This was supposed to be a post about Bald Eagles at the Harrison River but it isn’t…
Snow blowing off Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak in the North Cascades
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Last weekend I headed out to the Harrison River area to look for Bald Eagles with Steve Cole. As was the case last year, it was very cold by our standards and I had to break out my “big” jacket and a down vest to keep warm (it was -10°C at Chilliwack Lake). This year the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival was a few weeks in the past but reports were indicating there were a lot of Bald Eagles still out on the flats near the Harrison River. Reality turned out to be a bit different as we hardly saw any when driving on Highway 7 and up Morris Valley Road through to the Chehalis River. We saw a lot of eagles in 2012 and last year there were still quite a few eagles though the frozen water made it tough for them to get at the salmon. This year, there wasn’t even a few random ones sitting up in the trees. I suspect the roughly 150mm (6″) of rain earlier in the week that flooded the Harrison River’s banks flushed out all the salmon and the eagles moved on. Last year we decided on Silver Lake Provincial Park as a landscape photography backup plan (which taught me a good lesson at the same time). This year I was still hoping to find where the Eagles might have picked as a secondary location and therefore opted for the Chilliwack River Valley through to Chilliwack Lake.
Trees along the Chilliwack River
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Unfortunately, I think we saw a total of 2 Bald Eagles at the Chilliwack River Valley and Chilliwack Lake (adding to our grand total of 4 earlier in the day), so clearly they had not congregated there. The water levels in the river were quite high, as were those in the lake. My hopes of recreating some of my earlier photographs of the shoreline patterns at Chilliwack Lake didn’t quite work out as the water level in the lake was several feet higher than it was last fall. Walking down to the bridge over the Chilliwack River did present this scene with some snow on the light coloured branches of these trees (likely Red Alder) overhanging the Chilliwack River. I made a few photographs from the bridge before we headed back to the flooded boat launch area to photograph the sunset on Mount Redoubt. I always enjoy being at Chilliwack Lake and even if the sunset doesn’t do everything one would hope there is usually a nice view of Mount Redoubt and the North Cascades peaks in the area.
For more of my photographs from this area check out my Chilliwack Provincial Park Gallery in my Image Archive.
Fresh snow on Mount Webb in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Fresh snow on Mount Webb at Chilliwack Lake in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
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I mostly make my photographs in colour. I think that is just the way I am better able to see most landscape scenes. I am trying to see a bit better in black and white, and recognize which scenes and light may be appropriate for that type of conversion. Sometimes colour just isn’t the best option. During my trip to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park back in October, I made this photograph of Mount Webb with black and white conversion in mind. The sun, if it showed up, was going to set behind this mountain, and from this angle I was not going to see any sort of nice alpenglow or sunset light anyway. I was early for any potential sunset display, so I photographed this mountain when I arrived as the light I had at that point was appropriate for my intentions.
The reason I decided this scene would be better in black and white was due to the light at the time, and the textures on the mountain. I still tried to process it in colour, but the results were not satisfying. I like the textures in this photograph from the rocks and the fresh snow, and even the small glacier at the bottom of the rock face that I had never noticed before on previous trips to Chilliwack Lake. The textures just didn’t show themselves in colour as well as they did with black and white.
You can view other photos from the same day in my image library: Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park.
Fresh snow on Mount Webb and some fall foliage colours at Chilliwack Lake in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Fresh snow on Mount Webb and fall colours at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
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A few weeks ago I was in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park looking for some fall colour and hoping to catch some fresh snow on Mount Redoubt. I found both of those, but the clouds preferred to keep most of Redoubt to themselves. This is Mount Webb, also with some fresh snow, and is part of what is likely a more interesting composition than is possible with Mount Redoubt itself. Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park’s gate is closed for the winter, but I’ll be back in there when there is some winter snow on the ground. Hopefully the mountains choose to make an appearance on that day as well.
Fall foliage along the shoreline of Chilliwack Lake
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I also liked this composition that doesn’t include as much of the surrounding mountains. This one focuses on the contours of the water’s edge and shows the fall foliage colours just a bit better than the photograph above. The spot on the beach here is not that far from the outflow of the Chilliwack River, where there were a great many salmon congregating to spawn. While making the above exposures I had some difficulty conveying the smooth surface of the water because it would occasionally be interrupted by a jumping salmon. Always an interesting event to witness, if not particularly convenient at that time.
