Author Archives: Stu Dale

Road Trip Continued: Down the Island to Victoria

It was a clear, crisp day when Ellen and me walked Rathtrevor Beach near Parksville two weeks ago. The tide was so low that the beach seemed to disappear into the far distance. The low angle of the sun accentuated the sand’s ripple like textures left behind by the receding tide. We weren’t the only ones on the beach but the wide open space gave us the feeling that we had the whole beach to ourselves.

In early August when I last visited French Creek, the wharf was alive with activity. Fishing boats were coming and going, the fish cleaning table was busy and the shreaking of sea gulls was incessant. On this visit it was quiet. Prawn and tuna sales on a lone fishing boat and maintenance activities on others kept a few people busy. That’s all! Sadly, some of the larger boats displayed ‘for sale’ signs, an indication perhaps of the fishing industry’s poor health.

After spending a few days in the Qualicum Beach and Parksville area we headed down Vancouver Island to Victoria. We were both looking forward to visiting my sister and her husband and our wonderful friends.

This trip to Victoria would be our first without having Ellen’s dad to visit. For over 5 years we had made regular trips to be with him in his declining years. It is so different now without him but there are many memories to cherish.

I love to take long walks in Victoria. My camera is always with me. Usually, I start or end at one of my favourite coffee shops, the Oak Bay Marina Café or the Breakwater Bistro and Café. Often I spend time in these coffees shops working on my iPad drafting future blog articles.

The Oak Bay Marina Café overlooks a colourful collection of pleasure crafts and commercial fishing boats. With a backdrop of Mount Baker in Washington State it is a beautiful place to make images. The Breakwater Bistro and Café overlooks the cruise ship terminal at Odgen Point. Its an active and colourful place especially during cruise boat season.

The collection of images above was made on two separate camera walks. One started at Ogden Point and the other in Oak Bay. On both occasions my camera was equiped with a 35mm prime lens.

Near my sister’s home is the Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. A mid morning hike through the park brought us to Todd Inlet, a branch of Saanich Inlet. There we found the remains of a cement plant and wharf that was closed in 1919. In the day, cement was manufactured and shipped from this location. The quary from which the rock was taken to make the cement was reclaimed and developed into the now world famous Butchart Gardens which opened in 1929.

Not much is left of the cement plant facility. Concrete pilings are still in place, a stack of concrete pilings that were never installed and building foundations show the signs of decay, rot and the touch of graffiti artists. Bird houses have been nailed to some of the old wharf’s wooden pilings. Even a crumbling chimney still reaches above the trees.

 

Posted in My Work, Travel

Road Trip: Return to Cathedral Grove

Last week we travelled to Vancouver Island to visit friends and relatives. It was a highly anticipated road trip. I would be delivering a print of my Great Blue Heron and signing and hanging another, Sunset Majesty,  as well as getting out with my camera.

On the way, while traveling on the B.C. Ferry  from Tsawwassen to Duke Point I started this article. There were many directions it could go. But I could not come up with any coherent thoughts.

That changed though after an impromptu trip to Cathedral Grove. I hadn’t been there for several years so I  was thrilled to again  be amongst a world renowned preserve of ancient old growth trees.

Located 25km west of Qualicum Beach on Highway #4, MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) was established in 1947. At only 350 hectares it is a rare stand of ancient trees that is easily accessible and where one can observe our natural heritage and an irreplaceable ecosystem that at one  time thrived all along the British Columbia coast.

News broadcasts in mid January this year reported that severe windstorms had destroyed a significant number of the park’s cherished old growth trees. I was anxious to see and understand what had happened.

In total, just under 200 trees were broken or felled by the winds. Fortunately, the oldest trees survived. Experts believe that this forest is coming to the end of its life cycle, about 800 years and that the damage is consistent with the age and  condition of the trees.

Boardwalks and split log fencing guide visitors past the Ancients while protecting the park’s integrity. A thick canopy of branches filtered sunlight and protected the forest floor. Fallen trees  slowly but surely are  decomposing. New growth springs from the rich forest soil. It is such an interesting environment where the largest of trees,  the smallest fungi and everything in between seem to thrive.

