Stawamus Chief Panorama : Sept 13, 2012 : 2048 pixels

100 Megapixel Nikon D800 Panorama from the Stawamus Chief

Today, I hiked to the top of the south peak of the Stawamus Chief, a popular hike near Squamish, BC. I took a lot of photos including the panorama below. The full size panorama is 22,383x4378 pixels (ok, not 100 megapixels but 98, close enough). Shot with a Nikon D800 and 24-70 f/2.8 lens. The variation of color in the sky is due to the use of a polarizing filter. It helps with contrast but because so much of the sky is visible the angle to the sun changes substantially in the shot from left to right.

First, a small version of the file, 2048 x 401 (0.82 megapixels, 641Kb)
Stawamus Chief Panorama : Sept 13, 2012 : 2048 pixels

 

If you want to see a slightly bigger version, here is a link to a 5000 x 978 (4.89 megapixels, 3.6MB) version of the file. It will open in a new window.
Open the larger file.

Finally, if you really want to download the huge 100 megapixel file (over 80MB) you can do so below. It is a zip file, I didn't want the file to open in the browser. Just download and unzip.
100 megapixel D800 panorama.

The PSD file that created the compressed jpg above is over 1GB in size and that is after I cropped a significant portion of the image from the top and bottom. There will be a lot more photos from this hike posted soon.


Vancouver Animal Control - Dogs For Adoption : August 30 2012

Shelter Dogs August 30 2012

When needed, I try to help out at the local animal shelter (Vancouver Animal Control) by taking photos of their dogs available for adoption.  I believe the quality of the photos makes a difference in the dogs adoption so I’m happy to help out when I can.  It helps me and helps the dogs.  You can see the animals they have available at PetFinder.com (not just dogs but rabbits, lizards, and at times even more strange things).  You can also see previous shelter dogs I photographed here.

Some very cute dogs in the bunch. My favorite is Tug, the little bull terrier.

These images should automatically display in high resolution for anyone who has one of the fancy new Macs with a Retina display.


Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

D800 Autofocus Repair Testing

[box type="info"]Update April 1, 2013: Testing after the second repair attempt by Nikon is now online here: https://photokaz.com/2013/04/nikon-d800-autofocus-repair-testing-the-sequel/[/box]

[box type="info"]Update January 20, 2013: Initial testing showed changes to the focus performance and I thought the slight softness in some shots could be fixed with fine tuning. After more testing, I could not get consistently sharp results from fine tuning. I had to set my fine tuning for the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens to +20 and that still didn't result in good performance. My AFS 50mm f/1.8 and AFD 80-200 f/2.8 lenses also had to have +20 of fine tuning. I dropped off my camera and the three lenses with Nikon last week, told them the problems and said I wanted everything repaired. I will once again post my results when I get the camera back.[/box]

[box type="info"]Update February 9, 2013: Got my camera back from Nikon, still waiting for my 24-70 lens. Some testing with the 50mm f/1.8G using FocusTune is not looking promising :([/box]

I made a previous post about the issues my Nikon D800 had with phase detect autofocus, my test charts clearly showed a problem with the left side AF sensors.  I dropped off my camera at Nikon and it came back with the following info.

[box]

B2

Service Repair Rank B2

ADJ FOCUS SYSTEM

ADJ AUTO FOCUS OPERATION

FIRMWARE UPGRADE

CLN CCD

GENERAL CHECK & CLEAN

[/box]

 

So it looks like Nikon actually did make a fix, though I have heard some people had cameras returned with B1 service repair but I'm not sure how they differ.  Today I decided to do some testing on the 'fixed' camera to see if it was any better.  Same test procedure as before, same Siemens Star test chart.  I only tested the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens as that more obviously showed the problems before.   Below you can see the results for the lens at 24mm, ISO 100.  Top row is Live View manual focus (reference), next is Live View autofocus (to test contrast detect AF), then two rows viewfinder (phase detect) autofocus tests.  The VF AF 1 is racking focus to the closest setting before letting autofocus take over, VF AF 2 was a rack to infinity.

Nikon D800 Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 24mm

 

Disregard the differences in white balance, the right test chart was closer to a different set of lights. Focus should not be affected overall, and shows relatively consistent operation left, center, and right.

 

I repeated the test at 70mm but this time didn't test Live View autofocus. Here are the results.
Nikon D800 Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

 

As before focus looks to be consistent, if not perfect, between the three tested points.

