Not this again

Watching the sun set into the haze from forest fires – this is starting to feel like an annual photoshoot :-\ The photos were taken at 7:51, 7:53, 7:55, 7:56, 7:57, and 7:58 pm on August 14th (actual sunset time was 8:30 pm). I edited them to keep the background about the same level to show how much the sun dimmed as it set.

I didn’t set out to create a sequence, but I could see that the sun was sinking quickly into the haze and decided to keep taking photos until it disappeared. Given the low light levels (and the fact that I was shooting hand-held), my expectations for sharp photos were low. But, to my surprise, I had at least one good shot for each “phase” of the sunset, and thought that I might as well see what I could do.

As I processed the photos, I wondered if I could keep the background at the same level from shot to shot, thus emphasizing how much the sun was dimming as it set. It was easy for the first few and a little trickier for the rest, and even though it’s not perfect (the backgrounds aren’t quite the same across all 6 photos), the effect I wanted to show is clear, and striking. I’ve gone back and forth with these photos quite a few times, just to watch it again.

Looking back I still can’t believe that only 7 minutes elapsed between the first and last photo. Clearly I’d started taking the photos at exactly the right time to catch this murky sunset – my timing couldn’t have been better!

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Celebrate

Happy BC Day as Mother Nature celebrates Vancouver Pride weekend πŸ™‚ Another awesome weekend in the mountains, another round of itchy bug bites!

Recently I’ve been using photos from my phone for my Instagram posts, but this shot simply could not have been taken with that. Instead I needed a long(ish) telephoto lens to capture this partial rainbow and associated rain in front of the distant mountains. It was hard to believe just how intense the colours were in this rainbow, and I’m not convinced my processing has truly captured how it appeared to our eyes.

This photo was taken from the summit of Gotcha Peak near Blowdown Pass, an area I first visited back in 2007. On that occasion our group ventured in the opposite direction up towards Gott Peak, and I was struck by the incredible views once up on the ridge. In all directions lay nothing but mountains; a sea of mountains, each dip and peak like the outline of a wave, wave upon wave receding to the far horizon. I’ve found capturing that effect to be surprisingly hard as the resulting photo often ends up looking flat, but this one really works for me as the changing light throughout the image provides some much-needed depth. Definitely one of my favourite photos from the weekend!

Cloudscapes

Cloudscapes – last night’s sunset lit up some great cloud formations and it got me sifting through some recent cloud photos which made me realize 1) how much I enjoy looking at clouds, and 2) just how many photos I take of clouds πŸ™‚

  1. Light pillar in the sky – I started with this photo as it’s the most striking, a column of pale pink topped by a wedge of extra pink. I’ve often seen a vertical line (of course that’s just a projection) after sunset but it was a novelty to see the embellishment at the “top”. My first thought was that it looked a bit like a pink peacock feather.
  2. Coloured lines – parallel(-ish) lines always catch my eye. I like how the lines in the clouds seem to run parallel to the top of Black Mountain.
  3. Sweep – a wider view of the above two shots showing the clouds sweeping across the western sky and the transition from pink to grey as the sun sets.
  4. Before sunset – it’s not just sunset that produces great clouds; about an hour before we were treated to this lovely display of more sweeping clouds and interesting patterns, bright white against the deep blue sky. I’d have been happy enough if this was the best cloud display of the day!
  5. Where grey meets greyer – on Sunday blue sky gave way to white then grey clouds, then very grey clouds as a strong frontal system moved in from the west. I love the contrast between the two, and the texture in the paler clouds above.
  6. Night shiners – our first noctilucent cloud sightings in over a decade! It was a treat to see them again, their silvery waves in an indigo sky. I suppose it makes sense: noctilucent clouds tend to show up around solar minimum, which has an 11-year cycle and it was indeed 11 years ago that we first (and last) saw them.
  7. Afloat – taken from Eagle Bluffs a few months ago, I really like the different layers of clouds and the way they appear from this higher vantage point which seems to create more depth than usual in cloud photos.

For more cloud photos, check out our set on Flickr.

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.

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!)