While I consider myself a landscape and nature photographer I do enjoy photographing almost anything – including cityscapes. I have photographed several panoramas of downtown Vancouver in the past, though most of these have been from various vantage points in Stanley Park and some from Kits Beach. I have been wanting to do the same from North Vancouver’s perspective and had the opportunity to do so a few weeks ago.
I had spent the day photographing around North Vancouver in areas such as Maple Flats, Cates Park, and Deep Cove. When the light was running out at Deep Cove I determined that this would be a good chance to shoot the sunset and downtown Vancouver from somewhere in North Van. I had previously tried this at the dog park near the automall, but there always seems to be a large amount of barges and boats blocking the view from there. I’d heard that near Londsdale Quay would be a better spot, so I headed there from Deep Cove. There has been a lot of changes in that area since I was last there, so I had to find my way to various viewpoints in new ways. I wound up on the Burrard Dry Dock Pier (just east of Londsdale Quay) which offers a great view of downtown Vancouver. I was able to make some good photographs here including the one above. While I had to dodge the Seabus and a few other boats moving through the foreground (and their wakes) this turned out to be a great location to view Vancouver.
The last direct sunset light reflects off of Hope Mountain at Silver Lake Provincial Park in Hope, British Columbia, Canada.
Sunset on Hope Mountain from Silver Lake (Purchase)
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Silver Lake Provincial Park is one of my favourite provincial parks in British Columbia. Whenever I drive through Hope, BC I usually stop here even if I don’t plan to photograph anything. A few weeks ago I was checking out some other locations near Hope and ended the day at Silver Lake. I have photographed Silver Lake quite often, so much so that “new” takes on the subjects there are somewhat hard to come by.
The first idea I had for something different was to explore the view looking west towards the lake from Silver Skagit Road. From that perspective, Mount Stoneman and Silver Peak both make a nice backdrop to the lake. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of logging between the borders of Silver Lake Provincial Park and Mount Stoneman, and that angle is no longer all that photogenic. The view towards Silver Peak is clear of logging, but the light conditions I had at the time were not conducive to photography. This was still useful information though, I know what conditions I’ll want before I drive up that side of the lake again. So that option for “new” photography exhausted I headed toward the day use area parking lot at Silver Lake, but hoped to hike down a new trail to get a new angle on things.
The photograph above shows the view of Hope Mountain from the south end of Silver Lake. There were near perfect reflections on the lake (as usual) but I opted for this composition as I wanted to show some of the foliage around the shoreline. Many of the trees at this end of the lake are Red Alder (Alnus rubra) but these foreground horsetails are more interesting. There are many patches of these Swamp (aka Water) Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) in Silver Lake – especially near the boat launch and the south end of the lake. While most of my previous photographs have been made between the day use area and the boat launch, this area is about 500 meters (1640 feet) south of there along the lakeside trail. The trail continues off into the bush from there, but I was running out of light and had no idea where the trail ended up so I will have to explore that another day.
The second photograph here shows the usual reflections you can see at Silver Lake. This time it isn’t Hope Mountain I’ve chosen, but the forest at the northern end of the lake and a large boulder on the shoreline. I photographed this from the Silver Skagit Road near the outflow of Silverhope creek from Silver Lake. You can see some more of that Swamp Horsetail at the right of the boulder.
The tidal marsh at Crescent Beach (Blackie Spit) with the skyline of Burnaby and the North Shore Mountains in the background.
