Komatsu Haul Truck Black & White : Copper Mine, Calama, Chile

A Trip to Chile

I visited Chile in May 2013, so this post is LONG overdue.  In my defense though, two cute babies arrived and those little things take up all of my time :)  So after months of inactivity, here are a few photos from the trip.

I landed in Santiago and had a day to explore the city with my colleague Jamie.  We decided to go for a walk without having a destination in mind. and as we left the hotel the sun was reflecting off the large tower.  Sadly, I think the effect is visible due to air pollution.

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We walked along the canal, and came across several interesting sights.

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We saw a large statue at the top of a hill and decided that was a good destination.  It turned out to be the Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepciónand it was a much farther walk than we had expected.

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Half way up the hill, you can see the tower in the distance where we started our walk.x2013-05-25-Chile-May-2013-2777-MKH

Finally at the top, tired and needing a rest.2013-05-25-Chile-May-2013-2798-MKH

Enjoying the view.

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A few more shots from the top of the mountain (click to see bigger).

We found a rail car that could take us back down, which was great as we didn't want to walk all the way back down.  Using Trip Advisor, I found that the cemetery is worth visiting.  Despite being tired, we decided to make our way down there since it wasn't far.  Along the way, we came across some interesting graffiti.

And a dog that didn't like me taking his photo.

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We finally made it to the Cementerio General, and I'm glad we made the effort.  It is an amazing spot, with a lot of old crypts and gravestones.  The sun was starting to set and we just walked around looking at the interesting sights.  This is the entrance gate.

Cementerio General Santiago Chile

Inside one of the buildings, there are many like this. Each plaque a person's final resting place.
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Some are obviously very expensive, with marble and stained glass windows. They are beautiful.

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Cementerio General Santiago Chile

 

Others are older and less well maintained, but equally interesting and with a lot of character.

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A few more shots. This is a spot I will have to come back to, it's a fantastic place to walk around.

That was it for Santiago, not a city you can see in one day but we did our best.  Must have walked 20Km in total.  The next day, we took a tour to the Casablanca Valley, well known for it's white wines.  The tour would visit several wineries, with a sampling at each one of course.  First up was Indomita, with a great view and a beautiful estate.

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A few shots during a tour of the winery.2013-05-26-Chile-May-2013-2901-MKH_HDR-Edit

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The name of the second winery escapes me.  It was smaller and used more traditional techniques.  If you recognize it, leave a comment and I'll update the post.  Thanks!

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Here they are making balsamic vinegar.  As the vinegar ages it reduces in volume so they pour it into ever smaller barrels.2013-05-26-Chile-May-2013-2931-MKH-Edit

The final winery was Casas del Bosqe.  Another beautiful spot where we sampled wines and had an excellent lunch.

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The next day, I caught an early flight to Calama, which is located in the Atacama Desert.  The Atacama is the driest place on earth, receiving almost no rainfall.  Some weather stations have NEVER received rain!  These are a couple of iphone photos from the plane as we were leaving Santiago.  There are still clouds here, in the Atacama there are only clear skies.

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Atacama Desert

 

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Atacama Desert

 

This shot is on the approach to Calama.  A bizarre landscape featuring no plants.  In the bottom of this photos, there is a small river that supports a small group of shrubs.  Beyond that, it's  bleak but strangely beautiful as well.

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Atacama Desert 3

 

I was in the Atacama to visit a copper mine in the region.  This is where the big trucks live.

Komatsu Haul Truck Black & White : Copper Mine, Calama, Chile

Chile: Komatsu Haul Truck 360 Ton - Antofagasta

 

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It's hard to visualize how big these trucks really are.  The tires are 4.3m (14') tall, here is a shot of me standing next to one (I'm 1.8m or 6' tall).

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And a few small trucks too.

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From the mine, I went to Antofagasta which is a port city in the north of Chile.  Despite it's proximity to the coast, it is still extremely dry.  While working in the office, I had a little friend visit me.

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Antofagasta Buzzard

While in Antofagasta, I made a quick stop at the Ruinas de Huanchaca.  These are the ruins of an old silver smelter, now a National Historic Landmark.

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Inside the museum is NASA's moon buggy.  They tested this buggy in the Atacama Desert because of the similarity to the moon and mars. 2013-05-31-Chile-May-2013-3124-MKH_HDR-2

The ruins are opposite the Enjoy casino and hotel, where I stayed for a few nights.

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Towards the end of my visit, a few of us decided to head to the coast to visit Mejillones.  Another port city, and not a bad place for a walk.

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We saw a huge sea lion, and it was keeping a close eye on two kids on the beach.

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On the way to the Antofagasta airport, I did stop at La Portada.  This is a natural arch on the coast, and a very popular spot for photos.  It is one of fifteen natural monuments included among the protected areas of Chile.

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On the way home, I had one more opportunity to visit Santiago, though only for the evening.   I watched a few street performers, had dinner, and called it day.

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Saint Patrick's Day : BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, BC : 2013-03-17

Saint Patrick's Day in Vancouver

I was coming back from taking some sunset photos in Lions Bay.  On my way home, I saw that BC Place Stadium was lit up green for Saint Patrick's Day.  It was a clear night, so I had to stop to get a few extra shots.

Saint Patrick's Day : BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, BC : 2013-03-17


Belize 2012-12-02 : Coco Plum Island Resort : Dock at Night

Belize Vacation

On November 30th, my wife and I left rainy Vancouver to visit Belize for the first time.  Belize is a tiny country in Central America with a population of about 320,000.   It is 290km long and 110km wide, you can literally drive around the whole country in one day if you wanted to.  English is the official language which makes getting around very easy.

Due to our last minute booking we had to take four flights (Vancouver -> San Francisco -> Houston -> Belize City -> Dangriga) and a boat ride to reach our final destination, Coco Plum Island Resort.  The last flight is on a small plane which lands on a tiny runway in Dangriga, just part of the adventure I suppose.

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Belize City to Dangriga Hopper Flight

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Dangriga Airport Approach

Coco Plum is on a small 16 acre private island about 15 minutes by boat from Dangriga.  There are only 10 or so cabanas on the island, so it is very quiet and far removed from large resorts elsewhere in Belize.  As soon as you arrive on the island, the staff make sure you are well taken care of.  Bags are taken to your room, and the bartender makes you a tropical welcome drink.  In our case, mosquito bites :)

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Welcome Drinks - Mosquito Bite

The bar is a central hub of activity for staff and guests.  Special thanks to Leo for being such a nice guy and a great bartender.  Erwin, Bella, Sam, Crispin, and Byron also deserve special mention for making our stay fantastic.  The roof of the bar is covered in t-shirts from former guests, each with its own message.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Shirts At The Bar

After check-in, we went to our cabana and were surprised how big they were.  More than enough space for two people.  Everything is very clean, well maintained and comfortable.

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana Interior

2012-111-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana Interior

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana Interior

The ocean literally steps from the door.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana View

 

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Mangrove Trees

The resort is beautiful, tranquil, and a great place to relax.  Here are some shots from around the resort.  The island in the photo below is another resort, Thatch Caye.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : View To Paradise

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Conch Shell

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sunset

The long dock is one of the great features.  During the day a place to relax.  At night the lights attract rays, sharks (small ones, don't worry), and squid.  It's also a good place to snorkel, we saw a lot of interesting creatures and I even found a huge live conch.

2012-12-03 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Live Conch

A large hermit crab.

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Hermit Crab

Another type of crab which seemed to be unhappy about my presence.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Crab Under Dock

Even an urchin which did a good job of hanging onto my hand.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sea Urchin

The water is typical Caribbean: blue green, warm, and clear. Katie and I spent a lot of time snorkeling around the area.  We also ventured out on most of the snorkel trips from the island to the local barrier reef.  Belize has some of the best snorkeling I have encountered anywhere in the world and I have been to a lot of great locations.  The reefs are still in great shape and there is a huge variety of coral, fish, and invertebrates.  Spotted Eagle Rays are common.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Spotted Eagle Ray Over The Coral Reef

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sting Ray

Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Coral Reef

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Snail on Coral

A lobster trying to hide in the coral.  The lobster here don't have big claws.

2012-12-03 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Lobster on the Reef

This puffer fish was also trying to keep a low profile, but I spotted him.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Hiding Puffer Fish

There are also a lot of birds in the area, including pelicans.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Pelican Unhappy With Us

We had a few nice sunsets while we were there, though not quite as good as we had in Thailand and Hawaii.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sunset At The Bar

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sunset in Belize

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sunset In Paradise

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : The Dock At Sunset (Final)

On some days, there are several inland tours you can participate in.  We chose to visit the Belize Zoo, which is small but well laid out and quite natural.  Animals have large pens with plenty of room for cover.  Considering that this is a third world country, the animals were well kept.  Unfortunately, when we were there it was raining and a lot of the animals were not visible.  We didn't get to see a jaguar, which is one of the big draws.  It also made getting good photos harder, but here are a few from our visit.

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Inland Tour : Monkey at Belize Zoo

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Belize Zoo : Monkey at Belize Zoo

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Tapir

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Deer and Food Thief

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Inland Tour : Puma at Belize Zoo

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Inland Tour : Peccary at Belize Zoo

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Jaribou Stork at Belize Zoo

On the say to the zoo, we also stopped at a gift shop that had captive Coatimundi.  Similar to a racoon, they are very cute and curious animals.  Unfortunately, they have to live in this small cage.

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Inland Tour : Coatimundi

 

Being far removed from a large city there isn't much light pollution and on a clear night there are a lot of stars visible.  Though I have almost no experience with star photography I decided to give it a shot.  Here you can see the mangroves lit up from a small amount of light on the island.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Mangroves at Night

I also tried to 'light paint' some of the mangroves with a flashlight in a few of the shots.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Mangrove at Night with Light Painting

 

One of the cabana at night.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana at Night with Light Painting

While the snorkeling was great, I also enjoy scuba diving and went out with divemaster Steve for two dives (thanks to Byron for setting it up!).  As expected, it was amazing.  The reefs are teeming with life.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Spotted Eagle Ray

Here Steve swims with a green sea turtle.  This guy didn't seem spooked and just swam around with us for a while before moving on.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Steve With Green Sea Turtle

Pterois Lionfish are not native to the Caribbean, and are quite damaging to local species.  They don't have the same predators here that they do in their native waters, and their numbers are rising.  They are strikingly beautiful fish (though poisonous so don't get too close), but they should be removed from these waters when possible.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Pterois Lionfish

2012-12-03 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Pterois Lionfish

The variety of coral is just fantastic.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Fan Coral

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Coral Formation

Some great camouflage.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Fish Camouflage
Finally, a few parting shots.  The bar at night.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Bar at Night

Mangrove trees at sunrise.  Shot straight into the sun, then converted to a sepia tone.  I just liked the composition.

Belize 2012-12-02 : Coco Plum Island Resort : Mangrove at Sunrise (Sepia)

The dock at twilight, a few stars visible in the sky.  In the evenings, the hut is converted to romantic dinner spot for two.  I like the contrast of the warm red light in the hut with the cool blue and green tones of the surroundings.

Belize 2012-12-02 : Coco Plum Island Resort : Dock at Night

We left a lot unseen in Belize, it will warrant a return trip some day.

A couple of people have asked what type of camera I used.  I have a bit of info about some of my gear here, but specifically for these images I used:

  • Nikon D800 DSLR camera
  • Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 lens (the wide angle zoom)
  • Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens (the normal zoom)
  • Really Right Stuff TVC-33 tripod and BH-55 ball head

For the underwater photos, I use:

  • Canon PowerShot SD870 IS Digital ELPH
  • Canon WP-DC17 Underwater housing

The Canon camera and housing is a relatively inexpensive way to get decent underwater photos.  The housing is good to 40m of depth and suitable for recreational diving.  The major drawback is that I can't shoot in raw and adjust white balance in post processing.  White balance adjustments are needed much more for underwater shots then for photos on the surface.  Unfortunately, I can only do so much with a jpg file.

