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.

Crescent moon at sunset #kitsbeach #moon #beautifulbritishcolumbia

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

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.

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West is best

Having recently visited Vancouver Island I thought it would be fun to feature a couple more shots in my Throwback Thursday series.

1. Sunset over Vancouver Island.

A typical summer view when taking a Friday evening ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Who can resist a glorious colourful sunset? The journey is not as scenic as the Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay route, so it lends itself well to “big sky” and abstract photos.

You can’t get much simpler a composition that this: sun in the centre, horizon dividing the scene in two, contrasting textures (if not colour) in each half. Looking back at this photo, the vapour trail from the airliner annoys me, but I’m not (yet) into removing features I don’t like from images so it’ll have to stay put for now.

2. Carmanah lighthouse on the West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island.

Now this was a treat. Through a friend we managed to wrangle a stay at the lighthouse for a night which meant we had about 24 hours to enjoy the beaches of the west coast of the Island. And I distinctly remember stopping in my tracks when we emerged from the forest onto the driftwood logs and were confronted by a beautiful idyllic scene of a blue ocean lapping at a sandy beach. I had forgotten just about gorgeous the west-coast beaches were, and it definitely inspired us to spend more time way-out west. The icing on the proverbial cake was seeing a number of grey whales and finding some whale fossils.

That particular view of the beach is on Flickr:
West Coast Trail, 22 Aug 2015

But it’s not just that section of the West Coast Trail (WCT); many parts of the coast of Vancouver Island have sandy beaches. While we have still yet to tackle the WCT, we did manage to spend a few days at the northern tip of the Island in 2016. Much of our time on the Cape Scott Trail was spent lounging around or otherwise admiring the beautiful sandy beaches. Don’t believe me?

Nels Bight, 6 Aug 2016

And then there’s the Nootka Trail, where your first night is spent on this beach:
Nootka Trail, 25 Aug 2006
I even swam in the sea here!

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that we jumped at the opportunity to ring in the New Year on the sandy beaches of Tofino, and I’m already looking forward to our next visit.

Sunshine and coffee

These last couple of days here in Vancouver have me dreaming of hot coffee and sunshine – flashback-Friday to sunset light on Coffee Pot rock in Sedona. Mind you it was pretty cold when I took this photo. I guess the fact it was December might explain that…

It feels like it’s been dull or raining all year so far (12 days in). I think we’ve had a couple of sunny breaks during the day, but they’ve only shown up during the working week, and when you’re working 9-to-5 you don’t get much chance to enjoy them. The highlight of this past week was seeing a barred owl right outside our office. Oh and hearing the first chickadees singing. But I digress.

Seeking winter sun was the very reason we headed to Sedona, AZ, back in December 2013. Alas it was not as warm as we had hoped; a large Arctic airmass had made its way south across western North America with sub-zero temperatures in Vancouver and distinctly chillier-than-usual here in this part of Arizona. We had driven up to Airport Mesa on the southern edge of Sedona to get a sunset view over the town and were greeted by a bitterly cold wind as we lined up to take our photographs. All I remember was shivering and trying to get out of that wind, and we escaped back down the mountain as soon as we could.

But it was worth it for the light: golden sunset light on red rock is unbelievably photogenic and we enjoyed glorious sunsets on every day we were there, from our drive in from Phoenix, to this view, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rocks, the Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest. It’s definitely a superb area to visit and explore. Just watch the red channel on the histogram…

Light at the end of the day

A welcome sight after driving through rain, sleet, and snow on our way to Tofino.

We’d been watching the weather forecast all week, and thankfully our drive over to Tofino was mostly just a wet one, despite the recent snowfall. After settling in at our cottage, we noticed the clouds were breaking and there was a hint of sunshine to the west. That promise of sunshine right at the end of the day was enough to tempt us outside for a 10-minute walk to the beach. And we were well rewarded with a lovely colourful, if still cloudy, sunset. We walked the beach until last light, pausing to admire an eagle that circled overhead and dropped down to drink from the creek running onto the beach barely 40 m from us, before heading back to the cabin for dinner. A very satisfying way to end the day.

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.

Disappearing act

Going, going, going…. The sun fades into the smoky murk last night, disappearing from view over half an hour before sunset. We abandoned our hiking plans this weekend because the smoke was really bad near Whistler. Kicking back at home, maybe venturing out for a less strenuous day hike instead. The photos were taken about 7-8 minutes apart – there’s one lone sunspot on the sun right now, maybe just about visible in the first two photos.

I couldn’t resist taking this series of photos as the sun set. I’ve already taken some during the current round of wildfires, but since the smoky conditions rolled in last week I’ve been wanting to capture how quickly the sun fades as drops into the layers of smoke.

After setting up one photo to my liking, I copied those settings (especially the crop – which can’t be defined in pixels in DxO, a major oversight in my opinion) to the other three, re-centred the sun, and adjusted the colour and contrast. My original idea was to match the brightness of the sky, but that led to so weird-looking photos, so in the and I let the sky do what seemed to work best while I concentrated on the sun itself. Apart from the edge-response in the first image where the sun is bright, I’m really quite happy with the way they turned out.

I did take a couple more photos while the sun was barely visible, but these didn’t work – I couldn’t process them in a way that produced an image that showed anything. Thankfully, I don’t think they were needed to demonstrate my point.

On a side note, this didn’t post to Twitter, so I’m guessing that the IFTTT applet I’m using doesn’t support Instagram slideshows. Phooey.

Evening(ton) Crescent

Last night’s most slender of crescent moons 🌙

On Sunday night I scanned the western horizon to see if I could make out the tiniest sliver of a crescent moon with no luck. Last night I thought I’d stand more chance (given that it was now 4.5 % illuminated), but was still unable to spot it for some time after sunset – until about 25 minutes later and suddenly there it was: a slim crescent low in the sky. Knowing how unpredictable our 55-200 mm lens has become, I opted for resting it on the balcony, propped up on a small wedge (rather than wobbling in the wind on a tripod), and using the 10-second timer. Before I took my moon shot (ha ha), I made sure to focus on something distant as the camera was having trouble focusing on the faint moon (I used the radio towers on the summit of Mt Gardner), and turned off the autofocus and image stabilization.

I took 4 or 5 photos with that arrangement and picked the one that suffered least from atmospheric effects too (a problem when the moon is so low in the sky; barely 7 degrees above the horizon). The wind had blown around the foreground trees to a distracting blur, so I cropped them out of the final picture. Then all I needed were a few adjustments to the exposure, contrast, and vibrance and I had my photo. I really like the gradient from blue to yellow across the image.

I don’t think it’s the thinnest crescent I’ve captured, but it might be one of the faintest. I like that subtlety.

Postscript: I feel I should explain the odd title of today’s post. The BBC radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue has a “game” called Mornington Crescent, where the aim of the game is to be the first person to say “Mornington Crescent”. (Read more on Wikipedia to learn how this can even make sense!) Since the photo is of a crescent moon taken in the evening, I couldn’t resist the play on the name of the game, although it would actually make more sense if the photo were taken in the early morning. Maybe I’ll save that for another day?