Waterfalls in Color

OK, I just had to show you these, and I have questions. Not exactly a spectacular photo until you notice the colors in the waterfall. I haven’t changed the colors at all, this is what I saw as the sun rose over the ridge. Not sure if the color change is from the sun rising or from a slightly different angle on my part. I was climbing as the color changed, but these are only a few minutes apart. They lost all color shortly after. I’ve seen rainbows in waterfall mist before, but never the waterfall itself. Maybe someone with a optics or physics background out there could tell me how this occurs. Do I have to be this far away for the whole waterfall to change color? If I was closer would the rainbow just be a stripe across the waterfall (which is much more common)? Is it just the angle created by the sun, waterfall and me?

300mm, f11, 1/640 of a second

Definitions and Desires

I get to meet a lot of photographers. I know photographers who shoot weddings for $400, and I know photographers who shoot weddings for $4000. I know people who only shoot one kind of event or subject, and I know people who will shoot anything. There are a lot of people out there clamoring for any shoot they can get.

I often describe myself as a photographer. I don’t make my entire income from photography, but it is a significant portion. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and there’s a lot of hard work ahead of me. It might seem strange that this month I’ve been turning down paid shoots.

Shoots are bragging rights. Shoots are proof that you really are a photographer. If you have a client, you are a professional. There are a lot of people who want to be a Photographer with a capital P. Photographers, by definition, take photographs for a living. This is so general that it hardly describes any successful photographer I know, but some people seem to want to do anything that involves clicking that shutter. More often, photographers like interacting with people and making them feel good about themselves. Some photographers want to help people remember important events. Some photographers want to travel and share their discoveries with others. Some photographers want to be well known as artists, and photography is their way in. There might be some photographers who just love turning those dials and pressing that button, but that’s not me, and it’s probably not you.

It’s a lot of work figuring out what you love. It takes a lot of experimenting, and a lot of going down the wrong path. Once you find what you love, it takes a lot of work to articulate it. Once you’ve done that, it takes a lot of work and courage to pursue it. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years and a few things have become clear. I love being outdoors. I love playing one color off another, finding a line that curves just the right amount, that leads into the just the right amount of confusion. Creating beauty and adding to the beauty in the world, these are things I care about. (my constantly changing definition of beauty could be another blog post entirely, and I suppose it’s hinted at in every photo I post) I want to find natural scenes that abstractly resonate with our human condition. These goals change over time as I discover more about myself and the world, but they don’t change dramatically. And by knowing these few things, I can continue to enjoy life and photography. And I don’t go chasing after every shoot – I leave them to people who want to make a living doing what they love.

A willow leaf, still green in October, when only the last few yellow poplar leaves are left.

Midday Ripples

Ripples interacting to form a beautiful diamond pattern — enough pattern to see the repetition, enough randomness to create interest across the frame.

Rising Up and Tumbling Down

Evening waves above Bighorn Falls, Alberta.

Its easy to beat yourself up over things. Everyone does it. And feeling bad can be a strong motivation to do or change something. But feeling bad makes it less likely that you’ll stick with it. To actually do something really well and for a long period of time you want the motivation to come from the pure joy of doing it. Wise words from a wise friend.

Flowing Color

Because I’m sure most people will be wondering about this, here’s the explanation. The top photo is the same as the bottom, except that the top has a cropping and shutter speed that I’m much happier with. This shows a little bit of the exploration of a subject process I go through when I see something interesting. (if it’s not clear — it’s a mini waterfall in grass, about a foot high)

Taken at the Ya Ha Tinda ranch.

Folding Water

In the mountains (especially in spring) the scale and violence of the flowing water is incredible. The power of the water is hard to communicate without the thundering you can feel down to your bones, but the acrobatics it performs while tumbling down are fun to capture. The blue-green color of the water comes from rock flour — small particles of rock suspended in the water from glaciers.

Taken at Mistaya Canyon in Banff National Park.


A couple weeks ago I was out at Clifford E Lee Wildlife Sanctuary. It was dreadfully cold and winter depression had set in. I walked around for a while, not really inspired—just trying to soak in enough sun to stay sane. I hardly even looked through my photos when I got back. Today I was going through them and found this:

Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) has provided me with so much color and so many great curvy lines to work with that I feel compelled to do a bit of a tribute to fireweed.

Fall Birch Trees by a Small Lake

Paper birch trees (Betula papyrifera).

Yes, these are getting shorter and shorter. But at least I’m mostly keeping up. In January I should have a bit more time to expound on all things photographical. Till then, enjoy the photos.

The Edge of Light

Taken at Panther Falls about a month ago as the sun was coming up. For the curious, there were no color alterations done to this photo – just boosted the shadows a bit and took down the highlights to even out the exposure. This is a good example of different white balances in one photo. It can be a huge problem when photographing people, or it can look really awesome to get some complimentary colours in nature photos from an otherwise pretty colourless scene.