The trillium is blooming at UBC so I went over to take a few photos. Taught me a few things about our new camera too.
It’s been over a month since I posted these photos on Instagram, and the trillium are now reaching the end of their bloom. But ever since I discovered this patch of native wildflowers on the UBC campus, I’ve been revisiting it often to check on what’s flowering when. I particularly enjoy seeing the trillium as they are plentiful and close to the path which makes them easy to photograph. Usually I just use my phone camera these days for Instagram posts, but on this day I had brought in our newest camera as I was eager to try it out on the first wave of spring flowers.
The downside to delaying the writing a blog post is that sometimes I forget the context of what I’ve written in the photo caption. A prime example is the comment above, as I can now no longer remember precisely what I learned from taking these trillium photos. I think I have an inkling, but, a month later, I can’t be 100% sure.
My suspicion is that I was referring to its focusing behaviour. Despite being a recent mirrorless camera with state-of-the-art(-ish) focusing capabilities (for the price bracket, anyway), I’ve found that I can’t always trust the autofocus. In the situation above where I was photographing flowers, I think the issue I ran into was that the camera would often focus on the edges of the petals rather than the part of the flower where I had placed the focus point. The solution was to use autofocus to get an initial lock and then switch to manual focus to ensure that the intended subject was actually in focus using the focus-peaking display (which is extremely handy, though not infallible).
Getting to know a new camera involves a lot of experimentation, trial and error, and patience. After some initial disappointments, I can now say that I recognize the fact that camera is definitely capable of producing good images, but that I cannot assume that it will always do the right thing. I suspect my expectations may have been a little too high; with it being the first serious camera we’ve bought in 6 years and having read some very positive reviews, I think I expected the focussing system to be, well, perfect. Of course, our previous cameras were not short of their own foibles and issues; they just seemed to be different ones…
It’s been a while since I did a Phone Friday post, so here’s a selection of photos I liked from the past week, including some from our hike last Saturday, a walk down to Tower Beach (including a fogbow!), Monday’s moonrise, and some nice afternoon light through the leaves.
- The Chief and the Tantalus Range above the Squamish River valley – the more I look at this photo, the more I like it. It’s such an incredible view to be so high above the Chief, itself such an imposing mountain from the valley floor, and I find my eye is naturally drawn across to the pointy summits of the Tantalus Range.
- Bendy trees – we had just levelled off beneath this cliff face when Maria called to me to look up. I’m glad I did as these Douglas firs are amazing! I love the way they curve out over the cliff before turning upwards. And the four together look like they started growing at about the same time.
- Half-and-half tree – this tree is a lodgepole pine on the open bluffs and I was struck by the fact that one half is completely dead while the other is doing just fine with a well-established crown of pine needles. Not only that but the symmetry of the branches is also evident. It’s hard to say what may have caused one side to die off, but perhaps a lightning strike?
- Mushrooms galore – I was really pleased to find a few tree stumps festooned with these little mushrooms. I haven’t taken many fungus photos this autumn, it feels like there haven’t been as many on the trails. On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty on Instagram so they are definitely out there…
- Dew on redwood sorrel – a group of us at work decided to walk down to Tower Beach while the weather was fine. Along the way I noticed this patch of redwood sorrel (note: must come back next year when it’s in flower), a few of the leaves still covered in droplets of either dew or water from the university’s irrigation system. Either way they looked really striking.
- Snowberries – I still think of my photo-a-day project when I see snowberries. I tried many times to get a good photo of them and failed every time. Thanks to the wide aperture and computing power behind the phone camera, all I needed to do was to get the camera to focus on the desired spot and then just tap the button. Just like that, I have a better photo than any of those I took with our SLR back in 2011-2012!
- Fogbow – this is only the second fogbow I’ve ever seen! I wasn’t thinking about how misty it might be down by the water, but as soon as I saw the mist I wondered if we’d see one. Sure enough – it’s only a partial bow, but it’s good enough for me. Awesome!
- Moonrise – my phone camera’s view of last Monday’s moonrise. Such a beautifully calm evening…
- Afternoon light – Friday afternoon on the UBC campus and the setting sun lit up a couple of trees just outside our building. I ran downstairs to take a few pictures before the light disappeared. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with any of the shots I got, as it didn’t feel like they captured the light or scene as I could see it, but this one’s not bad.
It’s Friday, and this week my phone Friday is also a floral Friday with a selection of blooms seen over the past week. We have Japanese dogwood, salal, cottonwood leaf and seed pods, thimbleberry, false Solomon’s seal, western starflower, and a lovely lemon-yellow coralroot.
