I live in Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia. Here on the west coast, we experience a mild, temperate climate. Our winters are typically dull and damp, very damp, in fact! Our temperatures typically vary between 1C and 9C (34F and 48F). Believe it or not, I am envious of locations that experience snowy winters. From a photographic point of view, snow is magical!
Golf in January
Vancouverites are quite smug. We are known to flaunt our above freezing temperatures to the rest of the country, wearing shorts in December and golfing in January! Typically, when we do get snow, there is not much of it, and it is short-lived. It usually starts snowing in the morning but turns to rain by the evening. So imagine my surprise when we received snow two days in a row!
I looked back over my images and posts before I started to write this one. The last time I photographed in the snow was January 2017. That changed this week! On Wednesday, we got a “real” snowfall. I woke up to 20 cm (8″) of the white stuff. Now most locals hate snow, but I love it! What an excellent opportunity for some photography. I had a student at 1:00, so I could squeeze in a few hours of shooting if I stayed close to home. The forecast predicted more snow Thursday too. It was going to be a great week!
Take the Opportunity to Shoot Locally
Since I didn’t have a lot of time Wednesday before I was due to teach, I headed ten minutes down the hill to Rocky Point Park. This would be a good location for some landscape and nature photography. The weather was frigid, at least by west coast standards. It didn’t take long for my feet to feel like popsicles! Unfortunately, the light was very flat, and the sky was grey. A few flurries fell as well. To add interest to the monotonous sky, I waited until flocks of geese and ducks took flight over the inlet.
On my way home, I detoured up to Buntzen Lake. I didn’t have time for a long hike, but a few quick shots along the shore were in order.
The forecast still called for more snow Wednesday night and through Thursday. I have always wanted the opportunity to create street images in the snow. I cleaned my gear from the day’s outing and repacked my bag so that I could catch the first train downtown in the morning.
Be Careful of What You Wish!
I awoke early on Thursday. It was still dark, and I couldn’t see what the weather was doing. I turned on the radio. Imagine my dismay when I learned that the city had virtually shut down! Very few busses were running. Snow on the tracks and ice on the doors of the Skytrain meant all kinds of delays there. And to top it off, I live on a very steep road. The plows were focusing on the arterial routes. We would be lucky to see one before noon! Even if the train was running, there was no way to get down to it! The authorities were telling everyone to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. I realized that I wasn’t going anywhere.
When it was light enough to see, I found 35 cm (14″) of snow greeting me outside. Wow! We haven’t seen a dump like this for a long time. Since I couldn’t go downtown, I decided to venture closer to home on foot. There is a trail not far from my home. It leads up the mountain under the power lines to a park. It was quite the workout getting there as I was the first one to break the trail! However, it was worth the climb. The view from the top of the hill was spectacular.
To push myself photographically, I decided to try and be creative. I did not want to shoot cliche snow shots of buried branches, or marshmallow mounds of snow. Besides, the light was so flat that there were no shadows. My goal was to photograph scenery from unusual perspectives. Since the sky was lacking texture again, I had to find creative ways to frame my images. To do this, I looked for compositions with little or no sky.
The Return to Normalcy
I guess all good things must come to an end. It rained all night, and the forecast for the foreseeable future is for more of the same. Today seems like a good day to hibernate.
I will leave you with a selection of the images I captured during Vancouver’s big snow storm this week. Enjoy, and cheers until next time.