Winter at Chilliwack Lake (click for larger version)
Wide angle shot from Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park back in January. Glad I had a few shots I like from this trip as I nearly froze my toes off! I have posted a few shots previously of this location concentrating more on Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peaks.
Alpenglow on Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak from Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
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6 exposures stitched, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM @ 144mm
When I spend time shooting I will normally take a quick overview of the days results immediately. There are often a few shots that will stand out – and those are often processed and sometimes show up here on the blog right away. I have learned that taking a long step back from a series of new photos can be beneficial to me in terms of my objectivity in culling the weaker shots. If I were to go through all the shots immediately I still carry my mental image of what I had planned for a photo. Not everything I try works out of course, and sometimes my initial expectations turn out to be too high. Sorting and processing images a month or two later gives me a lot better perspective of what is a “good” shot or a bad one – as many of my initial expectations have settled down. This has generally worked out so far – and I think I am better at choosing strong images than I used to be in part because of it.
I recently had an experience where the month+ delay in processing a panorama didn’t really seem to help. I processed and stitched this panorama 3-4 times – never quite happy with the colour of the sky. Things got to the point where I was no long able to view the photo at all objectively.
For this particular panorama I stood in the snow next to Chilliwack Lake for over an hour, freezing, taking the odd shot but waiting for the right light. When it came – I shot about 3 panoramas (and many single shots) with a few different compositions. I like the composition of this one the best. The colour of the sky seemed quite purple compared to what my brain was telling me looked “natural”. This could be a case of over analysis – but I try to process images such that they are faithful to what I saw at the time. So I processed the 6 shots that make up this image again in Camera Raw with some PS adjustments to account for the colour. Then I did this again. Still not happy I put the image away for a few more weeks. I should note the purple color is present in the raw file – not as a result of some other colour processing I have done.
Now that I have picked up this panorama again, I am still not sure if this looks natural. I like the colour on the mountain peaks, this is how it looked when I was there – but the sky still bothers me. I have stared at it so long I no longer remember what it looked like in person – perhaps that is the downside in waiting to do post processing? Maybe I just have to drop an image for longer or toss it entirely? I again processed an alternate panorama – taken about 7 minutes before the one posted above – and the sky looks bland and the clouds undefined – the whole image is uninspiring.
So what is the good thing about all this?
During this process I learned a few more Photoshop techniques that I otherwise would not have. Tweaking sky colours using Selective Color in Photoshop, for example. Next time I have a sky colour problem as a result of changing colour temperature etc – I know how to fix it. I have also learned that sometimes I might need to move on from processing an image that just isn’t right – or leave it behind entirely.
Recently the mountains of the Fraser Valley had a good snowfall so I headed out there to see what I could photograph. I parked myself next to the Chilliwack River for an hour or so and having failed to entirely freeze at that location I moved once again on towards Chilliwack Lake.
I had to park outside of the gates again as Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park is closed this time of year. The walk in was much uglier than last time – no tire treads to walk in on. I followed some tracks left by a (much smarter and prepared) person with snowshoes. As I took each uneven, slippery step I vowed to never do this again wearing only trail running shoes and jeans in a cold -10°C (14°F) with a windchill estimated at about -20°C (-4°F). A good parka and toque don’t really make up for freezing the lower half of ones body. So despite freezing and stumbling I did manage to get there in time to catch some of the last light on Mount Redoubt/Nodoubt Peak. A more interesting shot than last time – with clouds swirling around the peaks and a great alpenglow.
A few days ago I drove out to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park to see if I could get a view of Mount Redoubt in the not so distant North Cascades National Park. Last time I was there it was fall and there was little snow on the peaks. This time I had a bit more than I bargained for as the park gate was closed and we had to hike in from the road. There was also about 8 inches of snow on the ground which I was not expecting. I shot about 200 exposures, a lot of panoramas of Mt. Redoubt, and some wider shots like the one above.
On the far left we have Mount Edgar. In the middle: Mount Redoubt (left peak) and Nodoubt Peak (right peak). Mt. Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak are actually in North Cascades National Park in Washington State while Chilliwack Lake is in British Columbia.
Still not sure about how I feel about this particular shot. I really like some of the panoramas, which I will post soon, but my post processing skills and the colour of the sky in some of them are still locked in a battle of wills.