Visit to Sedona Arizona

Sedona is a unique spot. One of those places that doesn't look/feel like anywhere else. It is located a couple of hours drive from the Phoenix airport and from there the Grand Canyon is just a few more hours. (click on map for larger version)

The place itself is an amazing mix of art galleries, fantastic red mountains, and a definite new age feel. Crystals, yoga, mediation and many other things are available here. This is a pan shot that captures only a part of the city from a hill near the airport: (click for much better big view)

 Here is a quick view of a bunch of famous spots around Sedona

Cathedral Rock 

Soldiers Pass

We took a jeep trip (many available in Sedona) to view the pass. The story is that General George Crook and his soldiers blazed a trail along an old Indian footpath which connected to a perennial water source, the Seven Sacred Pools, to the lush valley of the Dry Creek Basin. He was a maverick for his time and set up to ambush Indians as they came to get water at the pools. This is a shot of the pools as they look today:

Another view near the pools with Terry and our jeep driver/guide standing next to a big sink hole which continues to get bigger. (click for bigger)

Another two shots from the area:

If you haven't seen Sedona put it on your list. If you are a enthusiast photographer go for sure, and then head up to the Zion National Park if you can. Zion is amazing!

Forbidden Plateau Strathcona Park BC

Forbidden Plateau is an easily accessible section of Strathcona Park near Courtenay BC and the trail head is right next to Mount Washington Alpine Resort ski hill. In an earlier blog, you will find a quick overview of the Buttle Lake area, another spot easy to drive into.

Because of the elevation, casual hikers not prepared for snow hiking, are limited to mostly June to the end of October. Check conditions before you go. This report shows a half day trip from the parking lot in early October. The gold oval shows roughly the area covered:

EasyTrip.psd

This is a small fraction of the area with many opportunities for hikers and over night travellers. Many high elevation spectacular views. A good place to start for more details: Strathcona Provincial Park.

The rest of the story is more of a gallery showing you some interesting alpine photos with a little commentary. Note that you can click on any image to get a larger view:

This was a beautiful little lake along the trail to the big Helen-Mackenzie Lake. There are many old but small trees in alpine regions (bonsai but not trained) and this was one example:

Speaking of old, but small alpine trees, this is a good example with the younger larger trees in the background (click for larger):

Keeping with the old, but beautiful theme, heres another shot:

The image following shows a typical stand of alpine trees, not large but older than they look:

Finally another photo of my favorite little lake along the way:

Hope you enjoyed this photo report. Any questions welcome!

Almost Another Trip to Botanical Bay

I headed out on Monday for a mid day low tide at Botanical Beach to do some further explorations. (First trip described here: /blog/2012/8/26/botanical-beach-bc.html). I got to the parking lot and the weather was perfect. Decided to take the circle route this time and go first to Botany Bay then walk along the trail above the beach area to Botanical Beach. When I got to Botany Bay I walked out on the rocks and shot this vew of Botanical Beach, about a kilometre away (click on for larger view):

I headed down the trail and ran into some amazing twisting trees as are often found on west coast trails. This one looks like trail sign designed for some unknown creature?

The next one I called Pop-up Trail Art:

The last one shows more amazing trees (click for larger view):

After taking this shot the sun suddenly dissapeared and a chill ran through the air. I continued walking for awhile until I hit a clearing looking out over the beach and ocean. I caught fleeting glimpses of rock and ocean through the ever thickening fog being blown quite strongy right at me. I could feel the moisture hitting my face and would certainly get my camera wet if I took it out. I waited for awhile in case this was just passing through but ended up going back up the trail to my car. It was foggy up there as well by then, but after leaving and hitting Port Renfrew it was suddenly sunny again. The BC coastal weather is unpredictable.

I decided to try to find the famous Harris Creek spruce on the way home and was able to find it along the way. It is 4 m (13 ft) in diameter and is one on many large Sitka spruce to be found in the area:

For more info on large trees in the Port Renfrew area see; Port Renfrew: Home of Canada's Biggest Trees

Biggs & Jacks Point Park BC

This park is located on the Nanaimo River estaury directly across from Nanaimo harbour. It is a beautiful park and eagles, seals, sea-lions, herons and numerous other birds can be seen. It is an excellent park to walk at the end of the day and enjoy the sunset.

This article is aimed primarily at photographers, but gives anyone and idea of what the park looks like. The hike is about 2.5 km from the parking lot to Jacks Point with a good trail and few stairs to climb. Not difficult for most. For photographers there is a lot to shoot without going all the way to the point. For directions use google maps but here is an orientation map (click for larger):

The trail is very nice; this view shows trail going back to parking lot with Garry Oak hanging over:

There are stretches along the trail through forested areas with a mix of the Garry Oak and beautiful Arbutus (click larger):

This image was created form merging 2 different layers in Photoshop. One layer contained just masked out Arbutus Trees in original colours, and the other layer was toned down towards black and white. My concept here is to bring out the beauty of the Arbutus Trees within the chaos of the forest without losing the context. You can judge whether this approach works? 

