Cool Hot Tub

In the solarium is this cool hot tub. I took this on the last night when everyone was in their rooms packing.

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Cool Hot Tub
From the solarium on Royal’s Symphony of the Seas

Even when the ship is completely booked, it’s large enough to find quiet spots if you know where to look. The solarium with its cushy lounge chairs and the Vintages wine bar are my favorite spots.

architecture photography from the gallery

For this shot, I used a 12mm wide-angle lens and mounted the camera on the ground with a Platypod. The Platypod is like a tripod for low perspectives. This is a long-exposure that would have been difficult to shoot any other way. With the Platypod it was a breeze.

Lost Lagoon

On one side of Lost Lagoon is Stanly Park and on the other is the big city of Vancouver. You can walk from woods to towers in about ten minutes.

Lost Lagoon
Lost Lagoon
There is nothing “lost” about this lagoon in Vancouver, BC.

The name “Lost Lagoon” comes from a poem written by Pauline Johnson and laments how she lost the use of the lagoon for canoeing when the tide was out. I looked up that bit of trivia, so now we all know the origins of the name. The lagoon is now a lake cut off from the bay, so presumably, you can canoe without worrying about the tides.

more from Vancouver in the gallery

Usually I might try to frame a shot like this using the rule of thirds, but in this case, the reflections produce a beautiful symmetry. In my mind its a kind of urban dreamscape.

A Walk in the Park

I got this one afternoon when I decided to take a walk in the park. This is Stanley Park in Vancouver and is one of the best urban parks in North America. It rivals Central Park and Golden Gate Park. I took this at a little pond known as Lost Lagoon where there are some resident swans. You can usually line up a good shot if you just wait for the right moment.

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A Walk in the Park
A Walk in the Park at Lost Lagoon, part of Vancouver’s Stanley Park

Waiting for the right moment is good advice for landscape photographers. If you stay in a single spot long enough, something is bound to happen. It’s all a question of how long you want to wait. Usually I’ll walk up on a scene and not see anything in particular. The scene can be like a puzzle, however it almost as though a sixth sense tells me there’s something there. I just have to recognize it, compose it, and take the photo. So it could be a matter of focusing in on a small area, or it could be just slowing down and waiting for something to unfold. It’s an inexact science but the longer I wait, the more likely I am to walk away with something worth my time.

Another little technique to add to this is pick a time of day when you think something might happen and then get there a little earlier. For instance, in Florida, right at the crack of dawn the pelicans will fly from their nighttime resting spots to their daytime fishing locations. So if you want to get a sunrise with some pelicans flying by, you get there a little early and wait, but be ready because you might only get one chance, believe me I’ve missed more than I care to admit.

landscapes from the gallery

With this image I planned to come in the afternoon because I knew the sun set across the water from a section of the path. So I got there, waited, noticed the swan swim by, then click and I had my image.

Oh, and one other thing, if you’re going to be out in nature, bring mosquito repellant. I got swarmed as I stood here and waited. Next time I’ll take my own advice and bring some.

Saturday Afternoon in Stanley Park

This is a Saturday afternoon in Stanley Park. I was here not too long ago after returning from Alaska. I could have flown straight from Anchorage to Florida, but being so close to Vancouver I couldn’t resist a quick weekend stopover. This is a panorama of four images that I stitched together to get a wide perspective. Sometimes I use a wide angle lens, but in other cases I find it works better when I take four vertical images and combine them. For one, the resolution is much higher. That makes it easier to produce large prints. As well, I like to zoom into photos and explore all of the little details.

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Saturday Afternoon in Stanley Park
Saturday Afternoon in Stanley Park in Vancouver BC

This is the second time I’ve take an image from this perspective. The first time was several years ago using a wide angle lens. I don’t mind repeating myself because as an artist my approach and inclinations change over time. Its fun to go back and play old songs, I hear new things as I grow and evolve. Same goes for photography.

favorites gallery

Actually I’ve been redoing a lot of iconic locations lately. Iconic locations resonate in a way that invites new interpretations, new angles, different light. And besides, they are typically fun places to go. So if you see me repeating some old locations, you’ll know I’m seeing something different as well as having a good time.

Brockton Point Lighthouse

This is Brockton Point Lighthouse from inside Stanley Park in Vancouver. The last time I was there I took a walk into the park and ended going a lot further than I planned. That happens a lot when I’m taking pictures. One thing leads to another. This is from a spot that looks across the bay towards the city of North Vancouver which is distinct from Vancouver proper.

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Brockton Point Lighthouse
Brockton Point Lighthouse in Vancouver, British Columbia

It was the middle of summer so even though it was around nine in the evening it was still light. I love how long the nights are in summer, especially in northern latitudes. Of course it’s just the opposite in winter, long nights and short days.

Canadian gallery

To get here I walked past a collection of totem poles that are on display. Original nations art and artifacts are on display all over Vancouver. There is also a reservation across the bay and as I walked here I could hear the drums of a powwow. I walked over to the lighthouse, around the bend and back to Vancouver. But I made at least a dozen more stops before arriving back at the hotel sometime after midnight. It was just enough time to pack up, grab a quick nap and head to the airport for an early flight back home.

