Vancouver isn't a cheap city to live
in so if you do choose to live here, you really have to
take advantage of the features the city provides.
Every year there are fireworks and it's easy to become
jaded to them after you have seen them 10 times or
more. Thankfully we have kids which inspires you to
revisit things they have never seen. We parked a
little closer to the bridge (about 3 blocks closer) and
walked on around 8:30. I setup my camera and took
photos in the lead up to the fireworks.
Tonight was Canada so there were lots of red
and white combiations. White is often quite bright and hard
to photograph with other colours.
One of the features of the bridge location is
photos that combine the fireworks with the city. This kind
of shot is a bit of a trick because you want it to be long
enough that you get the city lights but not so long that the
fireworks burn out. If you can start the exposure with no
fireworks up, you have a better chance of getting a good shot
with city blended in.
The kids had a good time and didn't get stepped on in the crowds
walking back to the car. Now that Claira is 5, I hope we can
attend at least one fireworks event each year.
BioBlitz at Stanley Park
My first ever BioBlitz! The Stanley
Park Ecological society organized a BioBlitz at Stanley park as
part of Canada 150 this year. That had a number of
activities happening all over the park. We found parking (an
event worth celebrating all by itself and then visited two
events. First, was a beach side show of what scuba divers
were able to haul up.
The big (easy) items were the sea stars. The divers had
pulled up some shallow stars that are easy to see and a blood star
that isn't so easy to see at low tide.
In the other bins they had smaller items. They had a tiny
green sea urchin and an even smaller nudibranch. Nice to
We returned to higher shore and joined a tour of
woody plants. They pointed out all the tree species that
lived close to the parking lot (total walking distance was
probably 200 meters). I was quite impressed by what you
can see in such a short distance. The guide does Biology
work for a living (based out of Victoria) and his interest in
biology was contagious. He talked about the bio's
found in the soil growing under moss on tall Big Leaf
maples. Apparently there are hundreds of species of tiny
invertebrates living up there.
Our last session was Sunday morning - we went to
a bird banding session for hummingbirds.
Uninterrupted Under the Cambie Street Bridge
I heard there was a movie playing under
the Cambie street bridge around dusk. Friday night isn't a
school night so we could keep the kids up late to see the
show. We drove down and found free (as in you don't have to
pay for it!) parking within a block of waterfront - I was
amazed. The show is projected over the playground so the
kids were really surprised we took them to a playground after
We were at the projection spot around 8pm
and the show started at 9. There was some warm segments
before the event started but they were subtle. The kids
would be playing, see something and think the show was about to
start. After a few minutes, they went back to playing.
At nine, with the sun set, the movie started. There isn't
naration, but there is a cycle to the movie. Many of the
images would be fish eye view looking up in a stream which really
fits well with the projected on the underside of a bridge format.
There are 6 projectors involved so the images truely are imersive.
I was sad it was over after half an hour, but the kids had
questions that went on quite a bit longer. It was a great
Birding in Boundary Bay
I'm a member of Nature Vancouver and every
once in a while you want to go out and learn something new.
Nature organized a birding session at Boundary Bay to see the
shore birds as the tide came in. Nature Vancouver birding
events are binoculars/scope focused - they are often using 10 to
40 power instruments (the equivalent of 800mm to 3200mm lenses on
a 35mm camera). The binocular people are keen on identifying
the birds, but getting a "photogenic" situation is just a nice to
Today there was a flock of about 250 birds. The vast
majority (all but two) were black bellied plovers in various
stages of molt. The two exceptions were a Short Billed
Dowitcher (which I can't tell apart from a long billed, but people
who know more than me said it was a short) and a barred tailed
godwit. The godwit is identified by the multi-coloured very
long bill and the colour of the underparts in flight.
Looking at 250 birds and finding the one or two that
doesn't match is a skill I don't really have, but I need to learn.
The Milky Way from Whytecliff Park
Helen works every seventh weekend so those
weekends, I'm single dad'ing it. It's hard to take photos
and parent at the same time so sometimes you have to get
creative. On Friday night, after the moon set, I drove out
to Whytecliff park to see the Milky Way.
Since it is dark dark, it's easy to
do the exposure. My camera (a Nikon D800) is most
senstive at 800 ISO - turn it any higher and you just get
amplifier noise. My wide angle lense wide open if
f2.8. 30 seconds is the longest I can set the
exposure to. I hold down the button (which works for
100 exposures) and shoot away. I wanted to be home
by midnight so I couldn't capture for that long.
I really like the airplanes taking off from the YVR in
Richmond. The sailboat ancorched close by is funny
with how far it swings around.
PNE with the Kids
Helen Works every seventh weekend. On
Sunday, I decided to take the kids to the PNE for their first
visit. The kids like animals so our first destination was
the animal barns. They had a large area dedicated to being a
farm in BC. Each kid got a smock and a bucket. They
then went stage to stage collecting a mock up for a product made
in BC - milk, eggs, salmon and apples and more. There was a
bit of play, but they ultimately put their items into bins at a
farmers market and got a coupon for completing. It really is
propaganda (fish farming was quite a surprise for me) but the kids
My goal for going early was to try and skip the lines. We went
over to the pony rides and got in line. A ticket was $7 a kid
and the ride lasted about 5 minutes. This was their first pony
ride and they clearly want to do it some more.
The PNE had an exhibit this year called Toytopia. A lot of was
around retro toys, but there was a large "back yard" area where kids
could make forts using PVC pipe, wooden joining blocks and sheets of
cloth. The kids really liked this area - they probably played
here for an hour. The forts could be extended out or up, but
the connections weren't strong enough to really scale well.
Clara added a "porch" on the front. New kids were always
coming and going, poking into existing forts and then trying their
own had it building. The fake grass floor made it a lot of
Another popular location was a
large scale Light Bright wall. My sister had a light bright as
a kid and we did build a few of the pre-marked images. This
model was a bit more flexible - you could move the pegs around and
it didn't leave holes. The display area is smaller than the
old light brights so it was harder to build a large image.
For a lot of people, the PNE is all about the
food stalls. There are a ton of food stalls - mini donuts and
corn dogs seemed especially popular. The kids found an ice
cream vendor where you could pick your own topings. There is
only one sized cup which was of course more ice cream they could
eat. The kids favorite toppings were marshmallows, chocolate
chips and sprinkles.
We went to a couple of shows.
Lantern Procession Around Trout Lake
Yes, there used to be an amazing summer
party at Trout Lake put on by the Public Dreams Society that had
lanterns. The Public Dreams Society closed down around
2013/2014. This year the Trouth Lake Community Centre put on
a Lantern Procession.
My Mom was in town and the kids were extra
worn out so it was Helen and I without kids for the night.
We arrived a little early and walked around the lake. They
were still setting up some locations with lights and performers.
The actual procession was pretty thick but not especially well
lit. Lot of kids had hand made lanterns but they weren't
Some people had elaborate lanterns that
stood out in the crowd. The procession was going pretty fast
so it was hard to photograph and keep up. As the procession
got to the well lit station we gave up trying and keep up and let
it go. Overall, lots of fun!