This year due to La Nina there’s been an unusual amount of snow in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. During the two years preceding late 2016 and 2017 there had been scarcely any snow at lower elevations. The recent cold weather provided an interesting opportunity to shoot in familiar locations, that aren’t just snow dusted, but are experiencing true winter conditions. The snow may have already begun to melt, well at least at lower elevations but it may yet return and now’s as great a time as any to share some photographs from the winter of 2016.
The first major snowfall hit in December and lasted to early January 2017. It was ‘wet’ snow and didn’t build up as severely as the snow from later January to early February. Some of my most interesting winter photographs were taken in December in Golden Ears Provincial Park, Pitt Lake and Harrison Mills during a heavy snowfall. Kilby, near Harrison Mills, was utterly transformed by the snowfall from a bleak autumn and carrion birds circling what remained of the Coho run to dramatic foggy snow squalls.
Despite the rapid rise of the snow drifts on the ground the snow quickly melted on contact with almost anything I was wearing or carrying, from coat to camera. I strongly recommend using a weather resistant, sealed camera or a weather cover when shooting winter scenes anywhere in the lower mainland to prevent damage to your equipment. The photograph above was taken while wandering along the Fraser River; the snowfall obscured the view of the mountains and distant river banks entirely.
The heavy snowfall and dim January lighting left muted reflections on the surface of the Fraser River, the banks seemed to glow white in front of the dark forest, the trees of which had yet to accumulate much in the way of snowfall. Later that evening, the forests would be shrouded in white and weighted down by its decorative burden.
Dusk arrived early as it tends to in January but the untouched snow provided a glow that illuminated the barren riverside forest and its meandering path. I took several similar photographs but have avoided posting them because of their resemblance, yes, they’re all separate sections of forest and road but their surprisingly difficult to tell apart, when I decide to begin a series of images to eventually print or publish online I prefer they compliment each other while remaining unique. I want for example, 3 or 4 separate images, that are each individually interesting but fit together and collectively tell a story. I also aim to create series that are visually similar enough that they wouldn’t look out of place together on the same wall or in the same room.
To take this photograph I had to climb down the embankment of a deteriorating dike, towards the untouched and frozen surface of the marsh below. I had been admiring the way the light was breaking between the clouds and highlighting the mountain sides in a single giant ray for much of the walk as I approached one of my favorite view points.
The old pier to the left in this picture, protruding from the ice, is a remnant of the Pitt-Addington marshes prior usage as a fishing resort of sorts. Old boardwalks can be seen crossing between the small islands of the bird sanctuary if you look carefully. Interestingly, an abandoned mountainside hiking trail is also nearby along the a secluded mountainside out of sight and to the left of this picture. The Mountain Side trail closed in 2007 when all the bridges crossing the water to it were removed, it provided several viewpoints overlooking Pitt Lake and the surrounding marshlands.
It took ten years for this pathway to recover from the windstorm that hit the Pacific Northwest in December 2006, the storm destroyed trees and shrubbery such as those seen in this image. A decade later the low trees and bushes again form tunnels along this slightly treacherous pathway and at sunset the light glows through the gaps of the tunnel suffusing it with a startling orange glow.
The Final Days of 2016
The Sun Setting on 2016
December 30th granted me the opportunity to visit one of my favorite locations and photograph at sunset. The light glowed beautifully red and gold across the then frozen Pitt-Addington resulting in several beautiful photographs.
December 31, 2016: to cycle through photos hover over them with the mouse.
On December 31, 2016, I walked through the entrance of Golden Ears. The gate had been closed and the park was left inaccessible to vehicle traffic but open to all foot traffic, providing an opportunity to photograph a snowy Golden Ears on New Years eve. I took fewer photographs than I expected but enjoyed and uploaded quite a few of them. An interesting problem I ran across that afternoon was the forward element of my lens fogging up the second I touched the focusing ring. Again, like in Harrison earlier the snow proved quite wet but my camera didn’t receive the soaking it experienced previously.