Cottontail rabbit - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

Birds, Bunnies, and Bugs with Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF

Not my usual post as I just want to share the images and not write too much about an otherwise uneventful day.  These images were shot at Jericho Beach in Vancouver, BC using the Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF lens.  The rabbits are feral and while technically wild they let people get fairly close.  You certainly don't need a 500mm lens to get decent shots here.  A few of my favorites from the day first then the rest.

Cottontail rabbit - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

 

Rabbit - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

 

Grasshopper - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

 

Great Blue Heron - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

Canada Goose - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR


Hiking Brunswick Mountain


You can download my GPX or KML files for use in your own GPS trackers or mapping tools.

Brunswick Mountain is the tallest peak in the North Shore Mountains at 1788m and has a panoramic view of Howe Sound and other popular peaks including the Lions.  My Garmin told me I climbed 1561m over a 17 km round trip with grades over 40%, which made for a long day.  The effort is worth it in the end though, it's not often you get to look down on Mt. Harvey, Sky Pilot, the Lions, and everything else around.  The hike starts at the end of Sunset Drive in Lions Bay, but there are only a handful of parking spaces and this is the trailhead for several popular hikes.  It's pay parking and they will ticket you.  Nothing is free these days, not even hiking.

The 2D profile for the hike is shown below.  It gets progressively more steep as you go.

 

The trail gets into dense coastal forest immediately.  I took a different route up on the lower slopes than I did coming back (see map above), and it was steeper so I don't necessarily recommend that section of trail.  I did find an old truck frame though which is slowly sinking into the forest.

From the initial section of gravel trail you will come to the route marker showing the way to the Lions and to Brunswick.  Don't miss the marker otherwise you are climbing the Lions.  The way to Brunswick is narrow and over grown, easy to miss.  Once on the Brunswick trail you start climbing through the forest with only slugs to see.  The trail never seems to end and around every corner is just more of the same.  New views at all, you just have to get through it.

As I was hiking I started to encounter fog/clouds and I was worried that the summit might be in cloud cover but I pressed on hoping for the best.

The trees eventually start to thin out but the trail gets even steeper from this point.

After more climbing, you start to see the first views through the trees. You have already gained significant elevation by this point, but there is plenty ahead.

You will come to an intersection with the Howe Sound Crest Trail and there are makers on several trees.   You can head left to Brunswick Lake, Hanover Lake, or Deeks Lake.  To the right is Mount Harvey, the Lions, and eventually Cypress.  Straight ahead (and up) is Brunswick, it should be somewhat obvious at this point.

The trail isn't always obvious, but there are orange markers to help lead the way.

The views are starting to get good though, making the effort easier.

 

The last section of the climb is steep and sometimes loose.

You will reach a plateau where you can finally see over the mountain, but the true summit is just to the right.

Some views before the final summit push.

The summit is actually three separate peaks.  This is peak 1 (which you can see in on the map at the top).

 

If you want to try and tackle the other two peaks it is possible without any special gear.  This view doesn't show it clearly but there is a definite gap between all three peaks with the gap between the first and second being the most tricky.  Obviously a mistake here has high consequences so I don't recommend it unless you are comfortable with such hiking.

The gully between the first and second peaks. It's a long way down.

Raven keeping me company.

The approach to the second summit is a bit sketchy.  I'm not a fan of heights and I just mad sure not to look down too much.

Once on the second peak, you will find some remnants of a structure that is now a bench.  You can see the view back to the first peak here as well.

Final push to the third peak.

 

The third and what seems like the highest peak of the three.  Standing on the highest point in the north shore, which is a very cool feeling.

It's a harsh life for the plants and animals up here.

Hikers on the first peak. Don't want to slip here.

Some final views from the summit, then the long road home.

Mount Harvey in the valley, Lions in the distance, Howe Sound to the right.

 

Cam settings by photokaz.com

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 2 (Micro Nikkor VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED)

Focus Shift Shooting with the Nikon Z7 and 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro-Nikkor

None of my previous cameras had the focus shift feature so I decided to give it a try today.  We had great light and my wife's flowers are in full bloom and made for good test subjects.  There was a very slight breeze but the alignment seems to have done a good job with the slight movement between frames.  If you don't know what focus shift shooting is you can read a bit about Nikon's implementation here.  Essentially, the camera will take a series of exposures while slightly adjusting the focus between each frame.  This allows a razor thin plane of focus to actually move through the subject thus getting it all in sharp focus.  You need to stack the files into a single image using post processing techniques, today I tried this in Photoshop and Zerene Stacker.  I had better results in Photoshop but admittedly I'm a rookie with Zerene.

One thing to note, despite having a very fast computer, processing 30 or so images, each a 45 megapixel raw file, brought the PC to its knees :)  Might be time for another upgrade.   I did four stacks with Photoshop and I'm sharing my Zerene shots at the end, they have issues.

I think all of the flowers shown here are varieties of dhalia.

