Ice on Williams Creek and Lakelse Lake

Second day using the new telephoto lens, we headed out to the lake. An extremely sunny day, yet cool…, minus ten Celsius cool, with some wind, making me wish I had long underwear on. With all kinds of light, I was finding the lens not bad, as I was getting some really great photos with it. We followed Williams Creek down to the Lake today, a nice little hike.

One thing with this 800 to 1300mm lens, there was no need to walk in the water to get these shots. I stood on the shore, and aimed the camera, five minutes to focus up the lens, and shoot. I have to shoot in Manual Mode with this lens. And I had to use my bare-fingers, as working with gloves was cumbersome.

The little ice pillars look neat. Williams Creek did completely froze over this year. I guess it flows fast enough, that even in minus 15C weather, the water stays liquid.

This is the area where the creek empties into Lakelse Lake. This is where the newer ice sheet collides with the larger lake ice sheet, making this neat effect with the ice.

And lastly, a neat shot of some small chunks of ice scattered on the snow and ice on Lakelse Lake.

The lens was a little bit better to work with, as it seems to like lots of light, but the focusing was problematic, as it took several turns to reach the right focal plain, then another five minutes to fine-tune it to get the focusing sharp. This is not a sports lens, by any means. The cold seems to an issue with the lens when focusing. I will show more images in my next Post of people and things I photographed on the Lake.

New Camera Lens: 420 to 800mm Telephoto.

New toy: a 420 to 800mm telephoto lens, for my Sony A77 Camera. And when you factor in the crop-sensor size, the lens becomes a 630 to 1200mm lens, just like that. It was bitterly cold, yet clear out, and as soon as I got the lens home from the Post Office, I just had to try it out. Our first stop was just down the Kalum highway, North of Terrace, where we pulled over to an open field, and I snapped a few shots of the surrounding mountains, while there was enough light. I took about ten shots before I got the focusing figured out on the lens, but once I got it, the results were unexpectedly great.

The very first thing I realized about using this lens is, you have to be very still with it. You need lots of light to shoot with it, as a handheld lens, or everything becomes blurry. The second issue was the focusing ring, it is very tight. You giggle around a lot while turning the ring, and loose the shot. Lastly, the locking ring had too many turns before it would lock the lens, and you needed that locking ring tight, or focusing was next to impossible. The camera has to be put into full Manual Mode, as the lens has no automatic features what so ever, meaning you have no auto anti-shake from the camera’s electronics. So, you are back to old school shooting with it.

A must, with this size lens, is a tripod. Once the light levels drop off, you need a tripod for clean, no shake, shots. This lens, you are between F8.3 to F16, at the fully extended rang. So your shutter speed become longer during darker times of the day. And as I found out, with lots of wind, you really need to weigh the tripod down to avoid camera shake, as this lens is super sensitive to movement. I tried taking some Moon shots out at the airport, and the wind was pushing the lens, so slightly, but it was enough to blur the shot becuase I was at less than 1/4 shutter speed. So, needless to say, I have no good Moon shots for this post. Perhaps tomorrow?

The lens did do very well at the minus nine Celsius mark, as it did not fog up. I could only shoot for five minutes in this weather, but the camera and lens held up the whole time I was outside, except for me–I was freezing.

Yes Indeed, It Is Rather, …cold.

It is too bad that we could not get rid of the “minus” sign in front of the temperature becuase then I could be praising the Solar goodness of Mother Nature. Nope, it is the other way around, lots of Sun, but the “minus” sign stays; a blusterous minus thirteen outside. With wind, and blinding sunlight, the day looks awesome through the windows, but dare to stand outside, is another matter indeed. However, like the troopers we are, we did our Sunday Drive through the valley, Me, Suz., and camera in tow.

I should point out that records were broken for how cold it is in this section of the North Coast. Where I am, we were lucky in the sense that this is normal-ish, but further inland, the coldness rages on. Even the fine folks on the coastal islands were hit with some awful cold weather too. Enough said, I think you get the point.

Our trip down to the Kitimat Valley. We wanted to follow the Sun. Get those much needed Sun shots. We nearly went three weeks without clear skies, so seeing the big bright orb in the sky again, was a huge relief. Hey, probably one of the rarest religions around these parts are the Sun Worshipers. Those guys are hard pressed, let me tell you. It is truly blind faith for those guys. But, for us, we were driving to the Kitimat River!

