of watching it set over Vancouver Island. And the lookout on the way up to Cypress Bowl seemed like the perfect vantage point.

So there I was, one of only half-a-dozen cars on the Lions Gate bridge at 4 in the morning, and then one of only two cars at the lookout. The sunrise was a bust with too much cloud in the east (I was hoping for lovely light on Mt Baker), so I was doubly glad of the clear skies to the west. I have to say I enjoyed every moment of the morning, and it was especially nice to hear the dawn chorus of robins and countless other birds singing away in the trees around me.

Dark clouds

Dark clouds over Vancouver

Dark clouds over Vancouver #bcferries #ferry #ferryfriday #salishsea #explorebc #weather #clouds

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

I can never resist spending time out on deck on a ferry crossing, even if the wind is howling and threatening to make off with my hat. We left Vancouver under heavy grey clouds, and emerged in dazzling sunshine part-way across the Strait of Georgia.

I don’t think the clouds were quite as threatening as I’ve made them appear in this photo – I just liked to boost the contrast a little and rein-in the highlights to give it a more dramatic appearance. I thought about a black-and-white conversion too, but in the end just decided to desaturate the photo which left a little bit of blue sky as a visual cue. Of course, having the ferry heading into the clouds is really what makes the picture.

Pinnipeds!

Pinnipeds! A rock full of sea lions (both Steller and California) for throwback Thursday

Five years ago on the Victoria Day long weekend, we spent a few nights near Lund on the Sunshine Coast. We treated ourselves to a day trip out to Mitlenatch Island where we got to see countless sea lions, seals, dolphins, and wildflowers (on the island, naturally). The fine folks at Terracentric Adventures shared their vast local knowledge and history, and fed us a tasty lunch on the beach. A great day out – highly recommended if you’re in the area!