Vancouver : Portside / Crab Park : Vancouver skyline reflection 2 : 2012-11-21

Vancouver's CRAB Park at Portside

We had a small break in the rain tonight so I decided to head out to catch the last bit of daylight. I visited CRAB Park at Portside (Create A Real Available Beach), which is close to Canada Place and the Vanterm TSI Container Terminal.  I didn't have much time but did get a few shots before heading home. It is certainly a place I will visit again soon.

 

One of my first shots when I arrived. Unfortunately in my haste I didn't check my settings and shot this image at ISO 3200. I had to apply a lot of noise reduction so it's softer than I would want. Still, the sky was very dramatic and I'm happy I got the shot.
Vancouver : Portside / Crab Park : Vancouver skyline at sunset : 2012-11-21

 

The Vanterm TSI Container Terminal. An active port in Vancouver's Burrard Inlet with the North Shore mountains in the background.
Vancouver : Portside / Crab Park : Vanterm TSI Terminal : 2012-11-21

 

Tug boats at the port.
Vancouver : Portside / Crab Park : Vanterm TSI Terminal black & white : 2012-11-21

 

I found a small pond which created some great reflections.
Vancouver : Portside / Crab Park : Vancouver skyline reflection : 2012-11-21

 

Vancouver : Portside / Crab Park : Vancouver skyline reflection 2 : 2012-11-21

 

And finally a long exposure on my way out. Needs a return visit to try and get something better.
Vancouver : Portside / Crab Park : Vancouver skyline long exposure : 2012-11-21


Vancouver Animal Control : Shelter Dogs For Adoption : 2012-11-09

Shelter Dogs Nov 10 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.


Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Sunrise Lighthouse (Tofino MCTS Centre)

Ucluelet Vacation

In early October my wife and I decided to visit Ucluelet, BC. It had been too many years since I made a visit to the 'real' west coast of BC. I forgot how beautiful and how close it is. From Vancouver it is only 200Km plus a 1.5 hour ferry ride. The weather was truly amazing, it was unseasonably warm for October and we made the most of it. At night it got quite cold but during the day it was in the mid 20's and sunny. I wore shorts, t shirt, and sandals, we couldn't ask for better weather.

On the way to Ucluelet, we stopped at a river to let the dogs have a break and enjoy some time out of the truck. Cedric immediately ran into the water and started to pull out sticks.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Cedric having fun

 

Jammie almost took our her eye by running through the forest.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Jammie almost missing an eye

 

Then she did her best impression of a wolverine.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Jammie's wolverine impression

 

We also stopped along one of my favorite spots along the drive. Here the river (I can't remember the name, if anyone can help please post in the comments) cuts into the bedrock leaving deep green pools and amazing formations. It is a busy spot in the summer, but now there was almost no one there.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : River and bedrock

 

Once we arrived in Ucluelet, we went to our condo which was fantastic. Located right on Big Beach and near the Black Rock Ucluelet Resort facing west for a fantastic sunset view.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Condo main level

 

Upstairs, Katie immediately took advantage of the chaise to relax.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Condo upstairs

 
I also managed to lure a resident blue jay in for a photo with some crackers.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Blue Jay

 

Our condo from the front.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Condo

 

The first night we were there, we were treated to a beautiful sunset. I find that sunsets over the open ocean are often amazing and I have seen them from several spots in the world. With no obstructions and a completely flat horizon you have the most vibrant colors.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Sunset Day 1

 

A few minutes later. The contrast between blue and orange is great.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Sunset Day One 2

 

Katie and I spent a lot of time at Florencia Bay, it was a 20 minute walk to get there but we usually had the beach to ourselves. It is a nice walk through the forest and we saw a ton of different types of mushrooms so we dubbed Ucluelet the 'mushroom capital of BC'. Here are a few of them.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 9

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 7

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 6

 

These are some of the best mushrooms to eat, I grew up collecting these with my family. Common name is the Saffron milk cap (genus: Lactarius).
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 5

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 4

 

No idea what this is, but looks like fungus so I'm throwing it in. If anyone can help identify it please post in the comments.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 8

