PhotoTripUSA Publishing
   T H E   S H O W C A S E    

Home     Buy    Services    Resources    Contact

Beautiful British Columbia - by Adam Gibbs

NOTE: this exhibit appeared in July 2001. Click here to visit the current showcase.

All other exhibits: Click here to access

Please click on one of the following thumbnails to see a larger image. Use the Back button in your browser to return to this screen and select another image.



Vine Maples at Dusk

At workshops I cannot stress enough the value of subjects located in our own backyards.Many of the images displayed in this showcase are images taken only a short walk or drive from where I live. The unique part about shooting close to home is having the knowledge and whereabouts of where to go at the best times of the day and season.
This image was taken literally behind my house. While taking the dog for an evening walk in the rain I noticed the clouds starting to open up to the west. As I walked home the sun started to shine and the combination of mist and sun created beautiful beams of light amongst the trees. Back at home I grabbed my camera and went for a stroll to see what I could find. Only a few hundred feet from a major freeway, the last beams of light shone through a group of trees to my side. I took four or five frames and the light was gone. Since taking this image I have returned to this site many times and none have been as dramatic, without light this scene wouldn't get a second glance. Who said light is everything.

(Nikon F4s, 200mm lens, Velvia)




 Vine Maple

Somewhat dejected a friend and I spent a couple of days sitting in the car watching the rain come down in buckets. Tea, taco chips and lots of salsa seemed to be the order for each passing day in Olympic National Park. Tired of sitting around in a parking lot I decided to venture into the woods with my camera to see what I could do under the sheltered canopy of the lush pacific rain forest. As I explored the forest canopy rain eventually turned to drizzle and my spirits began to rise.
Trees are a subject that I find to be one of the most rewarding to photograph and also one of the most challenging. Because of their very nature, trees are often a confusing mass of twisted branches, needles and leaves going all over the place. To find a composition that is relatively simple with an element of design can be a somewhat frustrating experience. Light can also be a problem, in the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest the thick overhead canopy can make even the brightest of days seem rather gloomy. On bright sunny days the contrast between shadow and highlight is often too much for film to record.
Overcast skies with some light rain worked in my favor for this image. Even though the light was good for this subject, the combination of a small aperture and slow film still left me with a shutter speed exceeding a minute in length. Thank goodness the wind wasn't howling, another pet peeve of nature photographers.

(Linhof Tech. IV, 90mm lens, Velvia)




 Tree Silhouette - Deer Lake

(Nikon F4s, 200mm lens, Velvia)




Dawn Mist - Deer Lake

As mentioned the best locations to photograph are often close to home. In this image, the lake is actually a small urban park surrounded by buildings. Although the park is a nice place to take an afternoon walk, urbanization has slowly taken over and during the middle of the day it would be hard to disguise as anything but a park in the city. However early in the morning when the sky is clear and the air is fresh mist often forms concealing any sign of urban life. As the sun rises and the mist moves in and out over the water, Deer Lake is transformed into a wondrous place.
Coyotes can often be seen searching for food in the surrounding fields and webs laden with dew often cover the overgrown grasses. I have had many great moments at this small lake including a two-week session photographing a Great Gray Owl. A rare occurrence the owl spent a month or so around the lake hunting for rodents. I have also photographed Saw Whet and Great Horned Owls in the same park. Lucky for me Deer Lake is a five-minute drive, although I enjoy traveling to new areas throughout N. America what better place to hone skills and capture predictable light than your own back yard.

(Linhof Tech IV, 305mm lens, Velvia)




Mt. Assiniboine

Many of our natural areas have their icons. Arches has delicate arch, Yosemite has Half Dome and so on. One of the natural icons in the Canadian Rockies is Mt. Assiniboine. Similar in shape to the Matterhorn, Assiniboine rises dramatically above Lake Magog. The park itself is called Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park and is squeezed in between Banff and Kootenay national Parks.
There are a number of ways to get to Mt. Assiniboine, the cheapest being a long moderate fifteen or so mile hike from the East. The other method is a quick ten-minute chopper ride to the base of the peak. For those who like creature comforts there is a lodge overlooking the peak and lake, for others there are small inexpensive shelters or you can camp in designated sites.
This image is one of many that I took of Mt. Assiniboine during a weeklong trip. At the time I was quite disappointed that the summit was covered by cloud, however when the sun started to come up the light was quite dramatic and in some ways looks as if Assiniboine is blowing its top like a volcano.

(Linhof Tech IV, 90mm lens, Velvia)




Saxifrage and Boulders

The highest peak in the Canadian Rockies is Mt. Robson. Located along the Northwest border of Jasper National Park, Mt. Robson Provincial Park offers exceptional landscape and wildlife viewing opportunities. The most popular hike is a long but moderate walk to Berg Lake. The hike is roughly seventeen miles and can be done as a long day walk or a multi-day backpack trip. The trail passes some beautiful scenery, including Kinney Lake and the Valley of a Thousand Falls with views of Robson always close by. Photographers that like to carry tones of gear can fly in by helicopter for about $50.00 U.S each way.
If you go to Robson there are a few things to keep in mind. The area is an extremely popular hiking destination and there are limits to the amount of campers per day. The weather in the Northern Rockies is very volatile and the chances of actually seeing Robson let alone photographing it are slim at best. Snow in the summer months is common, especially at the higher elevations. Helicopters also have restrictions; they can only fly in at designated times of the week.
Although I was lucky to get a photograph of Robson this image was taken on a more typical gloomy day. Along the shoreline of Berg Lake and surrounding moraines colorful boulders and rocks cover the ground. Sprinkled amongst the rocks are a variety of wildflowers tenaciously holding on to life. In this image rain was a blessing because it brought out the beautiful colors in the rocks.

(Nikon F4s, 105mm macro lens, Velvia)




Colbalt Lake at Dawn

Located on the western slopes of the Columbia River Valley, Bugaboo Provincial Park is a choice location for climbers from around the world. Unlike the loose, limestone peaks of Banff and Jasper National Parks the rock in the Bugaboos is much like the solid granite found in Yosemite. Monolithic spires such as Bugaboo, Crescent, Pigeon, Howser and Snowpatch rise in dizzying heights above Bugaboo glacier. The biggest challenge for climbers (and photographers) is the weather. In the summer, snow, sleet and viscous electrical storms are quite common, however when the weather is clear the alpine experience is spectacular. During the winter months the Bugaboos is a haven for heli-skiers.
The slopes of the Bugaboos can get quite crowded. At the base of the spires is the Kaine hut that sleeps up to fifty people and further up the scree slopes is a campground that is often bustling with climbers. Further to the north, a short adventurous hike over some shallow valleys leads to the equally impressive and pristine Colbalt Lake.
I have been to Colbalt Lake twice. On my first visit I made the trek alone and spent a couple of days slumbering on the rocks overlooking the lake in complete solitude. On the second trip I traveled with a friend and again we spent a couple of days photographing the lake and peaks in complete solitude; an increasingly hard quality to find, even in the remotest of locations. This image was taken on one of those glorious mornings.

(Linhof Tech. IV, 135mm lens, Velvia)




 Lower Englishman River Falls

Vancouver Island has become one of my favorite photo destinations. In the spring wildflowers often cover many of the coastal and alpine meadows. Although dwindling, old growth rain forests can still be found. Rugged isolated peaks dominate the interior and equally rugged coastlines dominate the Island's shores.
Driving towards Pacific Rim National Park there are a number of provincial parks worth stopping for. One of the parks is Englishman River Provincial Park. Much of the park follows trails that skirt the deep Englishman river gorge. There are two prominent waterfalls the upper and lower Englishman river falls. The upper falls is quite large which falls abruptly into a deep cleft at the start of the gorge. The lower falls is much smaller but somewhat more picturesque.
This image is of the lower falls, which can be seen from a suspension bridge crossing at the lower end of the gorge. The hardest part about taking this image was timing when to push the shutter, every time I went to take an image a hiker would come tromping across the bridge and of course everything would start to sway. This image was also the best out of two; the light peaked through the clouds long enough for me to capture the soft backlight on the big leaf maple and mossy cliffs behind the falls.

(Linhof Tech IV, 135mm Lens, Velvia)




Japanese Maple Leaves

The pacific North West is not known for its fall color, Vine maples will often turn red, cottonwoods yellow and that's about it. However, photographically the fall can be quite spectacular, just not at quite the same level as the East and perhaps a little more challenging. If I am looking for fall color I will often go to one of the public gardens located in and around Vancouver.
This image of a group of Japanese maples was taken at UBC Botanical gardens in Vancouver. Taking a double exposure created the glow around the leaves. The first image is completely blurry the second is in sharp focus, combined they create the glowing effect. Remember to meter accordingly for a combined picture, in this case I underexposed each shot by 1 stop. Another way is to take two individual images, one sharp, one blurry and sandwich them together. In this case you would overexpose each image by about a stop, you have to experiment a little.

(Nikon F4s, 200mm lens, Velvia)




Harmony Lake - Whistler

Known for its downhill skiing, Whistler is a world premier ski resort. There are two main ski areas in Whistler, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Peak. A section of Whistler Mountain enters into one of British Columbia's largest Parks, Garibaldi Provincial Park. Only a relatively short drive from Vancouver, Garibaldi Park is a popular getaway for a quick weekend in the wilderness. There are a number of beautiful hikes and backcountry ski routes throughout the park, including a number of multi-day traverses across spectacular mountain scenery.
This image was taken at the start of a hike towards another small lake called Russet Lake. My first day out was a dreary one, as I set up my camera clouds played hide and seek with the small lake. Every time the clouds moved away from the lake I would press the shutter. Out of a series of pictures this one was my favorite because the wind died down enough to get the glass like reflection. Continuing my hike the drizzle turned to snow and I passed many shivering hikers wearing only shorts and a T-shirt. Over the years I have learnt that even in the summer months mountain weather can be brutally unforgiving. Carrying extra clothes for the worst will not only makes photography more enjoyable; it could also save your life.

(Nikon F4s, 28mm lens, Ektachrome)




 Heron Rocks at Sunset

Extending southward in between the east coast of Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver is a body of water known as the straight of Georgia. Scattered along the shores of the Straight are a number of Islands known as the Gulf Islands that extend southwards to the San Juan Islands located in Washington's north.
One of the more northerly islands is Hornby Island. Hugging the shores of Vancouver Island, Hornby and its sister island Denman are only a stones throw away from the city of Courtney. Each island has its own unique features and Hornby is no exception. At the southern part of the Island is a co-operative campground that overlooks a rocky shore called Heron Rocks and at low tide these unique sandstone features create some unique photo opportunities. In the spring, wildflowers cover the campground and surrounding meadows. After I took this image I sat and watched a Marten dash in and out from around the rocks, eventually settling on a patch of yellow monkey flower for a quick snack. Solitude, unique features and unprecedented coastal views make the gulf islands a choice location for photographers.

(Linhof IV, 90mm lens, Velvia)




Japanese Maple Swirl

When I first started taking photographs I would often walk to a local public garden and photograph birds, insects, wildflowers and hybrid plants. Over time a body of work began to develop, most of the images included garden perennials, shrubs, species trees and annuals. As a new graduate from a professional Photography Program I really didn't have much to show potential clients other than my plant pictures. Although I had some nice pictures, pretty pictures are not the most popular stock seller. I decided to take my images to a local Gardening Magazine and see if they might like to use any. Seven years later the bulk of my work today is for Gardening Magazines including the one that I approached several years ago.
This image of Sword ferns and a Japanese maple was taken at the same garden I used to walk to; only difference is that I now have to drive because of distance. Swirling colorful leaves and the radiating sword ferns all contribute nicely to the image. Intimate details are a favorite subject of mine and whenever I get the chance I am always on the prowl for scenes like this one.

(Linhof Tech III, 150mm lens, Velvia)




Fall Color - Seymour

Fall is often short lived in the mountains. As groundcover begins to turn crimson and gold, cold temperatures bring sudden snow that can quickly strip any foliage of its color. Located on the outskirts of Vancouver, Mt. Seymour Provincial Park is a favorite alpine location of mine. Several of the images in this showcase where taken at Mt. Seymour, quick access, a pleasant alpine environment and familiarity bring me back to this area several times throughout the year. Seymour doesn't have dramatic peaks surrounding it or meadows filled with wildflowers, it does offer subtle and often colorful scenes such as this one. Local parks, fields or the back yard are all great locations to hone photographic skills, ultimately these skills help a great deal when traveling to new and unfamiliar locations.

(Linhof Tech IV, 305mm Lens, Velvia)




 Opabin Plateau

The Canadian Rockies has long been a favorite destination for photographers. Beautiful scenery, pristine aqua blue lakes and the chance to view large game are all draws for millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately like many of our National treasures they are under considerable pressure from over visitation. The towns of Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise continue to grow as more and more people move in and tourists demand a place to set up a tent or enjoy the wilderness from the comfort of a luxury hotel. Dwindling wilderness throughout North America is another factor that contributes to the high visitation to our National Parks. As unsaved wilderness disappears, more and more people turn to established parks for solace.
Like most National Parks, Opabin plateau in Yoho National Park is no exception and it gets considerable visitation throughout the year. Access to Lake O'Hara is limited, so a spot at the campsite or lodge should be booked well in advance. The dirt road into the park is also limited to park service buses only, the ride should be booked in advance; a minimal fee is charged.
On this particular trip I spent several days exploring the Opabin Plateau and surrounding areas. Pristine alpine tarns, golden Larch and towering peaks what could be better. Perhaps a little warmth would have helped; at night the temperature plummeted down to 0F making camping and early starts particularly grueling. Camping is about $5.00 a night, the lodge $300.00 a night.

(Linhof Tech. IV, 90mm lens, Velvia)




False Hellebore

False Hellebore or Corn Lily is a popular subject with many nature photographers. The sensuous shapes of the leaves could be one good reason why they make such great photo subjects. Each fall I return to this patch to see if I can repeat this picture with a 4x5. No luck so far, each year the Hellebore is either flattened by an early snow or the color is a drab brown. Of course we all know that if you see something worth photographing don't say to yourself "Oh I'll come back later to photograph it" chances are your subject will never look the same again. I just wish I had been shooting large format at that time.

(Nikon F4s, 24mm lens, Velvia)




New Snow - Mt. Seymour

The city of Vancouver is much like any other, bustling with cars, people and all the other joys of city living; the only difference is its location. Mountains and the Ocean create an impressive backdrop. Mt. Seymour, Grouse Mountain and Cypress bowl are all local ski areas that make up part of the cities background. The most impressive peaks being The Lions, which stick up like two sentinels overlooking the city.
Only a short drive from where I live Mt. Seymour has become one area that I frequent quite often, especially when I need a breather. A paved road winds its way up to a ski area parking lot. Short trails lead to a number of small alpine lakes and viewpoints overlooking the city. In the winter Vancouver often gets weeks of rain which can get a little depressing, so a short drive up a bit of elevation often leads to a snow covered winter wonderland.
This image was taken after a snowstorm. The sun had gone down and the new snow was bathed in a cool blue reflective light from the sky. In the fading light the last of the storm clouds picked up a pink tinge; combined, the cool snow scene and the warm light on the clouds created an ethereal feeling to the resulting image. I use contrasting colors a lot in my photography. I will often seek out combinations of both warm and cool colors such as green foliage combined with a warm color such as red or in this case contrasting light the cool blue snow and warm pink clouds.

(Pentax 67, 90mm lens, Velvia)



Elfin Lakes - Garibaldi

Although I enjoy winter photography, spring never seems to come soon enough. In the mountains, spring doesn't often occur until around late July. July is a bit of a guestimate because each year is different. Some years I will hike to a mountain meadow and find lots of wildflowers, other years I will return to the same location at the same time and find a foot of snow.
This image was taken when I had picked what I thought would be a good time for wildflowers. Obviously I was way off my estimate and found myself slugging through three miles of Knee-deep snow. In situations such as this I have found it helps to keep an open mind and not to get too involved in the one subject that you have come to photograph, in this case wildflowers. After some initial disappointment I realized that the combination of light, snow, trees and lake where all worthy of a photograph.

(Nikon F4s, 50mm lens, Velvia)



Bowen Falls - Nanaimo

Snow on Vancouver Island is always a pleasant surprise, except perhaps for those that drive. Bowen Regional Park is more or less a city park located in the heart of Nanaimo. Many of the small parks that surround Nanaimo are quite picturesque and contain many species of the coastal flora and fauna found throughout Vancouver Island. Under normal weather conditions Bowen falls and the surrounding area shows many signs of wear and tear found in most popular parks. With a bit of snow and a selective perspective many of the scars can be hidden and the falls become a great subject to photograph.

(Hasselblad, 80mm lens, Fuji NHG 400)



 Snowstorm - Burnaby Mountain

On a recent trip to Southern California a woman at a park visitor center asked me where I was from, when I replied Vancouver, Canada she smiled and said "How's the weather up there right now". Half expecting a cold and snowy response, I think she was quite surprised when I informed her that the weather right now wasn't much cooler than the desert we where standing in. OK, slight exaggeration the winter weather along the Pacific Northwest coast can be darn right miserable, and quite a bit cooler than the Mojave desert. Weeks of rain are not unheard of, but snow at sea level is minimal at best.
This image was taken on one of those rare occasions when Vancouver gets snow. Burnaby Mountain is more of a hump than a mountain. Because the mountain is at a slightly higher elevation than the surrounding areas it is more likely to get some snow. The hardest part about taking this image was getting my car out of the driveway. Unlike colder climates where municipalities budget for snow removal Vancouver is more likely to be at a standstill at any sign of the white stuff. Victoria, on Vancouver Island gets even less snow, however this particular year the city received over three feet in a twenty-four hour period. In the same year, Mt. Baker received world record-breaking amounts of snow, over 90 feet.

(Nikon F4s, 105mm macro lens, Velvia)

Note: For best viewing, set your monitor to High Color or True Color (Thousands or Millions of Colors on MacOS) and 1024x768 pixels. These images have been carefully prepared with a Gamma of 2.2 using the BruceRGB color space. This should work well with high-quality Windows monitors. If you are a MacOS user, set your Adobe Gamma control panel to "Windows Default" or, at the last resort, choose the sRGB calibrated profile in the Color section of your Monitors control panel.

Please note: All images featured in the "Pacific Northwest: Beautiful B.C." showcase are Copyright © Adam Gibbs, all rights reserved. These images are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and may not be used or reproduced without permission. For licensing and usage information, or to order prints, please contact Adam Gibbs at

About the Photographer: Adam Gibbs

I immigrated to Canada from Great Britain in 1979. As a youth living in England much of my time was spent dreaming about adventure in the outdoors. On weekends and school holidays I would travel up north from the midlands. Most of these trips where taken with a local climbing club or the scouts, whether camping, climbing or just rambling amongst the hills anything outdoor related would keep me happy. It was these small adventures that ultimately shaped the direction I have taken in life.
As a teenager, the move to Canada was and still is an exciting wilderness adventure. In relation to the wilds of England and much of Europe, Canada is extremely expansive and somewhat unpopulated. With a population of roughly 25 million people and 80% of Canadians living along or close to the US border 'getting away from it all' is not that hard to do. The challenging part about travel in Canada is getting from A to B, which usually involves hours/days of driving, hiking or air travel.
I spent much of my youth and early adulthood exploring North America. Rock climbing, mountaineering and hiking throughout N. America led to some quite remarkable wilderness situations that I feel quite privileged to have experienced, however it wasn't until I picked up a camera that I really noticed how much more there was to see in nature and how much I was actually missing.
My first camera was a huge Polaroid camera that I used to haul up climbs with me. I liked it because of the instant results, I still have some of those images and to this day cannot figure out what I was actually photographing. Poor photography led me to find out what I was doing wrong. Rather than figure out things for myself I took the more formal approach and studied photography at a Community College in Vancouver. In the long run a more formal approach has proven beneficial, especially on the business side of things.
Up until a couple of years ago I exclusively used 35mm equipment for all my work. Unsatisfied with the results that I wanted to achieve in my landscape photography I switched to a 4X5 and to be honest wish that I had changed over a long time ago. The 4X5 seems to suit my slow methodical style of shooting; I just wish the equipment were a bit lighter, especially on those uphill grunts.
An element of photography that continually challenges me is trying to translate what I felt, saw and discovered at that moment into a meaningful image that perhaps others will discover for themselves. Without surrounding sounds, smells and sights the viewer is robbed of the whole experience, they only get a glimpse of the whole picture. The challenge for me is translating all of those senses into one image. To date even when I look at my finest of images they still fall short. I cannot help feeling that no matter how successful an image might seem I would still rather be standing at that place, enjoying the real thing. I suppose that it is this challenge that keeps me going back for more.

If you would like to view more of my images or have any comments please visit Adam Gibbs Photography e-mail

Find photos of the Colorado Plateau in Land of the Canyons, the Photo Trip USA landscape photography guide book. Home     Buy    Services    Resources    Showcase    Contact
Material, design and coding, Copyright 1998-2006 by Graphie International, Inc., except as noted. All Rights Reserved.
PhotoTripUSAô is a trademark of Graphie International, Inc.