 

Finally, putting together my previous test charts with the updated tests shot today. Top row is Live View manual for reference, next row is the viewfinder autofocus tests before the fix and third row are the tests after the fix. This should clearly show that the fix worked. One thing to note is that the autofocus, even after the fix, is not in perfect focus however I hope that autofocus fine tune can fix that.
Nikon D800 Pre VS Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 24mm


Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : the lions

Hiking the Binkert Trail To The Lions

The Lions are two very familiar peaks that can be seen from Vancouver. I have hiked most of the mountains in the immediate Vancouver area but the Lions always looked down on me with a smug look. Every time I looked to the North Shore I could see the twin peaks and I knew I had to get up there one day. On August 18th, five of us decided to make the trek and I was the only Lions virgin in the group.

The trail starts in Lions Bay and is a 16km round trip journey. The elevation gain is 1280m (4200') with some very steep sections you will feel in your legs. This is a strenuous hike and of the hikes I have completed may be second only to Black Tusk in terms of effort.  I would not bring your dog on this trail, there are sections that would not be easy for your four-legged friend and there are some very steep cliffs.  The hike took us about 3.5 hours in each direction, with a one hour break at the top to enjoy the view, eat lunch, and take photos.  For more detail on the trail feel free to check out these links (some include updates on conditions): Vancouver Trails, Club Tread, Trail Peak, Live Trails.

Some photos from the hike.  First, the motley crew ventures out at the start of the day.  The trail is fairly flat and everyone is feeling good.

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : motley crue

Things begin to get steeper, everyone is still having a good time and chatting.

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : getting steeper

 

One of the only waterfalls along the route. Not much rain in the area lately and the snow pack is almost gone so it's really just a trickle at this point. Harvey Creek is much bigger with pools large enough for a dip. There is a well built bridge over this creek so you will certainly know when you are there.

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : waterfall

 

The trail takes a sharp turn up and chatting turns into cursing.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : the slog

 

Coming out of the trees, you are finally rewarded with stunning views of Howe Sound.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : howe sound views

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Inuksuk over howe sound

 

The Lions are still looming, a long way to go.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : break with lions looming

 

The group taking a breather after a few hours of hard climbing.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : group taking a break

 

Back on the trail, hiking turns into scrambling.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : the rock scramble

 

And now with snow :)
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : the rock scramble with snow

 

Near the top of the rock scramble, views are still great and a good motivator.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : boulders

 

After a few more tricky sections, you finally reach the ridge and see a full view of the Lions before you.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : west lion on left, east lion on the right

 

It was a bit hazy, but the view from the top was truly spectacular. Hard to beat and makes the 3.5 hour climb completely worth it.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : view from the lions hike

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : both lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Howe Sound from the Lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : amazing view

 

You need to be careful with your footing on the ridge, there are very steep cliffs on both sides. One misstep and you won't be around to tell anyone about it.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : view and cliff

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : gap cliff and view

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Inuksuk and the lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : view and cliff 2

 

Up close and personal with the West Lion.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : up close and personal with west lion

 

The West Lion towering over Scott and Jason.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : west lion looms in the background

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : west lion towers over Scott and Mason

 

It is possible to climb to the top of the West Lion, but only for those with some experience with this type of activity should even attempt it. It is a high consequence climb with no room for error. If you decide to do it, you need to descend down a small cliff (a rope is provided). People here are waiting to climb down.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : waiting at rope

 

Once on the West Lion, find the best route up. You can see how steep it is in the photos below.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : climb up west lion

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : tiny people on west lion

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : tiny people on west lion 2

 

The hike is popular in the late summer, especially on a nice day. We didn't see many people on the trail, but there were a few at the top.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : lions ridge and view

 

Of course, some things didn't have to climb to the top. Cheater :)
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Raven on the lions

 

I can imagine life at the top is not easy for any plants or animals that choose to live here.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : rough life on the lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : both lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : east lion

 

Vancouver feels very far away when you are up here.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Vancouver is far away

 

On the way down, your knees will take a serious beating. The trail through the forest and the gravel road seem to stretch on forever. At the end of the day though, it's an amazing climb and worth the effort for anyone who wants to make the journey.


Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Lonely Road in Alberta - Big Sky Country

A Visit To Alberta

I decided to make a short visit to Alberta to see family and friends. Weather was good and I did some fishing, some hiking, and a lot of eating. On the way from the Edmonton airport, I stopped to take this photo of a lonely highway. There are many of these quiet secondary roads where you won't see a car for ages.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Lonely Road in Alberta - Big Sky Country

 

My first destination was Saint Paul, the area has a lot of farmland with old and abandoned buildings. These make for great photos, especially at sunset.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR

 
One of the reasons I like shooting here is because the clouds are often interesting and completely change the composition. Montana is referred to as Big Sky Country but it certainly applies to Alberta as well.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR 2

 

Next day, my dad and I went fishing to Bellis Lake. The fish were not biting but I did see a large Osprey nest so I went to investigate. Not as majestic as the Bald Eagles I shot in Brackendale, but I managed to get some photos of these amazing birds. There was a pair of them, and they seemed most displeased that I was walking around their nest. After a few photos, I left them alone.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Osprey in Flight

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Osprey in Flight 2

 

I also saw this Volkswaken Bus in the parking area, so even though we didn't catch any fish I left with some interesting photos.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Volkswagen Bus at the Lake

 

We left Bellis lake and decided to check out Hanmore Lake. A beautiful, clean lake where we each caught a Northern Pike and I went for a swim.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Hanmore Lake

 

My brother arrived and we decided to head out at sunset to find more abandoned buildings. There are a lot of them, and I'm sure each one has an interesting story to tell. They all have a lot of character.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Interior HDR

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Interior HDR 2

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse HDR

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse HDR

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Barn Doors HDR

 

Sometimes it is not just houses that are abandoned.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse and Abandoned Car HDR

 

On our way home, as the sun was setting, we stopped to look at this little valley. There is a beaver lodge in the middle, hard to imagine a better paradise for those guys than this spot.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Beaver Paradise

 

The next day, I set up the camera close to my parents hummingbird feeder. These are Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and they are FAST, and hard to capture, though I did get a few decent shots.

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Feeder

 

Somewhat easier to capture when they sit still for a second, but she didn't stick around for long.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Branch

 

I also took the opportunity to eat a ton of berries from the yard. The yellow raspberries are my favorite.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 - strawberries and raspberries

 

The next day, it was time to move on. My brother and I drove south towards Calgary and on our way out of Saint Paul we saw some good ol' redneck ingenuity.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Redneck Ingenuity

 

We stopped in Lamont to take some photos of the limousine 'sculpture'. Odd, but every town in the area has its own claim to fame.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Lamont Limousine Sculpture

 

We drove through Elk Island National Park hoping to see some wildlife. We did see some bison, though none were close enough for a shot. Overall, the park was a bust but worth going as the wildlife are always on the move.

 

On my final full day in Alberta, we made the most of it. We first drove out to Dinosaur Provincial Park (DPP) which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My brother (who lives in Alberta) enjoyed telling me that there are four UNESCO sites in Alberta and only one in BC.

 

DPP is in the badlands of Alberta, an arid region full of snakes and dinosaur fossils.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 - Snakes on the Road

 

We took a short hike next to the river to look at the ancient cottonwood trees. These things are several hundred years old, gnarly and deformed. They have seen a lot of things in their many days.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park Cottonwood Tree

 

We also walked the Badlands Trail, where you can see some of the interesting geology of the area.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park Badlands Trail

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park Badlands Trail

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park Badlands Trail

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park

 

After a sufficient baking in the mid-day sun on the Alberta badlands, we went to the metropolis of Brooks for lunch before heading to Newell Lake. The lake is actually a man-made reservoir created after construction of the Bassano Dam. My brother tried his luck at fishing while I took a few photos. Found this Double-crested Cormorant taking off not far away.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Double-crested Cormorant Taking Off

 

This beaver also cruised by and didn't seem too bothered by our presence. I couldn't get close as there were a trillion ants on the bank of the lake and if you got anywhere near them they immediately covered you.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Beaver

 

We decided to go for a drive around the lake instead of fishing as the fish were not cooperating. We were just killing time waiting for sunset and the real fishing to begin. These cows were worth stopping for.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Cows

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Cow Tongue

 

Not much farther we saw a mule deer.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Mule Deer

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Mule Deer

 

Finally the sun was starting to set so we found a nice spot to set up in. While it was a beautiful area, the mosquitoes were horrendous. We both covered ourselves with bug spray but it didn't seem to help much. There couldn't be a better breeding ground for these things and often I was standing in a few inches of water with my tripod getting completely attacked while setting up for a shot. I fought through it and managed to get some of the shots I wanted.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Sunset at the Newell Lake

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Sunset at the Newell Lake

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Sunset at the Newell Lake

 

This is a shot taken with my iPhone 4S showing my D800 set up for the sunset shot.