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 3

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 2

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Mushrooms 1

There were more, but I would just fill up this post mushroom photos. At the trail head to Florencia Bay, there was a funny sign. I guess you if you are going to deface a sign you have to do it right and in both languages.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Funny Sign

 

Once on the beach, the dogs could run around and we could walk for ages and not see anyone else. There was bull kelp all over the place and the dogs loved to play with it.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Bull Kelp Black and White

 

I also found that it was hard to take a good photo of the waves.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Waves

 

The second night, I decided to venture out on the rocks at Big Beach for some sunset photos.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Sunset Rocks

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Sunset Rocks 2

 

Also took a long exposure shot using a neutral density filter. I definitely need more practice with this, but it does give the water an interesting texture.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Long exposure rocks

 

On my way back to the condo, I saw a couple of black tailed deer in the parking lot of the condo complex. They didn't seem to be too scared so I watched them for a few minutes.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Deer

 

One morning, I decided to try and photograph a sunrise instead of a sunset. I went to the lighthouse at the south end of the peninsula, it's near the Tofino MCTS Centre but it's actually in Ucluelet (go figure). This was taken just before the sun came up over the horizon. I was the only one there, very peaceful and quiet.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Sunrise Lighthouse (Tofino MCTS Centre)

 

Shortly after the sun came up over the horizon.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Sunrise Lighthouse (Tofino MCTS Centre) 2

 

Soon after the sun came up, another photographer joined me and said he could see a whale off shore. After a few minutes of looking, I did see a humpback whale breaching in the distance. I tried to get some photos, but it was just too far away to get a decent shot. Not long after this sighting, a gray whale came cruising by much closer to shore. Having seen two whales that day, I decided to check into a whale watching tour.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Humpback whale breach

 

On the way to Tofino, we stopped at Long Beach. It was a foggy morning so we didn't stay long. I think other beaches in the area are much nicer but this is popular with the surf crowd.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Long Beach Tofino : Foggy morning

 

Katie and I decided to go out with a tour company in Tofino. We did try to find a humpback but were unable to do so. However, we did get very close to two gray whales feeding. A great experience.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Gray Whale

 

Two gray whale spouts.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Gray Whale Spout

 

A rainbow created by the spout of a gray whale.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Gray Whale Rainbow

 

Considering how big these animals are, they are very graceful in the water. Even the giant tail fluke barely makes a splash as it sinks below the surface.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Gray Whale Tail Fluke

 

One more walk on the beach, here Katie is enjoying the sunshine and solitude with the dogs. It turned out to be one of my favorite photos from the trip.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Katie and the dogs

 

We had a beautiful sunset every night we were there but the last one was the best. Clouds always make a sunset more interesting and colorful, this one was taken from our condo.
Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Big Beach Sunset

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Big Beach Sunset 2

 

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Big Beach Sunset 3


Vancouver False Creek At Night 1

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.


Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

Fall Colours in Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Park

Just as I did last year, I took a short walk through Queen Elizabeth Park to view and photograph the fall colours.  The weather forecast said rain, and lots of it, for the next week so I knew it was my last chance before things got really wet.  I hope to go back in a week or so, weather permitting.   The conditions were not ideal, it was a bit foggy and I could not get a good shot of the whole garden without losing a lot of contrast in the background.  I used a polarizing filter to cut some of the glare but some shots just didn't turn out that well.  It was still nice to get out, the colours are really great right now.

This was one of the first images I shot. As you can see, the trees in the background are starting to get lost because of the foggy and humid conditions.

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sky was very bright which made some exposures more difficult but the fog and overcast conditions made for a nice diffuse light.

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Fall Colours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my way out of the park, I stopped by the duck pond to watch the action and take a few shots. There were at least eight species of birds in and around the pond when I was there.

This guy was taking a bath in the pond just a few feet away from me.

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Duck Pond Crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King of the pond.
Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Canada Goose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His little minion.

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC : 2012-10-11 : Mallard Duck


Shannon Falls, Squamish, BC : 2012-09-13 : Nikon D800 with Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens, B+W Polarizing Filter

Nikon D800 vs iPhone 4S : Round 2

Coming back from hiking the Chief near Squamish, I decided to stop at Shannon Falls for one more quick photo opportunity. Shannon Falls is a beautiful waterfall outside of Squamish (between Vancouver and Whistler). It is the third highest waterfall in BC, and well worth a stop if you are in the area.