Burnaby Skyline in Winter from Crescent Beach (Purchase)
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New Years Day 2016 was rather chilly at about 1°C, but was a clear and sunny day so I thought it was a good opportunity to photograph Crescent Beach in a different season than I had before. I also assumed that since it was rather cold there would not be many people out on the trails and the paths near the beach. I was very wrong, it was more crowded than I’d normally seen it. I couldn’t argue with the conditions though, I had some nice light at sunset and earlier when I was photographing the shorebirds at Crescent Beach along with this skyline photograph of Burnaby from Blackie Spit. I’ve photographed this view of Burnaby, BC before, but it takes on an extra dimension at sunset with some snow on the mountains. I would like to photograph the tide marsh at Blackie Spit during high tide as well, but found during an earlier day that my favourite vantage point is not accessible at high tide! I do like how the foreground works here without water, and again with the photo of Mount Blandshard below. In the first photo above the mountains are (L to R) Mount Strachan, Unnecessary Mountain, The Lions, Brunswick Mountain, Cobug Peak, Beauty Peak, Dam Mountain, Goat Mountain and Mount Fromme. The ski area on the right is Grouse Mountain.
Silhouetted Tree Branches at Blackie Spit (Purchase)
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One of my favourite spots at Crescent Beach is the Blackie Spit Wildlife Refuge Area. At the entrance to this area there is a sign asking people to keep their dogs out and away from the wildlife. I find that there are often a lot less people in this part of the park. While I was photographing there on New Years Day my main landscape lens died and I started looking for scenes suitable for other lenses. This silhouette from a maze of tree branches stood out, and I made this photograph with my longer 70-200mm lens. Photographs are often stronger when they isolate the most interesting part of a scene, but in this case everything was so chaotic I made a photograph illustrating that apparent disorder. I’ve actually made a number of photographs purposefully of seemingly chaotic scenes, I should make those into a series one day after a shoot some more of them.
The Golden Ears after sunset at Crescent Beach (Purchase)
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This photograph looks northeast from Blackie Spit over the tidal flats, the mouth of the Nicomekl River, and towards Mount Blandshard (the Golden Ears Mountains) and Mount Robbie Reid. I have usually seen the most pronounced Belt of Venus (Earth’s Shadow) effect while up in the mountains, but on this evening the blue to purple band was quite distinct at sea level. I had to make this photograph a number of times to avoid all the flying Canada Geese flocks taking off in the evening. I made another photograph with these Canada Geese in the photograph later on, though I had to experiment with shutter speeds to get the right amount of blur (while keeping them discernible as birds).
As I was walking back to my car I noticed the waves from a passing boat created these fairly evenly space waves on the shore at Blackie Spit. The pilings here are the remains of the Crescent Oyster Company buildings which were built on pilings above the water. The Crescent Oyster Company was bought by a competitor in 1957 after which the buildings were removed, but these pilings remain.
Second Canyon Trail winds through the temperate rainforest at Capilano River Regional Park in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Second Canyon Trail in Capilano River Regional Park (Purchase)
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The lower part of Capilano River Regional Park is one of those spots that many tourists likely miss on the way to see the Capilano Reservoir and Cleveland Dam. Below Cleveland Dam you’ll find the Capilano River Hatchery and Capilano River Regional Park – but the left turn into the park is easy to miss (and I have, many times). I’d been to the hatchery before, and photographed Herons foraging along the river and a few other things, but I had never really hiked many of the trail network in the park. In May I visited this park again hoping to get a better idea of the trails in the area and what views they may offer. The image above is from the Second Canyon Trail as it nears a viewpoint where you can see a waterfall, the Capilano River, and the Cleveland Dam from a much different perspective than most are used to from the top of the dam.
The viewpoint at the terminus of the Second Canyon Trail is also a good spot to look at a beautiful waterfall flowing into the Capilano River. I am not sure of the origin of the water in these falls (or the name, if it has one). It may be related to the Metro Vancouver water supply, of which Capilano Reservoir provides 40%, or perhaps to do with the hatchery. Natural or not, it provides a relaxing scene from the viewpoint platform.
A more impressive waterfall is formed below the spillway at the base of Cleveland Dam. While this is basically a waterfall at the bottom of a concrete chute, I tried to make this view look as natural as possible. Capilano Canyon is quite narrow from the perspective of the viewing area, so a wide angle view of the “waterfall” is not possible from this perspective. During much of the year a large volume of water flows down the spillway, and this waterfall doesn’t even likely exist – lost in sheer volume of water coming over the dam.
