Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Landscape Final Project – Iona Island


The first time that I visited Iona Island was last June. The Fella thought that I might enjoy a romantic evening stroll by the ocean - I did not realise, until I got to the island, that this stroll was a 9km hike along a sewage pipe, next to a treatment plant, underneath the jumbo aeroplanes landing at Vancouver's International Airport. At that point, I wrote the island off as any kind of serious destination!

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However, on the 21st January this year, we had mixed sunshine and clouds. I was driving home and I could see this big, beautiful sky but no way to photograph it without the interference of the surrounding urban landscape. At that point, I remembered Iona Island. I raced over there to get shots of the clouds in the sky. Also, while I was there, I spent some time watching people come and go, walking their dogs and exercising along the sewage pipe. Human sewage aside, it was really refreshing to be outside with lots of unfettered sky to enjoy. In fact, although it is very close to Vancouver and the airport, Iona Island still feels like quite a wild place - I even saw a short eared owl out hunting for prey.

I started to see why people enjoy visiting the park, even though I confess that I am still struggling with the sewage aspect of it. My final landscape project was the result of a number of different trips that I took to Iona Island in order to photograph the sky, the log booms, the beach and the people who visit the park.

Project Objectives

These are the objectives that I set myself:

  • Capture a series of images of a single place, at the same time of day but in different weather conditions;
  • Capture images of people interacting with the landscape/park;
  • Capture images of human interference with nature/the landscape;
  • Shoot lots of sky (my view of it is a bit restricted at home by the urban landscape);
  • Practice simplicity in my landscape compositions; and
  • Utilise some of the creative techniques discussed in class:
    • Creative filters (neutral density; graduated; polariser);
    • Long and short exposures;
    • HDR.

Project Results

My images were taken on different days. However, I timed my trips to the park so that they took place at approximately the same time, each visit. I did this to keep light consistent (so my images would work as a set) and also to see how weather affects the colour and mood of the landscape on different days.

Log Booms, Iona Island

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The log booms are an impressive sight, even though they are simply evidence of the local logging industry.

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I like the fact that at Iona Island, it is possible to look North and it appears that there is nothing much in that direction, except trees, until the mountains. It is as though the city of Vancouver does not exist.

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I was also happy to capture images that illustrates the magic trick that the weather plays on us regularly here in Vancouver. Sometimes, the mountains dominate the horizon. Then, when it rains, they vanish completely behind clouds!

Iona Beach – Logging Industry

These two images further indicate the presence of the logging industry in and around the park:

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Sawn driftwood and escaped logs along the tide line of the beach

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A discarded pile of wood shards

When we got married in Tofino last year, I was astonished at the quantity of escapee logs (whole tree trunks) that were washed up on the shores of the beaches. It seemed like such a waste of natural resources that otherwise might still be standing in a forest somewhere. The problem is not as pronounced at Iona Beach but it still bothers me a bit. I was pleased to bump into a small group of people who were beachcombing for sound wood to use in an arts project.

Iona Beach – Sewage Pipe Strolling

The last set of sky and silhouette images are of people exercising along the sewage pipe. These are my favourite images - I love the way that the sky changes the mood of the place and I love the outlines of the people, all doing different things. You will need to click and enlarge the images to see but...

...there are people striding, cycling, carrying skateboards, chatting and pointing, peering at the view and even someone taking a photograph!

I also love the fact - do not ask me why - that all of these people are doing all of these things on top of a very large sewage pipe! Which, of course, is another example of our impact on the local landscape and environment.

On that note, I think that I will leave you to enjoy them!

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Bit of a delay blogging about these even though the pictures have been on Flickr for ages...something about being up to my armpits in some photography projects, my UK tax return (it might appear to be late but it is not!) and trying to organise my BC Driver's Licence before my 90 days are up!

Friday, 12 February 2010

The Last Landscape Fieldtrip...

...was a straightforward trip to Steveston, which is just south of Vancouver. Here are my top 3 picks that I presented for critque in class on Wednesday night:

The Emanating Menace of Beige Food

I have decided to call this picture, 'The Emanating Menace of Beige Food'. Yes, it is perfectly innocent seaside concession stand and yes, I agree that it looks perfectly harmless at first glance. However, as your eyes tune in and you realise that it sells fish and chips, you start to sense the thigh-bulging evil of deep fried beige food emanating from its fat-saturated core!