I had my Nikon D800 with me and was using the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens with a polarizing filter. I also decided to shoot the same scene with my iPhone 4S. Yes, not a fair test but just presented for fun. The iPhone fared much better this time compared to my previous attempt.

Here is the iPhone shot, edited on the device with Nik Software's (now Google's) awesome Snapseed.
Shannon Falls, Squamish, BC : 2012-09-13 : iPhone 4S with editing done in Nik Software Snapseed

 

Now the Nikon D800 shot, edited in Adobe Lightroom.
Shannon Falls, Squamish, BC : 2012-09-13 : Nikon D800 with Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens, B+W Polarizing Filter

 

Both files downsampled to the same resolution. The iPhone did ok, though couldn't get the longer exposure time needed to get the softer water effect on the D800.


Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Left Side

Nikon D600 Vs Canon 6D - Entry Level Full Frame Scrap

Photographers should be happy, both Nikon and Canon have released 'affordable' full frame cameras into their lineup. Nikon is already shipping theirs while Canon simply announced a camera with availability in a few months. Nothing like a 'me too' announcement when the competition gets the jump on you. Nikon is first to market with the D600, a $2100 USD, 24 megapixel camera. Canon follows up with the 6D, a $2100, 20 megapixel camera.

This year, there seems to be a shift towards Nikon in terms of technical camera performance. Before the latest models were released, Canon had a highly successful offering in the 5D Mark II, a 21 megapixel full frame camera with high quality video capability for $2700 (at launch).  Nikon could not compete on video spec, or resolution with the D700 and D3S having only 12 megapixels.  The insanely priced D3X had 24 megapixels but at $8000 it did not compete well with Canon's offering.

Fast forward to 2012 and Nikon has a 36 megapixel D800 ($3000), a 24 megapixel D600 ($2100), and a 16 megapixel D4 ($6000).  Canon in turn released the 5D Mark III adding only 1 megapixel for a total of 22 and is now charging $3500 for the body.  It follows that with a 20 megapixel 6D for $2100 and an 18 megapixel 1D X for $6800.  Megapixels are not everything, but looking at the full frame landscape today it's obvious that Nikon didn't like taking a back seat and has come back with a vengence.

All those megapixels don't mean much if they don't perform well.  Not only did Nikon ratchet up the resolution they also developed some high quality sensors as well.  Looking at the DxO Mark scores you can see that Nikon is at the top of the pile in DSLR performance these days.

DxO Mark D600 D800 5D Mark III

 

Looking at the scores, it's a thorough trashing of Canon. The Nikon cameras have a history of good dynamic range, but the new sensors really take it up a notch. Even the entry level D600 beats Canon's 5DIII. Unfortunately, the 6D scores are not available yet but I'm sure they will be lower than those of the 5DIII. Canon has some catching up to do in the next refresh of the lineup though I doubt Nikon will rest on their laurels.

With the sensor discussion out of the way (mostly), we can see how other features of the two entry level cameras stack up. Comparing the physical cameras first.

Left side view

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Left Side
 

Canon 6D Full Frame Camera : Left Side

 

Rear view

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Back

 

Canon 6D Full Frame Camera : Back

 

Front view

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Front

 

Canon 6D Full Frame Camera : Front

 

Top view

Nikon D600 Full Frame Camera : Top

 

Canon 6D Full Frame Camera : Top

 

Nikon seems to put more buttons on their cameras, especially on the front. I can't comment much on the handling of the Canon cameras as I haven't spent much time with them so I'll reserve judgement on ergonomics and accessibility of features only to say that Nikon is clearly better ;)

 

Now looking at the basic specs.

