Sunshine Coast Getaway

It was a few days or total relaxation.

BC's Sunshine Coast is simply breathtaking and offers a significant change of pace. I recently spent four days in the area being actively relaxed which for me meant taking simple hikes and breathing in nature. 

Home was Tuckers Inn, B&B, a great find with friendly hosts, immaculate rooms and home baking for breakfast. Laying just north of Sechelt, Tuckers Inn was a great base for the short break, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Over the years of being in Canada, it's become clear that 'hike' is applied to any off road walk and it doesn't matter if it takes minutes or days, so take the word with a reasonable pinch of salt. The two main hikes were Smuggler Cove and Francis Point. Smuggler Cove is the easier of the two as it's flatter. The trail is simple to follow, the initial boardwalks across the wetlands helpful and the views cannot fail to render one horizontal. It's a shady trail and that helped as the temperatures were in the late 20's. The video opposite gives a good flavour of the experience. 

Francis Point was more challenging in that it was mostly in the open so be prepared for the heat on sunny days. There was also more clambering over rocks as the bulk of the hike to the lighthouse (beacon on a pole) is along the cliff coastline. The adventure is worthwhile, the views, once again, are stunning. 

I only scratched the surface and there's much more to the Sunshine Coast. The area is well worth a visit.

Photography wise, my aim was to capture a mix of tourist shots and other images that caught my attention. I chose video on the Smuggler Cove hike as the route was shaded with sunlight breaking through the canopy making for difficult shooting. Other shots were taken in the garden of the B&B and at the Sechelt Inlet. Manual mode predominated and I only flicked to Program when wanting to capture a moving boat when I didn't have the time to dial in the manual settings. 

Flying Heritage

It was on the Ducati, over the border and down to Everett, WA where the Flying Heritage Museum lives in a couple of hangers next to Boeing.

The majority of the planes in the collection are airworthy and it shows. A lot of WWII hardware can actually take to the skies. When I visited, the fleet was at rest and it was wonderful to roam around a diverse collection of mainly US, German and British planes with a smattering of Japanese and Russian aircraft for good measure.

To add to the spectacle, the museum also has a number of armoured vehicles that are also able to break free of the hanger confines and strut their stuff outside.

This private collection of Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) has been growing since 1998. The desire to have fully operational artifacts rather than static museum pieces whenever possible really sets the collection apart. There's a short 'bio' of each artifact that feeds the imagination making it easy to close one's eyes and visualise that Spitfire or Mustang in the air. The exhibits are simply meticulously prepared and I could have watched the guys working on a ME109 for a long time.  

Whilst getting a shot of the SCUD carrier tracks (I was trying to capture the hardware from different perspectives) I had an impromptu chat with Vince from Montana, an older guy visiting the collection. It was a pleasure to meet someone, know the area where he lives and then head off, never to see him again. A small slice of life where journeys meet, paths cross and then go their own way.

It's difficult to pinpoint a favourite exhibit, although I will say that I have a soft spot for the de Havilland Mosquito, maybe because it was such an accomplished all-rounder. Yes, it is possible to do many things to a high standard!

I'm not a military buff, I don't get a romantic kick from armed conflict, it's the design aesthetic of the machinery that attracts me. I also appreciate how innovation can be fast-tracked by the immediate needs of the time. The museums artifacts act as a reminder of testing times for the world, surely times that as a species we do not want to revisit, whilst coincidentally bringing a real appreciation of design and ingenuity. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to FHCAM and will be making a return visit on one of their flying days.

On the photographic side, I had my PEN-F with me and the 14-42 pancake lens along with my 25 (nifty 50). I'm currently finding the 25mm, 1.8 so versatile and most of the images I've posted were made using this lens. Rather than try to capture the complete aircraft or armoured vehicle, I was looking for unique views to showcase different elements of the design. I've recognised that the results are not that dissimilar to some of the stills in the closing shots on old Thunderbirds shows, my memories are being raided for inspiration.

Sea to Sky

The views are superb.

I'm impressed that someone had a vision and was able to make it a reality. The Sea to Sky gondola is a great achievement and yes, there are no doubt counterviews on the disturbance to the natural environment. I recognise that not everyone is going to be at one with development and I'm hoping that the Sea to Sky attraction was conceived and executed with sensitivity to the land. The ride and hikes are now well established and this was my third visit, the first in which I've been able to explore one of the less frequented, but still very tourist centric hikes. Hike 'de jour' was the Wonderland Lake loop.

The afternoon was another opportunity to break out the camera, my PEN-F with 25mm 1.8, and keep working the manual muscle. I like to think that I'm slowly starting to think in stops and shutter speeds again, as it's been many years since my only option was the fully manual Pentax K1000. Post was a few minor tweaks and cropping and, in some ways, the landscapes take care of themselves. It's difficult to make a complete mess when nature provides such an amazing canvas.

To compliment the stills I also created a 30 second video that captures a few of the moments experienced on the Wonderland Lake loop; all part of my desire to be more of a storyteller through the visual medium. There's a definite shift in how I'm viewing the world.

If you're in the area, do take time to visit the Sea to Sky gondola and soak up the views of Howe Sound.

Buds and Beans

Buds and Beans

My favourite shot from the recent trip to the streets of Vancouver. Buds and beans sums up this place.


Float plane to Bowen Island

It was a very special experience.

Many moons ago I served in the Royal Air Force. I was never based at a flying station as my role was in telecommunications. Strange but true.

Ever since relocating to Vancouver I've wanted to take a float plane ride. There's simply a special feeling for me associated with radial engines and floats planes and I have no idea as to why. There just is.

To be gifted a float plane ride as part of a fly, dinner, cruise (sort of), limo experience offered by Harbour Air was a real treat. I found the folks at Harbour Air friendly, courteous and professional and, got the evening off to a great start. The short sight-seeing excursion to Bowen Island was in a  De Havilland Beaver, how very Canadian! These planes (not necessarily the Harbour Air fleet) have been around since the late 1940's so one could conclude that it's well tested technology in a very simple skin. It's a throwback adventure and, I loved it.

This was a late afternoon spin over a sun-drenched city and it showcased Vancouver rather well. In fact the whole evening was a wonderful experience, even though BC Ferries conspired to run late - the ferry back to Horseshoe Bay being the cruise portion of the evening.

Photo-wise, my images were shot with my EM5 MkII using the pancake 14-42 mm lens. Although this is a long way short of a professional set up, I was satisfied with the results through a plexiglass window. The constant vibration was also a good test of the built in image stabilisation. Post, well, apart from some cropping and adjustments, what you see is what you get. No retouching.