Stanley Park and Waterfront After Dark

Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s major tourist attraction… so what does it look like when all the hustling & bustling dies down?

There were lots of interest generated when I posted “False Creek After Dark” so I thought I would make it a series called “Vancouver after Dark”!  This photography project required a little bit more work but it is awesome to undertake challenges outside my comfort zone once in a while.  I focused my efforts around Stanley Park and its surroundings on this outing.

My wife + kids were visiting family on Vancouver Island for 3 days (and I was scheduled to work all 3 days) = perfect opportunity to progress my photography project.  I packed my photography gears in the trunk and I went off to locations straight after my 12-hour work shifts.  I didn’t get home until 1 AM on both nights which effectively meant I worked from 7AM-7PM + 7PM-1AM = 18 hours days… but I enjoyed every moment of it!

On the first evening I wanted to capture the entire Vancouver skyline and the Lion’s Gate Bridge at night so Stanley Park was the natural destination.  Traffic congestion forced me to adjust my plans a little because I didn’t want to waste the beautiful sunset sitting inside my car…  so I got out of my car slightly before Stanley Park and I photographed Coal Harbor instead.  The Coal Harbor Marina during sunset allowed for some tremendous photo-op that I stumbled upon serendipitously!  I spent the next 4 hours (blue hour to midnight) on the eastern seawall in Stanley Park and it reminded me why I love Vancouver so much… despite its traffic congestion, housing crisis, and a plethora of other issues.  (P.S. Mosquitoes were vicious that night!!! I think I can literally say that I poured my blood and sweat into making these photographs haha…)

On the second evening I had significantly less energy compared to the first night so I decided to be less ambitious with my photography locations: False Creek during sunset and Canada Place/Convention Center late into the evening.

I had way more locations for night photography planned initially… I guess we’ll have to wait for part 3 sometime!  If you like my photos feel free to share it with your friends and help my photo blog grow by clicking that Facebook like button 😛

A casual stroll through Lighthouse Park

Don’t expect to be wowed by the lighthouse at Lighthouse Park… it is literally everything else that makes this place so special.

Within a 45 minute drive from downtown Vancouver lies Lighthouse Park.  Like ALL historic lighthouses on the west coast (Oregon, Washington, BC, etc) Point Atkinson Lighthouse is also a simple white and red structure close to the shore.  However, unlike other “lighthouse parks” along the west coast Point Atkinson Lighthouse remains inaccessible to the public and its view is at least partially obstructed by trees from most angles.

All of the trails branch off from the parking lot at Lighthouse Park and are very well maintained.  Old growth forest dominated by massive Douglas Firs provide ample shade for visitors and serve as perfect refuge for wildlife.  By far the most popular trail is the Beacon Lane Trail (main trail) which is basically a straight path to the Point Atkinson Lighthouse viewpoint.  Due to the ease of access this viewpoint can get fairly busy (just like the parking lot) so I would recommend visiting during the weekday or early morning/evenings.

The trail down to East Beach lies 100 m west of the lighthouse viewpoint and East Beach is (in my opinion of course) what makes this park special.  The trail down to east beach is a tiny bit more difficult than the main trail but it is also more picturesque and most importantly… less crowded.  University of British Columbia can be found directly across the water from east beach, and an unobstructed view of Vancouver can be seen to the left of UBC.  East Beach also houses many small tide pools where some marine life can be found (my 3 year old’s favorite… also crab spotting by turning over bigger rocks on the beach).

It takes about 2-3 hours to complete the two aforementioned trails (including a drastically reduced pace when walking with an easily-distracted toddler + various snacks/drink breaks for that toddler)… If toddler-free one can easily enjoy another easy outdoor activity around North Vancouver/West Vancouver in a single morning/afternoon (such as Lynn Canyon Park).

 

 

False Creek after Dark

False Creek remains one of the favorites amongst locals and visitors alike… so what does it look like when all the hustling & bustling dies down?