I picked only 8 photos this week though I could have posted many more!
- I’ve been fascinated by the Japanese dogwood ever since I saw the flowers sticking up a few weeks ago (and were featured in last week’s Phone Friday). Just today I noticed that one bloom had turned white and had the same red tips as last week’s bunchberry, and I felt compelled to capture it! I’m enjoying seeing the different dogwoods bloom – the Pacific dogwood is mostly done (though we saw one in bloom near Squamish last weekend) while the bunchberry (dwarf dogwood) is reaching its peak.
- A few steps further down the block from the Japanese dogwood, I found a nice patch of salal flowers lit up by the late afternoon sun. I like the way the flowers line a stalk and how there’s a progression in opening along that line. That, and they look so cute and fuzzy!
- It’s cottonwood season, and their scent is filling the air. I really love the shape of the leaves, as well as the colour when they first emerge, being tinged a yellowy-green with hints of copper. In the autumn these leaves turn a lovely yellow, especially in the mountains near Whistler, illuminating the paths of rivers, creeks, and logging roads.
- Not only their scent but their downy cotton seeds are also filling the air, collecting in great drifts along the edges of paths. I’ve seen the seed pods after they’ve already opened, looking like furry sticks, but this is the first time I’ve seen the pods closed up. Thinking they’d be ready to pop and release their seeds, I gently squeezed a couple. But they didn’t yield at all, and I left them to it.
- Thimbleberry is in full bloom at the roadside right now, all the way up the Sea to Sky highway to Squamish and beyond. This patch was at the start of our hike to Crooked Falls (shown in Wednesday’s post) and is but a tiny fraction of the extent of flowering bushes right now. In a few weeks, they’ll start turning into lovely red berries: one of the tastiest berries I’ve ever eaten was a thimbleberry, but, alas, that may have been a one-off as I’ve never been able to find any since that tasted so good. Still, they’re nice flowers.
- A collection of miniature starbursts, false Solomon’s seal is a common woodland flower at this time of year. It’s not my favourite, but that doesn’t mean I won’t take its picture! It has an even starrier-looking cousin called star-flowered Solomon’s seal, though that’s not so common.
- Speaking of stars, the trail between Shannon Falls and the Sea-to-Sky gondola has some impressive patches of starflower in bloom right now. I couldn’t decide between a close-up or a wider view to show just how many flowers there were, but in the end I felt that the close-up shot would work better for Instagram. I really like these little flowers; they’re just so delicate and it’s hard to believe they can survive attached to such tiny, slender stems.
- I’ve saved my favourite for last. On our way up to Sea to Summit trail last weekend I was stopped in my tracks by a small patch of pure yellow coralroot. I’ve seen some flowers that are yellow and pink, but never one that was 100 per cent yellow. It’s always difficult to get coralroot in focus (as I mentioned last year) and I always take a number of photos in the hope that at least one is sharp. This is the best of the bunch from the weekend, but it’s still not as good as it could be and isn’t that sharp when viewed at 100%. However, it fits the criteria of “good enough for Instagram!” which is why it’s included. I would love to go back and photograph it again this weekend but I suspect we’ll be off somewhere different.
That’s all for this week but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share again next Friday 🙂
Some views, some flowers, but all things I’ve seen in the past week. Wednesday’s trip to Bowen Island was lovely and is the source of several photos, mostly of the mountain range near Brunswick and Harvey but the crescent moon made an appearance as we sailed home. Throw in the usual array of flowers – including one final look at the camas – a campus view, and a rare sighting of one of my favourite animals, the snail.
How am I at week 5 of Phone Friday already?
- The view off the back of the ferry to Bowen – how can I resist another photo of that magnificent line of peaks?
- We went for a wander from Doc Morgan’s to give our ears a rest from the music session and found this beautiful reflection of those same mountains in the calm water in Snug Cove. Instant photo-op!
- As we left I wondered aloud about whether we’d see the crescent moon. I was skeptical given that the New Moon was only a day or so earlier, but I walked out on deck and sure enough the moon was right there, hanging low over Bowen. I lamented the fact I didn’t have a “proper” camera with me, but tried the shot anyway. Needless to say I was blown away by the fact that it turned out so well! Obviously, this is cropped heavily but it’s Instagram so a 12-Mpx image has a lot of scope for that. I’m absolutely delighted with this photo. The original had Venus near the top, but I had to make the difficult decision to omit it from this framing to show off the slender moon in the evening sky.