The next 4 shots show the unique rock formations you can find along the trail before Jacks Point. Some locations cannot be accessed at high tide so consult tide tables if you want maximum access. Other islands Like Gabriola nearby also have these almost cave-like geological formations not to mention the spoungy looking rocks. Each shot can be viewed larger with a click:

Along the trail there a several spots with a viewing bench to enjoy. You are looking over the estuary directly to downtown Nanaimo and may see all sorts of wildlife if you have a bit of patience:

At the end of the trail you get to Jacks Point which is very near to where the Dukes Point Ferry Terminal greets/sends ferries to Vancouver. Two photos follow showing a bit of the area:

Botanical Beach BC

This beach is a very special place with uniquely diverse tide pools and a wide variety of marine species. University biologists have been coming to this beach for marine studies since 1901. If you want to go there you should consult the Canadian Tide Tables "Port Renfrew" and ensure that you arrive for a low tide. This article is a taste of my first visit and, without a doubt, this spot is a bonanza for serious photographers! I will be back soon.

The beach is located on Vancouver Island west of Victoria BC and within the beautiful Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. For day access you can drive to Port Renfrew and hike down the approx 1 kilometer trail to the beach. Down is very easy and up a little harder but most people will have no problem. This map gives you a starting point (click for larger):

OK, lets do a photo tour from my first visit. All photos taken with a Canon 5D Mark11 and with 17-40L lense or Sigma 150mm macro usually with tripod. Processed in Lightroom and Photoshop, most as HDRs in Photomatix. Other filters used from Topaz or Avkis sketch as described in other articles.

When I hiked down to the beach early in the morning I was greeted with huge FOG. I could hardly see anything and had to carefully navigate the rocky shoreline. (Wear good gripping water resistant boots, or rubber, as this is not easy to navigate) but after about 90 minutes the fog started lifting to reveal the beach:

 Lets look at two tide pools:

BotanicalTwo Pools.jpg

Lets have a closer look (click for larger view):

The rocky structure here is also worth exploring:

Moving in closer to the details:

OK, so where is the ocean? Here it is, and beyond the dark clouds/fog in ths distance lies Olympic Peninsula which was clearly visible later in the day. (click for larger image)

These photos have just scratched the surface of what is going on here. For most people this is a great place to visit and explore! Children will love it but be safety consious and not for toddlers. One final shot:

Trip to Grand Canyon and Zion National Park

Terry and I left for the first two weeks in November for this trip. This is a good time to avoid the crowds and still get in before winter. We stayed at a Bright Angel cabin at the Grand Canyon which was basic but fine. At the Zion National Park in Utah we stayed a the park lodge in a cabin which was much better than Bright Angel.

Overall, the Grand Canyon was spectacular and not to be missed on any bucket list. From my photography point of view Zion was more interesting because it has a more varied but still spectacular scenery. You may not see this as I did. Some photos (click for larger):

This is the Virgin River in Zion. Click for larger view. Very long exposure to get glass-like water. Minor tweaking in Photoshop. The next photo is this image with "digital painting" effects. Which one is better?

One of the many great rock faces in Zion. Colours range from almost bright red to white. This site is where the canyon begins to narrow not far from the Zion lodge where we stayed.

On the way we spent some time in Sedona Arizona. Oak Creek, which follows the road up to Flagstaff is full of many beautiful photo opportunities.

This viewpoint of the Grand Canyon is at the eastern end of the developed roads (a very small portion of this large canyon). In the distance you will see the painted desert area which I find very bleak but beautiful at the same time.

Mount Woodside Views

These three images were taken yesterday on Mount Woodside in Harrison Mills about 2 hours east if Vancouver. Some great view points and worth the trip. A truck or 4X4 is best but a regular car can make it up most of the road if you are careful and don't go when there is a lot of snow.

This fabulous view (click on to see larger) can be found at the launch site of the West Coast Soaring Club (http://www.westcoastsoaringclub.com/sites/mt_woodside.php). Paragliders launch from the ramp you can see on the bottom left of the photo with the wind vane flying. It looks directly over the Harrison Mills area where Kilby Beach can be found. You see where the Harrison River joins the Fraser River. The furthest mountain on the left is Sumas mountain and the city of Abbotford lies behind it. My next trip here will be early in the morning because the light will be better for the big panorama.

These colours were not brightened in photoshop. This HDR image pretty much looks like what I saw. Amazing BC winter colours.