John Harvey Photo

December 2015Go to
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Days are short and there is lots of night.


Bright Nights at Stanley Park

Nutcracker Soldier Band
Bright Nights at Stanley Park is a great way to get your Christmas lights tour checked off the seasonal list and feel good about doing it - proceeds go to burn units in the lower mainland.  I took some pictures a few years ago using a paper mask over the lens to make Shaped Bokeh.  Last time it was stars, this time I tried a snowflake design.
Snowflake House

Giant Reindeer In SnowflakesGiant Reindeer With APost
Each year they add a new attraction or two to the show.  This year there is a huge reindeer lit by red lights.  It's so big it's visible from most parts of the walk so it's hard to not include it in some way.

Giant Reindeer With Purple Tree

A week later, we made an after dinner trip to see the light show.  It was way more crowded - parking was a zoo.  I tried to do the snowflake paper mask trick again but it does make focusing and exposure times really slow.  Being a school night we couldn't stay very long, but since it rained all weekend we didn't have much choice.

Nara And Claira Looking At Santa HouseNara And Claira With LightsNara With Christmas Lights Behind
 

Siwash Rock with Star Trails

On Friday night I saw the "Sunshine" icon in the weather app on my phone.  It's been so long since I've seen it, at first I thought it was a mistake.  Sure enough - we did get an afternoon of nearly cloudless skies and weak warm sun.  Being Friday night, I decided to go out to Stanley Park and try my hand at star trails photography.

Siwash Rock Star Trails Missing Clouds

The theory was set the camera up on the tripod, set the exposure for 30 seconds and leave the shutter button down until I was too cold to keep standing around.   There were a few surprises.  On a Nikon Camera if you lock the shutter release, you get 100 exposures - roughly 50 minutes - and then the camera stops firing.  The second surprise was the clouds - even though the afternoon was mostly cloud free, the clouds started rolling in later in the evening.  The clouds are lit up by the city and they are brighter than most of the stars.  If you do the image stacking tricking with light clouds, the clouds dominate the image and you get a bland white image with very few star trails.  I would up masking 50+ frames and dropping another dozen so the final image had some star trails and some clouds.  I spent more time in photoshop than I did on the sea wall, but at least my computer desk is warm.

Iona Beach Regional Park

At The Beach At Sunset
Claira has a nap in the afternoon so sometimes Nara and I go out on short trips to try something new.  I've heard good things about Iona Beach Regional Park so I thought I would take my long lens and see if there were any birds to be seen.  It turned out to be blowing quite hard so any birds we did see were either fly past at ridiculous speed or they were hiding in trees trying to stay out of the wind.  That said, the timing worked out well for sunset and Nara had an iPad with her so we took some sunset photos.  Nara really like this one.


When we got home we decided to do some watercolor painting.  I found a block of nice watercolour paper and the girls painted images inspired by the image on the iPad.

Clairas Painting Of Sunset At The BeachNaras Painting Of The Sunset At The Beach


  After the paintings had dried, I asked them to describe their work.

Porteau Cove for Star Trails

We have had a lot of cloudy nights in the last month.  Surprisingly, we got a night that wasn't cloudy and it wasn't a school night.  I checked the Northern Lights prediction websites and apparently this night might be a good night to go!  I packed my tripod, long exposure cable and drove off to Porteau Cove - half way between West Vancouver and Squamish.  This little bit of land sticks out into Howe sound and there aren't a lot of lights to flood your photos.  It's about a 45 minute drive.  I found a nice platform on the old ferry terminal and started taking photos.

Star Trails Facing North At Porteau Cove


So I was standing around in the cold listening to my camera take photos (one every 30 seconds) and I was looking for the Northern lights.  Nothing.  Your brain does funny things when you look at the sky for a long time - it normalizes the brightness and when you move your head you will momentarily see an increase in brightness in the dark region - kind of like the brightening you see when the Northern Lights first lights up.  Lots of tough looking - still nothing.

Looking South Over Ferry Jetty

I had to make a decision - continue photographing North or pick another viewpoint.  I decided to turn the camera and shoot south to pick up some interesting foreground and see what it looks like when you face away from the visible pole.  I'm actually quite happy with the results.  Further plus - cloudless night so the post processing was really simple - just stack and add!  It was a cold night, but I learned quite a bit (like the importance of dressing in layers).

Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Cedar Waxwing In Hawthorn Tree
Claira has an afternoon nap and there were no other activities planned so I decided to take Nara for a trip out to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary for a walk.  I brought the big lens (400mm) and a small point and shoot (water resistant and drop resistant) so Nara would have something to fill her time too (beyond feeding bird seed to anything that moves).  Nara got quite into taking photos - she wanted to know which ducks which were which and then tried to get a picture of both boy and girl birds from a number of species.  Her use of the "go" button is still a little rough (doesn't always fire and often induces shake), but she is getting the hang of it.


It was late in the day (lovely light) so there were plenty of opportunities for nice photos.  About half the ponds were frozen over which concentrated the massive number of mallards on the smaller bodies of open water. 

American Coot On RockRing Necked Duck FemaleNight Heron Sleeping In Tree

I keep reminding myself - a good short day is better than a long bad day - we headed home when Nara got cold.  I hope to be back for duckling season! 

Vancouver Aquarium


Chester Watching Nara Take PhotosChester Watching The Kids
The Vancouver Aquarium is one of our go to places for rainy weekends - a few hours of activity before lunch and the kids have got some exercise and seen something interesting.  We are starting to get traditions - when we arrive they pick where we go (Chester and Helen are favorites) and then we cycles between the outdoor shows and the warm areas.

Claira Oblivious To The Sea Otter


Bats Flying Around Fruit

Surprise to me - this time Nara asked to see the bats.  My camera is more of a landscape than low light camera and I didn't have a tripod but I was kind of impressed what it can do with low light.  The kids have lots of questions but I think seeing the bats eat the same fruit that they do help make bats a bit more approachable.


Lunch time comes and the crowds are thick - we head home for a homemade lunch and an afternoon nap.  Good Day!
 


Looking South Over Ferry Jetty
Location: Go To...
Tags: astrophotography, night, star trails, time lapse
At The Beach At Sunset
Altitude: 6m (21 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, Iona Beach Regional Park, sunset
Siwash Rock Star Trails Missing Clouds
Tags: astrophotography, cloud, Siwash Rock, Stanley Park, star trails, stars, Vancouver
Chester Watching Nara Take Photos
Tags: aquarium, Vancouver Aquarium
American Coot On Rock
Species: Fulica americana (American Coot)
Tags: Reifel Bird Sanctuary
Bats Flying Around Fruit
Tags: Vancouver Aquarium
Claira Oblivious To The Sea Otter
Tags: Vancouver Aquarium
Star Trails Facing North At Porteau Cove
Location: Go To...
Tags: astrophotography, night, star trails, time lapse
Snowflake House
Tags: Bright Nights, lights, night, Stanley Park
Giant Reindeer In Snowflakes
Tags: Bright Nights, lights, night, Stanley Park
Giant Reindeer With APost
Tags: Bright Nights, lights, night, Stanley Park
Nara And Claira Looking At Santa House
Tags: Bright Nights, lights, night, Stanley Park
Nara And Claira With Lights
Person: Claira, Nara
Tags: Bright Nights, lights, night, Stanley Park
Clairas Painting Of Sunset At The Beach
Tags: art
Giant Reindeer With Purple Tree
Tags: Bright Nights, lights, night, Stanley Park
Ring Necked Duck Female
Species: Aythya collaris (Ring-necked Duck)
Tags: Reifel Bird Sanctuary
Cedar Waxwing In Hawthorn Tree
Species: Bombycilla cedrorum (Cedar Waxwing)
Tags: Reifel Bird Sanctuary
Nutcracker Soldier Band
Tags: Bright Nights, lights, night, Stanley Park
Nara With Christmas Lights Behind
Person: Nara
Tags: Bright Nights, lights, night, Stanley Park
Night Heron Sleeping In Tree
Species: Nycticorax nycticorax (Black-crowned Night Heron)
Tags: Reifel Bird Sanctuary
Chester Watching The Kids
Tags: Vancouver Aquarium
Naras Painting Of The Sunset At The Beach
Tags: art
Tags: night(12), Stanley Park(10), Bright Nights(8), lights(8), astrophotography(6), time lapse(5)
People: Nara(3), Claira(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2016 to 2005 > December 2015

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