Mountain Life Magazine Feature

Mountain Life Magazine has published a little feature on the new Ancient Forest Alliance documentary along with some questions and answers from friend and filmmaker Darryl Augustine. You can check out the article and view the short film (which highlights some of the conservation photography work I do) here: http://www.mountainlifemag.ca/2015/01/saving-giants-ancient-forest-alliance/ It was great to work with Darryl on this - especially with the RED Epic camera - and I highly recommend him for any of your video needs! Very professional, kind, and talented individual.

Looking towards Big Lonely Doug from the top of a giant redcedar stump clearcut in the Gordon River Valley near Port Renfrew in 2012.

10 Favourite Images from 2014

2014 was an adventurous year and full of new experiences. From the thousands of images shot, I've tried pick a few favorites and create a personal top 10. Here they are (in no particular order). Hope you enjoy and here's to a fantastic 2015!

I've always wanted to photograph a full moon rise and this year I finally remembered on the right day. After racing to Cattle Point in Oak Bay, I laid down in a bed of camas flowers to provide a unique frame and caught it just in time.

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for sunrises and sunsets. It's a great excuse to get out into nature and the colorful display is always something beautiful and different. Here's a classic coastal sunset as seen amongst the idyllic Gulf Islands.

Even though I have been to Carmanah Provincial Park many times before, it wasn't until this year that I actually made it to see the famous Three Sisters - a tight cluster of giant Sitka spruce trees with a spot you can sit down in the middle of.

This past summer I visited the Canadian Rockies for the first time and was blown away by their raw magnificence. Here, mountains and forest are reflected in the crystal clear waters of a small lake, creating a surreal landscape view.

Also from my trip to the Rockies, a golden-mantled ground squirrel curiously approaches during one of our day hikes.

Spring in the deciduous forests near Lake Cowichan is breathtaking. After my partner came across this magnificent bigleaf maple tree in the Fall, I was excited to see it bloom. A 15mm fisheye lens allowed me to capture its full glory.

One constant throughout the years is the stunning and surprising beauty of nature. Almost like magic, fleeting moments of sheer natural wonder pop in and out of existence, treating one to the most dazzling displays of colour and form. Seen here, rainbow fog beams shine through the old-growth forests of the Upper Walbran Valley early in the morning.

Certainly not the most beautiful place I visited in 2014 but definitely the most shocking, this burnt old-growth clearcut in the Klanawa Valley was like a scene from Armageddon. The photos from this expedition provided a stark reminder of the continued gross mismanagement of BC's endangered ancient forests.

Each December I visit the Harrison Mills area on the Lower Mainland to photograph the thousands of bald eagles that arrive during the fall salmon runs. This year however, high water levels covered up the dead fish causing the eagle numbers to drastically drop while I was there. Luck did afford me this one close-up view though of an eagle fanning his/her feathers in the warm sunlight.

Not only a highlight of my year but a highlight of my life, the climb of Big Lonely Doug - Canada's second largest Douglas-fir tree - is something I will never forget. One of my hopes was to catch a classic side-on view of a climber looking like an ant on the tree - much like the famous National Geographic photos of tiny people dangling in the giant Sequoia. The nearby logging road provided a unique vantage point and helped achieve the perspective. To see the rest of the photos of the climb, please click here.


3 Days at Echo Lake - Hiking, Tree Climbing, & Eagles!

The last weekend of November, I had the chance to spend 3 days with friends at Echo Lake, located located between Mission and Agassiz on the Lower Mainland. It was a freeeeeezing cold trip (-15 with windchill) and harsh reminder of just how painful it can be to hold a metal camera for hours while trying to manipulate the finicky buttons with seized fingers! The breaker in our cabin shorted the first night as well - no lights and no heater makes for long, cold evenings.. The weekend was still filled with fun and adventure though. We hiked up a currently unprotected ridge to see some old-growth Douglas-fir trees growing at the higher elevation and caught some beautiful sunlight scenes with the snow. Thanks to my friend Matthew with the Arboreal Collective, a few lucky ones also had the opportunity to climb a tall Douglas-fir tree along the lake shore. You really only comprehend their size once a tiny human is up amongst the branches - wow!