Sunset Newell Lake, Brooks, Alberta - iPhone 4S

 

The resulting shot from the D800 turned out to be my favorite shot from the trip.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Sunset at the Newell Lake

 

As the sun went down, it was time to explore the real reason we came to Newell Lake in the first place: crayfish! These are like small freshwater lobsters, and invasive in many waters in Alberta. They are best to catch at night, just walking through the water with a flashlight. When you see one, just grab it and throw it in a bucket. We caught enough for a feast.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Live Crayfish at Newell Lake

 

Ready to eat.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Cooked Crayfish at Newell Lake

 

As you can see, they are just little guys, but tasty!

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Cooked Crayfish Just a Little Snack

It was a fun trip to Alberta, I covered a lot of miles but saw a lot and caught up with friends and family. Here is a link to the general route map. I flew into Edmonton, and out from Calgary covering over 1500Km in the few days I was there. Certainly made the most of it :)
Alberta Trip Route Map


Sunset Newell Lake, Brooks, Alberta - Nikon D800

Nikon D800 vs iPhone 4S

I was at Newell Lake near Brooks, Alberta with my brother a few weeks ago and as the sun was setting I tried to capture a few photos.  It was a warm evening which would have otherwise been pleasant if it wasn't for the swarm of mosquitoes.  I was literally getting destroyed by the things, but pushed on and got some shots.  The specific location for the shots was this small peninsula.

First, the iPhone photo (showing the Nikon D800).

Sunset Newell Lake, Brooks, Alberta - iPhone 4S

 

Next, the image from the Nikon D800 with Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 lens. This is actually a 7 shot exposure bracket combined in an HDR image using Photomatix.
Sunset Newell Lake, Brooks, Alberta - Nikon D800

 

Both images scaled to 2048 on the long edge. If you look close, I think you will agree that the D800 has a slight edge in image quality here :)


Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

Nikon D800 Contrast and Phase Detect Autofocus Testing

[box type="info"]Update April 1, 2013: Testing after the second repair attempt by Nikon is now online here: https://photokaz.com/2013/04/nikon-d800-autofocus-repair-testing-the-sequel/[/box]

[box type="info"]Update January 20, 2013: Initial testing showed changes to the focus performance and I thought the slight softness in some shots could be fixed with fine tuning.  After more testing, I could not get consistently sharp results from fine tuning. I had to set my fine tuning for the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens to +20 and that still didn't result in good performance.  My AFS 50mm f/1.8 and AFD 80-200 f/2.8 lenses also had to have +20 of fine tuning.  I dropped off my camera and the three lenses with Nikon last week, told them the problems and said I wanted everything repaired.  I will once again post my results when I get the camera back.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update August 23, 2012: I finally had a chance to do some critical tests of my fixed Nikon D800. I can say that Nikon did fix the problem (still to be tested), I have posted updated test charts here.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 30, 2012: Picked up my D800 in Richmond today. I did some 'off the cuff' testing, hand held without a test chart. It seems to be fixed though I won't know for sure until I set up a proper test procedure again. I won't have time to do that until next week but will test again and post my results.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 20, 2012: Nikon has confirmed that the camera arrived in Toronto. They provided a service order number and a link to check the status, unfortunately the page is 'under construction'.  I hope that means it is just offline for a fix as I haven't visited the page before.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 18, 2012: I dropped off my D800 at the Nikon repair center in Vancouver (Richmond) along with my test results. They said that the high end bodies get shipped to Toronto, and I'll be without the camera for two to three weeks. Not fun, but worth it if they can fix the issue. If it comes back the same or worse I won't be too happy about it.[/box]

After reading several posts about the 'left autofocus point' problems of the Nikon D800, I decided to test my own camera to see if it needed repair.  Thom Hogan outlined a test method in his July 16, 2012 post and I decided to follow that method to test my camera, with a change.  Initially, I developed a test target as per Thom's suggestion but it led to problems so I did a second round of testing with the classic Siemens star.