One interesting item of note in the canyon is the existence of this “door to nowhere” over looking Ring Bolt Pool and the base of Cleveland Dam. This door protects the end of a tunnel built during the construction of Cleveland Dam in the 1950’s. Originally there was a ladder from the base of the canyon up to this door to allow access for workers. Now it is an area where the dam and canyon can be visually inspected as required.
I’ll have more photographs from Capilano Canyon soon. I had planned on seeing much more of the park when I was there, but photographing all the subjects I encountered took more time than I’d anticipated – which is not a bad thing at all. A relatively small area that can keep me photographing for 3-4 hours is a spot to revisit!
A Female Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) perched in a tree. This is most likely a female Annas but it could be a juvenile. Photographed during the summer in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.
Earier this year I was able to photograph a male Calypte anna in my backyard. Once I learned the calls of these birds I was able to find them much more often. Turned out there were at least 3-4 males in my backyard at various times. I was happy to get that photograph of one sitting on a fence post in my vegetable garden (they don’t tend to sit still for long). Since then I’d been able to watch some mating display dives as well as a lot of small skirmishes over territory, but none came close enough for me to get a good photo.
A few days ago I was walking the dog in the backyard when this hummingbird landed next to me in an Apple tree. I quickly put the dog back in the house and went back outside with my camera – and I was fortunate that the hummingbird was still around. She landed in the tree next to me and started preening which seemed like a decent indication I wasn’t considered much of a threat. I made these two photos during the 90 seconds or so she sat there, and was quite happy with how close I was and the tongue flicking I was able to photograph.
Female Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) Flicking Her Tongue (Purchase)
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I’ve looked at a lot of photos today trying to determine if this is in face a female Anna’s Hummingbird or a juvenile male. It could be a juvenile, but I finally decided this was more likely a female. At least the adult males are easy to ID with their flashy gorget and behaviour!
Last week I visited Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver to photograph a potential sunset from Juniper Point. My plan for the day had been to hike and photograph in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park as the forecast was for a cloudy (but dry) day that would be perfect for exploring forest and river photo opportunities. As it turned out the day was mostly sunny with just a few clouds. After 10km of hiking and only a few photo I decided to switch gears and spend the evening at Lighthouse Park to explore some of the trails I hadn’t previously walked. Juniper Point seemed like a great place to start.
Sunset View from Juniper Point at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver (Purchase)
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Upon arriving at Juniper Point I found the opposite issue to what I’d seen in Lynn Headwaters – too many clouds. This is great for even light on waterfalls, rivers, and plants in the forest but not often conducive to ocean/sunset photography. I’ve learned to be happy with just getting the layout of an area on first visits, so not coming home with some good photos was going to be just fine. There were a lot of rock climbers at Juniper Point so I sat down and watched them for a while, and photographed the occasional boat passing on the water. It was nice to be sitting outside in the evening at Lighthouse Park and still be able to feel my fingers! As sunset was still well over an hour away, I had almost decided to wander a few more trails when I started talking to a local photographer Jason Darr instead. I am glad I did for a number of reasons but this also kept me at Juniper Point until the light became very worthwhile.
As you can see from the first photograph above, the relatively grey skies gave way to a pretty decent sunset in one area of the sky over one of the Grebe Islets, Bowen Island and the mountain peaks in the Sunshine Coast’s Tetrahedron Range. The main photography “star” of this spot is this one tree that hangs over the cliffs. While the area is called Juniper Point, this tree appears to be either a stunted Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) or perhaps a Grand Fir (Abies grandis) both of which are native to the park. The large cones on this specimen eliminate the possibility of this being one of the other tree species in the area from what I can tell. I am not always in biology mode when photographing, so as usual I came home without all the right evidence for a proper identification.
