Streaming

Streaming sunlight, streaming crows at tonight’s sunset.

I had ventured outside to photograph the rays of light shining up in front of the cloud when I noticed the crows flying east to roost for the night. Hoping I’d capture a large group of them flying over I snapped a handful of photos. Despite missing the largest groups, I was happy to see one photo in which the perspective of the crows’ flight seemed to mirror the crepuscular rays from the setting sun. Obviously, I would have preferred more crows (and it is a little hard to see them in the Instagram-sized version of the picture) but the effect is still there, at least to my eyes. Maybe that’s because I took it, and I knew what I was looking at?

Either way, even if you ignore the crows, it was still a spectacular sunset.

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Phone Friday III

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!)

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!

Scene on the beach

Beach scenes are the theme for this week’s Throwback Thursday. Time after time I appreciate having such a long stretch of accessible shoreline in Vancouver, and if ever we need a quick fix of outdoor time, a walk on the beach will almost always be enough.

1. Public furniture | urban trees, Vancouver biennale sculpture on the beach at Spanish Banks

Vancouver beaches have an array of logs for sitting or leaning on, but it’s always nice to have something different. As part of the biennale public art project, a few well-shaped log carvings have been placed on the beach near Spanish Banks. Usually the biennale art is temporary but a few are popular enough to keep around for longer, like this installation. I’ve tried a few photos of the carvings in the past with little success – this is about the only one I think has any presence. Maybe it’s time to try another? Only if there’s no one sitting on it!

2. Christmassy Crown Mountain, with a bald eagle for company 🙂

We like to get out for a short walk on Christmas Day if the weather cooperates. The morning is spent catching up with family which gives us a couple of hours to get some fresh air before we spend the evening with friends. One year we even snowshoed on the beach! This year (2015) we were fortunate enough to have had the clouds clear for a while, allowing the mountains to be showcased in their full fresh winter flory. Then an eagle flew by. Perfect!

(Actually it’s rare to be down the beach and not see one of the local bald eagles… I saw three last weekend.)

3. Okanagan reflections

Of course, it’s not all about Vancouver’s beaches; lakes can have nice beaches too and Okanagan Lake has a few. The resort where we were staying has a pretty section of sandy beach-front and it’s a great spot to sit by the often-calm water. The sandy cliffs catch the afternoon light, and the turning leaves of the cottonwoods, birches, and aspens add extra colour. Late September or early October is a good time to visit the Okanagan as it often holds on to summer for that little bit longer than the coast. Sitting back on a mellow day with a glass or two of local wine or beer is wonderfully relaxing

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!