Idea in My Mind

Last Saturday I walked around Vancouver in the evening. As the sun was low it cast a glow on the towers of Coal Harbour and reflected in the harbour. I’d been thinking of walking over to the west end to get more of a sunset photo but am glad I stayed on this side. When taking photos, I think it’s best to have an idea and then be flexible. You never know which way the wind blows.

Idea in my Mind
This shot of Vancouver reminds me of an idea in my mind, to look for light everywhere, not just where the sun sets.

I have this idea in my mind about photography. It goes like this: the best photography is not from a place but a state of mind. Here’s what I mean, iconic locations don’t make a photo, being observant regardless of where you are does. I’m beginning to think magic happens everywhere, not just in Iceland. No offense to Iceland, you’re still on my bucket list.

more Vancouver from the gallery

I travel a little; I was traveling when I took this. And I like iconic scenes as much as the next person. I’ll be there snapping away with everyone else at the Eiffel Tower. But I think the more I pay attention to light, shadow and placement in my own front yard, the more I see. Its fun to travel for photography, but not necessary. Anyway, that’s my latest theory, and since I spend a lot of time at home, I’m putting to the test.

Towers Across the Pond

Towers Across the Pond
Towers Across the Pond known as Lost Lagoon in Vancouver BC                              Purchase a fine art print

Here are some apartment towers across the pond at the edge of the Vancouver downtown facing Stanley Park. Both the towers and trees cast a reflection on Lost Lagoon as I walked by here not too long ago. Lost Lagoon is a funny name for a pond in the middle of a big city, it conjures up images of a tropical island in the middle of the pacific somewhere, yet here it is in a big city. Maybe they figured no one would think to look for it here.

More images from Vancouver

I once made up a rule about landscape photography, that the more elements a photo has the more interesting or impactful it becomes. By elements I mean fire, air water and earth. So…, the idea is that the more I incorporate in a photo, the more it resonates. Take this for instance, it has water, earth and air. There’s a hint of fire on the right from the setting sun. I have no idea if any of this is true, but it’s an idea and I kind of like it.

Speaking of lost, I wish they’d make another series like Lost. I was hooked on that real bad; wouldn’t it be cool if they did another one? Lost 2, or Lost Again, or better yet, Lost lagoon. I have the perfect location.

West End Evening

West End Evening
West end evening in Vancouver                                     Buy a limited edition fine art gallery print

This is a west end evening in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago. The lights in the sky are fading and the lights of the city are beginning to glow. This is a popular spot because hundreds of people walk along the shore here in the evening, perhaps ending up on Denman Street for Sushi. I’m standing on a pile of rocks, and about 30 seconds after I shot this I managed to slip and fall. Camera was fine, ego not so much.

Sometimes I get questions regarding how I processed an image to today I thought I’d relate some of the steps.

I used a wide angle zoom lens for this at about 14mm, that gives the sky and water that zoomy effect, basically it causes everything to converge on the middle. I love the effect for landscapes, especially when the main subject is at the center of convergence as the city is here.

I combined three images into AuroraHDR Pro to get an overall dramatic effect to the image. I then applied a texture in the sky and did some final tone mapping in Lightroom, warming it up a tad.

The thing is I never do the same thing twice, every image is unique and the effect is non-repeatable even by me. That’s because there are a hundred other little things that I did that I could never hope to remember, it’s like painting with a brush, on one level it’s completely freeform and one of a kind.

So there you have it. Click, slip, fall and process. That’s my process from start to finish.

Other Side of the Rainbow

Other Side of the Rainbow
Other Side of the Rainbow, a scene from Vancouver, BC                                        Purchase a fine art gallery print

For some reason this made me think of the other side of the rainbow. Maybe because we had nothing but rain before I took this, only there was no rainbow afterward, just clouds. The kind of rain they get here in Vancouver in the winter is not conducive to rainbows, the leprechauns get out of town and winter in Florida. It’s too bad, I would love to set the pot. That didn’t come out right.

To create this image I stood on the shoulders of giants. This is an HDR image which means I combined three exposures to get the maximum amount of light, more than I could get with a single shot. I combined the images in AuroraHDR Pro which is one of the latests products from Trey Ratcliff in collaboration with MacPhun. I created four layers with varying degrees of detail, radiance and color enhancement. I then returned the image to Adobe Lightroom where I used one of Trey’s presets. So, final result was a collaboration of sorts with the creative genius of Trey.

When I create images I use a lot of tools to create something beyond the ordinary. Sometimes I have an idea of what that is when I take the picture, other times after. It’s a highly subjective process and I never know where I’ll end up. Sometimes I struggle, other times it just flows. This image is one of the latter. I knew when I took it what I wanted, and then creating the final result was just a matter of sitting down and letting it happen. It just so happened that this time, I used Trey’s software for most of it. It was easy, fun, and I got where I needed to go. Thank you Trey!