Phone Friday II

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

Green and blue

A gorgeous spring day down at Spanish Banks: sweet-smelling cottonwoods, blue sky, chatty eagles, nest-building crows, and a dozen herons in the shallows.

The re-appearance of the sun prompted us to head to the beach for some fresh air and as we got out of the car at Locarno Beach we turned left to walk west, facing into the cool wind. As we neared Spanish Banks we saw the first eagle of the day, quickly followed by a second, third, and a fourth. We stopped underneath an aromatic cottonwood tree to get a better look at the eagle perched in its upper branches. I couldn’t get a good shot with my phone, but I liked the view towards the city so I took that instead (photo #3) with the puffy clouds following the line of the beach.

I wanted to show Maria the large cottonwood I’d found a couple of weeks ago so we detoured off the main path over to the forest to admire the trees. Looking up the mossy trunk I was struck by the contrast between the trees and the blue sky, especially with the bright green leaves backlit by the sun. I tried another shot, this time trying to see the phenomenon known as “crown shyness” where trees grow to within a short distance of one another but don’t overlap, most visible in the winter when the branches are bare. It was hard to make out if that was happening here but it was such a nice sight that I took the photo anyway.

We continued on to the end of the beach, stopping to admire the dozen or so herons fishing in the shallow water, before turning our backs to the wind and walking back to the car. Good timing on our part as the clouds rolled in again by the end of the afternoon.

(And yes, I’m a day late again… Must try harder to keep on schedule!)

Phone Friday I

A selection of spring scenes taken at various times over the past week, mostly up at UBC. It’s great watching all the new growth appear and develop. Expect to see a few more of these in the coming weeks as I track progress of the trillium, dogwood, magnolia, false lily-of-the-valley, common camas (especially looking forward to seeing this!), and horsetails.

With any new camera comes a honeymoon period of frenzied photo-taking. Since I bought my new phone I’ve been taking many photographs to see how good it really is and to seek out its limitations. So far (as I mentioned the other day) I’m impressed – as long as I don’t “zoom” in too far – and I’ve already amassed quite a collection of photos that I really like.

The question is, what to do with all these photos I’ve been taking that I think are so good? I don’t want to post multiple photos a day (especially with my self-imposed desire to mirror my Instagram photos on this blog), so I thought I’d save up my favourite “random” photos taken over the course of a week and upload them all at once in a single multi-photograph post. That reduces my blogging requirements considerably, and gives me a place to show off a few photos that fall under the category of “things I’ve seen” rather than a specific subject or topic.

Which brings me to my distinctly unoriginal tag for this collection of posts: phone Friday. They have to be photos taken with my phone within the past 7 days. Instagram has a limit of 10 per post; I’ll try and keep it to 7 or so, the equivalent of one per day. The inaugural collection is mostly photos taken around the UBC campus. Well, actually that’s not strictly true but it’s close enough: most of these were taken very close to my office, a couple in the Nitobe Garden, and one near Vancouver City Hall.

  1. Trillium – I recently discovered a native-plant garden at UBC and was delighted to find trillium growing there.
  2. Trillium – not just one flower either, several really nice bunches, with some flowers just turning post-pollination pink.
  3. Dogwood – right outside the building in which I work is a dogwood tree, and the sight of the new growth stopped me in my tracks one afternoon as we headed out for coffee.
  4. Nitobe Garden – a view across the pond towards cherry and maple trees; the Japanese garden is always a serene place to visit.
  5. False lily-of-the-valley & Douglas fir – I really liked the leaves poking up through the moss and the way they covered the ground at the base of this Douglas fir tree.
  6. Magnolia – deep pink magnolia against a blue sky near City Hall.
  7. Common camas – the flower I’m most looking forward to seeing in bloom, I was really surprised to find these at the end of their flowering last year so I’ve been keeping an eye on them for the first signs of buds, and here they are!
  8. Horsetails – in the same patch of grass (“meadow”) as the camas are dozens of horsetails, a mixture of male and female plants that I’m keep to watch develop over the coming weeks as I’ve not paid much attention to them in the past.

So that’s phone Friday the first. Of course I’m a couple of days late with the blog post – oops – but I’ll try to be on time next week! See you then!

Conjunction

I didn’t think we’d see this tonight – the most slender of crescent moons, a hint of Earthshine, and Venus with some lovely clouds for extra decoration. Swipe to go back in time 🙂

The email from spaceweather.com appeared in my inbox this morning. I scanned it and, after a quick consultation with the weather outside my window, deleted it immediately. There was no way the clouds would part to allow us to see tonight’s conjunction of the Moon and Venus. And so it looked throughout most of the day.

But as luck would have it, those clouds drifted away towards sunset leaving us with a pure blue sky, albeit one that was still dotted with clouds thick enough to hide any celestial body. I stepped out onto our balcony and took the third photo in the series while the Moon was barely visible in the pale evening sky. The big cloud below it looked like it would prevent me from getting any photos as the blue hour progressed until it, too, began to dissipate.

The clouds continued to disperse until they were but decorative framing to the stars of the show (ironic pun intended). As night fell I took some longer exposures to pick up the Earthshine, which worked surprisingly well given that the Moon moves during the 5-8 seconds of the photograph. I even like the glow of the bloom around the brightest parts of the image; it lends a dreamy, ethereal quality to the scene.

Given that I used the little RX100II, I couldn’t be happier with these photos. The combination of just enough zoom and plenty of pixels gave me the flexibility to reframe and crop, though the position of Venus meant that I couldn’t be tempted to crop in too far, which is a good thing and results in more balanced photos in the end. A bonus set of photographs for sure!

A sunny seawall stroll

Seymour seen on a sunny stroll along the city seawall

Something in my head told me today was Saturday and therefore it was time to post another Instagram photo. So I posted the photo above taken this afternoon along the False Creek seawall. I only just realized that it was still Friday and had to edit my original caption! Oops.

Initially I thought I would have preferred a longer lens for this shot but I still like the fact that I was able to get both the curve of the seawall on the right and the curved tower on the left of the frame. I could have cropped a bit more I suppose, to really emphasize Mt Seymour as the main point of focus, but overall I’m quite happy with it as it is even if it is a little busy. If nothing else, it’s a record of what we saw on our travels today, and it was a good day to be outside.

VanCity Views IV

1. Snowline. The North Shore mountains looking pretty this morning.

The morning after a chilly rainy night shows up the lovely snowline across the flanks of Crown and Grouse Mountains. I took this photo from the roof of the Mountain Equipment Coop building on Broadway. I didn’t notice it at the time, but I really like how the snowline angles upwards as it gets nearer to the water, perhaps the air stayed cooler in the Capilano valley?

2. Winter sunset

I love seeing this boundary between night and day: the sun has set on the city but the mountain tops are still bathed in lovely warm light. Such a contrast compared with the previous photo! I’d rather be up in the mountains in this light – watching the snow change colour is amazing – but I’ll settle for a view over the water and the city.

Here, along the foreshore just west of Kits Pool, is one of my favourite spots to catch the sunset in the winter with its unobstructed view across English Bay and the peaks of Crown and Grouse Mountains, Mt Fromme, and the ridgeline of Mt Seymour beyond.

3. Morning view on day 3 of my Walk To Work Week 🙂

At the time I took this photo I was working about 4.5 km from home. While it was an easy bike ride, I’m not a fan of riding in the winter, so I thought I’d try walking it. To my surprise I found myself really enjoying the walk (on dry days) and could make it door-to-door in about 45 minutes. There’s a tiny park along the way called Choklit Park – and yes, the name is associated with chocolate – with a nice view over towards the high-rises of Yaletown and the mountains beyond. Now if only I had the Photoshop skills to remove that straggly little branch in the top right corner…

4. I’m not a morning person but I love mornings – good morning from a frosty Kits Beach

I remember taking a photo of Kits Beach covered in frost way back in 2009 and wanted to repeat that shot. It took until early 2016 for that to happen! Things I like about this photo include the shape of the beach, which is close to a classic “S” curve, the strip of sand forming a pathway between the silvery-blue water and frost, and the mist behind the city high-rises. It’s a chillier-looking photo than my earlier attempt – I guess I must have sooner after sunrise than in 2009 which had some nice early-morning sunshine lighting up the frost.

So with that I think I’m caught up on my backlog of miscellaneous Vancouver shots for now. I wonder what next week’s Throwback Thursday has in store?

VanCity Views III

Welcome to part III of my city sights for Throwback Thursday.

1. Very Vancouver

I love this view. The line of towers that tapers off in the distance just looks so pleasing, Science World adds a contrasting shape and texture and on a clear, calm day the reflections are lovely. I’ve photographed this view many times but more often than not have found myself not liking the results so I’m especially pleased with this one. Some of those I’ve taken have had a foreground of perfectly calm water, which can look two-dimensional and kinda boring. This is where the Aquabus comes in: perhaps counter-intuitively, the fact that the Aquabus disturbs the water in the foreground actually improves the photo no end. The straight line of the wake interrupts the foreground in a way that I think attracts enough attention to be interesting but not too much to be distracting. However, it’s the lines and curves of the waves that really make the foreground, curving round to point right at the Aquabus and drawing the eye into the scene.

At least, that’s how I see it. Of course, everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a pleasing photograph!

2. City of glass

In contrast to the photo above, I think this one works just fine as a simple reflection shot due to the symmetry and the uniformity. There are no distracting lines leading into or out of the photo, but just enough of a ripple on the surface of the water to lend some depth. The towers all look roughly the same colour in the warm light, giving the photo a two-tone appearance against the blue of the sky, both colours reflected nicely in the water below.

3. Raining in the sunlight

A passing morning shower at sunrise catches the first rays of light. Often in winter there’s a small gap in the clouds to the south that allows the sun to shine through as it first rises, bathing everything in a glorious warm glow. Within a few minutes the sun has risen enough that the clouds now block its light and everything returns to grey. But for a few moments there is magical light, and sometimes it coincides with a rain shower. I really like how the visible portion of the rainbow mimics the streaks of rain.

4. The Lions peek through a gap in the high rises

I was walking (or biking?) along the False Creek seawall when I happened to look up and see the Lions through a gap in the high-rises, peeking out above the flank of Hollyburn. The little boat cruising into the frame is just perfect (and, purely by chance, it’s flying the Union flag). But even without that, it’s the asymmetry of this photo that I like: the tall, imposing tower dominating the left half of the frame, apparently dwarfing the mountain peaks beyond, adding a touch of irony to the scene. In contrast to the tidiness of the left side of the picture, the right hand side is a jumble of different buildings of varying heights, adding a further contrast. Again, that’s what I see…

5. Sunrise on snowfall

I see the sunrise most often in winter because it occurs at or just after the time I get up. Winter sunrises also produce the best pictures of the North Shore mountains because of the snow and the fact they are illuminated from the south-east. By contrast in the summer, the sun rises over the mountains (further east than these peaks) and shines right into our bedroom so there’s really nothing to photograph. I photographed the sunrise a lot when we first moved into our apartment; these days not so much but occasionally the sheer simplicity and calm associated with a view such as this prompts me to wield the camera.