Some notes about the camera and test

  • I have a camera purchased in Canada, it was very early in the release cycle so call it an 'early run' camera.
  • I used two lenses for the test, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8.
  • I have not made any changes to auto focus fine tune.
  • I used a Really Right Stuff TVC-33 carbon fiber tripod and BH-55 ball head to hold the camera.
  • All exposures shot in RAW, converted to jpg to display here but no sharpening, lens correction, etc. was added.  I only changed white balance and exposure to more easily compare things.  I also cropped to make comparison easier.  Everything managed with Adobe Lightroom 4.
  • The lenses did not have any filters installed.
  • Camera had distortion control turned off.
  • Shot at the widest aperture (f/1.8 for the 50mm and f/2.8 for the 24-70) and ISO 100.  The 24-70mm was shot at 24mm.
  • Camera was leveled using the built in leveling tool and a three-way hot shoe level.
  • The camera (sensor plane) was about 6.5' from the wall.
The notations used may be confusing, but work for me to keep track of what I'm shooting.  I used Live View to manually focus and autofocus.
LV M - L : This means Live View, manual focus, left sensor.
LV AF - C : Live View, autofocus, center
VF AF - R : viewfinder (phase detect) autofocus, right sensor.
For each lens, there are 9 images.
LV M (L/C/R)
LV AF (L/C/R)
VF AF (L/C/R)
I repeated the viewfinder AF tests several times, posted two samples.
I hope that makes sense.   Below are the results of the testing.

Test Results - 50mm f/1.8G

 

Top row is Live View manual focus, second row is Live View AF, and last two rows are viewfinder phase detect AF.  The 50mm does show less detail in the left AF sensor.  Note, bigger versions of these test images are below, this is just a summary.

Nikon D800 50mm f/1.8 AF test

Test Results - 24mm f/2.8G

 

The 24mm lens shows a much more severe left AF issue.

Nikon D800 24-70mm f/2.8 AF test

This is a tedious exercise to both shoot and post.  I did it twice as my first test chart didn't yield useful results.  My D800 does suffer from the left autofocus problem when using phase detect autofocus with the two lenses I tested.  It will need to go to Nikon to get repaired.

Here is my test setup, in case anyone is curious.

 

 

 

 

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

 

Here are the full test patterns and should be in the same order shown above.


If you want to download the test chart I used, you can do so here.
Siemens Star Focus Test Chart


Siwash Rock At Sunset : 2012-07-06

Siwash Rock at Sunset

 

I was waiting for a nice sunny day in Vancouver as I wanted to get out to photograph Siwash Rock. This basalt stack is the only one of it's kind in the Vancouver area, and I wanted to catch it when high tide was at or near sunset.  This is an HDR image created from several exposures.

Siwash Rock At Sunset : 2012-07-06

And a shot I took with my iPhone 4S as my D800 was taking the 7 bracketed shots for my HDR above.

iPhone Siwash Rock D800

 

And a few more shots from that evening including some fun with a neutral density filter for longer exposures.

Vancouver : Siwash Rock Long Exposure B&W : 2012-07-06

Vancouver : Siwash Rock Long Exposure Color : 2012-07-06

Vancouver : Siwash Rock Sunset : 2012-07-06


UBC Botanical Garden Yellow Lily

UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research

Last weekend, my wife and I paid a visit to the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research (at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver).  Despite having lived in Vancouver a combined 35 years it was the first visit for both of us.  We were very fortunate because one of the volunteers, Dana, took us for a private tour as no one else was there for a tour when we arrived.  He spent several hours with us, taking us first on the Greenheart Canopy Walkway, which is a series of bridges and platforms in the trees.  It's a bit wobbly, but fun at the same time.  Also, you get an interesting view from up there that you don't often see.  The canopy system is hung from the trees but is done in such a way that it doesn't harm the tree, it's rather amazing actually and the only one of its kind in Canada.

UBC Botanical Garden Tree Top Walk

UBC Botanical Garden 1

UBC Botanical Garden Feet

UBC Botanical Garden Katie in the trees

UBC Botanical Garden Tree Top Walk

 

There are a lot of vines in the garden, from all over the world.

UBC Botanical Garden Vine

UBC Botanical Garden Vine

 

It's not all plants and flowers.

UBC Botanical Garden Mushroom

 

Though there are a lot of beautiful flowers as well.

UBC Botanical Garden Flowers

UBC Botanical Garden Borrage

UBC Botanical Garden Flower Mosaic

UBC Botanical Garden Yellow Lily

 

They also have a big garden with all kinds of edible things.