A vivid Howe Sound sunset from Juniper Point (Purchase)
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While I may still occasionally ignore the lesson to stay at a location until the light is entirely gone, the above photo illustrates the potential benefits of waiting. Even without the colourful light there were many great textures and patterns in the clouds above the sunset, but for just a few minutes they lit up too, though in a more subtle manner. I used one of Howe Sound’s Grebe Islets as a foreground element which lined up nicely with the sunset over the Tetrahedron Range, as well as those textured clouds higher in the sky. I prefer to do minimal post processing work on my images, so my 2 stop graduated neutral density filter had a lot of use in the various compositions I made with this particular scene.
One does not need vivid sunset light to make interesting photographs, though it certainly helps. When I first arrived at Lighthouse Park I found fairly harsh light showing through the clouds, with poor visibility in the distance (towards the south and Vancouver to the south east). This worked well for the photograph below of a small Hunter 280 Sailboat heading through the Salish Sea towards Vancouver. The mountains in the background are located on Vancouver Island – most likely near Ladysmith.
A small Hunter 280 Sailboat in the Salish Sea/Georgia Straight (Purchase)
Liberty Bell Mountain and Early Winter Spires at Blue Lake in the North Cascades of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington State, USA.
Liberty Bell Mountain and Early Winter Spires at Blue Lake in the North Cascades (Purchase)
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A few years ago I hiked up to Blue Lake in the Washington Pass area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest – an area I had always thought of as part of North Cascades National Park. While Washington Pass is very close to the National Park, and some of area is in part maintained by the National Parks Service (especially the Washington Pass Overlook), it is part of the National Forest not the National Park. The parking lot and trail head can be found along Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) 1.26km/4128 feet west of the Washington Pass Overlook turnoff. The short hike to Blue Lake is only 3.2km/2 mile and gains 350m/1050 feet of elevation to a total of 1906m/6254 feet. This photo is made a few hundred feet higher than that, along (and up) a trail to the west of the lake.
As you can see from the above photograph, Blue Lake is aptly named. I was fortunate on this trip to arrive when the Subalpine Larch (Larix lyallii) were turning colour. Subalpine and other species of Larch are one of the few conifer species that are deciduous – they lose their needles each fall. This can be a beautiful display but is only found in higher elevations in this part of the world. Blue Lake is situated immediately below the iconic Liberty Bell Mountain. Liberty Bell is the spire on the left hand side of this photograph next to Concord Tower, Lexington Tower, and the Early Either Spires (North and South). Another view of Liberty Bell can be seen in my older post with some photographs from Washington Pass.
Kitsilano Beach Park and buildings in the West End and downtown Vancouver at sunset. Photographed from Kitsilano Beach Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Sunset at Kisilano Beach Park in the City of Vancouver (Purchase)
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Earlier I shared some blue hour photos of similar scenes of Kitsilano Beach Park, Vancouver’s West End, and English Bay that I made back in March. The two photographs here were made about 20 minutes earlier when there were some sunset colours in the sky, and even a hint of Earth’s shadow (aka the Belt of Venus – top, right). This is the kind of sunset photograph I enjoy – the light from sunset in the sky, on the mountains and the buildings to the east. I was in Vancouver on this day due to the good weather and that we had just had some fresh snow on the Northshore Mountains – conditions that had eluded me the previous winter. The top photograph here includes Mount Seymour with some fresh snow above the buildings of the West End of Vancouver city. I think the two make a good combination.
Kitsilano Beach and the Boathouse Restaurant at Sunset (Purchase)
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The second photograph here shows the Boathouse Restaurant at Kitsilano Beach Park during the night’s sunset. It had not yet become chilly at this point in the evening, so there were still quite a few tourists and locals on the beach. On a typical summer day (I shot this in March) I doubt you’d be able to see any sand around the beach goers from this vantage point – Kits is a rather popular beach during the summer.
For more photographs of Cities and Buildings (mostly Vancouver) visit my Cities & Buildings Gallery.
I am a landscape and nature photographer based in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. Most of my subjects are in Southwestern British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest's Washington State. My photography is available for licensing as stock, fine art prints, and giclée canvas wraps.