A New Year’s photography party on the mudflats of Minette Bay, Kitimat


As the tide goes out, the ice  covering a briny tidal creek collapses, leaving  patterned cracks. Minette Bay, Kitimat January 1. 2016. (Robin Rowland)

I spent New Year’s Day on the mudflats of Minette Bay, near Kitimat, with other local photographers.   At low tide,  of course.   Ruth and Howard Mills who run the luxury B&B the Minette Bay Lodge invited us for the photo walk on the ice and mud followed by  hot soup and great New Year’s snacks.

Most of my images look best in black and white.  There are few in colour at the end of the blog.


Looking across Minette Bay with Kitimat’s iconic Mt. Elizabeth in the background.  Just after noon the water was just a couple  of centimetres deep, covered in thin layers of ice.  The cold made the mud solid enough so that it wouldn’t be boot grabbing ooze you experience in the summer. January 1, 2016 (Robin Rowland)

minettebeach_1bwThe beach, covered in seaweed, snow and old logs looking west from the trail,  January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)


Looking west toward Douglas Channel, and the Rio Tinto aluminum plant with the winter sun low over the hills to the south. January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)

The twisted roots of a dead tree lying on the beach in some ways reminded me of the Iron Throne. Game of Stumps, anyone? (Robin Rowland)

Walking back to the lodge along the creek trail. January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)

Another angle on the creek from a bridge a little further along the trail. (Robin Rowland)


Ice on a chunk of rotten log on the mudflats. January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)


An ice crystal floats on the thin layer of water on top of the frozen mud. (Robin Rowland)


The winter sun shines through the rain forest. January 1, 2016. (Robin Rowland)


Happy New Year! Kitimat’s photographers celebrate in the middle of a day on the ice. (Robin Rowland)

When the weather outside is frightful, it’s hard to tell the difference between black and white or colour

It’s been mostly a wet and foggy winter so far in Kitimat, known so far as Snow Valley.  Looking out from my front window. I can see the low lying fog along the Kitimat River and Kitimat harbour, often totally obscuring Douglas Channel.   Often the fog seems to hug the ground, meaning the tops of the conifers emerge from the fog to create a mysterious landscape.   With the late December sun low in the southern sky, days before the Solstice,  there is very little light. And as the headline indicates, under these conditions it’s hard to tell the difference between the original colour imagine and a black and white conversion.


Fog in Kitimat Valley

The original colour image, using the cloudy white balance setting in Adobe Photoshop Raw. (Robin Rowland)

Fog in Kitimat Valley

The black and white conversion. (Robin Rowland)

Fog in the Kitimat Valley

An original colour imagine of the trees in the fog, using the “as shot” setting in Adobe Photoshop Raw white balance.

Fog in the Kitimat valley

The black and white conversion. (Robin Rowland)

Technical note. Sony Alpha 6000, using vintage Tele-Astranar 400mm F6.3 Prime telephoto, attached by an T-mount E-mount converter. ISO 4000 1/250 manual aperture f22.

Old cedar stump in black and white

Old stump in black and white

A little experimentation with black and white here. Three versions of the image blended together, a standard black and white conversion, with two versions from Perfect Effects 8, mostly selenium but also a smidgen of high key.

Smoke from wildfire blankets Kitimat

helcopter fights wildfire

A BC wildfire helicopter flies through smoke and clouds into the sun over the Kitimat River preparing to dump water on the afternoon of July 17, 2014. (Robin Rowland)



Updates with cause,  Friday morning situation

A wildfire broke out in the Strawberry Meadows neighborhood, about two kilometres south of Kitimat, around 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 17, 2014. Kitimat Fire and Rescue quickly responded to the call, setting up a command post at the back of the Oviatt  Contracting construction yard which was close to the fire. The  District of Kitimat says the fire was caused by an unattended canpfire on the Kitimat River bank. The fire began about 100 metres square and driven by strong winds, quickly spread to two hectares and then about  three. (The District release says the fire was about one hectare, the one to three hectare estimate came from those on scene at the time). Oviatt officials say the fire was technically in Haisla territory, within the boundaries of the estuary and river reserve area #1, a traditional Haisla fishing area.

Kitimat Fire and Rescue found that the overgrown brush near the river was too thick and called in the BC Wildfire forestry service firefighters. As they waited, Kitimat Fire organized a firebreak with the help of Oviatt employees on site which luckily had all the heavy equipment needed to cut a gap through the bush to the river. By 5 p.m. winds had spread the smoke and haze throughout the town.

At one point fish camps on the Lower Dyke Road were evacuated as a precaution. First one, then two Forest Service helicopters arrived to fight the fire, and later were joined by a aerial tanker from Smithers which made about six or seven drops on the fire. A second firebreak was pushed through the bush.

Smoke over Kitimat

Smoke and haze from the fire blanket Kitimat around 7 p.m. Thursday (Robin Rowland)

The tanker was then redirected to a fire near Terrace while the helicopters continued to drop water on the fire. At the height of operations, according to a release from the District of Kitimat, seven BC Forestry Service Firefighters on the scene and 12 Kitimat Firefighters were there monitoring the fire guards for any hot spots.


Firefighting helicopter

A wildfire helicopter picks up water near the Silja Festival in Kitimat harbour to fight the blaze at about 8 p.m. (Robin Rowland)

The firefighters were worried that strengthening winds would drive the fire either toward the upscale homes in Strawberry Meadows or toward the fishing camps along the river on the Lower Dyke Road. While the wind did become much stronger in the early evening, the weather was quickly turning cool and there were light raindrops by the time the District said the fire was contained at 8:18 p.m. Kitimat Fire and Rescue left a crew at the Oviatt site overnight to monitor for hotspots.


Kitimat Fire and Rescue assess the fire situation after arriving at the command post set up at the Oviatt Construction yard. (Robin Rowland)


Firefighters and Oviatt employees work on plans to create a firebreak. (Robin Roiwland)

Front end loaders create fire brak

Two heavy ecavatorss head into the bush, watched by the fire crew (Robin Rowland)

Front end loaders create fire break

Eventually three big excavators were used to create the fire break. (Robin Rowland)

Fire Fighting helicopter

The first forestry helicopter arrives on scene. (Robin Rowland)

As of Friday morning forestry crews were surveying the area for “a dangerous tree assessment” and to check for hotspots. The District of Kitimat reminded everyone in the news release that a campfire ban is in effect.