UBC Botanical Garden Yummy

 

Including the most interesting way to grow fruit.  These trees are trained to grow at an angle and only have branches in one plane.  Because of the angle, the tree bears fruit much sooner than they would otherwise.  Also, they are very easy to pick being no more than six feet high, some only a foot with branches parallel to the ground.  I wish I remember what this growing style was, if you know please leave a message in the comments below.

UPDATE: The technique of training trees in this manner is called Espalier (thanks to Wendy Cutler!).

UBC Botanical Garden Fruit trees

UBC Botanical Garden Fruit trees 2

 

In one section, they have plants from all of the continents including a lot of desert varieties.  Apparently there are fire ants too, though I didn't see any.

UBC Botanical Garden Fire Ants

UBC Botanical Garden Chicks and Hens

UBC Botanical Garden Burrs

UBC Botanical Garden Carpet

UBC Botanical Garden Cactus in Bloom

UBC Botanical Garden Flower

UBC Botanical Garden Crocosmia in Bloom

 

There is also a section of the garden dedicated to plants used in the medical field.  This sundial is in the middle, accurate though doesn't adjust well for daylight savings time :)

UBC Botanical Garden Sundial in the medical garden

 

We found this interesting bee hive, which was a temporary art installation.  The solar panels provide energy to open and close it daily.

UBC Botanical Garden Bee Hive Fine Art

 

Finally, there is a fantastic water fountain the garden located in the amphitheatre.  It was designed by William Pye who installs these amazing water sculptures all over the world.  I'll have to go back to get more photographs.

UBC Botanical Garden Fountain Reflection


Vancouver Shelter Dogs : 2012-07-14: Fluffy Giant 1

Shelter Dogs July 14 2012

When needed, I try to help out at the local animal shelter (Vancouver Animal Control) by taking photos of their dogs available for adoption.  I believe the quality of the photos makes a difference in the dogs adoption so I’m happy to help out when I can.  It helps me and helps the dogs.  You can see the animals they have available at PetFinder.com (not just dogs but rabbits, lizards, and at times even more strange things).  You can also see previous shelter dogs I photographed here.


Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 6

Birds At Acadia Beach in Vancouver, BC

Took a short walk with my dogs on Acadia Beach today.  The best time for birds, especially Great Blue Herons, seems to be on the rising tide early in the morning.  The Herons like to walk around in the shallow water and pick off smelt and other small fish who are too dumb to notice a three foot tall bird.

I didn't get any stellar shots today but did see a Bald Eagle, a few Great Blue Herons, Geese, and a few of the usual suspects as well.   Overall, a fun day and always nice when an eagle is around.  The birds were quite far away so these are crops from much bigger images shot with the Nikon D800 and 80-200 f/2.8D lens.  In cases like this, a longer lens would sure be nice.  If an updated 80-400mm VR becomes available I may be tempted to sell the current zoom and go for the bigger reach.  Teleconverters do not work with the 80-200.  There was also a strong backlight so I had to dial up the shadow recovery introducing some noise.

I definitely got some better shots when I went to Brackendale to shoot the Bald Eagles with a borrowed 400mm f/2.8.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 5

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 4

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 1

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 3

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 6

 

Impressive talons on this guy, wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of those.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Bald Eagle 7

 

The geese didn't seem to care that a top predator was in the area.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Geese

 

The heron also went about his business catching fish.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Great Blue Heron
I even managed to catch a crow in flight.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Crow Landing

 

The image above was rescued from a very underexposed shot.  The screenshot below shows the impressive dynamic range of the Nikon D800 which allowed me to recover the shadows and save the image, if only for web use.

Acadia-Beach : 2012-07-10 : Nikon D800 Shadow Recovery In Lightroom 4

 


Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Jack Russel Terrier 4

Shelter Dogs June 27 2012

When needed, I try to help out at the local animal shelter (Vancouver Animal Control) by taking photos of their dogs available for adoption.  I believe the quality of the photos makes a difference in the dogs adoption so I'm happy to help out when I can.  It helps me and helps the dogs.  You can see the animals they have available at PetFinder.com (not just dogs but rabbits, lizards, and at times even more strange things).  You can also see previous shelter dogs I photographed here.

Another black lab, likely a mix.

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Black Lab

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Black Lab

 

A hyper but very cute little puppy.

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Crazy Puppy

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Puppy 1

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Puppy 2

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Puppy 3

 

This old guy really liked getting some attention.  Hopefully he finds a home.

