Photography in the coastal village of Steveston. 

Steveston is a historic place on the outskirts of Metro Vancouver that my friend Jo and I stayed at (and spent the evening photographing) on our trip to the August used camera sale in Richmond. 

We were lucky to be able to book lodging at The Steveston Hotel, a landmark for the village built in1895. 

The last time I visited Steveston must have been about 20 years ago. Other than the marina and the fishermen that sold their fresh catch there wasn’t much.  My wife Linda and I had arrived on a cool December day with our big large format 4X5 inch film cameras. However, as we set up it started to snow a very wet windy snow that forced us to wipe off our cameras and leave. 

We had parked in front of the Steveston Hotel and hoped to get a room, but it was as every time I have checked over the years since then, full with no vacancy.  I didn’t think I could get a room this time either. But as I wrote, we were lucky this time.

Steveston is filled with great places to eat. We chose to get delicious Greek seafood take-out so we could sit out on the boardwalk to enjoy the ocean as the sun went down. 

The waterfront walk was perfect for out-of-town photographers like Jo and I for wandering after dark to make long exposures of the night-lights. Long exposure photographs are just plain fun. All one needs is a camera and tripod. Oh, and an off camera release…that I inconveniently forgot. The off camera release allows one to not only reduce camera shake, but makes it possible to use exposures longer than 30 seconds. 

Because we didn’t have the off-camera releases we were forced to use the self timer to stop the shake and struggle to get interesting lighting effects with only 30 seconds. 

So – set the shutter speed at 30 second, then keep changing the aperture depending on how bright one wants the scene. 

Jo was using a 16-35mm and I had, as usual, my 24-70mm lens. With long exposures we could brighten up the boat’s details and soften the moving water. Some times even lighten the dark sky to blue. 

I also set up my tripod in an alley between brightly lit shops with people walking around that would, as soon as they saw the camera say, “Oh, sorry” and quickly dart to the side so as not to ruin my shot. I would laugh and tell them they were just fine. After all a thirty second exposure is to slow to catch most movements and even if someone stops they were little more than a dark blur on the worn, wood surface of the walkway. 

We were out till a bit after 10pm and all though most visitors had gone home there was no shortage of loud revellers. Tonight as I sit beside the window of my room that looks out on the street, boardwalk and ocean I can hear the odd loud voice happily leaving the bar downstairs and making his or her way to their car. (I am sure there is a designated driver) 

Its’ now 11PM and the street is empty except for what looks like a mom and her two children taking their furry white dog for a last walk on this pleasant cool evening. I’m not really tired and am enjoying looking out on the quiet village as I write. I’ll get up in the morning; enjoy a cup of coffee and a bagel in the cafe downstairs. Then Jo will join me and we will finish the morning walking with our cameras in the salty, seagull filled air before making the drive over the mountain highway home. 

It is always fun to make some time for another Photographer’s adventure. With all the fires and the middle of the night evacuation we went through I have been a bit on edge and getting away to photograph a different environment is more than any doctor could recommend for a frustrated soul.

Photographing Christmas lights    

I have always liked Christmas. I won’t go as far as saying that it’s my favourite time for year. Gosh, anytime time of year that I get to point my camera at something is my favourite time.

Christmas is special. I like the music. (Don’t ride in my car or visit me at my home if you expect any other kind of music till January 2nd) I also like the festive spirit of those people that remember this is a time of caring, giving and friendship. And, of course, I really like Christmas lights.

My last article was about using my ultra-wide lens Saturday morning to photograph the Tree of Hope, but the night before found Jo and I wandering in the cold photographing the city lights.

Jo used a 28-300mm and I used my 24-70mm and we both carried tripods. I think the lowest ISO I used was 800. Jo said she kept hers set at 100 ISO most of the time.

There were the usual strings of lights along the city streets, but it was the cheerful holiday lit Okanagan Lake waterfront that we wanted to photograph.

Kelowna goes all out and even has a skating rink that is open till 11PM and this year there was a big fire at one end for people to gather around.

Everything was perfect for two prowling photographers hunting for interesting and creative photos. I was hoping for snow. I like how the white covering reflects light at night.

We were ready for the cold and the snow and we even went shopping when we first arrived in Kelowna for a pair of insulated boots that Jo got for an early Christmas present.

What a fun overnight trip we had. We checked in to our downtown hotel, went Xmas shopping, had dinner at my favourite Kelowna restaurant (That plays blues music as you eat) were out till 9:30ish photographing the lights and got up early the next morning to photograph the 250,000 bulb Christmas tree.

As Jo and I drove home after that exhilarating time we talked about how we each found our own personal views of the lights. Would that be Perspective?

Photographing in low light or after dark helps to slow us down. One employs a tripod and most of the shutterspeeds are slow.

I think those photos that visually work usually take some forethought.

I’ll end this with a quote by American photographer Elliott Erwitt that I have used many times before because it fits so well, “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”