Signs of spring II

It may not look like much at the moment but in a week or so this will be a beautiful white fawn lily, one of my favourite spring flowers. There was no sign of any shoots when I was in Lighthouse Park a few weeks ago, but I was inspired to go looking for them again after I saw a similar photo from @plantexplorer. I also found a few salmonberry flowers down by the lighthouse, so despite our recent weather, spring is definitely on its way!

I was wondering how soon the fawn lilies would begin to poke up through the pine and fir needles given the very wintry winter we’ve had. Turns out they’re pretty much right on schedule (unlike last year when they were ridiculously early). I imagine I’ll be making a couple more trips to Lighthouse Park to catch their peak bloom, but I also want to check out another area to see if they’re growing there too as I have an indirect suggestion that fawn lilies may grow there too.

As soon as I started taking photos I immediately lamented not bringing my tripod. Bending over in the wet dirt (on a steep slope) trying to get a compact camera to focus on the right part of the green-on-green plant was an exercise in patience and frustration. I took a couple of dozen photos in order to get just 3 or 4 that I consider to have worked! After all, I can even set up the camera and just use my phone to control when to take the picture with no need to kneel in the dirt. Next time…

Signs of spring

Signs of spring – some cheery, curly witch-hazel blooms.

I love looking out for witch hazel blooms in January. They’re my primary indicator of spring, more so than the snowdrop and crocus bulbs planted in so many front gardens. When I worked at UBC, I’d walk past one particular tree on the way to the bus and enjoyed seeing the curly yellow extensions, a splash of bright colour in an otherwise grey winter. But I hadn’t seen any this winter so far, despite keeping my eyes open on my many walks around the neighbourhood. At least, I thought I was keeping my eyes open. As it turns out, I walked right past this tree several times, though in my defence it was usually dark and I was on the other side of the street. And yet somehow I hadn’t noticed the witch hazel in previous years either.

In any case, I was really pleased to find this tree and took a dozen or more photos to try and capture the cheer, hoping that the residents wouldn’t come out to ask why I was pointing my camera towards their home. And much as I like many of my earlier photos of yellow blooms against a blue sky, I love the depth of colour in this one.

I was surprised to find that I was decidedly not the first person to use the tag “witchhazelwednesday” on Instagram. Who knew that a few dozen others would decide on that tag? Fascinating πŸ™‚

Spring approaches

Spring is definitely on its way! I did a double-take when I saw this white fawn lily already in bud, and simply had no choice but to stop and take its picture πŸ™‚

It’s hard to get over how excited I was at seeing this two-inch-high bud of a flower, and even harder for most people to understand why. In short, I think they’re really pretty little flowers. They’re also quite uncommon in the Vancouver area, and much less common than they used to be. The fact that they are the lowland cousins of my beloved glacier lilies doesn’t hurt either πŸ˜‰

Back in March 2011 I began a photo-a-day project, an undertaking that was decided pretty much at about the time I took the first picture. I was in Lighthouse Park as I’d read that these lilies bloomed in the park, and I was determined to find them. My search that day came up empty (looking back I don’t think I was being observant enough) and I ended up beginning the photo project with a photo of a trillium flower beginning to uncurl.

A year later, and as I was seeking the final photo in the project I returned to the park, exploring a few of the less-travelled trails. To my astonishment and delight, I found a small patch of these flowers in bud and set about framing the project’s parting shot. Since then I’ve returned to the park every year to seek out the flowers at their peak bloom and find more and more of them each time. Back to the photo above, and I was amazed to see them in bud this early in the season: it was a month later than this that I first saw them, and they are usually in full bloom in early April. Even better, it was right by the trail at near head-height, so all I had to do to get my shot was lean on a helpful Douglas fir root. Looking around, I could see many mottled leaves poking up through the soil – and that was all I expected to see – including another half-dozen or so buds. Spring is definitely almost here in Vancouver!

One last thing: don’t underestimate how much work it is to take a photo every day through a whole year. And beware of leap years…

Snowdrops!

Happy Snowdrop Saturday πŸ™‚ They’re just starting to bloom in the gardens of Vancouver.

Happy #SnowdropSaturday πŸ™‚ My 100th post on Instagram πŸ™‚

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

Remarkably, this is my 100th post on Instagram. I started on Instagram as an experiment back in July 2015 for two reasons. The first was simply to get to know Instagram as a platform from the perspective of a long-time Flickr user. The second was as a place to put my (crappy) phone photos (hence my [former] Instagram name, fonetoes, as in photos from my phone – it seemed clever at the time…).

I had a number of preconceived notions about Instagram, some of which have been proved right, but mostly I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the quality of photographs I’ve seen. I still prefer Flickr as the primary location for our photos, but Instagram does have a fun element to it that Flickr doesn’t satisfy.

I quickly realized that just uploading my crappy phone photos wouldn’t be a very satisfying use of Instagram, so I began to include the occasional photo taken with one of our SLRs. But the convenience of uploading direct from a cell phone is hard to beat. The next best thing is to have a camera that can link up with a phone and so maintain that ability to see something, take a photo, and upload it. And so I bought a Sony RX100II which can do exactly that, and I’ve been very happy with it as it gives me the best of both worlds.

Of course that means I’m now having a bit of an existential crisis as my username isn’t really appropriate any more, but my first choice is not available. Looks like I’m stuck with it.

Update: except it turns out that I’m not stuck with it. I found a new name I could live with. My own. πŸ™‚