As I slowly walked between these giants I wondered what peoples lived and walked here so  many decades ago. It’s almost a mystical place. The collection of images I made include the new and the ancient. To me this is a place to be revered and protected as should other locations where Old Growth trees still thrive.

 

Posted in My Work

55 Plus B.C. Games: Grey Power

It’s no secret that I love photography! Subjects I like vary but usually they centre on landscapes, the natural world and of course sporting activities involving my grand children. When at the coast I love wandering about fishing wharves like the Government wharf in French Creek or Fishermans’ Wharf in Victoria.

Community events are also a source of photographic inspiration for me. I think it’s the passion and drive of the individual participants that attracts me to these activities.

Many times I have photographed the Kelowna Apple Triathlon, the Pickleball Nationals, the Sikh Viasakhi festival, the Antique Power Club’s celebration of steam power and the Vernon Winter Carnival. They are close to home. Farther afield the Gourd Festival in Casa Grande, Arizona and this year’s Northwest Deuces festival in Victoria have been lots of fun to visit.

Music at the Gourd Festival

Image 1 of 9

Last week, I served as a volunteer photographer for the 55 Plus B.C. Games. It was a fantastic event. The participants and most of the volunteers were seniors. Their skill level, drive and determination in their chosen sport or activity was incredible. It was such an inspiring atmosphere.

I chose to photograph ice hockey and pickleball both of which I had a lot of experience. And I also photographed tennis, bocce, archery, track and field and table tennis. Certainly, age has slowed the participants but their high skill level, passion and determination was impressive.

On Thursday afternoon, after leaving the tennis courts, I decided to see what was going on at the Apple Bowl. A heat of the 100 yard dash was just about to start.

The starting gun cracked and a group of runners surged down the track. They were fast! Even the runner in last place was no slouch. I was stunned. How in the world could a group of seniors run with such ease?

Archery

Image 1 of 16

The 55 Plus B.C. Games were a wonderful display of ‘grey power’. Yes, bodies were a bit rumpled and a step slower but the desire to compete and perform well was very evident. Evident also, was the power of friendship and camaraderie. What a fabulous environment to be involved in and to photograph!

Posted in Education, My Work

Random Thoughts: Artwalk

It never ceases to amaze me! Support from the general public for Lake Country’s ArtWalk continues to be unbelievable. Hundreds of visitors course through the Community Complex to view art from so many different disciplines. Held annually on the 2nd weekend in September it is the largest and perhaps most prestigious event of its kind in the interior of British Columbia.

This was the 9th year that I have had my work on display at Artwalk. For me, it is a real honour to be included with so many other fine artists. Not only is it interesting to interact with the many visitors that will pass by my work but is so much fun to greet the many friends and acquaintances who take the time to come out and visit.

People watching is all part of being at Artwalk. Locating myself close to where my work is hung I can easily eavesdrop on conversations and observe reactions when people view my or other artists work. Sometimes I insert myself into a conversation to clear up a misconception or to answer a question that may have been expressed aloud.

Sometimes questions are direct. “Is that picture photoshopped?” Or “What kind of camera do you use? It must be expensive.” And sometimes, the comments are just plain hilarious.One comes to mind.

Two ladies, elderly as I recall were having a conversation about my Great Blue Heron. Their conversation concluded when one of the ladies realized that I was nearby and exclaimed, “This painting is better than a Robert Bateman!” And then she capped this off with, “You made it look just like a photograph.” All of us who heard this conversation just about collapsed as we tried to stifle our laughter.

Neither of my two ‘Artwalk’ images found new homes. But,  I had a great time interacting with visitors and learning a few things from my fellow artists. To me, that is a

the most important outcome from the Artwalk experience.

 

There is one image that I had hoped would have been juried into Artwalk this year and another that I should have submitted for consideration. Both were made in the Avitar Grove near Port Renfrew. They depict the west coast rain forest. I did submit Regeneration, an image of the second growth forest showing nature’s regenerative powers after the area was heavily logged in the early to mid 20th century. I just loved the brilliance of the varying shades of green in the forest that day. 