In 2012, about 60% of the ancient forests around the lake were thankfully protected through a campaign lead by the Ancient Forest Alliance. However, 40% still remain unprotected on the north slope, where we hiked. Besides the impressive trees, the lake is also home to the world's largest night roosting site for bald eagles, who feed on salmon in the nearby Harrison-Chehalis River Estuary each fall. The eagles are the main reason why I visit each year at this time but unfortunately the numbers were really low during our visit due to recent flooding which covered up their fish supply. I still managed a few photos but missed the epic scenes of thousands along the river from previous years. That's nature for you I guess ;)

Presentation Time

I'm always honored when the opportunity arises to speak about photography and our environment - big or small, all talks present a great chance to have a personal conversation about our human experience on this planet. This week I spoke with a Victoria high school photography class on the topic of Conservation Photography & BC's Ancient Forests. It was around their age when my interest first peaked in photography and I hope that it may have planted some seeds along their path's to the future. If you're a local school group or organization, and would like to host a slideshow presentation, please just shoot me an email! Thanks :)

New Documentary Film on the Ancient Forest Alliance

Super happy to share this new documentary on the Ancient Forest Alliance, produced by friend and filmmaker, Darryl Augustine. The 16 minute video features an overview of the history of the Ancient Forest Alliance, spectacular images of BC’s old-growth forests (shot in 4k), and interviews with myself and Ken Wu, tourism business owners, forestry workers, First Nations, politicians, and individuals in the BC forest conservation movement. It was fun and adventurous working in the woods with Darryl on this and hopefully the film will shed more light on what we do as an organization as well as my role as a conservation photographer in BC. Enjoy!

Endangered Upper Walbran Valley - Photos & News Coverage

Anyone who has been to the Upper Walbran Valley knows it is a truly exceptional place. At the heart of the valley lies the largest contiguous tract of unprotected, lowland old-growth forest left outside of parks on southern Vancouver Island; which includes the Castle Grove and the Central Walbran Ancient Forest. I recently visited the area to photograph signs of new potential logging plans in the core area and the amazing forest that is threatened there. Subsequent to the trip I wrote a blog for Huffington Post British Columbia which they just featured on the front page on their website (above)!

To read the story, see photos, and learn more, please visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tj-watt/not-all-is-well-bc-woods_b_6201668.html

We also received news coverage on the issue from other major news sources:

And here are a few short clips I filmed while exploring the at-risk forest with my partner Jackie:

It's time to see this jewel of nature saved once and for all!

Autumn Colours Near Lake Cowichan

Autumn, with its rich oranges and yellows, is a beautiful time to be outdoors in many different parts of the world. Here in British Columbia however, in a land where evergreen trees tend to dominate our forests, one has to look a bit harder to find areas bursting the colours we so closely associate with the season. So on an overcast weekend in October, my partner and I went exploring around the creeks and rivers near Lake Cowichan on southern Vancouver Island to find just that. In this region you'll mostly come across younger stands of bigleaf maples and red alders that have grown back after decades of logging but in some places it's still possible to come across small pockets of old-growth deciduous trees. These rare, gentle giants are typically covered from root to crown in thick layers of mosses and licorice ferns, which stand out even more when the leaves have fallen off the trees. Below are a few images from our colour-filled trip. Where are your favourite places to go hunting for Fall colours on the Island or around BC?

Honourable Mention in 'Adventure' - 2014 BC Magazine Photo Contest

Happy to learn that I received an Honourable Mention in the Adventure category of British Columbia Magazine's 2014 Photo Contest. This was my first time photographing mountain biking, making it a fun, fast-paced challenge, and I was stoked to come out with some decent images. After shooting a lot of skateboarding in the past however, there were thankfully some transferable techniques that helped make it a success. Big thanks to the talented riders who let me chase them on foot down hills and through the forest, asking them to fly off cliffs in near darkness while I blinded them with my flash! Congrats to the other winners as well :)