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.

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.

The beauty in snow


Slideshow  The beauty in snow

There was a major snow storm in my home of Kitimat, British  Columbia, in the days after Christmas.

A big storm  here in “Snow Valley” is not news, Kitimat has set records for snowfall.  Now I know the situation in New York, New England and Atlantic Canada is not good, and this unusually stormy winter has spoiled the holiday season vacations for thousands of people from Heathrow to Moscow to New York. I see tweets and FB messages from friends in New York showing how bad it is while those say in Chicago not to mention the guys at the gym here, are chuckling about the Big Apple’s misfortune.

Of course, New York is not that used to heavy snow fall. Kitimat (again, this is Snow Valley) has one of the most efficient snow clearing operations on the continent.  On street parking is outlawed by a local bylaw for the winter season.  A bylaw also requires that all cars have snow tires from November to the end of March.

The crews work all night. The first few shots in the photo gallery were taken last with my Sony NEX 5 set at maximum ISO 12800.  As the sun came up this morning, and as I cleared my driveway for the fourth time in 24 hours, the ever changing light of Kitimat was magic. (With the long fjord, the Douglas Channel, and the mountain, the unique microclimate that brings all that  snow also means that within a few minutes this morning there was orangish then bluish sea and snow fog and then clear blue sky.  In the afternoon, it was the same but then there were scattered clouds over the Channel for the last shot in the gallery.)  The day time shots were shot with my Alpha 700 and a Sony 18-200 lens.

Slideshow  The beauty in snow

Snow day in Kitimat


Kitimat, in the language of the neighboring Tshimshian  First Nation means “people of the snow,” and Kitimat businesses often call themselves Snow Valley.  And the area has set records for one day snowfall in Canada. 

Monday Dec. 13, 2010 was not much, just 30 centimetres, and people pretty well kept going about their business, just as people did more than 40 years ago when I was growing up here.

Monday is my administration day and a power failure in the afternoon interrupted my work, so I didn’t run the errands I was planning. I did dig out my driveway twice, and will have to do it a third time (at least) in the morning.  

I know much of the eastern part of North America is socked in by the storm there.  As for me, after I finished digging out the driveway, walked around the neighborhood with the camera and enjoyed the beauty of the heavy wet snow.

View the slideshow of Kitimat snow

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