The first day of our six day tour of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest was nearly done. We’d had dinner and decided to go out in the zodiac to explore beautiful Kwatna Bay, a one-day cruise from Bella Coola. In the distance was a very ordinary looking shoreline (second photo below). As we got closer, it’s incredible beauty emerged. In moments we were within spitting distance of a magical stretch of rocky cliffs painted with a palette of greens, reds, yellows and browns, reflected perfectly in the calm waters at high tide. The colours merged into the rock formations to create what can only be God’s Canvas, an arresting display of beauty that had us spellbound.

photography in the Great Bear Rainforest
Let’s Go There!

For about 40 minutes the only sounds came from the quiet whirr of the motor and the frequent clicks of our shutters as we trolled back and forth in front of the rocks. Not a word was spoken as we fixed our eyes and lenses on the beauty in front of us.

When we finished, we whooped for joy and thanksgiving at the gift of the scene before us. “If this is the first evening of our trip, what more can we look forward to?”, we wondered. Plenty, as it turned out.

rock formation at water's edge
The rocky shore line from a distance looked pretty normal. But as we approached …
We saw amazing colours, compounded by the ripples in the calm waters.
There were faces in the rocks.
And amazing shapes.
And totems, just waiting to be discovered.
The colours were rich …
and the designs spellbinding.
We were captivated, mesmerized and silenced by the beauty.
And marvelled by the mastery of nature’s paintbrush.
As we motored away, we turned for one last look, thankful for such a gift.

Photography in the Great Bear Rainforest

The light was falling as we photographed this wonderful scene, requiring an ISO between 1600 and 3200 with an aperture at f/5. Of course, a tripod was out of the question on a crowded little boat. The images here are pretty much straight out of the camera, with only a slight bit of cropping and colour adjustment. The main consideration in the compositions was the shapes and patterns of colour and light. Even now as I look at the images, I feel the excitement we shared that evening.

Our exploration of the Great Bear Rainforest was organized through Bella Coola Grizzly Tours (check them out for your next photo adventure!) and included Chris Harris, who was photographing for his next book. Click to read Chris’ June newsletter for his account of the same evening. [Thanks to Chris Harris for permission to use the above image.]