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Old guy

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Old guy

 

A young and playful dog, likely pit/shepherd mix.

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Pittie Mix

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Pittie Mix 2

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Pittie Mix 3

 

More puppies! Awesome little dogs, friendly and playful.

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Puppies

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Puppies 2

 

They seemed to like my hat

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Puppies Hat

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Puppies Skunk Eye

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Puppies Feet

 

And a Jack Russel Terrier. Couldn't decide if she wanted to play or just get some rubs.

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Jack Russel Terrier 3

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Jack Russel Terrier

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Jack Russel Terrier 2

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Jack Russel Terrier 4


Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Beagle 1

Shelter Dogs June 23 2012

When needed, I try to help out at the local animal shelter (Vancouver Animal Control) by taking photos of their dogs available for adoption.  I believe the quality of the photos makes a difference in the dogs adoption so I'm happy to help out when I can.  It helps me and helps the dogs.  You can see the animals they have available at PetFinder.com (not just dogs but rabbits, lizards, and at times even more strange things).  You can also see previous shelter dogs I photographed here.

There were a few new faces on my most recent visit, some great dogs.  I started off with a cute beagle, very friendly and loves to play.  When he runs his ears flap around like he is trying to fly :)

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Beagle 1

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Beagle 3

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Beagle 2

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Beagle 4

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Beagle 5

 

Next up was this fluffy little Maltese who constantly tried to climb into my lap.

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Fluffy 2

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Fluffy 1

 

Then I met this young boxer.  He just vibrates with excitement when you play with him.  Awesome dog.

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Boxer (Ripple) 1

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Boxer (Ripple) 3

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Boxer (Ripple) 2

 

There were two puppies to play with too.Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Puppy 1

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Puppy 2

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Puppy 2 Tug

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Puppy Run

 

This young girl took some work, was more interested in the dogs around her than getting photos taken.

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Brownie

 

A black lab likely won't last long down there, always popular.

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Black Lab 1

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Black Lab 2

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Black Lab dog house
We put some of the dogs together, they had a great time.  The beagle has so much energy, can play for hours.

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Chase 2

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Chase 1

 

But the tables were turned on the little guy when we put him in with the boxer.  Oh crap, I'm out of here!

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Chase 3

 

Make a move sucker...

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Chase 4

 

Oh crap, I guess that's the move.

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Chase 5
Better hide in here for a bit. (No beagles were harmed in the making of these photos :) )

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Hide

 

And some of the bunnies currently available.

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Bunny 1

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Bunny 3

Shelter Dogs : 2012-06-23 : Bunny 2

 

And finally, when I got home I decided to get a few shots of my own dogs.  Jammie will always sit for the camera, a good and obedient dog.

Jammie mouth

 

Cedric is an old and grumpy guy, wanted no part of it.

Cedric does not care


Garden Bee: 2012-06-20 : Focus Stack with Zerene Stacker (105mm f/2.8 VR Micro)

Nikon D800 Macro and Focus Stack

When I was mowing the lawn, I came across a bee in the grass. I'm not sure what type of bee it is, but it could be one of the solitary ground dwelling types that can be found here. One of the wings was much shorter than the other and I don't think it could fly. I put the bee in a safe place and took a few shots. The shots were taken with a Nikon D800 and AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens. I have another set of photos shot with the 105mm here (lower light, hand-held).

Update: I found out this isn't a bee after all, but a hoverfly (Narcissus fly).  It mimics bees as a defense against predators.  Very cool.

This shot is a single image converted from RAW but cropped from a much bigger frame. ISO 360, 1/125 second shutter at f/9.
Garden Bee : 2012-06-20 : Single Image with 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro

I also took a few more images focus stacked them with Zerene Stacker, turned out better than I expected considering this is also a significant crop.

Garden Bee: 2012-06-20 : Focus Stack with Zerene Stacker (105mm f/2.8 VR Micro)

And a flower I shot shortly after, also a single image converted from RAW.

Flower : 2012-06-20 : Single Image with 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro

 

And an image I shot previously.  The detail when shooting the D800 with this lens is just great.

D800 Test Image - flowers


5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

The Fifth Annual East Van Show and Shine

My friend Eli and I attended the Fifth Annual East Van Show and Shine held at the Whip Restaurant.  It is a fundraiser that features live bands, a barbecue, local vendors, and vintage and classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Proceeds support the Canadian Cancer Society.  We have attended the event for the last few years and it's always fun.  There were a few new cars this year, including a late 60's Charger and a late 60's Camaro which are both near the top of my favorites list.