She is not much to look at, but the people of the valley like to call her “a river.” It does rip-roar with torrents of water during the spring thaw, I should point out. People come from all over the planet to fish this little river. As you can tell, it is far from being frozen over, as our cold snap is only into its third day.

We hit the Sun at its Golden Hour on the river, as the yellows and pinks colour sunlight started flooding down on us. You only get about an hour of it with your camera. But the long shadows, and golden light, made for some really neat effects; it was worth it, as some of the shots were extremely good. But it was cold, and my fingers were getting numb, so I only lasted less than five minutes at this spot. Fortunately, Suzette kept her car running, as she wanted to enjoy the view from where there was warmth, and I was very happy when I jumped back into my seat to enjoy it with her.

The photo that says, “It is Cold Baby!” I really like the pink to purple colours in the sky, above the white of the mountains. In this shot, we are in Thornhill, BC, just a few kilometres from my place, along the highway. We are looking North, from the West side of the side road. If this shot does not say, “COLD,” then I do not know what would, other then a shot of a bottle of liquid Nitrogen pouring out onto the ground. Remember, nightfall is upon us, and it is getting colder.

Anyway, I went home, and then curled up in bed, letting the warmth cover me. There is work tomorrow, and I am sure getting up will be a chore. Nighty-night!

Our Turn: The Cold Weather is Here.

It is the first day of February, 2019, and I must say, “what a mild winter season it has been so far, for us folks up in the North Coast of British Columbia.” However, this will all end, very soon, as a fidget Arctic System is creeping down on us, fast. The weather prognosticators say, starting tonight, the deep freeze will start, and will last until next weekend. But what really hits home for me, is that I saw temperatures as low as minus 14C on the chart! Right now it is minus 2, snowing, with winds from the North, gusting to 40km/h. A piece of cake, by North Coast standards. But, cold is cold, no matter how you slice it. (I wrote this part while I was on my lunch break)

So, here is where we are at for conditions. It is snowing out, although lightly. There is about 3cm of slush on the ground. It is windy out, with winds coming in from the North. So, add super cold weather to the mix, and all this will freeze. Tonight will be the perfect night to stay at home–this I can predict. So, let me talk about my commute home.

(I am at home now) So, I am driving home. The roads in Terrace near perfect: dry, and void of any snow. Once I got onto the side streets of Thornhill, BC, then is was a different story. When I left the nice and dry road of the highway, and hit the first side street, to my house, I was faced with a nice thick layer of ice on the road. I mean, it was perfect, as the setting Sun’s light reflected from off of it, I have to put on my sunglasses, it was so bright. So, I took the first corner very slowly, at about 20km/h, to make sure I had full control. When I had to stop at the first stop sign, my car’s brakes would not go into ABS Mode (Anti Braking System) and I slid a few metres past the stop sign. So, this had me worried. So I started pumping the brakes at the next top signal. Even the very large SUV, behind me, was having troubles of his own, navigating on the same road.

So the lesson here is that, no matter how good your tires are, driving on pure ice, is still a cautionary tail. You treat the road condition with a huge amount of respect, and HOPE the people driving around are doing the same thing.

 

It is now down to minus 4C, to it is expected to dip below 8C, over night. I am prepared for this. I have an emergency kit, if the power goes out. Plus I have my car, if I need to leave. But, since I have lived here, the whole place seems to be build to handle this type of weather, so I have confidence that all this will be a walk in the park. So, bundle up!

Mother Nature Would Not Let Us See it!

As Mother Nature’s shroud blanketed the sky above us, the Moon and her glory sank into the Earth’s shadow, and all we could do was to imagine what it is she looked like as her reflective light faded, then reappeared again. The night seemed to become thicker with clouds, and yet the air warmed, an odd combination for the North Coast of British Columbia this time of the year. The winter snow was melting in the Skeena Valley, and there was no rain falling from the sky. Yet, we were unable to whiteness the Lunar Eclipse, but for one 3 minute period, when the clouds parted for one brief moment during the first phase of the eclipse cycle.

So, the short story, we saw nothing of significance, but the pretty lights of Terrace, BC, from up on the Bench of Kalum View Drive. Sadly, as much as I wanted to photograph the Lunar Eclipse, all I got were clouds shots. But the day was not a total loss…

The trip to Lakelse Lake, in the early afternoon, was a nice departure from the usual Sunday drive into town. It had been at least three weeks since we were at the park last, and the first thing we noticed was amount of snow that had fallen there since. Only half the parking lot was cleared of snow, though. The lake did have a layer of ice on it, but nothing close to being safe to walk on it, though some had tied, when it was colder the week before. But it was the setting Sun that made the day. Oh, was the Southern sky awesome to watch over the lake, as the clouds moved in from over the horizon. It was warm out at the lake too, a mere 3C, though Suzette was not dawning her two-piece bikini just yet.