Spec

Nikon D600

Canon 6D

Sensor Resolution (MP)24.3 megapixels20.2 megapixels
Max Image Resolution6,016 x 4,0165,472 x 3,648
ViewfinderPentaprismPentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage100%97%
Built-in FlashYes (with wireless control)No
Storage MediaDual SD cardSingle SD card
Frame rate5.5 fps4.5 fps
Max Shutter Speed1/4000 to 30 sec1/4000 to 30 sec
Shutter Durability150,000100,000
Native ISO100-6,400100-25,600
Boosted ISO50-25,60050-102,400
Autofocus39-point AF with 9 cross type11-point AF with 1 cross-type
Autofocus Detectionf/8f/5.6
GPSVia adapterBuilt-in
WifiVia Eye-FiBuilt-in

 

Nikon is clearly ahead in almost all of the performance specs. It has higher resolution, faster frame rates, better autofocus, and dual storage cards. Canon has better ISO numbers but I suspect the D600 will be clearly superior in low light performance compared to the 6D. Makes no difference if the 6D goes to 100K ISO, those photos are not usable. The DxO Mark scores already show that the D600 is better than the much more expensive 5D Mark III so it's unlikely the 6D will fare any better. Canon throws in some gizmos like GPS and Wifi to try and distract you from the obvious performance gap.

It's unlikely anyone would jump ship form one brand to another as an investment in lenses usually means the cost to switch is significantly higher than simply the cost of the body. I'm sure the 6D will be a capable camera however if you are new to the DSLR world and considering these two models the Nikon D600 is a technically better camera.

Also see: Nikon D7000 vs D600 vs D800.


Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View & Me

Hiking Stawamus Chief South Peak - Squamish, BC

Last week, I decided to head up to Squamish to hike the south peak of the Stawamus Chief. As with the Lions hike, I'm not going to go into how to get to the trail, etc. There are plenty of sites that can give you good info about the trail: Vancouver Trails, Club Tread, Trail Peak, Live Trails.

I wish I had got a better shot of the rock face, I'll have to do that next time.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Rock Face

 

This is a very popular hike in the area, expect to see at least a few people on the trail and on all of the peaks. The south peak is the most popular and the shortest hike as well. Middle and north peaks are less popular but still see their fair share of hikers. The Chief is not only popular with hikers, but is also a huge draw for climbers who come to challenge themselves on the granite face. I found this interesting video while writing this post: Patagonia climbing ambassador Sonnie Trotter climbed the first free ascent of Cobra Crack (5.14). Props, that is something that I'll never do.

You start your hike in the campground, nice and easy.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Campground

 

A map and some info before you start the hike.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Sign

 

Also a warning. The trail isn't long (about 6Km round trip) but it is steep and if you are unprepared you can get into trouble. I saw some yahoo going up in flip flops!
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Warning

The trail is very well maintained. Kudos to the crew that come out to maintain this for the rest of us, very much appreciated.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail start

 

Sure beats the stair climber at the gym.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Stairs

 

Another sign along the route, very easy to follow as long as you pay attention. There are several of these along the way which will guide you to any of the peaks along with some of the other trails available in the area.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail sign

The trail is quite steep for most of the route.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail

Though well maintained, no cake walk and Mr. FlipFlop likely had a fun time in some sections.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail

The lower part of the hike is in the forest and the shade makes it easier on a hot day. As you get near the summit, you start to see the sun trickle though.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail

 

There are a few ladders on the route, don't see that on most hiking trails.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Ladder

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Ladder

A large overhang looms over the trail.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Overhang

 

Warning on the trail. As I said before, the area is popular with climbers so do not throw anything over the edge.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Warning

You know you are reaching the summit when the forest gets thin and the rocky soil yields to solid granite.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Near summit

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Near summit

A chain and ladder help you navigate the grade.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Chain

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Ladder 2

Soon after, you start to get rewarded with some great views.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

Don't get distracted though, one wrong step and you are going over the edge.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Cliff

Now just a scramble to the top.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Scramble

 

Tough life for trees that live on the summit.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Tree

Once at the summit, you get a beautiful view of Howe Sound and Squamish.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

Just like on the Lions hike, this raven took the easy route to the top.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Squamish

You can also see the middle peak with a few hikers enjoying the view.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Middle peak

Some hikers coming down from the middle peak.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Middle peak climb

I ventured to the cliff edge, though didn't spend much time there.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Cliff

 

Along with my trusty Nikon I brought up my tripod and f-stop Guru backpack. It's a great pack for a day hike with photo gear.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Gear

Soon after I arrived, I was joined by a chipmunk.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Chipmunk buddy

 

We became good buddies after I gave him a couple pumpkin seeds from my trail mix.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Chipmunk buddy

Got any more???

