My Highest Effort Pictures of 2016

The pictures that stand out most in my mind are usually those that I had to struggle the most to get. Not the ones where I lucked out on the side of the highway or from my back yard. The ones where I slogged up a mountain, braved the elements, or ventured into uncharted territory.

2016 was a big year for my photography. I covered a lot of ground and really explored the western coast of North America. There was no overseas travel for me this year and very little outside of the Pacific Northwest. That was perfectly fine, because what I did end up capturing, was a spectacular collection of images from my own back yard! 

Here are the 3 images that took the most effort to get over the last year:

1. Sunset over Chilliwack and Golden Ears Provincial Park (taken from Yellow Aster Bute, Washington State)

This image also happens to be one of my favourite of 2016, but it certainly was not easy to get. A group of 6 of us headed up to Yellow Aster Butte in Washington State for a weekend backpacking trip. After 6 hours of climbing with heavy backpacks through high heat, we finally made it to our campsite (well below where this picture was taken). We decided to hang around an alpine swimming hole for the day, and then head up to the peak of Yellow Aster Butte to catch sunset. Everyone else decided to ditch their backpacks after such a long day with them on, but of course I wanted my camera equipment up there with me. So, we scrambled to the summit, and watched the sun go down over the mountains that surrounded us. Of course, the difficulty of shooting sunsets from your destination, is that once the sun sets, it becomes dark. The steep exposed scramble back down to camp wasn't quite as much fun in the dark, but we did end up making it back to camp. Thankfully, I have this image to remind me that it was all well worth it. 

2. Brandywine Falls, British Columbia

Brandywine falls is an iconic waterfall just minutes from my office in Whistler, British Columbia. The falls drop down into a punch bowl before heading out to the pacific ocean. There is a very nicely maintained parking lot with picnic facilities and washrooms, as well as a very well maintained trail (road) that takes 15 minutes to walk to the viewing platform for the falls. The only trouble with this viewing platform, is that it is from the top of the falls. And though it is still an impressive sight, the real magic happens down below. Now, it is important to note that it is actually illegal to hike down from the main viewing platform to the bottom of the falls. Although many people take this route, it is over a significant boulder field and can be very slippery. The legal way to get here is through Daisy Lake, and walking up the river. This was still a very treacherous walk up the creek bed. The tricky things with waterfalls is that they produce mist. Once mist lands on a rock, it causes that rock to be slippery. Even worse is when the mist causes a slippery algae to form. These rocks are incredibly dangerous, and have found me putting a foot into a creek or river on more occasions than I would like to admit. 

3. Wickaninnish Beach, Tofino B.C. 

This picture was actually not that difficult of an adventure as compared to my previous two. In fact, when I took this picture I was probably only a kilometre from my car. What made this picture require a lot of effort was that it was taken in the middle of typhoon grade weather on the very eastern coast of Vancouver Island. Though maybe not so much effort for me (I was dressed appropriately), this picture nearly killed my camera. 

As it turns out, weatherproofing on Canon's professional line of cameras only goes so far. My camera was still able to capture these images, though navigating through the menu proved to be quite the challenge. This was a very good reminder to me to always make sure you fully dry out all of your camera equipment after exposing it to the elements and if you can, find some sort of waterproof or water resistant cover for your camera. 

I always find it interesting how much goes in to an image that takes less than a second to capture. Hopefully this story gave you some insights into the crazy adventures that go in to my photography, and what truly drives me to produce great photography: exploring the great outdoors. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

John EntwistleExplorer

Photographer and Adventurer based in Whistler, British Columbia