The second stop was Onion Lake. Because this lake is a little higher in altitude, it was a little more frozen over, but not enough that I would try to walk on it. There sure was a lot more snow at the summit than there was in the low lands. Many vehicles get stuck on this stretch of the highway during the winter months.

The drive home was fun too. Yes, I am being sarcastic. Drivers on the Kitimat Highway love to speed, or have that “me first,” attitude while driving on it. And part of the speeding fun, is to pass other motorist going up hills, while you are doing the speed limit. My poor car did get sprayed with small rocks as the SUVs sped by me; but all was good, there was no damage.

Dinner at my home: Pork-Chops with veggies and salad. All of this smothered with Cream of Mushroom Soup. I got a passing grade! Then we watched a movie on Netflix, “IO,” 2019. and then left to seek out a view of the Lunar Eclipse. None of us saw the Lunar Eclipse, except for that very brief moment on the hill over looking Terrace.

The Yearning of the Sun

Actually, when I saw the sunrise last week, it felt as if I saw an old friend again, the Sun, but really, the yearning was for the return of summer. Yes, I had that feeling of needing the good old days of summer back, as I saw the Sun rise. Here in the Skeena Valley, you have the winter position of the Sun, which is just 25 degrees above the horizon, coupled with the mountains that circle around us. This leaves us with a very short day period during the fall and winter months. Seeing the Sun sink below the horizon, as the Earth spins, (this happens around 4:30pm in the afternoon), puts the damper on daily life, when you get home from your work day.

The above image is Miss Egghead enjoying the Sun rise in the mythical Cube Land. The image is a render done in Blender 2.8 Beta.

It is normal to have weeks with overcast sky, and days with rain in the valley. During the colder months, snow is the daily routine, sprinkled with ice, as the sky is cloud filled, with moments of clearing, allowing the Sun sneak through. But it is the darkness that creeps in, making the night life some eighteen hours long, leaving some people with the “Winter Blues.” However, with seeking moments like this day, where the Sun shines, getting out and absorbing its rays, is a natural rite.

Also, one more point: This has been an unusually warm winter, so far. We have missed the full onslaught of the Arctic Vortex, but nonetheless, it is winter. The Earth spins it usual way, and nothing can be done about that. However, there is, with out any doubt, less snow, than normal. The Skeena River is still way below its usual level, and the Coastal Mountains do not look that snow packed, as compared to last year. These are just my opinions, not scientific facts. Though, I have read some articles in the media agreeing with me.

May we see more Sun, and less clouds in the coming weeks, without causing drought conditions like last year.

Flakes into Drops, into Monster Puddles, and it Was Not Pretty!

Let me set the scene for you. It is 5:30am, and I am off to work, driving from Thornhill, BC into Terrace, taking the Old Skeena River Bridge route. I take this route becuase I usually grab a coffee in town before I head into work. I am now crossing the bridge, entering Terrace, going pass the Legion, going onto Lakelse Avenue. I look ahead of me, and notice that I am following a police car. And at the bottom of hill, the car hit a large puddle, causing it to veer left, then he slowed right down, as the water sprayed across both sides of the road. He straighten out, but I thought his car was going to stall out in water. The water spray reached the building, covering the windows and walls with water and ice. He managed to get his car going again, and drove off.

My turn now. I drove right over to the left, into the other lane, to avoid as much of the puddle as I could. I slowed down to 20km/h too. It did not matter, as the puddle was deep on both sides of the road, only covering less of the road in the East bound lane. All I heard was the thunderous roar of the water all around me, as I hit it, and even at my speed, I could see the water shooting across the road on both sides. Then my car slowed right down, and instinctively I pushed on the gas peddle. For a split second, I was worried. My little car suddenly lurched forward, and resumed speed. I looked in my rear view mirrors, to see water still traveling through the air, into the building, the sidewalks, and onto other vehicles that were parked.

No, the fun did not stop there.

After buying my coffee, I drove back onto Lakelse Avenue, heading towards Eby Street, in front of the Terrace City Hall building. I made my left turn, and then switched lanes to eventually make my right turn back onto Highway 16, heading West bound. It was right at the turn off of Eby Street that I hit another monster sizes puddle. This time, my headlights on my car dimmed as the water shot up into the air. I was turning too, so my car lurched to the left side, and I compensated with the steering wheel. I got onto the highway, and this time all I could see is the steam from my exhaust going into the air. 

