Disappearing act

First visit to Englishman River Falls – having seen many photos on Instagram, it was nice to see them in person. Lots of starflower and salal in bloom, some wild strawberry and vanilla leaf too. Also found some pink wintergreen and my first ever Vancouver groundcone, aka poque.

I knew that capturing this waterfall was going to be difficult. Like many waterfalls, the scale is hard to represent effectively in photographs so I decided to just go with the flow (ha ha – geddit?) and be content with the same shot as everyone else. Now I know the scale, I’m quite happy with it. It would be tricky to get a nice long exposure of these falls because the bridge wobbles when walked on. I’d have to get here early in the morning to have the place to myself to avoid that. That’s for some other time. We were lucky enough with our timing as the sun emerged from behind the clouds a few minutes later.

The short loop trail connecting the falls was well worth doing, passing through some pleasant forest (with signs of fawn lilies in a few places to pique my interest). The water level had dropped since the first rush of spring snowmelt so the lower falls weren’t really evident. I was surprised and impressed with the deep, ruler-straight canyon connecting the falls – it’s quite a spectacular feature. The warning signs have it right!

Spahats Falls

Spahats Falls, a panoramic view from 2011, because it’s waterfall Wednesday.

At the time we visited Wells Gray back in 2011, we only had the standard 18-55 mm lens for our SLR (28-82 mm 35-mm equivalent). The gorge into which this waterfalls drops is immense and can’t be captured in a single shot, so I took about a dozen photos to capture the scene and stitched them together later in Hugin. And I have to say I’m pleased with the end result. There’s still little idea of the actual scale of the waterfall – it’s a 60-m/200-foot drop – but overall, I feel it captures the gorge quite effectively. It definitely helps that the spring runoff was at its peak as later in the season the waterfall was barely a trickle by comparison.

One of things I remember most about Wells Gray is not the waterfalls, but the volcanic features: the canyon walls contained enormous thick layers of columnar basalts. It must have been quite the scene to see such a huge lava flow.

Waterfall season

Shannon Falls from the side, this view is from the parking lot at the Sea to Sky gondola – waterfall season is fast approaching!

It’s been a pretty miserable winter here in Vancouver. Lots of rainy days, and sunshine has been hard to come by. But rain and snow make for good waterfalls, so there’s something to be said for enduring all the grey and damp. Shannon Falls near Squamish is usually a good bet for a good flowing waterfall, and this day was pretty good for early spring conditions. I’ve seen the falls flowing much more strongly than this, but today there was enough to get some good misty spray drifting from the upper cascades. We’d called in to the Sea to Sky gondola to buy annual passes (aka Christmas presents!) and caught this nice view of the falls as we walked from the car, a slightly different perspective than usual.

Upper Upper Falls

Upper Upper Cypress Falls for waterfall Wednesday. At least that’s what I call them as I thought I’d already found the upper falls before finding this almighty drenching cascade 🙂

I had no idea this cascade existed until stumbling upon it while out for a rainy-day hike a couple of weeks ago. Since it’s well above what I’d previously known as the upper falls on Cypress Creek, I could only think of calling these the upper, upper falls.

What can’t be seen in this image is the constant spray that soaked me and the camera. I expect a lot of my cameras, even though they’re not weather-proofed. (I’m waiting for the day that comes back to bite me.) After watching these falls for a while we retreated back to the main trail where I realized I could hardly see. The next photograph I took was of my glasses which were completely covered in spray! It was like I’d worn them in the shower, albeit a very chilly shower. The down side to artificial fabrics is that they are hopeless for cleaning water off lenses as they just spread it around. Thankfully, this time I was wearing a merino shirt and with a bit of patience, I was able to get my glasses (and the camera!) dry.

The land of waterfalls

Hawaii day 3 – getting a photo for waterfall Wednesday is too easy on Kauai. This is ‘Opaeka’a Falls, a lovely little 150-ft waterfall, as seen from the roadside overlook. I was being harassed by chickens while sizing up this photo…

Kauai is an incredible island, and has no many waterfalls to choose from! I picked this shot for today as it was the first one we saw on our visit in 2014. It’s quite a distance from the road so getting a decent photo was a challenge, especially as it was cloudy and sunset was approaching. But this one turned out OK – I like how the pool at the base of the falls is visible at the base of the left cascade. We visited a couple more waterfalls on the island, and saw many more from our helicopter flight (well worth doing!). I’ll save those for future Wednesdays.

The other thing you notice about Kauai is all the chickens. Where crows, pigeons, and seagulls are the top scavengers here in Vancouver, it is the chickens that fill that niche in Kauai. Within moments of us parking here, we had half a dozen chickens approaching us in search of food, a couple of which were hens with young chicks – the next generation in training.

Zig Zag

Zig-zag falls – at least, that’s what I call them – on the way up to Red Heather Meadows and beyond to Elfin Lakes.

I’ve tried to get photos of this creek so many times before that I almost didn’t bother on this trip, but for some reason the zigzag in the cascades really stood out and I just had to capture it.

I still remember the first time I saw these falls – except they were nothing more than a trickle on a hot, early October day. I remember them because one of the people we were hiking with decided to fill their water bottle straight from the creek and drink it. I never found out if they got sick or not, but it’s something I simply won’t risk. The only time I’ve drunk untreated water in the backcountry was from a stream on the surface of a glacier. That water went beautifully with some good single malt whisky…

Metallic flow

A different kind of waterfall for waterfall Wednesday – this trickle follows the curve of the rock face all the way down until the bottom few inches. But it was the sunset colours reflecting on the damp rock that stopped me in my tracks as I walked back to the car – I love the metallic look it gives.

I’ve tried capturing this little waterfall a few times in the past, but its long thin appearance makes it hard to turn into an effective shot. I took a face-on photo as I walked past the first time on Tuesday afternoon, and I’m actually quite happy with that one – so much so that I was going to make it my waterfall-Wednesday shot for this week. But on my way back west around the seawall, the curve of the rock and the reflection of the sunset colours really stood out and I knew I had to find a way to capture that scene.

The sun had set, and the rock faces north, so light was at a premium. I shrugged and let the camera do its auto-ISO thing – as expected, it chose 800 which is where photos start to get a bit hit-and-miss in terms of noise. But in this case, it worked out just fine thanks to the bumpy texture of the rock – smooth areas do very badly when it comes to noise at the higher ISO settings.

This might be my favourite photo of 2016 so far – it reminds me of the colour of some pottery glazes, as well as the black surface of fresh lava with its iridescent sheen. Of course, I prefer the full-size photo rather than the cropped Instagram version, but I’m still very happy with it. And it even garnered a like from a professional photographer whose work I admire greatly, so yeah, I’m happy with it 🙂