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Photographing Little Qualicum River on Vancouver Island

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park is similar to nearby Englishman River Falls Provincial Park in that a fast-flowing river has created an impressively deep and narrow gorge with cascades at both ends, but its forest is more varied.



Rapids of the upper Little Qualicum River

The Little Qualicum River is compressed and gains velocity after turning right and entering the gorge. This is near the beginning of the upper cascades, where several separate water channels merge into one. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.



Little Qualicum River Provincial Park is not far from Englishman River Falls Provincial Park and features a fast-flowing river running through a deep and narrow gorge surrounded by a varied forest. Due to the fence that keeps visitors away from the edge of the near-vertical canyon, only a few spots offer good river views.


The first photo was taken from a small area of level ground just before the river was squeezed into the first part of the gorge. I liked the S-pattern made by the flowing water in the lower right-center of the photograph. My cell phone (using Live View) helped show me the effect of blurring the water with a slower shutter speed — more on that in the next post.



abstract image of a portion of the rapids in the Little Qualicum River

This photo is a close-up of a portion of the river channel seen in the previous image. I made several exposures here without moving the camera position, but each image was rendered unique by the constantly changing patterns created by the fast-moving water, Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.



The forest surrounding the Little Qualicum River was more varied, with cedars and Douglas fir, but also with Arbutus trees. The cedars displayed their fall mix of brick-orange and green in their flat and scaly leaves, and many lined the edge of the .canyon. The void above the gorge forced a visual distance between the nearby and far trees, creating a sense of depth further enhanced by a color difference between the nearby and far trees (the more distant trees being bluer).


twin yong cedar trees stand in front of the Little Qualicum River gorge

The forest grows to the abrupt edge of the deep gorge cut by the Little Qualicum River. A young cedar is poised at the precipice; its scaly, flat, evergreen leaves are a mix of rusty orange and green in mid-September. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.



About halfway between the upper and lower cascades, at the edge of the gorge, it was possible to look over the protective fence and almost directly down at the river; that point of view had me looking, once again, for patterns made by the fast-flowing river, The cell phone helped me in the composition. I took several exposures at different shutter speeds from the same spot. While there are slight differences between them, they are mainly due to the varying shapes of the flowing water channels,


One example is the photo below. I think the moving water is rendered just right — enough movement to retain some detail and see a good flow pattern, but not so blurred as to lose the almost tactile sense of the water.


I especially enjoy that the photo can be appreciated as an abstract and a detailed waterscape of an actual river. I strive for that duality in my photography, but accomplishing that requires suitable subjects.


Furthermore, this abstract version presents more of an interpretative challenge for people who are ill. That is something we take into consideration for our business, Iris Arts. We take care to separate our images with a degree of abstraction from those more representational images vetted for viewing by patients. Therefore, we place more abstract art in our Corporate Art section.



view from above of the Little Qualicum River flowing through its gorge

Taken from the edge of the gorge, I looked down on the Little Qualicum River as it found its way between fallen boulders. I experimented with shutter speeds to get the right balance of pattern and sense of movement in the water. The uncommon angle makes it tempting to visualize this as an abstract image, but the incredible detail in the enlarged photo assures the viewer it is a straight shot of a real subject. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.



We were in Little Qualicum Falls Park at the end of a dry summer. Above the upper cascades, the river turns right, and the river channel narrows. The river is broader and deeper in the rainy season, but higher parts of the rocky riverbed are above water in later summer. The photo below shows an above-water portion of the riverbed. The slightly lower main river channel is to the left. Pools remain in the temporarily abandoned rocky riverbed. They reflect the greens and yellows of nearby vegetation.



colors reflecting from pools in the abandoned channel of the Little Qualicum River

This part of the riverbed — a short distance above the upper cascades — is underwater during the rainy winter, but only pools remain after a dry summer. Yellows and greens from changing leaves are reflected from the still water. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.


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