False Creek is widely considered one of the most picturesque locations in Vancouver and thus it is usually busy from dusk until well past dawn (especially on a non-rainy day)… So what does it look like after midnight when most people are asleep?

As I’ve said many times in the past I enjoy photography because I find it therapeutic to an otherwise fast-paced life (even more so now with two little munchkins).  There is an indescribable sense of serenity when my mind is solely focused on creating beautiful compositions via combinations of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.  I actually make it a priority to have an after-midnight photography session wherever I travel (and stay tuned to my photography project: “Cities after Dark”!) but for some reason I’ve never attempted it in the city I live in!

A golden opportunity presented itself yesterday: My wife and kids were out of town for two days + no work = Immediately made plans with my buddies (who happen to live around False Creek) to chill-lax over playoff hockey.  I left their place shortly before midnight and basically photographed Science World & Granville Island to my heart’s content.  On a side note I came across a couple interesting personalities during my photo shoot on the seawall… it was surprising how a few words of encouragement and compassion can impact someone who fell on hard times.  In general the stretch of seawall between Granville Island to Science World is extremely safe after dark… but for the photographers out there I would think twice before going to the Stanley Park seawall after dark

 

 

Beautiful Vancouver from Granville Island

Granville Island: The artsy cultural hub of Vancouver

Back in the 1900s Granville Island was home to hundreds of factories.  Over the last century Granville Island had gradually evolved into a leading Vancouver attraction for both locals and visitors.  Obviously the vast majority of factories are no more with the exception of a small concrete plant and a mini boatyard.  Most of the heavy industries are now replaced by a plethora of different tenants that combined to give Granville Island its present allure.

Granville Island is centrally located in Vancouver along False Creek and is easily accessible by foot, public transit (try the Aquabus!), and personal vehicles (parking shouldn’t be a major issue considering the popularity).  Granville Island is home to various artisan shops, markets, restaurants, theaters, and many other attractions all within a few blocks of each other.  Regardless of age, gender, or budgets Granville Island has something to offer for all visitors (and the photo opportunities are endless with such scenic backdrops).

My personal suggestions:

  1. Grab a beer at Granville Island Brewery
  2. Visit Granville Island Market (every major city has a market like this… Pike Place in Seattle, St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, etc… but it is still worth a visit)
  3. Catch an Improv at the Vancouver TheatreSports League (the late shows are not children friendly = funnier)
  4. Walk along the pier and you will find some interesting photo-ops… or people watch
  5. Looking for good places to eat?  From cheapest to moderately priced: Go Fish for some dockside fish and chips (it is 2 minutes outside of Granville Island), Edible Canada, and Bistro 101 @ Pacific Institute Of Culinary Arts.
  6. Consider visiting the Kid’s Market @ Granville Island if you have small children (there is also a small water park during the summer)

A typical visit should take no more than 2 hours but due to the diversity of attractions one can easily spend a better part of the day to tour Granville Island alone!  I’ve been a Vancouverite for almost 10 years now and I am still drawn to this little piece of land… and there is no reason why any visitors to Vancouver would want to skip Granville Island from their itineraries.

Got questions or suggestions?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

Vancouver Granville Island

Where Granville Island is located relative to other parts of Vancouver

 

Granville Island HDR

Granville Island Sunset

Almost every metropolis has a tourist attraction similar to Granville Island in Vancouver (Pike Place Market in Seattle, St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, etc).  Granville Island Market contains many established specialty shops from seafood vendors, to butchers, to cheese shops, to coffee shops.  Granville Island Market is not a unique pseudo-farmer’s market in my opinion and even though I would highly recommend visitors to pay a visit to Granville Island, I think Granville Island Market is not THE attraction visitors should prioritize… (I will do a proper post highlighting Granville Island at a later date)

I have always wanted to take photos of the Granville Street Bridge.  I waited for golden hour with some nice clouds in the sky and quickly biked to Granville Island with my camera gear (and I was not disappointed! Look at the golden steel beams instead of its usual industrial grey!)