Ancient Oldgrowth is an image that I should have submitted to the jury panel. It shows the juxtaposition of an ancient old growth red cedar amidst young, tender deciduous branches and leaves. The ‘old ancient’  had been there for hundreds of years, the ‘young tenders,’ just a few.  In my mind, both of these images show the past and present beauty of the westcoast rainforest. 

 

Posted in Education, My Work, The Creative Process

Choices and Themes: Artwalk

Invariably, after Artwalk I think, “That will be the last one!” And invariably, I keep coming back. It helps that my work has passed the jury test in all but one of the years I have submitted it for consideration  and that my sales record has been quite good.  

There’s more to it though. I enjoy interacting with other artists and the  many visitors that come to see such a wonderful display of art. The atmosphere to me is electric. 

Most of the time I’ve been a deadline guy, waiting until the last minute to get my submissions together. Searching through hundreds of images for ‘just the right one’ is taxing especially when I haven’t established a set of parameters.

This year I made a change. Early on I made a special category in my  image catalogue and moved images to that file that I thought would be good candidates. That certainly made final selections much easier. 

Canvas is my favourite medium on which to print my images. I love the bright colours and the print sizes that can be realized with canvas. Depending on the image once these prints are mounted on their stretching bars they can framed or hung as is.

Of the seven images I submitted to the Artwalk jury this year all would look great printed on canvas. Five of the images fit into a “West coast” theme. They were made on two recent  trips to Port Renfrew, B.C.

One of the images was made in Michigan close to where our son resides. It was a cool, clear autumn day last year when I made this image of large trees reflected in the Huron River. 

My favourite, the Great Blue Heron, was made at the Fascieux Creek Wetland here in Kelowna. It is one of several thousand I have made at this location. 

Of the images I submitted two were accepted by the jury, Sunset Beach and the Great Blue Heron. While I believed they all would show well at Artwalk, I’m very pleased with these two selections.

Posted in Education, My Work, The Creative Process

Artwalk Weekend: Coming Soon

Artwalk this year occurs  in Lake Country, B.C. on the 7th and 8th of September.  It is an annual  celebration of art from the greater Okanagan community. As many as 7,000 visitors make their way to Lake Country to enjoy the work of many talented artists. For me,  it is a wonderful opportunity to interact with  other artists and with the hundreds visitors that come to view and perhaps purchase a piece of quality art work. 

A jury panel reviews the work of all  artists.  Photographers, unlike other artists, submit the work that they hope to display to the jury panel. Those pieces that pass the jury test are eligible for entry into Artwalk. Other artists have their ‘body of work’ juried. Passing that test allows these artists to enter Artwalk without further jurying.

My involvement with Artwalk began in 2010. Since then I’ve had my work pass the jury test every year but one. That year I tried something on the ‘wild’ side. I liked my submissions but sadly the jury wasn’t into ‘wild’.

The gallery below represents most if not all of  images that were accept by the Artwalk jury from 2010 to 2018. As I worked on this blog article I enjoyed going into my files to retrieve these special images. Each of them has a different pathway of development. It’s interesting to see what technique works with a specific image.

The most popular image has been “Old Victoria”, a view of the buildings along Wharf Street in Victoria, B.C.  It’s the last one in the gallery below. Late one afternoon I was walking near the Delta Hotel across the harbour from Wharf Street. The sun was low and bright and seemed to bring the faded colours of the building walls to life. The process I used made it look look like a painting.  “Old Victoria” printed on canvas and framed looked fabulous. It was juried into the 2015 Artwalk where it quickly sold. Subsequently, four additional prints were sold. 

In my next blog article I’ll write about the gallery of images I submitted to this year’s Artwalk and discuss those that were accepted. Enjoy and if you have questions about my work visit me at this year’s Artwalk or send me a message.

 

 

 

Posted in My Work, The Creative Process

Boys Will Be Boys: The Way It Used To Be

Following the memorial service for Ellen’s dad we headed to Qualicum Beach to visit with her sister, Diane and brother in law,  Pete. On the way we stopped in at Canvas Plus in Ladysmith, B.C. to pick up the prints that I will have on display at this year’s Art Walk in Lake Country. As with last year they did a great job.

