Marja-Leena Rathje
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English Bay: sky








This is the fourth and last of the series of photos that I took about a month ago in English Bay. The feeling of the immense sky overhead struck me powerfully. It made me realize again how closed in we are where we live, surrounded by tall trees and mountains, though still quite expansive to the east. We don't see the sunrise until it comes over the mountains and the sunset falls behind the hill and trees behind us. Prairie people comment on missing the wide open sky here. I don't really mind but I do love getting next to the open ocean especially when the sky looks as magical as this. It makes me think of our favourite retreat on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

(By the way, these photos are totally unmodified, merely resized and compressed for the blog. Colours may appear different on different computers, such as even on my husband's MacBook Pro compared to my iMac. Also, as I mentioned in a comment at 'reflections', the scenes appear darker than real life because I was shooting against the sun. Maybe there's a special term photographers use for this.)

The others in the series:
English Bay: trees
English Bay: beach
English Bay: reflections

Marja-Leena | 06/03/2009 | 15 comments
themes: Canada and BC, Nature, Photoworks


I love these photos -- and they bring back my memories of that immense sky and the long angle of light of summers up there!

I am one of those people who always miss -- and long for -- a bigger sky. These pictures fill a person with awe . . . the beauty in them is just so strong, in a majestic and overpowering sense.

I do believe it's called shooting against the sun. But were you using the camera manually (ie, deciding on either a speed or aperture and then relating the two parameters yourself), semi-automatically (varying speed/aperture within the range defined by the built-in light meter) or fully automatically? If it was either of the latter two where then did you direct the graphic on the viewfinder to achieve the necessary light reading? I'm sorry to go on about this but these are superb landscape pix (a much tougher genre than many amateur photographers realise) and the technique you used is a long way from merely "taking a snap". When I asked about the other English Bay pix you mentioned using a tree to blot out a direct view of the sun, and this is the case in the first pic above. However, the other three pix have better detail and there is no blotting out.

Needless to say, being a devious Englishman, I have my own selfish reasons for this interrogation. I am teetering on the brink of buying a DSLR and since the cost runs between £300 and seven times that amount I'm scratching around to ensure I get value for money. Which means understanding what DSLRs can do. Mind you, I interrogated you about scanners and then eventually drew back from opening my wallet. Regard this question as a latter-day version of Canadian lease-lend.

The way the tree in the first shot lines up foreshadows the gold line on the water in the second and fourth shots ... nice! Is there actually a term in English for that gold sunline on the sea?

I have taken similar pictures from Lummi across Hales Passage looking toward sunrise in the direction of Mt. Baker. Like yours, they always look darker. If I try to adjust them the colors change.

Interesting to note that you have not tweaked these photographs. Although I am sometimes tempted to tweak, I am now finding that not to, is generally better. Its hard to see how you could have improved on these essays in light.

Maria, I'm glad to open up these lovely memories for you!

Bee, we agree!

Rouchswalwe, the great teacher's gold paintbrush?

Barrett, I should get my husband to explain for he's more knowledgeable technically about cameras and knows the language, but I'll give it a try.

Here I was using the smaller camera, a Panasonic Lumix which is not a DSLR. The focusing is automatic but behaves a little differently within the few programs that one can select. There's a fully automatic setting, a setting where you can choose 'film speed', and a macro setting. The latter is where you can play around with the focus a bit, such as pinpointing the spot such as a flower you want in full focus and leave the rest blurry. All are subject to the light conditions of course. So, to answer your question, this was taken in full automatic mode.

Another very important thing to remember is being able to take sharp photos. It is hard to hole these very light cameras steady and even the camera's anti-shake feature doesn't help entirely . The 'reflections' photos turned out really well because my camera hand was resting against the wire fence. You can really see the difference when viewing the images full size on the screen, not so much when shown on the blog. I got a tripod for Christmas that I still have to try out!

Our other camera, a heavy Canon EOS which I think I've mentioned before, is a true DSLR with manual and auto focus and more choices in speed and type of light. It's already behind the times, for the new ones keep on getting better. It's my favourite and I'd love to get a more powerful macro lens for that. We do have a telescopic lens.

I think the most important thing in shopping for a camera is to get the best lens you can afford. I'm sure you are researching many reviews online about the different options out there. Good luck, BB!

Anne and Joe, your comments came in while I was composing the other replies.

Anne, yes. Lummi Island is not far from Vancouver, just over the border isn't it? I've never been but it would have similar atmospheric conditions.

Joe, I was lucky this time. Often I have to tweak to get more contrast. The late afternoon in winter is a good time to take photos.

Wonderful photos and interesting discussion. Your success in capturing these images in such low light and against the sun is remarkable.
I more and more prefer photos that haven't been Photoshopped. And series, too, not just one photo of a subject. That is one beauty of digital photography--that you can do a whole series of photos as easily as doing one.

Thanks very much for the characteristically generous amount of effort you put into that. I used a tripod for internal shots (mainly in factories) with my optical Pentax. But it is a pain and it militates against just going out for a quick stroll. I have been trawling the websites and I like the look of a body-only Pentax DSLR since it's not only inexpensive but it takes the lenses of my optical Pentax. The reviewers pooh-pooh it, saying it's for beginners. But unlike the elaborate and deceiving smokescreens I throw up when writing about grammar, this more or less describes my status as a photographer. Again, thanks for the reminder about steadying the camera.

Hattie, thanks, though I would not say that it was low light, actually I meant that the angle of the light was low, my bad! As an artist who makes digital prints, PhotoShop is my most used tool. For regular photos posted here, it's only as needed. I could even manage with just iPhoto for much of it. Series, yes I agree, I even do that in my printmaking!

Barrett, you're welcome! I agree the tripod is a pain to carry about, which is why I haven't taken it out yet, nor the heavier camera unless I know I'm wanting better material for my printmaking as I can shoot raw images with it. My main reason for wanting the tripod was to take good photos of my art work. Great that you can use your older Pentax lens, that is worth it! Wish we could have done the same with our SLR film Pentax camera but there were no Pentax DLSRs back then, and the lens are non-adaptable screw-locks.

Marja-Leena: that's the difference between a pro like you and an amateur like me!

Hattie, I consider myself an amateur in the photography department but I'm learning a lot by just doing, and of course always looking and seeing. With digital cameras, it's sure gotten easier for everybody.

"the great teacher's gold paintbrush?"
Yep ... that captures it quite nicely!