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower 4 - Macro focus stack with 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro-Nikkor Lens

Detail

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 4

 

Flower 2

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower 1

Detail

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 1

 

Flower 3 (my favorite one)

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower 2 (Micro Nikkor VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED)

Detail

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 2 (Micro Nikkor VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED)

Black and white conversion.  Might need a bit more work but that is all the time I have today for editing :)

Focus Shift with Nikon Z7 - black and white conversion Flower 4

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 3

Detail

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 3

 

A couple of samples with Zerene.  I tried both the DMap and PMax types but preferred the Photoshop stack to either.  The DMap one has some very strange artifacts in the OOF areas, no idea why.

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Zerene Stacker (PMax) - Flower

 

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Zerene Stacker (DMap) - Flower


2019-07-06 - Hike up Hope Lookout Trail - 1949 sign

Hiking the Hope Lookout Trail

I hiked this with my six year old twins on July 6, 2019 but just posting a few pics now. The trail head starts in Hope, BC and is a short but relatively steep climb to the lookout. You get a nice panoramic view of the town below, it's well worth the effort.

As with some of my previous hikes. You can download my GPX or KML files for use in your own GPS devices.

Here are some images from the trail.  High resolution panorama is shown at the end. Click for bigger versions.

 

I took a series of photos from the top using my high resolution camera (46 megapixel) then stitched the files into a large panorama.  The smaller version is shown below, but you can get a much bigger version HERE and zoom in to look around town.  I'm not posting the full size file as it's just huge and takes forever to download.

Hope Panorama 4K


Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro

I have been to the Vancouver Aquarium many times before and always enjoy the visit.  Today I took my six year old twins once again, and brought along my macro lens for some shots.  Before we left the house, I noticed some of our flowers had recently been covered by rain. Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Even though the tanks and displays don't change too often, you always witness new and interesting behaviour by the animals that live there.  It's always worth a return visit.

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

The best part of our visit today was that there were many butterflies on display in the tropical section. The kids loved it.

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens


Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack BC Canada

Hiking Cheam Peak in Chilliwack

On Sunday of the August long weekend my brother and I scaled Cheam Peak located just outside Chilliwack, BC.  A truly breathtaking hike through alpine meadows towards an unobstructed and panoramic view of the Fraser Valley.  The peak is visible as a prominent landmark from the well traveled Trans Canada Highway that will evoke great memories every time I pass by it.

You can see the location of the hike on the map below, or a larger version here.  It's just east of Chilliwack but getting to the trail head is no easy feat.  It's a one hour drive from Chiliwack following Chilliwack Lake Rd to Foley Creek Forest Service Rd.  From there you take Chipmunk Creek Forest Service Rd where you will need a four wheel drive vehicle with reasonable ground clearance.  I don't recommend anything less as you are liable to get stuck, break your vehicle, or both.

You can download my GPX or KML files for use in your own GPS trackers or mapping tools.

Here is the hike profile.

Hike Profile - Cheam Peak Chilliwack BC As you are driving up the final stretch of the road, you already start to get rewarded with stunning views of the area.

Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Captured on 8/4/2019 by Michal Heller using NIKON CORPORATION NIKON Z 7 and AF Zoom 14-30mm f/4.

 

Though we had a relatively early start to the day, there were already quite a few cars in the parking area at the top.

Captured on 8/4/2019 by Michal Heller using NIKON CORPORATION NIKON Z 7 and AF Zoom 14-30mm f/4.

 

The hike starts off with a well marked trail and gradual rise.
Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Fraser Valley Hiking - Captured on 8/4/2019 by Michal Heller using NIKON CORPORATION NIKON Z 7 and AF Zoom 14-30mm f/4.

 

As you continue to gain elevation, you catch sight of a peak in the distance.  I initially thought this was Cheam but it turns out this is a different peak called Lady Peak.  There is a trail to that peak as well and it shares the initial part of the route with Cheam.  I'll have to come back to bag that one another day :)
Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Fraser Valley Hiking - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 14-30 f/4 S Lens

 

Since much of the elevation gain was on the drive up to the trail head, you are very quickly walking through the upper alpine area. Views are just stunning (click for bigger).

At about the half way mark of the hike, there is a slight detour that will take you to a nice view to the northeast and a look at Jones Lake.

Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Fraser Valley Hiking - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 14-30 f/4 S Lens

 

The final stretch is well above the trees, exposed, and when we went quite hot.

Cheam Peak Hike - Summit

Looking back from the rise to the summit.

Cheam Peak Chilliwack BC

 

The final stretch to the summit of Cheam, panoramic views in all directions.
Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack BC Canada

Views from the summit (click for bigger).

 

Views from the top.

Cheam Peak Panorama with Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 14-30 f/4 S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheam Peak Panorama Nikon Z7

Shots from the way down, just a stellar day for a walk in the mountains.

Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Fraser Valley Hiking - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 14-30 f/4 S Lens

 

I'm testing the app Relive which will draw the hike on a 3D map and add photos.  It's fun and the result is shown below.

Relive 'Cheam Peak'

You can view some of my other hiking related posts at these links: