Well, it’s been a while, and maybe you want to know why, especially since one of my last posts talked about my vaccination. No, it didn’t kill me; I think I probably would have noticed that. Actually, the reason I’ve been offline is a funny story, one involving a broken water pipe, my computer, and a lot of insurance claims. No wait, not funny, the other one. Tedious. That’s the word.

Now that I wasted all my Christmas money on a new computer, I’m back. I fully expect to commence regular updates until I get bored and make up some other excuse. That’s my 2022 resolution!

Being offline gave me a chance to focus on some other projects, especially as I had some time booked off work already. Specifically, I also had time to explore my heritage, and in reconnecting with my forebearers, I tried to recreate an ancient ritual from the ‘before times’. It was called a ‘Vacation’. It’s what my ancestors did instead of ‘Netflix and Chill’. Instead of Netflix, there is ‘Scenery’, and ‘Chill’ is in the literal sense of ‘why isn’t this &*@ing tent any warmer? I think I have hypothermia!’. Or is that the same as the regular meaning? I’m not quite sure what ‘Netflix and Chill’ means, but I assume that it’s something sexual. Everything on the internet is.

For this ‘Vakashun’, I had one place I HAD to reach by Friday, as I booked a non-refundable tour for that day. I planned to take a big meandering big trip through big Southern BC getting there, exploring little parks and strange places on the way. Then the fires blocked off most of the highways between my destination(yes, yes, I’ll get around to mentioning the name of the destination eventually, but I’m trying to build dramatic tension by withholding the name) and the rest of southern BC. Thank goodness for Plan B. Plan B was to instead take Alberta’s Icefield Parkway down to my goal, and explore the popular parks on the way to the destination. A big covid spike in Alberta and British Columbia, plus the end-of-summer holiday vacationers, meant that I abandoned plan B. Finally I ended up deciding on Plan C: Drive straight there through the icefield parkway, stop at the minimum number of places, then a safe place at the destination to burrow away and hide from people. Plan C worked.

So, the destination? I guess Dramatic Tension will only get me so far. It was Yoho National Park.

Wait, where? Did I write that name correctly? According to my spellcheck, no, but according to their website, yes.

Yoho pretty much the overlooked twin(triplet?) to Banff and Jasper National Parks. In fact, it directly borders Banff; the Trans-Canada Highway passes through both. They’re separated by the provincial boundaries; Banff is on the Alberta side, Yoho on the BC side. As British Columbia is objectively better than Alberta, it stands to reason that Yoho must be objectively better than Banff! That’s just logic (Alberta residents might say that I’m little biased here, but what do they know? They’re from Alberta!).

And is it?

Well, for me…all joking aside… I actually think it is. Banff has amazing scenery, but it is also a lot busier. I’m not a fan of crowds, evenback in the before times. Banff park is less than two hours from the major city of Calgary, the largest city in Alberta. Yoho isn’t all that much farther(maybe another hour’s drive), but it seems that a lot of the daytrippers or weekend tourists don’t cross the border into British Columbia. Banff(the town, not the park, although the town is inside the park) is much more active and touristy than the only town in Yoho Park. The other Banff settlement, Lake Louise, is much smaller, but is…

… okay, I don’t know. I’ve filled up gas there, and I think I bought a coffee there once or twice in the off-season, but every time I visit, it’s so busy that I can barely find parking. In fact, this last visit, the highway had a number of signs posted that there was no parking available in the townsite or along the lake itself( Every time I go through Banff, I’m reminded of why I’ve never had the desire to stop there). Jasper National Park, on the other hand, I love visiting; comparing that to Yoho would result in more of an even match. The fourth national park in the chain, Kootenay Park, I haven’t visited enough to get any impression of.

So, if you want to be closer to amenities, and a more active social scene, choose Banff. If you want more isolation and are scared of people, Yoho. That isn’t to say that Yoho doesn’t have its touristy areas. Specifically, it has Takkakaw Falls…

and Emerald Lake.

Bright cyan-blue water. Obviously it’s named after an Emerald, which are always blue.

I’m mostly writing about that second one this post. There’s a large parking lot at the lake beside a resort, and a fairly easy 5km trail around the lake. If you get to the parking lot either very early or very late it’s quiet; otherwise, expect to park a kilometre down the road and walk. Still, I’d guess that 90% of the tourists that park there don’t go more than a half-kilometre from the parking lot, and another 8% only do the short loop around the lake. That means that all the trails branching off the lake are quiet; For a day hike I would usually only see a dozen or so people.

I think my favourite hike in the park was the Emerald Triangle trail. Whereas the Emerald Lake loop went around the lakeshore, the Emerald Triangle trail… well, actually, it went around the lakeshore too, with a little bit of a detour. A little bit of a detour that involved a kilometre of elevation gain, reaching the edge of the treeline of those mountains in the background.

Again, just a little detour.

I was lucky for my hikes, as I had good weather most of the time there. Not just as regards to rain, but also forest fire smoke. On a couple days, I could smell smoke, and one day had some haze, but overall, it was good hiking weather. The day I did the Triangle trail, I had bright blue sky and plenty of sun.

I guess that what I’m saying is that the views of Emerald Lake couldn’t have been any better. It was beautiful.

… and of course, the purpose of this blog is to pick it apart. When I see something beautiful, I have to examine and dissect it. That’s why I’m not allowed in zoos anymore.

First off, here’s the above photo broken into the four colour channels.




and finally, Funny .GIF file:

Truly the most important colour.

Each colour channel is distinct this time; red and green are obviously different even without a side-by-side comparison. Blue appears to be hazy, but it’s almost certainly just regular atmospheric scattering, as there wasn’t any haze of note at the time in the visible range. Besides, blue is always hazy. The scattering affects shorter wavelengths, so there’s always significant haze in the blue spectrum, some in green, and very little in red.

The lake is the main focus here, and what I wanted to write about. Because of the cyan colour, reflections don’t show up well in either the blue or green channels. The blue atmospheric scattering certainly doesn’t help. The red is more reflective, showing the mountains and clouds clearly. Outside the visible range?

I finally had a chance to put my Kolari Pocket cameras through their paces. They worked well.

Here is the lake through the 590 nm filter. I took this photo about a minute’s walk after that visible spectrum photo above, so the foreground has moved slightly.

The Kolari 590 nm filter is a red/infrared filter. The human eye can see up to around 700 nm(although it isn’t as sensitive to the ends of the spectrum), so 590-700 is in the visible spectrum. Beyond 700, it’s all infrared. There’s a lot of colour here, even more than with my Zomei 680 nm filter. It isn’t bad, but a lot more vibrant than I usually work with.

The lake is dark and muddy brown. So is the sky. Okay, they’re not actually ‘brown’, but rather they’re the colour of ‘my camera has to record near-infrared variations that aren’t visible to the naked eye, and has to record them as a combination of red, green, and blue, so with the white balance set ahead of time, less infrared light reflected is recorded as brown and more infrared is recorded as blue.’ That takes too long to type, though, so lets just stick with brown. I am open to compromise and call the colour ‘less-infrareddy’, though. The big question is ‘is the lake brown/less-infrareddy itself, or is it reflecting the colour of the sky?’

I think it’s the former. I think the lake is reflecting less infrared light. It’s already darker in the red spectrum, and brighter in the green and blue… continuing this trend below red would make sense. Besides, plants are plants, and plants reflect a lot of infrared light. That’s why they appear bright blue here. If the lake was reflecting the brown colour, it should also reflect the blue of the mountain base.

I have three filters for the Kolari cameras; the 590 nm filter, the 720 nm filter, and a filter that makes the camera a boring old visible-spectrum only camera. Technically, that means I have four options for examining the spectra; there’s always the choice of full spectrum, taking a photo without any filter.

I didn’t take any full spectrum photo, though, so here’s the 720 nm one.

It looks close to my Zomei 760 nm filter photos; This is an all-near infrared photo, but close enough to the visible spectrum that there is still a bit of colour variation. The trees are reflecting a lot of infrared light, so are the brightest thing in the photo; the sky and lake aren’t so look dark. Muddy brown has become dark brown.

Like I said, the lake was what I was trying to investigate. What is it? why is it? (Answer: It’s a lake. It is there because lakes like being at low points. Done.)

Okay. I’m bad at asking questions. What I’m really trying to ask is why is it that colour, and does that weird colour exist outside the visible range. The why is easy: it’s a glacier lake, so sediments from the mountains wash into it. The mountains aren’t blue, though. The water’s blue because the sediments are physically the right size to prevent green and blue light from passing through them, and small enough that they can stay suspended in the water for a long period of time. The glacial runoff is enough to prevent them from settling. If you were to look at the sediment that did settle, it wouldn’t be blue anymore, just brown or grey.

… and not as pretty as the other fun particles.

The longer wavelengths are better at passing through the suspension, so can penetrate deeper into the lake, but the shorter wavelengths are blocked… and reflected… near the surface. What that means is that it should be bright in violet and ultraviolet, and dark in infrared. Hypothesis: Done! Let’s science some more.

Here’s another view of the lake, closer up this time. I just did a bunch of science words and probably everyone got bored and distracted, so just to refresh, I’m going back to the visible spectrum here.



Bl- You get the idea.

And GIF comparison thingy:

For these and the next photos, I went back to ‘old reliable’, my modified Canon T3i Rebel camera. That camera’s been with me for around about 2/3 of the earth’s circumference; I’m not going to just dump it.

Using my Kolari UV filter, I was able to start looking into the short wavelengths:

… and decided that the photos weren’t worth investigating more into the ultraviolet range. The lake was bright, supporting my hypothesis; why bother taking any more grainy, dull pictures?

The haze is stronger here than the blue wavelengths, as is expected. Like I said, atmospheric scattering gets a lot worse the shorter the wavelength. The sky is dull, and the clouds aren’t very visible. Still, the lake does have some reflections of the mountains.

For the T3i camera, ‘Full Spectrum’ means visible, infrared, and a tiny, pretty much irrelevant, bit of ultraviolet. Really, unless I block everything else out, The camera isn’t very sensitive to ultraviolet, so there shouldn’t be enough light to affect the colour of the lake. If I had to guess (in science speak: predict based on my hypothesis), I’d say the lake will appear darker due to the infrared results darkening it much more than any ultraviolet light could brighten it. And?

Well, it’s still bright, but compared to the visible photo?

Much darker. The trees look dead in the full spectrum range too, but I’m used to that.

Full spectrum’s lake should look similar, but maybe a bit brighter than a photo taken with my other Kolari filter, The Kolari Chrome. What this filter does, in essence, is ‘up-shift’ the spectra. Infrared becomes red, red becomes yellow/green, and green becomes blue. Blue is dumped in the digital trash, as we don’t need it anymore.

Comparing the three side-by side:

Okay, I’m wrong. It seems like full spectrum is darker than Kolari Chrome, very slightly. It is easier to see the difference in monochrome:

I’m pretty sure that my hypothesis holds up here; I looked through different articles, and a lot of people smarter than me seem to confirm it, so I’d guess the problem is structural. It could be that the Kolari Chrome filter might block more infrared light than no filter, so it isn’t as dark. It could also be as simple as the camera not being set right. If used the same shutter speed, aperture, etc, the differing amounts of light would mean that the full spectrum photo is overexposed and washed out(assuming I based the speeds on the visible spectrum photo). But how can the settings be made to match? If I set the exposure based on the sky or trees, they won’t match: depending on the spectra, they might be black or almost white. I chose to set the exposure based on a piece of white paper with me, as that’s usually white across the gamut of spectra… but as I’m doing it on the fly, I can’t be 100% sure I got it right.

So to sum up, data error, probably my fault. Moving on.

There’s obviously another case where I’m wrong, but that is at least explainable: Thermal infrared, as shown through my Seek Compact Pro camera.

This is a glacial lake, so the water is COLD, and only an idiot would swim in it. To prove it, I swam eight times.

The whole hypothesis of ‘the suspended sediment blocks more light the shorter the wavelength’ is only valid close to the visible range of the spectrum. Thermal infrared is a lot farther from that range than ultraviolet or near-infrared. At these wavelengths, the whole concepts of ‘shade’ and ‘colour’ start to break down. REFLECTING certain wavelengths of light is much less a factor than EMITTING them: to put it more simply, everything glows. The warmer it is, the more it glows. As shown above, the lake looks dark, as if it isn’t blocking light from penetrating it, but rather it is dark because it is glowing less than the land around it. And it is glowing less because it is colder.

… it’s still a lot warmer than the upper atmosphere, though.

My thermal camera can’t actually zoom in or out, so this is a composite photo I stitched together.

In both pictures, there is some reflection noticeable; the warmer mountain does reflect off the surface of the cold lake. Still, as I said, probably the sediment is less than a factor here than the temperature; the sediment would be the same temperature as the water, after all.

Finally, while we’re on the topic of composite photos, here’s three more for the road. I took these photos with my T3i camera again much farther down the trail, about an hour later.

We’ve already gone over the Kolari Chrome filter:

Here’s my Zomei 680 nm filter.

As I mentioned above, it’s probably most similar to the Kolari 590 nm one, with blue trees and dark brown skies. However, although it does still allow a bit of red light through, but much less than the 590 nm. I mean you could say it lets in 90 nm less, but that’s too easy. These filters don’t abruptly block all light with wavelengths shorter than the nanometres listed, but gradually cuts down on them. It’s a curve down to zero, not a straight line. And from my experience, the Zomei filters seem to have a more gradual curve than the Zomei ones.

Still, just because I can’t really compare them doesn’t mean I can’t try. The sun’s at a different angle, and so am I, but the lake is much darker than with the 590 nm, closer to the 720 nm shade. I don’t know about how the reflections appear from this angle, as I didn’t see any in other ranges. Asthetically, I think I like it better, as the colours are more subtle than the Kolai ones. That’s an opinion that really doesn’t mean anything, so I’m not sure if that proves or disproves my hypothesis. Actually, I forgot what my hypothesis was, and am too lazy to go back and look it up, so I’m going to say it proves it without a doubt.

Finally, if the ultraviolet spectrum makes Emerald Lake appear brighter, and infrared looks darker, what about with my Schott UG11 filter. That’s just infrared and ultraviolet, and it blocks a lot of infrared, so the two are more comparable.

Infrared wins. The lake is still dark here, so there isn’t enough UV light entering the camera to counteract the IR darkness.

Past this point, the views of the lake weren’t as good. Still, there were other sights to see. It wouldn’t be my last hike in Yoho; in fact, it wouldn’t be my last hike along the Emerald Triangle route. I would have to go back in order to see…

…but no. I’m not telling you this time.

Dramatic tension, remember?