 


Vancouver False Creek At Night

Last night, I went out for a few sunset and night time shots with my friend Scott. Sunset was a bust, but we did get a few shots of Science World and the Vancouver skyline. Overall, a fun night out and made better as we finished up with a pint at the new tap house.


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


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


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)


Amsterdam Dec 2011 night long exposure hdr

A Day in Amsterdam

Back in December 2011, I had to travel to the UK on business. I took the opportunity to route my flight through Amsterdam instead of London and I had to pleasure of spending an afternoon in this great European city. I'm finally getting around to posting some of the photos I took during my short stay. I definitely need to go back and spend more time in this city, it was a lot of fun.

Most of the photos here were shot while on a photo tour with Photo Tours of Amsterdam.  I booked this tour after reading positive reviews on Trip Advisor.   Things didn't start well as my flight was delayed.  Rather than arriving at 8:00am which would have given me plenty of time to get to my hotel then meet my guide at the 1:30pm start time, my flight arrived at 12:30pm.  I rushed to the hotel, dropped off my things at the front desk and didn't even check in.  I just grabbed my camera and tripod and jumped in a taxi to head to the meeting spot.   There, I met Jonathan who turned out to be a fellow Canadian currently living in the Netherlands and discovered I was the only one on the tour that day.  This allowed Jonathan and I to just explore the city and go where wherever we wanted to go.   Jonathan was a good photographer, and also knew a lot about the city.   I didn't get a lot of good photographs during the day, it was a gloomy and flat winter day.  Things were better at night, and I'm happy I brought my tripod along for some shooting.  Overall, Jonathan spent more time than he needed to with me and was a great guide.  I learned a lot about the city and brushed up on my skills as well.  I would definitely book another tour with this company if I'm in one of the cities where they offer tours.

Some of the photos from that day, it was raining on and off and mostly overcast skies.  I love European cites, there is so much more history and culture compared to things in North America.  It's hard not to appreciate the architecture on display everywhere.  This is one of the markets many markets we found just walking around.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 market

A three shot HDR, not my best work but I love the buildings here.  Also, Amsterdam has a lot of pubs :)

Amsterdam Dec 2011 pub hdr

I didn't process many in black and white, but I likely will as scenes like this lend themselves well to such processing.  The canals in Amsterdam are fantastic, and are the reason why it's sometimes called Venice of the North.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 canal black and white

I love graffiti, and there was plenty of it in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti 5

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti 3

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti 2

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti 1

No idea what this is, but it was an interesting courtyard.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 courtyard

The Hermitage.  I wish I had time to visit.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 hermitage

Throughout the city you will find a lot of houseboats in the canals.  Some are beautiful, or at least interesting.  Others are complete trash heaps and detract from an otherwise beautiful city.  In another life, I would like to live on the water in one of these boats.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 boat

Jonathan told me what these little critters were, but for the life of me I can't remember.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bike

Youth Hostel, I got a few shots of this, I'm sure it looks great in the spring when the vines are covered in leaves.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 hostel

Some guys saw me taking photos and started goofing around.  The people I met in Amsterdam were friendly and helpful.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 clowning around

Dutch cat, seems content in his bed.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 dutch cat

So many of the buildings have interesting details like this.  They just don't build them like they used to.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 building detail

Jonathan showed me a good spot to practice my panning technique.  There is certainly no shortage of subjects zipping by and you don't need to wait long to see some interesting characters.

panning 4

Amsterdam Dec 2011 panning 3

The Dutch carry everything on their bikes.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 panning 2

Amsterdam Dec 2011 panning 1

Amsterdam is know for diamonds, but I didn't bring any back for my wife on this trip.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 diamonds

The Theater.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 cool theatre

I had no idea there were going to be this many bikes in the city.  They are literally everywhere, of all shapes and sizes, and locked to any stationary object available.  I saw entire families on one bike, or people hauling a substantial amount of goods using special bikes.  There are multi-level bike parking garages which hold thousands of bikes.  It really is great to see, I'm sure it cuts down on the number of cars on the road.  Oh, and there is a hose in this photo too.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 horse and carriage

The only thing there may be more of than bikes is bongs.  Imagine if every coffee shop in Vancouver were a bong store, then double it :)  I also found out that you don't go to a coffee shop to get coffee, they sell weed.  If you want coffee, go to a cafe.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bongs

This liquor store had the coolest bottles I have ever seen, sadly it wasn't open when I was there.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bottles 3

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bottles 1

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bottles 2

More bikes, bikes, bikes.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 Bikes

The train station.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 main train station

Interesting bridge detail.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bridge detail

The Magere Brug, or "Skinny Bridge".  Well lit at night, and one of the more famous bridges in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bridge detail (magere berg)

None of the buildings have elevators, so they set up these contraptions on the outside to move things in and out.  Also, you can see big hooks at the top of the buildings in some of the photos.  These were used to attach pulleys to winch stuff up to the higher levels.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 elevator

Electric car charging station.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 electric car plug in

The city looks great at night.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 long exposure

Amsterdam Dec 2011 night long exposure hdr

Amsterdam Dec 2011 canal hdr

This is on the edge of the Red Light District.  Down that alley, you can see red lights on the side of the building marking windows where guys can take their pick of women.  It's actually a very trendy area, with a lot of tourists visiting pubs, restaurants, or doing some shopping . The alleys are right in the middle of everything, and everything seems to be clean and safe.  As you can imagine, they don't take kindly to tourists taking photos in front of said windows.  I didn't press my luck by trying it.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 red light district

Some long exposure fun while Jonathan kept watch on the traffic.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 night long exposure

One of my last, and one of my favorite, photos from the day.  I set up on a tiny island in the middle of an intersection.  I had a view of a tram coming right at me, and veering off to the right.  This was my first attempt, and the best of the bunch, I actually thought the tram would hit my camera, but it turned out well.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 long exposure train

 


Vancouver Skyline from Olympic Village 3

Vancouver's Olympic Village At Night

A friend of mine just purchased a new Gitzo tripod and was eager to try it out. We decided to head down to the Olympic Village in Vancouver to get some shots at night. Below are some of the shots that turned out ok, all shot with a Nikon D90, 3 exposure HDR at +/- 2 EV. Processed with Lightroom, Photomatix, and Photoshop.

This is the first time I have attempted an HDR panorama. This is a panorama stitched from four HDR images. I don't think it turned out that well, but I learned a few things and will try something different next time. I think some of the other images from the nights shoot turned out better. Shot with a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8.
Vancouver Skyline from Olympic Village Pano

This shot is taken with the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 wide angle lens from the Aqua Bus platform near Science World. Really enjoying this lens and can't wait to use it on an FX body. I like the how the reflections turned out in this shot.
Vancouver Skyline from Olympic Village 3

Vancouver Skyline from Olympic Village 1

The new and 'improved' BC Place along with the Plaza of Nations.
Vancouver Skyline from Olympic Village 2

Great design on this bridge, lit up at night and looks great.
Olympic Village Bridge

Some funky stairs and cool blue lights. They did a great job with the design and architecture at the new village. I'll be back to take more photos for sure.
Olympic Village Stairs

Science World always looks good at night.
Science World Vancouver


Swansea Marina Trees

Marina in Swansea, Wales

When I was visiting Swansea I did some night time shooting with my colleague Leighton who just purchased a new Nikon D90.  There are some interesting sights in the area, so I appreciate that Leighton showed me around.

This was the first set of exposures I took that night, an HDR of the pedestrian bridge at the marina.

Swansea Marina HDR

 

This courtyard is very interesting.  There are lights on the ground that change colours and create movement.  The trees are not purple, but the long exposure combined with purple lights gives them an interesting glow.  Turned out better than I thought it would :)

Swansea Marina Trees


Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Bald Eagle Photography in Brackendale

I took a trip with my friend Andrew to Brackendale to find some Bald Eagles.  The eagles were not hard to find, but certainly not easy to photograph.  Most of the time they were quite far away, but occasionally they would fly by a little closer.  The eagles gather here to eat Coho Salmon that have died after spawning.  I guess eagles are lazy, and prefer to let dinner float by rather than waste energy catching it.