On our way out of the house, Eli noticed a rainbow around the sun.  More info about this in my previous post, but it was very cool and not a common sight.
Vancouver Sun Dog

 

And shots of the cars.
5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

Very cool old Volvo.
5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

The most popular attraction as not the cars, girls, band, or food.  It was a pug in a side car :)
5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

Everyone was stopping to take photos.
5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

There were some cool bikes down there too.
5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

 

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

Guard dog on duty.

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)

Mr. Grumpy Pants.

5th Annual East Van Show and Shine at the Whip Restaurant (Vancouver, BC. May 27, 2012)


Vancouver Sun Dog

Vancouver Sun Halo

Yesterday, on my way to the East Van Show and Shine, my friend Eli pointed out a circular rainbow around the sun.  Not something you see every day, and since we both had our cameras we took some photos.  Someone suggested that this phenomenon is called a sun dog or sundog (Wikipedia), but I think it is actually a sun halo.  A sun dog is a 'mock sun', or a bright point of light similar to the sun.  I this case, it's a complete circular halo around the sun and looks like a rainbow. There are some references to these things here and here.

Vancouver Sun Dog

Update (May 29):  After posting on a forum, it turns out this phenomenon is called  a sun halo.  It is seen when thin cirrus clouds are present high in the atmosphere on a sunny day.  Light refracts off ice crystals and creates the effect.  More info here: 22° halo at Wikipedia, NASA.


Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pit Bull

Shelter Dogs May 11 2012

Another trip to Vancouver Animal Control to photograph dogs.  Photos from previous visits can be seen here.  As always, you can see the animals available for adoption from this shelter by visiting their PetFinder page or just drop in at the shelter.

First up, this young pit bull who is a bit chunky but loves to play.

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pit Bull

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pit Bull

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pit Bull

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pit Bull

I had to visit the puppies again, they are great dogs and won't last long.  Previous photos of these little guys are here.

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Puppies

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Puppies

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Puppies

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Puppies

A playful and very cute Pomeranian.

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pomeranian

Call of the wild

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pomeranian

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pomeranian

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pomeranian

And a German Shepherd who was more interested in napping in the grass than having her photo taken.

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - German Shepherd

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - German Shepherd

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - German Shepherd

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - German Shepherd

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - German Shepherd

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - German Shepherd

 

 


Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Another visit to the Vancouver Aquarium

I have had a membership at the Vancouver Aquarium for the last few years and I like to visit often.  It's a great place to just walk around and relax.  I almost always see something new and different.  I like to bring my camera, you never know what you will see.

Don't bug me, I'm crabby

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Best buds, Gus and Ollie, hyacinth macaws

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01

Vancouver Aquarium - 2012-05-01


Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint in Vancouver

What a great day for some dragon boat racing.  Since my wife is on a team, I went down to take some photos and enjoy the nice weather.  Spring Sprint is a warm up to the big Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival, which is in mid June.   The boats are smaller, only 10 paddlers instead of the usual 20 and the distance is substantially shorter as well.  Still fun to watch, especially when you can soak up the sun after the miserable April showers.

The races are held in False Creek with downtown Vancouver as the backdrop.  Hard to find a nicer venue than this.

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

The staging area is right beside Science World.

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Some shots of the action.

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

 

 

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Organized chaos.

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12


Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

A Walk on Wreck Beach, Vancouver, BC

I don't always take my camera when I'm out walking the dogs, but since the D800 is new I decided to bring it along today. I was using the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR lens, which I love. All shots hand held, so may not be critically sharp especially when shooting in the shady areas. It's still too early in the year, and too cold, for the nudies to be out so I had the beach to myself.

This is one of my dogs, Jammie.  She is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, small but thinks she is a big dog.

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

You see some interesting critters when you start getting close

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

I have also been playing around with black and white images more and more.  The D800 captures so much detail and has so much dynamic range you can really get great effects with b&w.

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

This was a bit random, looks like someone brought it to the beach and stuck it in the sand.  I didn't see these growing anywhere.

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

The horror! Actually they are rather cute, as long as they don't decide to set up shop in my back yard.

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

And the fern somewhat reminds me of the furry caterpillars.

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

 

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR