Rain or Shine,Outdoors is Fine

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
― Sylvia Plath

One of the realities of being a “9-5er” is that there are many times when I have a small window of opportunity to get out with my camera, but the weather decides it should flex its muscle a little. Fortunately some creative travel companions, umbrellas (actually used to keep the rain off the camera, not just for the “artful umbrella” shot, and some beautiful westcoast locations often come together to allow me to still get out and play with the camera in lousy weather. That almost makes it MORE fun, as I have to think about what I want to take quite differently.

A few weekends ago one of my coworkers organized a spa weekend on Vancouver Island. My partner and I went over a day early to spend time with his son who lives there. That meant we had a free day to explore the mid island, unfortunately that was the very day there was intermittent heavy rain showers. We decided to stick with the plan and get outside anyway.

I’m so glad we did, we wandered around through the huge cedar trees in Cathedral Grove, we were amazed by the volume and force of the “Little” Qualicum Falls, and we checked out a Buddhist Temple. We also had a delicious dinner, that tasted all the better after a day of activity in the elements.

From a photography perspective, there were times when it was just raining too hard to take the camera out of the bag, but there were many other opportunities where the rain eased or stopped altogether for a spell, and everything was vibrant and glistening. I didn’t come away from the weekend with any particularly awesome shots, but had a lot of fun getting out and trying. There are a few photos from the weekend where I think the ideas were sound, but the photos didn’t quite get to what I had in mind.

Waterfall tree watermark
I had the idea of getting a shot of this delicate seedling with the rushing water of the Qualicum Falls in the background. In the moment I couldn’t decide how to achieve what I had in mind with depth of field. I also didn’t quite know what to do with the shutter speed. Speeding it up would add more detail to the water in the background, making the whole photo “busy”. Slowing it down would lose the sense of power from the turbulent water. In the end I didn’t quite capture any of it, but I sure had an enjoyable time trying!

I had a similar experience when I came across four seagulls nicely lined up in the shallow water as the tide rolled in. The water was rough, so it was busy and distracting in the background.

four seaguls watermark
This scene was more pleasing to the eye in a wider shot, but then the seagulls were a bit lost against the rough water. In hindsight, it may have been a more interesting shot to slow the shutter speed down to smooth out the water a bit. Maybe the seagulls will oblige me for a do-over at some point in the future!

 I have been working on taking photos that tell a story, in particular taking photos of people that portray a mood or a story without being overt. Fortunately I have a willing test subject in Thor, I’m grateful for that!

The clouds parted for a while on the Saturday morning on the Island, and we took a stroll through Rathtrevor Park in Parksville. I love Rathtrevor beach, particularly when the tide is out as the beach goes on for miles and there is so much shoreline activity. There is also a great trail that goes the length of the beach, and that was the route we took.About halfway down the trail, we came across an interesting hollow chunk of driftwood.

Thor contemplation watermark
I loved the detail and shadow of this hollow driftwood, but with the harshness of the light it didn’t make a good shot on its own. I took dozens of shots, I preferred a wider landscape frame, but for that I had to back away from the log and lost the impact of the hollow bit. My favourite shot ended up being this one shot from the level of the log, looking up at Thor. I liked the sense of “big sky” from this perspective.

Fast forward to this weekend, and the principle of keeping the camera handy for pleasant breaks in the weather, and accommodating companions came into play again. On our way home from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal where we picked up Thor’s son for a visit, we took a short detour to one of my favourite sunset spots, Roberts Bank in Ladner. I had an idea in mind for a “father and son” shot, and was happy when the guys not only agreed to the detour, but also happily participated in my plan for the shot.

father son watermark
Although there was a beautiful sunset developing, I prefer this shot in black and white. The story wasn’t intended to be the sunset, it was the intent discussion the guys were having. In editing I softened the background so it wouldn’t distract from the main subjects.

I’m interested to note that every photo I have wanted to share with you here is black and white. I do love black and white, I think it is more poetic and emotional than colour. That said, I’ll end on a colour shot, the awesome sunset from Friday evening at Roberts Bank!

sunset march 18 RB watermark
I can’t get enough of the unevenness of the posts, and their awesome reflections on a calm evening at Roberts Bank. The pinks and yellow made the sky interesting, and the reflections so colourful. What a nice way to end a week!

I wonder what adventures this week will hold? The weather forecast says rain to the end of the week, sounds like the gloves have been thrown down!

Challenge accepted! 🙂


Local Escapes

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


I don’t know if you have ever attended a travel expo, travel show, or similar event that simultaneously lights an intense desire to get out there and see the world, and also overwhelms you with choice, rendering it impossible to decide “where next?”.  After experiencing that creative tension for a few years in a row, the last time I attended a travel show, I went with two themes in mind; epic travels to far off places, and 4 day weekends close to home.

As time passes, I seem to do well attending to the “epic travels to far off places” list, but not as well on the “close to home” list.

Last weekend my partner Thorsten and I set about fixing that. We booked a B&B in Pemberton as a base, and set about exploring a few sites in the area. Our original plan was to visit the ghost town of Bradian, about an hour and a half north of Pemberton. That plan was thwarted, however, as we learned the road to the town is inaccessible in the winter months, and the alternate route is several hours longer through Lillooet. We decided we would instead just go and see what options revealed themselves to us.

We decided to stretch our legs on the drive up to Pemberton with a quick stop in Squamish to hike up to the first peek of the Stawamus Chief. It was a great day for it, sunshine and very few people.

For those of you have haven’t hiked the Chief, it’s about 40 minutes of up, and up, and up. The lower part of the trail follows a creek, complete with awesome little water falls.

Chief waterfall watermark
This photo exists only because I needed an excuse to stop and let my lungs catch back up with my legs.

Once at the top, the impressive slab of granite is a nice spot to sit and take in the views.

Chief texter
Nice views at the top, and I’m sure the Facebook update was nice, too. Maybe if this was your daily fitness route, the view would be secondary to your updates and texts, but for those of us that don’t see this every day, the phones stayed in the packs.

With a brief stop in Whistler for a walk around and a bite to eat, we went directly to our B&B in Pemberton. It was a beautiful home with nice hosts just a minute or so out of town.  We confirmed that the road to Bradian was closed, another guest had attempted it with a truck recently and advised there was no chance for my little SUV. With that knowledge, we mapped out a few other options for places to check out nearby.

The next morning we started by taking a drive as far up Pemberton Meadows road as we could manage in my little SUV. We got about 40 minutes out of town, enjoying views of the  Lillooet River as we went. Once we could go no further, we turned back and returned to town. That was when we discovered the best GF banana bread EVER at the Blackbird Bread Bakery. After enjoying the banana bread and a latte, we headed a few km down the road to Nairn Falls Provincial Park. It’s a short 1.5km walk to the falls, and they are worth the visit. The falls are one of those things that are difficult to capture on film, as the powerful rumble of the water and the mist in the air are as integral to the experience as the views.

From there we committed to a bit of a drive, with the T’sek Hot Springs as our destination. The drive takes you past Lillooet Lake, and along the Lillooet River. There are amazing views along the way.

Lillooet Lake
I liked the reflection of the driftwood on this view down Lillooet Lake. The lake was so calm.

I should clarify. The views are for the passenger, the driver needs jedi-like concentration to  drive the often narrow and windy gravel road, dodging other vehicles, graders, and the like. After 48km of excitement, we arrived at the hot springs. I left the camera in the car and made a beeline for the somewhat eclectic collection of tubs that held lovely hot spring water. It was a fantastic way to relax for the afternoon. After a nice long soak, we took a walk around the campground, sussed out a site where we would like to camp in the future, and then got back on the road so we wouldn’t be doing too much of the drive in the dark.

Having worked up a bit of an appetite through the day, we decided to check out the Mile One Eating House once back in Pemberton.  It didn’t disappoint. Possible the best steak we have ever eaten, and the elk meatloaf was pretty awesome too!

The next morning we started making our way back down the Sea to Sky toward Vancouver, with a stop in the Callaghan Valley  to do some snowshoeing. The Callaghan Valley trails are a legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics. We strapped our snowshoes on and headed out on the trail to Finger Lakes. It was a great day for it, with the sun even peeking out every now and then.

Callahagn Valley
Apparently there is a lake under there somewhere!

It was interesting how many huge fungi were growing on the trees, they really stood out with as they were glistening with the melting snow dripping off them.

Callahagn Valley fungus
One of the many large colourful fungus we saw on the trees.

As with most trips, no matter how much you enjoy yourself, once you start the trek home you get increasingly keen to get there.

The funny thing is, once you get home, thoughts turn to where to go next!  There are a still a number of “close to home” places to explore, I wonder which one we will chose next!