Stawamus Chief - 2012-09-13 - Chipmunk

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Chipmunk buddy

A few more views from the top. Can anyone tell me the name of the mountain in the background? Please post in the comments. UPDATE: It is Mount Garibaldi (thanks Jesse).
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

Me wrecking a perfectly good shot.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View & Me

 

A good spot for lunch.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View & Me

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Tree

Here is a map of my route to the summit tracked using Runkeeper on the iPhone.
Stawamus Chief Hike - Map KML : Google Maps

 

While at the top, I also shot a complete panorama which resulted in a 100 megapixel image. If you want to see the full size image check my previous post.
Stawamus Chief Panorama : Sept 13, 2012 : 2048 pixels

 

On my way down, I stopped along the creek to take a few photos. I tried some shots with a polarizing filter and a neutral density filter to get longer exposures.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Creek

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Creek

Finally, on my way home I topped in at Shannon Falls which is only a few minutes from the Chief. First, an HDR image of the falls, I was hoping it would turn out a little different.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Shannon Falls HDR

 

And just a regular shot, but taken with a polarizing filter to get a longer exposure.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Shannon Falls


Nikon D7000, D600, D800 Visual Comparison : Front and Rear View

Nikon D7000 vs D600 vs D800 : A Quick Comparison

Nikon just announced their new entry level full frame DSLR camera, the D600. It wasn't a very well kept secret as leaks started getting out months ago. There was speculation that this would be a sub-$2000 USD camera but in the end the retail price at launch is $2100. Still a good price considering the sensor and other options. It looks like a blend between a D7000 and D800 both in terms of spec and appearance. Below you can see some of the similarities and differences between the three bodies.

The Nikon D600 with Nikkor 200mm f/2 lens.
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Nikkor 200mm f/2 Lens

 

I'm not gong to rehash the full specification of any camera. Nikon and many other reviews provide that info already. If you want to check into the details, here are the spec sheets for the three cameras: D7000, D600, D800.

 

What I do want to cover is how the cameras are similar and how they are different. Just taking a look at the camera, it looks like Nikon took a D7000 body and shoehorned a full frame sensor inside. Some modifications to the body were necessary, but for the most part the cameras are very similar in terms of layout.

 

Nikon D600 Front View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camra : Front View
 

Nikon D600 Right Side View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Right Side View

 

Nikon D600 Left Side View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Left Side View

 

Nikon D600 Rear View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Rear View

 

Nikon D600 Top View
Nikon D600 FX DSLR Camera : Top View

 

Finally, a comparison between the D7000, D600, and D800
Nikon D7000, D600, D800 Visual Comparison : Front and Rear View

 

If you look at the three bodies, you can see that the D600 has some controls more like a D7000 and others more like a D800. Not a bad thing for a model that fits in between the two in the lineup. Users on either end of the spectrum should be comfortable with the controls, though I think it's more like a D7000 and targeted at the consumer/hobby segment of the market.

 

Nikon D700 users who were hoping for a clear upgrade path didn't get one. Nikon provided a clear upgrade for the D3S in the D4, but the D700 was essentially split into two cameras. The D800 a higher resolution but slower camera (which also replaced the D3X) and a D600 which is a smaller and less feature rich body. For professionals, the upgrade path is likely the D800 due to it's ergonomics, autofocus speed, full magnesium body, compact flash storage, flash sync, max shutter speed, and shutter durability. For hobby shooters, serious amateurs, and pros who need a back up body the D600 may be the better choice. It still provides great image quality in a smaller and lighter package. Regardless, the D600 at $2100 US is destined to sell very well.