I borrowed a huge 400mm f/2.8 lens with a 2x teleconverter from my boss, which was a huge help and allowed to me to get some good shots.  I wouldn't say any of the shots from the day were excellent, there was heavy cloud cover and relatively low light which meant a lot of the shots were at ISO 400 or even 800.   Add to that slower shutter speeds, and a lot of the shots just didn't turn out very well.  Considering this was my first time at this location, the first time shooting the 400mm, and the first time on a dedicated trip to shoot eagles I think I did ok.

Aside from the eagles, we were treated to a few nice views during the day.  Both shot with the 400mm, the darker blue image is a 3-shot HDR.

Portfolio Brackendale Mountains

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

These are some of my favorite shots from the day.  First, a juvenile eagle was flying towards me and about to land in a tree.  Of the 5 shots I got of him, this is the only one worth posting. (In case it's not obvious, you can click the photos to view the bigger version).

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Another flight photo, this one I attempted to pan the 400mm to get some shots, most were blurry or had only a part of the eagle in the frame.  This one turned out better than I thought it would.

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Sometimes, eagles are not the graceful and majestic creatures we think they are. When you have to go you have to go.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Some shots of the equipment used.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

The following photos are not great, but I thought I'd include them as they capture a flight sequence and my attempt at capturing the eagles in flight.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

And more, not good due to slow shutter speeds, but capture a moment when an eagle swoops in to steal the salmon away from the others.  Incoming!

 

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

And the rest of the images from the shoot worth posting.  They include a Great Blue Heron, which often go ignored when the eagles are there but they are no less interesting nor any less beautiful.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Great Blue Heron Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip


Spotted Moray among the urchin and coral, Lanai, Hawaii, Nov 2011

Trip to Hawaii, November 2011

A few photos from my trip to Maui in November.  I stayed at the Honua Kai Resort and Spa, which is the newest resort property on Maui.  Great place to hang out.   I didn't get the chance for any really nice shots, so this is more documentary than artistic.

Spotted Moray among the urchin and coral, Lanai, Hawaii, Nov 2011

 

Cathedral 1, Lanai, Hawaii, Nov 2011

 

Hawaii Diving: Wreck of the Naked Lady
Hawaii Diving: Wreck of the Naked Lady

 

Hawaii Big Island South Point
Hawaii Big Island South Point

Science World HDR

BC Place and Science World HDR Photos

A couple of HDR photos shot in the false creek area of Vancouver, BC. The new BC Place stadium and Science world. I processed with a demo version of PhotoEngine which I like a lot.

Science World HDR
Science World HDR
BC Place HDR
BC Place HDR

 


iPhone 4S HDR

My First iPhone 4S HDR

This is the first photo I took with the iPhone 4S in HDR mode.  Untouched, this is how it came from the phone.  Rather impressive considering it was shot in low light.  Looking forward to testing this new camera more now that I see the results.

iPhone 4S HDR
iPhone 4S HDR

Same file with some edits in Lightroom

iPhone 4S HDR Edit
iPhone 4S HDR Edit

And for comparison an HDR from the same scene, same time shot with a Nikon D90, 14-24 lens, processed with PhotoEngine and Lightroom. The iPhone photo isn't bad, but I don't think anyone can argue it's as good as shooting the scene with a decent camera.

BC Place HDR with D90 and 14-24
BC Place HDR with D90 and 14-24

One more shot, I had a request to try and tone the iPhone photo to more closely match the D90 shot.

BC Place iPhone 4S re-edit in LR3 to match D90
BC Place iPhone 4S re-edit in LR3 to match D90

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR 2

Quiet On The Farm

Order a print of this photo.

I'm sure sometime in the past this old farmhouse was busy with activity.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR 2

 

More photos from Alberta here.