Everywhere, there were lake size puddles along the roads. It was raining hard too, in the valley. The night before we a snow storm that dumped about 15cm of snow, then it warmed up to plus 2C, and has been raining ever since. But the problem is, all this water has nowhere to go. All the storm drains are plugged with snow, and the ground is still frozen from the week long freeze.

My last hurtle was driving into the parking lot at my work. That was all water, and in some spots, the water was over 30cm deep. The entrance, was another deep spot that all most stalled out my car. I took that corner very slow.

This afternoon, I hopped into my car, started it, and all was good. I checked everything, and nothing seemed broken from the water, so I was happy. The drive home was awesome, as all the lakes on the road were almost gone. There were a few spots with super-sized puddles, but these were a lot smaller than what they were at 5:50am.

So glad the weekend has started!

Powder Snow and Windy Cold Out

It seems we are in the midst of a cold spell here in the Skeena Valley, were it is below freezing. Old Jack Frost has been a little nippy, especially when it comes to scrapping off my car every morning before work. For three days now, it has been below freezing, with some snow, and it looks like we have one more day of it before we bounce right back into the freakishly warm weather again. Rumour has it, by Friday we could be above 6 to 10C, again in Thornhill, BC.

A shot looking at my bedroom window, my Southern view to the world, from inside.

Sure, this pales in comparison to last year’s wintry season, and even to the hardcore Skeena Valley citizen would say this is weird year, but cold is cold, no matter which way you hold it. Instead of 100cm of snow, last year, we are getting 5cm of nice powdery snow this year, and I can say, the wind has not been that bad either. But waking up to minus 5C, still adds that little bitty shock to the old nervous system when your feet touch the hardwood floor for the first time. You sort of let out a little, “yelp.”

So far, it appears that today will be the coldest day for this season. I think it went down to minus 7C last night, and were currently at minus 3C this afternoon. This might be a super short winter season.

Pretty Lights In the Snow: A New Years Day Walk

It was like magic; the pretty lights in the snow along the Terrace Grand Trunk Pathway that stretches beside The Yellow Head Highway 16. I waited for the right time to walk this, to take photos of the LED coloured lights along the path. Of course, it had to be dark out, and not foggy, and above all else, it needed to be a non-work day the next morning. So, New Years day, was the perfect choice. So me and Suz headed down the path, snapping photos as we went.

What was neat about some of the lights, was that they were half buried in the snow–adding for that extra light effect. The above shot was one of my favourites. The other weird thing about shooting LED lights with a digital camera was that you can see the lights fade in and then out again. The light oscillates from bright to dim, and back again.

As for the path, it was icy, so you had to watch your step. At one point, I found it was better to walk off the path, than on it. Of course, I have water proof runners on, which did not help the grip on ice problems I was having.

The weather was even weird too. It was 7C at my place overnight, and tonight, it was hovering around 3C. It was actually raining out when walked the path, and snow was melting at a good rate. The roads were perfect to drive on throughout the Skeena Valley, both in Terrace and in Thornhill, BC.

I sort of screwed up when I took these shots. Normally, I set the ISO to 100, and adjust my shutter speeds accordingly. But this time, I had the ISO to “Auto,” and the camera left the shutter speed a 1/125 per sec., and adjusted the ISO for me. In most cases I hate images with lots of noise from the high ISO values, but I did some good shots from tonight, so I will keep them.

I hope you enjoy the light show. Have a great New Year!

When Snow Melts, You Get a Mess

Sitting at 3C, cloudy, but no rain, or snow for that matter, the day is looking pretty good. However, the snow is melting at a fast rate, and the puddles in the parking lot are growing just as a fast. Funny how that works. Rumour has it, our parking lot will get snow removal is the next hour or so, hopefully taking care the newly developed lakes outside my front door. This will be nice, and I cannot wait becuase I have a million things to do up town today. 

We only had about 6 to 8cm of snow fall back on Friday, but the lower valley was sitting at above freezing, making the snow heavy and slushy. As soon the snow fell from the sky, it was melting. Below that thick layer of snow was water. If you shoveled it, it was heavy to move. When you drove through it, it splatters everywhere. This is the type of snow I would not want to walk in out on the roads.

The good news is, the roads are clear, and getting around was never an issue. Now, where to put all this water?