 

In terms of pricing, Nikon has a very linear price curve at the lower end of the lineup. It's clear that they want to hit every market segment and ensure they capture every type of buyer. Having said that, the D300S seems to be the most in need of an update and without it in the lineup there would be a significant gap between the D7000 and the D600. To me, this means that a D400 will be announced in the not too distant future. It will likely carry on the tradition of a high end, high-speed crop sensor (DX) body with pro level ergonomics.
 
Nikon DSLR Prices : D3200, D5100, D7000, D300S, D600, D800, D4

 

Differences between the cameras button layouts are obvious, no big surprises for anyone used to shooting a Nikon body. There are also some significant differences inside the shells as well.

Spec

D7000

D600

D800

Sensor Resolution (MP)16.2 megapixels24.3 megapixels36.3megapixels
Sensor SizeAPS-C (DX)Full frame (FX)Full frame (FX)
Max Resolution (pixels)4928 x 32646016 x 40167360 x 4912
DX Resolution (MP)16.2 megapixels10.3 megapixels15.3 megapixels
DX Resolution (pixels)4928 x 32643,936 x 2,6244,800 x 3,200
Sensor Pixel Size4.78µ5.9µ4.8µ

 

The D800 is clearly the resolution leader, not just for Nikon but all DSLR cameras as of September 2012 (and likely for some time to come). The D800 also holds it's own quite well even when shot in DX mode. If you need the extra reach or still have DX lenses you get file sizes almost exactly the same as a D7000 but with the benefit of the better sensor and processing. However, no one should buy the D800 and shoot it in DX mode, use it just until you transition your lenses to FX or the odd time you don't need the full 36mp. If you plan to shoot DX all the time, save yourself $2000 and buy a D7000. The D600 has the biggest pixels, and likely the best pixel level noise traits but that is not relevant because what matters is noise level in the final image (on screen or in print). Downsampling a 36mp D800 file to the same resolution has noise benefits. I'm sure there will be a lot of comparisons between these two cameras very soon.

 

Spec

D7000

D600

D800

Frame Rate6 fps5.5 fps4 fps (FX), 6 fps (DX with grip)
U1 & U2 Modes?YESYESNO :(
Sync Speed1/2501/2001/250
Max Shutter1/80001/40001/8000
Storage MediaDual SD cardsDual SD cards1 compact flash + 1 SD card
Price$1000 USD$2100 USD$3000 USD

 

All three of these cameras have weather sealing, pentaprism (not pentamirror), 100% viewfinder coverage which is a good thing. D600 doesn't have USB 3.0, but who cares (most people use a card reader). The biggest disappointment for many users when the D800 was announced was the 4 fps shooting rate in FX mode. That is quite slow by modern DSLR standards but somewhat understandable when you see how much data is being crunched in that time. The D600 and D7000 are a more reasonable 5.5 and 6 fps respectively. I doubt anyone will complain about those specifications, they are fast enough for any enthusiast. The d600 gets the U1/U2 modes just like the D7000, it boggles the mind why Nikon did not include this on the D800. The menu banks are a joke by comparison, I don't even use them. Similar story with storage, D7000 and D600 both have dual SD card slots but the D800 gets SD+compact flash. Why? I get that they want to tailor to pros who may be invested in CF cards but give me a break. If you can buy a $3000 body you can likely but a couple of extra cards. With the resolution of the D800 most people will need new (and much bigger) cards anyway. It should have been dual CF, now I need to buy and carry two types of media.

 

One thing that is clear is that Nikon intentionally crippled the D600 with the 1/200 sync speed and 1/4000 max shutter speed. These may not be problems for many shooters, but for anyone serious about strobes or fast primes lenses in bright light will run into problems. Pros will likely skip the D600, even as a backup, for these reasons. Good for Nikon, bad for us.

 

In the end, the D600 fits very well into Nikon's new FX camera lineup. Unlike the previous lineup which had the D700, D3S, and D3X the new lineup of the D600, D800, and D4 offers better pricing for most users and a better distinction between the cameras in the lineup. I'm looking forward to seeing image samples from the D600 once they start getting into users hands.

Also see: Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D: an entry level full frame comparison


Vancouver Animal Control - Dogs For Adoption : September 13 2012

Shelter Dogs Sept 13 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.


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.


CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

CFL Football: BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes Sept 8 2012

Yesterday I went to my first CFL football game of the season thanks to a friend who couldn't use one of his season tickets. I like to go to a few games each year and the BC Lions are sitting at the top of the league standings and playing well. This was also my first visit to the new and improved BC Place Stadium and since it was a nice day the roof was open.

 
One of the first shots I took once inside. Seats were great.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : BC Place Stadium Open Roof

 

I had my Nikon D800 with me and two lenses: Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 wide angle and Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 telephoto. Despite a decent reach of 200mm I still had to crop the images of the play. Also, while bright I had to shoot at ISO 400 otherwise shutter speeds were just not fast enough to freeze the action. Here is Tim Brown (35) ready to do his thing.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Catch

 

Anthony Calvillo (13) set for the snap and for the toss.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Snap

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : QB

 

Paul McCallum (4) field goal.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Field goal

 

There are always some interesting characters around.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Fan

 

Certainly one of the best parts of the game is when the Felions squad takes to the field.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

This image is just to show the great ability to crop images from the D800. A 100% crop from the full size image.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

This guy has a tough job.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions Cameraman

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

Thanks ladies.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

Always some crazy games for the fans. If it were me I would have ran into the field in that thing, they can keep the t-shirt or whatever you win.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Games

 

Back to football, Sean Whyte (6) punting away the ball as the Alouettes couldn't get it done.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Punt

 

Travis Lulay (14) chased by the pack and making the pass.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : QB

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : QB Toss

 

Travis Lulay (14) scramble.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : QB Run

 

Lining up on the 10.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Lineup

 

Crushing hit, one of the best in the game.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Big hit

 

The Lions get the TD.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : TD

 

Here are a few views of the stadium from the upper deck.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : BC Place Stadium Vancouver

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : BC Place Stadium Vancouver : HDR

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : BC Place Stadium Vancouver : HDR

 

Back to the game, Tim Brown (35) takes another kick.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Punt Return

 

Travis Lulay (14) in action.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Play

 

Another Paul McCallum (4) field goal, I think he missed this one.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Field Goal

 

Souvenir?
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

Attendance at the game was 29,734 and the 50/50 jackpot went up to $34,500. The lucky guy who won it was in my section, high fives all around.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : 50/50 Winner

 

As always, some guys decide to start the wave. I'm all for it, but you are supposed to do it when the opposition has the ball. Just an FYI.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : The Wave

 

After some perseverance they did get it going.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : The Wave

 

Tracking it, patience.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : The Wave Coming Around

 

Pretty happy with themselves.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Wave

 

Looking over the images, I noticed a zombie in the crowd. Glad I'm not in that section.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Zombie

 

Is Khalif Mitchell (96) doing the robot?
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Robot

 

Lions on the one yard line, not looking good for Montreal.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Not good for Montreal

 

TD, no surprise.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : TD

 

And the free throw is good too.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Football free throw

 

A few more shots of the Felions, can't go wrong.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions Routine

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions Routine

 

Dude, you're doing it wrong.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Doing It Wrong

 

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

 

Despite the wide angle lens, I still couldn't get the whole stadium. Here is a panorama stitched from several images shot with the 14-24 lens.
CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : BC Place Stadium Panorama

 

Since there are some BC place photos in the mix, some previous shots I took of the stadium.
BC Place HDR with D90 and 14-24

 

BC Place Stadium At Night


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 :)


Antrodiaetus pacificus trapdoor spider

Antrodiaetus pacificus Trapdoor Spider

Antrodiaetus pacificus trapdoor spider

I was walking my dogs near the University of British Columbia (UBC) today and came across a spider I have not encountered before.  It looked like a small tarantula: similar body shape, hairy, black, and rather menacing.  I only had my iPhone 4S with me (wish I had the D800 and 105mm VR Micro) and took a few photos before moving on.

It turns out this is a trapdoor spider (or folding-door spider) and fairly common in this area.  They are not often seen because they tend to stay in their burrow.  This one is specifically Antrodiaetus pacificus, and it is a type of tarantula.  It is likely a male out of his burrow in search of a mate.

