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!

The Church of Usk

As we left the Rupert to Terrace, BC Highway, and headed East, we drove through Terrace, and Thornhill, BC, over to Usk, BC, about a 40km trip. Yes, we did this on Sunday, I am a day late getting this out. Writing a post does take a bit of time. So, anyway, we get to Usk. There is not much to do there. We saw the grounded ferry, parked on the highway side of the river, and we walk over to the Cable Car Tower, and then left. I did shoot some photos, and walked around for a short while. But we headed for the Pioneer Church, on the other side of the highway.

So, let me describe the church. It is, quite possibly, one of the smallest churches I have even been in. It could seat a dozen people, without to much trouble. The whole building might be 8 to 10 metres long, and 4 to 6 metres wide. It is small! The door is never locked, and there is a sign in book to sign. The windows are small, letting in just enough light to see around with.

My inside photo shots were not that great with the low light levels. There is no electricity, so no artificial light, and I did not bring my speed light with me. There was no heat either; it was cold inside.

I was in this church as a kid, but I think for Suzette, it was her first time. This is something you do not forget when you are inside it. It is does leave you with an impression: of smallness. On the other side of the property, there is an memorial for the people who die while working as Loggers, and Tree Fallers. It was quite something to see. 

Split Mountain On the Terrace-Rupert Highway

Nestled between the Shames Mountain turn-off and the Exstew River, on Highway 16 going to Prince Rupert, just outside of Terrace, BC, is what we call Split Mountain. I am not sure if that is the official name, but it looks like the mountain is being split into two pieces. It is an awesome sight, but you need to find a spot where the trees do not block your view. Sadly, at the highway pull-off, the trees are very thick in the park, and you have to look across the river to the South, to see it through the trees. Plus, there is a swamp too, that blocks foot access, so getting that “tree-less” shot with a camera is almost impossible.

If you can find a spot away from the trees, then the view is awesome!

I was thinking maybe a hike along the opposite side of the Skeena Valley, to see it, but then you have to hike through some really think wooded areas to get a clear view. The other option would be a river boat on the Skeena River, but I do not have a river boat. Cutting the trees would work too, but I am sure some would find that wrong. Maybe a few trees?

A viewing platform would be the way to go. Build it in the park, and it only needs to be high enough to see over the trees. I am sure this would attract way more people who would want to see the split mountain, without the trees.

So, when I first saw this, as a kid, I thought that this was the result of a fault-line going through the middle of the mountain, causing it to split like this. When I would fish along the shores of the Skeena River, I remember I could hear the odd rock fall from the cliffs. This would happen at least once a day. These cliffs are very steep, and high. The mountain seems to be about 5-7 kms from the road, so a huge rock could easily be heard. But after looking at maps, and seeing photographs taken from the air, I later realized that it must be a combination of the way the mountain had cracked, and water erosion that caused the shape of the valley. I should point out that I am not a Geologist.

If someone knows, I would be interested in knowing what caused it. But, for now, it is a unique looking mountain, with this giant split through the middle of it. The next time you are out on the highway going from Terrace to Prince Rupert, BC, you should check it out.

Added Two New House Plants to the Team!

In my ever growing plant world, I acquired two new additions, a Barrel Cactus and a Spider Plant! I know I can look after the Barrel Cactus, which is a no brainer, but I was a little apprehensive on the Spider Plant becuase this guy need lots of regular watering, and the soil must be kept moist. However, I have the LED grow light, and my Air Plant and pointy cactus are doing awesome with it, so why not go for more…

First came the Spider Plant, I bought it over a week ago. To my amazement, the plant loves the grow light, and since I transplanted it into a larger pot, it has taken off. It has grown several new shoots in the last few days, and the foliage, 0ver all, seems to be growing by about 2cm since I got it. I think it is happy. In a few weeks, my macrame pot holder should arrive in the Post, and I will hang it in the living room window, with a LED Grow Light over top of it. We will see if it takes to that environment with lots of growth.

Yesterday, I bought the Barrel Cactus, which it looks more like a Ball, and it seems to be very healthy. I will do a pot transplant sometime soon becuase it has roots coming out the bottom the pot into the foil wrapper. And a warning, its thorns are very sharp. This guy must have very few predators out in the wild.

So, four plants, with three totally different needs. The Air Plant I have had now for over year, and is super easy to care for. The tall Cactus, I have had it for just under a year now, and it is still growing strong, and seems healthy. I have not killed them off, so I must be doing something right. Here is hoping the two new plants have long lives as well. Yay to the green thumb!

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.

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.

The Ever Growing Rock and Crystal Garden

I added some more quarts crystals to my collection last week, along with some other mineral rocks. The quarts, I only paid about ten dollars for a couple of large pointed crystals, and the big chunk of Iron Pirate, I bought for twenty, so I have about just over a hundred bucks sitting in this bowl. The small blue round rocks are just polished glass that I got at the Dollar Store, to add as filler. There are pieces of Bornite (aka Peacock Ore) and one large piece of Galena, or Lead Sulphide in the centre of the bowl too.

I always wanted a good size crystal collection, with other various minerals added, and now I am well on my way. Sadly, none of these pieces I have collected myself out in the wild. Hopefully, as I get more settled into the Northern lifestyle, I will travel further to remote places, where I can get to go exploring for interesting rocks. The near by places have been picked over, so you do have to hike in those hard to get to locations to find the good stuff. But I am happy buying the odd crystal that looks awesome, for now from the rock shops in town.

Suz., tells me that each type of crystal and mineral has metaphysical value as well. Perhaps with all of these rocks so close to me, maybe they are helping me, or I am getting lead poisoning from the Galena, (I leave them in the bowl). Their shiny crystal sate is enough for me. I like shiny crystal rocks, they make my happy–enough said.

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!