While in Qualicum, I made an early morning visit to Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville. The tide was low and the beach seemed to stretch out forever. After making some images of beach textures and a few landscapes I drove to the government wharf at French Creek.

Fishing season is in full swing for commercial and recreational fisherman. It was very busy at the French Creek wharf. I love the colour and action as fishermen unload their catches while others clean their fish at the fish table. Gulls screech in frantic excitement as they clamour for castoff bits and pieces.

As I poked around the wharf I noticed a crowd gathering at the fish table so wandered over. A proud fisherman held up a 31 pound Chinook salmon. He was joined by another who sported a 19 pounder. As they cleaned their fish interest grew not only from other fishermen but from the gull population. Entrails and fins were washed down the sluice into the water below. In a screeching  frenzy gulls tried to snag  pieces  of the enticing smorgasbord.

But the basis of this story occurred on a return trip to the wharf two days later. Again, it centred on the fish table.

My focus was to capture action and colour around the fishing boats but the screeching and clamour of gulls near the fish table distracted me. Passing a fisherman carrying a huge salmon filet I headed in that direction.

Two boys, likely about 12 years old, were working at the fish table. Their bikes complete with backpacks and fishing rods were lying on the ground. They appeared to be cleaning a large salmon. Instead they were working on the remains of a fish left behind by a previous fisherman. I inquired about what they were up to. “Bait!” they exclaimed together. Obviously, they were on their way to their favourite fishing spot and needed bait for their hooks.

As we chatted they flung bits and pieces into the water to the great approval of the gulls and a lone otter who managed to grab a huge chunk before swimming to a safe haven under the wharf.

I was reminded of my childhood as I asked them a few questions. How wonderful it was to be able to ‘cruise’ my neighbourhood in Victoria when I was their age. Unsurpervised, me and my friends spent long summer days playing scrub softball, swimming at the old Crystal Pool or fishing off the end of the Breakwater. After a few daily chores and giving Mom a rough idea of where we would be we were off. The only stipulation, “Be on time for supper!”.

In today’s modern world with so many technical gadgets to grab our attention such stories seem few and far between. These boys on the wharf in French Creek in my opinion were living the dream.

Posted in My Work, The Creative Process, Travel

Moments in Time: The Henry Ford (Part 2)

In a previous article I wrote about Greenfield Village the outdoor museum associated with the Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. The indoor museum at the Henry Ford is just as captivating as Greenfield Village. It too, is a wonderful place to reminisce and of course to make photographs.

Beginning as Henry Ford’s personal collection of historic objects the indoor facility is housed in a building of over 500,000 square feet. Antique machinery, ordinary household utensils, pop culture items, automobiles, aircraft and locomotives are housed in this wonderful building. It opened in 1933. A careful examination of the images I’ve included below reveals that this building is absolutely stunning.

The Henry Ford complex is advertised as a museum of American history and innovation. I like to think of it as applying to both Canada and the United States. Old photographs of my grandfather’s farm in Saskatchewan show tools, machinery and modes of transportation that were commonly used in both countries and that are now on display at the Henry Ford Museum. In one of my first visits to the Henry Ford my mom accompanied us. She pointed out numerous appliances and utensils that were in use in her family’s home in the early 1900’s.

The Ford name is associated best with the automobile industry. Within the museum is a huge collection of beautifully restored vintage cars, representations of vintage fuel company signs and even early recreation vehicles.

The aviation display is also impressive and features a 1925 Fokker F VII triplane, a 1939 Sikorsky VS 300A helicopter and a Replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer. A 1939 Douglas DC-3 hangs from the ceiling.

The inventions of Thomas Edison and the growth of the electric power grid are well displayed but to me the most dominant display can be found in the museum section devoted to railroad history. Foremost in this exhibit is the 600 ton Chesapeake & Ohio Railway’s massive Allegheny steam engine. It was introduced into service in 1941. It was one of the largest steam locomotives ever built and could pull 160 fully loaded cars each loaded with 60 tones of coal. By the early 1950’s diesel locomotives had replaced these steam giants but the romantic period of steam is indelible in our history.

