This opening Gallery for 2018 contains a collage of eight images taken over two days at Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park in British Columbia. To compensate for extreme light variance in the compositions, each image was bracketed plus and minus one and two stops. Generally the best three were merged using High Dynamic Range software (PhotomatixPro). The posted images attempt to give viewers different perspectives of the photographic potential of the falls in winter. This is a spectacular location about an hour from Clearwater. Although the snow pack was heavy and we used our 4X4, the road was in good condition, graded and sanded almost all the way. It's a must site in late February and one we highly recommend if the weather cooperates. The key is to time your visit after the mist and snow have formed a sizable "cone." As the sun is fairly low on the horizon at this time of year and the viewpoints face east, the venue is best photographed between 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM when the side light creates shadows, hopefully in a partially cloudy sky. There is no strenuous hike involved as the viewpoints are less than a minute from roadside parking and the park staff had cleared a path through the snow. Dress warmly as you'll be in the middle of nowhere with the potential for deep freeze conditions and intermittent weather patterns, usually accompanied by a stiff breeze. As the location is less than three hours from our home, we watched for a partly cloudy day before visiting.
There is also a series of Bohemian Waxwing and American Robin images from our property. They invade us in late February each year by the hundreds and gorge on Hawthorne berries from a large tree next to our workshop. It's a challenge to isolate a subject as they literally cover the tree, eating berries in a frenzy for perhaps a minute then leave to rest in our nearby orchard. The Bohemian Waxwing is perhaps the most colourful and sleek bird we have photographed. It can certainly be picturesque if the setting is good.
This has been an unprecedented year for locating owls. Their disappearance is likely the result of the dense smoke that permeated local nesting sites during last year’s forest fires. The unusually wet spring has also decimated the vole and pocket gopher population. However, our disappointment was short-lived with the news that a rare Mandarin drake had taken up residence near the “Piper Spit” nature house at Burnaby Lake Regional Park in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver. This is arguably the most beautiful of all duck species in full breeding plumage and easily comparable to the male King Eider as a sought-after photography subject. Unfortunately, Piper Spit is a tough spot to isolate single birds due to dense foliage and the sheer number of Wood Ducks and Canada Geese that nest in the area. In other words, it’s a tough location that requires the patience of Job to produce any kind of pleasing image. We’ve posted a series from our short visit to this location in early June.