Mind you, if it gets its supplies from here:

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The fish and chips that they sell will be very fresh indeed. This is the Public Fish Wharf. Yes, I know that I was overdoing the creative effects at the moment but hey, I was practising and having fun!

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To round off, here is a straighforward image of a tug boat at work towing two barges of sand or something - just another Saturday by the edge of the Fraser river.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Landscape Creative Techniques

Last week we did not have a Landscape field trip class. We had a Wednesday evening lecture on 'creative landscape techniques' and after our class, we were released into the wild with an assignment to practice some of them over the weekend.

Now, the Fella and I had booked a road trip to visit the Seattle Boat Show. We headed off last Friday and returned on Sunday. We sort of assumed that we would meander back to Vancouver via the coast to have a look around and complete our assignment en route home.

In retrospect, the problem with this plan was that the Fella decided that he would drive. While this made complete sense at the time (he knows the roads), it's been so long since we've been on a road trip together that I had completely forgotten that he doesn't have a switch for gentle 'touring' driving speed.

Y'know, the kind of driving speed that allows you to pull over easily if you see something that might be worth a closer look or photographing (and perhaps, even posting on this blog). E.g. the first cattle, sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas that I have seen out at pasture since I arrived in North America (all in the course of about 5 miles, on a single stretch of road somewhere NW of Seattle).

Just as an aside: yes, you did read that correctly, I have not knowingly clapped eyes on any farm livestock (other than the occasional horse, do they count?) since I arrived here in October 2008. Yes, I have ventured out into a number of different rural areas around Vancouver but I have not ever seen a single farm animal. This really threw me last year when I did not see any Spring lambs anywhere. As that always used to be one of the uplifting signs of Spring for me!

The Fella appears to be of the firm opinion that all routes should be travelled at the maximum allowable speed, so as not to inconvenience any vehicles that might happen to be travelling behind us. As a result (my camera being safely stowed in the boot), I have no NW US landscape pictures to show you at all - just a frustrating memory of a nice drive with a great landscape and my continuous requests for us to stop, or at least slow down, being ignored. Bah Humbug.

In the end, I insisted that we stop in White Rock (in Canada, just over the border) to scrape together some shots for last night's class.

Here are my results. I am not sure that I like them but at least I have tried them and I know what effect they produce now:

01 Graduated Filter Test - Sky Tint Issue

Creative Tools/Techniques: Graduated Neutral Density Filter, Polariser & Long Exposure. What does this do? It helps to balance sky/foreground, remove glare from the surface of the ocean and blurs the people. I am not sure that I have the hang of this yet as the foreground looks a bit too overexposed and I really don't like the odd pink-brown colour that the two filters seems to have stained the sky.

02 Graduated Filter Test - DeSat

Creative Tools/Techniques: polariser and a graduated neutral density filter. Reduced water glare and helped to enhance sky detail. I converted this image to black and white afterwards in order to combat the pinky-brown stain problem in the sky area.

03 Zooming Pick

Creative Tools/Techniques: filters as before and zooming lens during a long exposure to create feeling of movement. Well it sort of does, I guess - I don't like this effect at all!

04 Multiple Exposure Test Pick

Creative Tools/Techniques: polariser to manage water glare and multiple exposure to capture water movement at 3 different times during the same wave.
The other 'in camera' creative techniques suggested in our class were:
  • panning the camera to capture a moving object and blur the background. We did try to pan on some birds but they were too far away for our pictures to be effective!
  • taking pictures with a very high ISO set on the camera to create pictures that are deliberately 'noisy'. I forgot to take any pictures like this!
  • spinning the camera during a long exposure. I don't have a safe way to do this without risking my camera. I did try flipping it from horizontal to vertical but um, the images were shockingly bad so I gave them the boot!

Can anyone else think of any other 'in camera' techniques that give unusual results?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Is it wrong... like some of your own pictures sometimes?!

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South Pacific, 5th Avenue, Seattle

I realise that I have some ghosting in the bottom of the picture (passing car headlights) but I love how the number 5 appears to spin at the top of the brightly lit theatre sign - it looks like it is spinning like something out of that film The Exorcist!