- Buoyed by the success of the photo above, I turned to face the opposite direction and attempted a low light show of Brunswick and Harvey. To my surprise, the camera not only focused but produced a respectable photo. Score two for the Pixel 2! The sea was so calm that night…
- I noticed recently that the pine trees were growing their pollen cones again, so here’s a close-up view of an Austrian pine, of which there are quite a few outside our office window. After overnight rain, I saw drifts of yellow at the edges of some former puddles, which meant that the cones were releasing their pollen. I couldn’t resist investigating more closely and tapped the end of the branch to see how much pollen drifted out. Turns out, a lot (depending on how hard you tap the branch)! Multiply that by the number of branches and the number of trees and it becomes obvious why allergy season can be so miserable for some. I looked for a pollen corona around the Sun later in the day but didn’t see one. I’ll keep looking.
- I really like geometric shapes, which means I’ve been looking for an excuse to photograph these bus shelters at UBC. I’d tried one shot before, just of the roof with blue sky above it, but wasn’t particularly enthralled with the result. But this day I noticed the shadow on the ground complementing the roof, and I felt that seeing the two in the same image was a much more effective photo. It loses a little in the square crop, but I still like it.
- Snail! We don’t see many snails in Vancouver so I was happy to find this one on the steps of a friend’s house. Actually there was about a dozen snails on the steps, but this was the only one I could get the camera to focus on. Fun fact: there was a time when I had a website dedicated to snails, and for a very brief time it was even the top result on Google.
- This is the flower of the Japanese dogwood, which we’d noticed a few days earlier and wondered what it was. Thankfully, there’s a specimen (with a label!) right outside the entrance to my building at work. The flowers stand out (literally) as they are on the end of a thin stem that protrudes up away from the branch, almost looking like a fake tree. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this before…
- With a photo of the Japanese dogwood lined up for this week, I had to slip in an old favourite to go with it. The lovely red-tipped bracts on this particular bunchberry plant caught my eye. It’s not quite in focus (I probably got a little too close, or perhaps the focus picked up a different part of the plant) but it’s good enough for this collection, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen one with such lovely coloured tips.
- The camas flowers are nearly done – the postage stamp of a meadow has only a couple of flowers still in bloom, so I just had to take one last picture especially as the yellow pollen contrasts so well against the purple flower. It’s been about a month since the first buds showed up, and I’ve really enjoyed keeping track of their growth. Now they’re done for the year, I’ll have to switch my attention to other plants. I think the tulip poplars are due to flower… 🙂
Another mix of photos from the past week for phone Friday, mostly flowers of course but a bit of nice scenery for good measure. I love springtime.
I’m getting behind on my blog posts! It’s a little bit cumbersome to write about each photo but I hope you bear with me.
- I simply couldn’t resist another photo of camas, but this time in the wild! We stopped at Neck Point Park just outside Nanaimo on a whim and were greeted by a gorgeous pocket of coastal Garry oak woodland and meadows dotted with camas, chickweed, and other wildflowers. We even saw a chocolate lily and one solitary remnant fawn lily with the last withered petals still attached. The wind put paid to most of attempts at flower photos but a couple did turn out.
- Broad-leaved stonecrop – possibly the first time we’ve identified this flower, it was widespread along the rocks in the park. I didn’t expect to see the familiar yellow stonecrop flowers though, so that was definitely a bonus!
- The view from the ferry as we sail for Nanaimo, looking back to the familiar peaks of the Howe Sound Crest Trail. I’ve photographed this view a few times and distant mountains against open ocean and sky tend to look pretty boring, so I was pleased to notice the curve of the ferry railing, which led my eye into the frame more or less straight to the base of the snowiest summits. A beautiful day for a ferry ride!
- Something different: the view from the third floor of the student Nest at UBC, looking straight down. The architecture of this (relatively new) building invites the discovery of interesting shapes and angles, but I wasn’t keen to try during term time when it’s full of students. But this night was perfect: we’d just finished our group get-together for drinks and were walking down the stairs. We stopped to peer over the glass partition and swoon at the long drop to the floor, and I instantly saw this composition with its abstract yet patterned feel.
- Sometimes you wonder why a plant is so-named. And then you look a little closer and it becomes obvious. Fringecup is now one of my favourite flowers to watch for in the spring and it’s well worth stopping to get a really close look at the flowers with their delicate little fringed petals lining the cup-like flowers. I should get myself a macro lens for these closeups though.