More info on these guys here (PDF).  Also found this video on Youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUa-Fc088NU


GGS Nikon D800 LCD Screen Protector - both packages

GGS LCD Screen Protector - Real vs Fake (Nikon D800)

[box type="shadow"] UPDATE: It appears that both of my screen protectors may be legitimate GGS products, just different models. Several people have commented that the model I first received was the generation I, and the second (with plastic rim) was the generation II (BF). I have no way to confirm this.

The GGS website shows only the gen I model: http://www.ggs020.com/en/product2.asp?bid=439 There is also the generation III which is a snap-on type similar to the stock Nikon one but in black. Regardless, the GGS gen II model I now have on the camera is NOT a good fit, it is too small for the LCD. For now, I'll just deal with it.[/box]

I recently ordered a GGS screen protector for my Nikon D800 from a seller on Amazon. I had to ship to to an address in the USA as they don't deliver to Canada. Not that big of a problem, I only live 50Km away. When the protector arrived, it had glass covers for both the top and back LCD screens. I installed the top cover without too much problem, it was a good fit. When I tried to install the back cover the adhesive strip pulled away from the glass rather than the paper cover, essentially making it useless. Please note, the photos are taken with my iPhone 4S so not the pinnacle of quality but I hope they convey the message.

GGS Nikon D800 LCD Screen Protector - first cover with bad adhesive

 

I contacted the seller and sent a photo of the problem, he was very responsive and said he would ship out a replacement. Once again, I had to dive the to USA to pick it up, now becoming a pain for an $8 item but I still wanted it so off I went. When I picked up the second package I was surprised to see that the GGS packaging was very different from the first one I received. I still had the old (defective) one so I decided to compare.

First one I received is on the left, the replacement package on the right. Both came from the same seller. The left side one came with two LCD covers, for top and back screens in a flexible plastic case. The replacement (right side) cover came with room for two covers but only contained the larger LCD cover for the rear of the camera. I'm not sure if that is because I only needed that one or not. The second case is a hard plastic case that opens on a hinge, packaging is definitely better on the replacement cover.
GGS Nikon D800 LCD Screen Protector - both packages

 

Detail of the first cover packaging.
GGS Nikon D800 LCD Screen Protector - first package detail

 

Detail of the replacement cover packaging.
GGS Nikon D800 LCD Screen Protector - replacement package detail

 

Looking at the two glass covers, they also differ. The first one had a silver adhesive strip, the replacement a black one (both with 3M paper covers). Both screen covers say GGS at the bottom (middle) and D800 at the bottom right. The first cover is flat across the surface, the replacement has a small ridge and a thin plastic frame. They are not exactly the same size (more on that below).
GGS Nikon D800 LCD Screen Protector - both glass LCD covers

 

Detail of the covers.
GGS Nikon D800 LCD Screen Protector - glass cover detail

 

Here is the replacement cover installed on the camera, note that it cuts off the top and bottom of the screen.
GGS Nikon D800 LCD Screen Protector - glass cover installed on camera

 

When I take a close look, I can see that the first cover sent to me is slightly taller and if I installed it on the camera I have a feeling it would not cut off the edges of the screen.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure which of these is real and which is fake (or maybe both fake?). The first one seems to be a better fit for the camera, so I have to lean more towards that one. If anyone has a helpful suggestion either way please contact me or post in the comments.


Tim Horton's Drive Through Horse - Quesnel BC July 2012

Tim Hortons Small Town Drive Through

You know you're in a small town when...

In early July my wife and I were driving through Quesnel, BC and I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  I made her turn around and go back so I could capture something you are only going to see in a small town.  Lucky for me I had my camera with me, and could take some photos of a guy in the drive through with his horse.  I took a second to talk with him, he was riding the horse at fist but decided to walk him through thinking he will get better service.  He was also having a hard time getting them to take his order, speculating his horse wasn't setting off the sensors.  Regardless, it was an interesting encounter.

Tim Horton's Drive Through Horse - Quesnel BC July 2012

 

Tim Horton's Drive Through Horse - Quesnel BC July 2012

 

Tim Horton's Drive Through Horse - Quesnel BC July 2012