Last year, to celebrate the end of a long and cold winter and the first warm day of spring, I took a drive to see the scenic Bijoux Falls north of Prince George. It was a nice plan: Take a little drive, have a picnic, and get some good photos.
…and for reasons that, in retrospect, should have been apparent, the waterfalls didn’t live up to my expectations.
I had hoped for a nice ice-covered frozen waterfall. Instead, I got a bunch of snow, only accessible by wading through another bunch of snow. Once the snow goes past my knees I usually entertain the idea of turning around… and once it goes past my waist, I’m not just entertaining that idea, but buying it dinner and drinks as well.
Still, it was only to be expected. Bijoux Falls lies along Highway 97, the major highway north(not that there’s much competition; Highway 37 is the only real alternative, and it’s much smaller and with less amenities). More specifically, it lies in the Pine Pass region of British Columbia, a mountainous region notable for winter storms.
Still, it was a clear day, and even if the parking lot was closed, there was a slightly wider area where I could pull off the road safely and enjoy the landscape.
The mountains to the north are visible from the Bijoux Falls
parking lot wide shoulder beside the highway. After all, I had a camera and tripod, and therefore had to come back with some photos to not feel like I wasted the trip.
I haven’t done it for a while, so lets break up the photo above into the three colour channels: red, green, and blue.
There isn’t much difference between these photos. The main one is probably the sky; it’s lighter in the shorter ends of the spectrum, as usual. The deciduous trees are bare, and the coniferous ones are very dark, so there really isn’t much variation in the foliage colour. Usually, they appear lighter in red and green colour channels, and almost black in blue. That’s actually the case here too, but the difference is very subtle.
Don’t believe me? Here’s one of those GIF things that are all the rage. LOOK AT THE TREES! LOOK UPON THEM!
With that in mind, how do photos outside the visible spectrum compare? Well, lets start with the closest one to a visible spectrum photo, Full Spectrum. Without a filter attached to my camera, the photos taken are of the visible spectrum, but also near-infrared light(and also ultraviolet in theory, but in practice so little UV light is recorded that I doubt it makes any difference). Once I correct the colour balance, the trees are usually red or yellow, and the sky is a richer blue.
This time, the trees are appearing on the ‘red’ end of the spectrum. There isn’t enough visible light reflected from them in the shorter wavelengths to push the colour towards yellow.
The few clouds were moving quickly, so the clouds behind the mountain were gone, but new clouds came into view near the top of the photo. They’re clearly visible in this wavelength, as they are in most longer wavelengths.
To get a better idea of the Ultraviolet spectrum, I guess I could use my Schott UG11 filter. This filter block visible light, but lets IR and UV light through. It lets a lot more UV light through than it does IR, which compensates for the camera not being very sensitive to the UV range.
I like this filter. It has a good colour contrast; the indigo sky and lighter green plants make the photos look surreal. As everything that isn’t sky or vegetation usually appears monochromatic, it doesn’t look like the photo was tinted so much as the photo looks alien. The snow’s the right colour, the road’s the right colour, and nothing else is.
I think I’ll move to UV this time; it’s the most boring. Starting with my combined Schott UG11 &BG40 filters:
That’s a ten second exposure. I don’t take many UV photos in the winter, and this is why. The low sun means that there isn’t much UV light; the photo needs a tripod to get a photo that isn’t blurry.
Still, unlike many of my UV photos, this one at least isn’t hazy. Bijoux Falls is two hours from any large city, and it was a clear day. Even so, UV light scatters in the atmosphere more easily, so it looks hazy normally even on a clear day.The clouds aren’t visible here, as the sky is too light to distinguish them, and there is no way to differentiate between the deciduous and coniferous trees.
I tried to take a UV photo with the UG11, BG40 and my short pass filter, but it didn’t turn out great. Apparently it is har to focus a camera when there is too little light coming through the viewfinder and a proper exposure is 40 seconds.
Speaking of the short pass filter, of course I took a photo using it on its own too. This is UV, violet and a bit of blue light. The mountains through my custom made short pass filter…
… and I forgot to set the white balance. I kind of like the effect; it gives the photo a unique look, almost out of some psychedelic poster from the ’60s. But still, it’s kind of useless for any practical purposes. Here it is again after I actually set the white balance.
Of course, I can only set the white balance so far with this filter; most of my photos still look very purpley. Sometimes I can fix it with colour balancing on my computer, but not this time. By the time it’s fixed, the photo is pretty much monochromatic.
I guess I’ve exhausted the UV side of the spectrum, so lets go on to infrared.
Nice dark sky, blue trees, yep; it’s my Zomei 680 nm filter. This filter is the closest to red in my IR set, so the camera can still pick up a lot of colour. Maybe not the ‘right’ colours, but interesting ones. The clouds have reappeared, as the sky is now dark enough that they can be distinguished.
With the Zomei 760 nm filter, there is still, faintly, a bit of colour. it isn’t really noticeable unless I boost the saturation in this photo, but the sky is still very faintly brown, and the trees are very, very, slightly bluish.
To get fully monochromatic, I have get deeper into the infrared range; I usually default to my Zomei 950 nm filter for this… a filter which, I didn’t realize until later, had fogged up while I was putting it on the camera.
Lets pretend that last photo didn’t happen; I’m trying to look like a real photographer, and I think they double check their filters before putting their equipment away.
After I photographed the mountains, It was time to head home. And along the highway a little ways south of Bijoux falls, look what I found:
The above photos were taken with a modified Canon T3i Rebel camera.