- The classic unfurling fiddlehead of the deer fern, I’ve had little luck getting a good photo of them at this stage. Low light and having to crouch or kneel to get the right angle often make for blurry photos so I’m quite happy with this one.
- Back to Neck Point Park, this is the neck from which the park takes its name. We couldn’t resist walking out onto the shingle, graded from small to large as we moved away from the shore, to explore the rocks at the end. Alas it was far too windy to hang around to admire the view for long!
- Sunset Beach in Neck Point Park, this looks like the perfect spot to watch a mid-summer sunset. The curve of the beach makes for a pleasing view in itself too.
- Sand dollar party! To my surprise we saw more live sand dollars on this trip than previously, despite the low tide not being as low as last year. I think we just caught them as the tide was receding and before they’d had time to burrow into the sand. I spent a few moments just watching them, and although I couldn’t see them at the time (I couldn’t get that close), it’s a treat to see all the dozens of tiny feeder tendrils.
- And with that I bid you good night. A colourful sunset reflected in a tidal pool on the beach near Rathrevor provincial park. A lovely way to end a glorious day!
The camas is blooming after still only being buds earlier in the week, joined by bunchberry and its showier and blousier cousin – the warm sunshine has worked its magic.
The first four pictures are sort-of looking back in time at the camas. It’s been really nice to keep an eye on it and watch the buds to start out green before taking on a blueish tinge and then finally emerging in their full lilac/purple glory. The fourth photo was taken only a matter of a few days before the others showing just how quickly the flowers bloomed in the warmer weather! I’m not sure if these actually are the usual common camas as they’re enormous, standing a couple of feet tall; the camas I photographed last year in Victoria forced me to crouch down quite low to get the shot I was after.
Equally speedy in blooming was the bunchberry in the fifth photo. It went from leaves to flowers in barely a week, and suddenly it’s everywhere in the native plant garden. Bunchberry is yet another of my favourite springtime flowers and I was pleasantly surprised at the sweetness of the berries when I tried them last year.
Last but not least is the dogwood tree outside our building. The bracts have turned these flowers into saucer-sized blooms, and yet only just now have the tiny central florets started opening up. I’m pleased to have got these dogwood photos as I seem to miss them every year; the bracts start to go brown and die off very quickly which makes them a less appealing target for my camera. Just today I noticed how they were already looking worse for weather around the edges so I caught them at the right time.
(And yes I know it’s Monday but I forgot over the weekend and don’t have a mountain shot for today so this will have to do!)
Another batch of photos from the past week for phone-Friday – watching the trillium change colour, the first violet, dogwood, camas buds, blossom, the last of the blue sky, and trees galore
- Western trillium does this neat thing where the petals change colour as they age. For years I thought there were two species with different colours until I read about that in our plant book.
- This photo shows a group of trillium with fresh and older blooms. It’s rare to find such a dense group of trillium in the wild so I’m happy to keep taking pictures of all the flowers in this little native plant garden.
- The first of the Alaska violets has bloomed in the patch of ground near my office. They’re hard to capture with the phone as I need to get down low to frame up the photo, and I have to try at the right time of day to avoid casting a shadow across them.
- The dogwood blooms are coming along nicely! I check on them every day as they’re right outside the entrance to the School of Population and Public Health.
- It’s nice to see that the camas buds are beginning to show hints of blue, and I’m hoping to see the first flowers emerge next week after the warm sunshine we’ve had recently.
- The wind picked up towards the end of the day, Friday, blowing thousands of cherry blossom petals from the trees. I was struck by the contrast between the fresh pink and the grey of the concrete, as well as the line of the kerb, and it was nice to capture them while they were fresh.
- Friday morning was a lovely warm sunny morning, the first day where it almost felt like summer. With classes ended, the UBC campus feels so much more peaceful and I took advantage to capture this view of the Musqueam double-headed serpent post reflected in the still water. You’ll have to take my word for it about the reflection as it had to be left out of the square crop for Instagram.
- We went for a walk in Pacific Spirit Park last weekend and enjoyed the sunshine streaming through the forest of tall trees. I really like this effect of the trees filling all the available space even though the forest was bright and open where we were standing. (It reminded me a bit of the Olbers’ Paradox in astronomy, although it’s not really a valid comparison.) The original photo had quite strong perspective effects on the tree trunks so I used DxO’s geometry corrections to straighten the trees and give the photo the appearance I was after.
That’s it for this week. We’ll see what photo-opportunities the next seven days brings… I’ll try to write up the blog post on time too, which means posting the photos on Instagram a little earlier than 11 pm!