It would take many visits to the Henry Ford Museum to really appreciate the scope and meaning of the artifacts that are on display. There is so much to see and to photograph. Certainly, I will be making a return visit the next time we are in Michigan. 

Posted in Education, My Work, Travel

Coastal Experience: Deep in the Forest

My first encounter with B.C.’s old growth forests occurred in the mid 1960’s. I was employed by John Motherwell, a B.C. land surveyor and engineer. We were working on a project in Holberg, B.C. a logging community on northern Vancouver Island.

I distinctly remember the size of the ‘off road’ logging trucks that plied the gravel roads we travelled to access our job site. They were huge. One morning a loaded logging truck approached us. It was carrying just one log, a section of an ancient old growth tree.

A few years later in the spring of 1968, Ellen and I packed our Volkswagen Beetle and headed off to Long Beach for a long weekend camping trip. Now, it is a very popular tourist destination located between Tofino and Ukuelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Back then the road to the coast was fairly new and rough. In poor weather conditions the trip was difficult. Now, it is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and easily accessible.

Passing Kennedy Lake on our way to the coast we were stunned by a devastated forest. What had been an ancient old growth forest was gone. It had been clear cut. Stumps and logging rubble littered the landscape. Protests by indigenous and environmental groups eventually lead to an outright ban in some areas of cutting old growth trees and certainly a more sustainable forest practices code. But, the damage had been done.

Fifty years later, those clear cut areas look refreshed. Seedling that were planted to replace the old trees have grown into a vibrant ‘second growth’ forest. Interestingly, hikes through these renewed forests reveal the huge stumps left behind by the loggers who felled the old growth giants half a century or more ago. Today, they are just rotting relics but serve as a reminder of what had once been a magnificent ancient forest.

In the last year, I’ve made two trips to Port Renfrew, B.C. and to sections of the wild west coast that reflect the reality of today’s coastal forests. There are several areas where blocks of second growth forest have been logged. Even here, the stumps of the original ancient forest remain in start contrast the most recent cut.

For the most part though the forest, right down to the ocean edge, is thriving. Streams bubble through small valleys and cuts bringing the essence of life through the forest and down to the ocean.

It is interesting to witness how ‘Mother Nature’ heals the land after it had been reduced to rubble. Slowly, the old stumps are being returned to the earth. New growth finds small nooks and crannies even in the bark of an ‘ancient, to find life sustaining nourishment.

I remember the hike to Sombrio Beach where the second growth trees are flourishing. But just before the beach the path passes through a campsite and a grove of ancient trees. They seem to reach to the sky. Magnificent!

Avitar Grove, about a half hour’s drive from Port Renfrew is an example of an Ancient Old Growth forest that has been preserved. Huge ancient old trees, new trees, deciduous and evergreen as well as some that have fallen cover the landscape. Here the presence of the ‘Ancients’ is felt. Its almost mystical and to my eye, beautiful.

Posted in Education, My Work, Travel

Father’s Day…..some thoughts

Dad was a hard man. Stubborn, tough…at times, hard to like let alone love. I can find a few bumps to show where we often butted heads. But considering his era – World War I, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II – he turned out pretty well. In reality he turned his grade 8 education into a pretty successful life.

Looking back I wonder what he passed on to my sisters and me. Certainly, in me there is a stubborn streak. Some won’t believe that I put that thought in print. (….fingers crossed behind my back.)

On another plain though, there are the values…. values of family, honesty, hard work and friendship. I see those same values in our sons and their families. And in my sisters and their families. He would be very proud.

In later life his love for music emerged when he joined the Arion Male Choir in Victoria, B.C. Singing became his real passion as photography has become mine. I know for sure that he didn’t pass his singing ability on to me. Even when Parkinson’s disease took hold of his body he still managed to take his place with his beloved choir.

As evidenced by the boxes of slides and black and whites in our basement he also loved photography. His camera traveled everywhere with him. I loved it when night fell. The window blinds were drawn, the doors were shut and the kitchen was turned into a darkroom. It was there that the magic of photography came to life for me. It was such a special time.

Now, watching our grandchildren grow, learn and develop I marvel at their world. Digital everything! Their interests and values are emerging. These are what will carry them through their lives as they have done for me.

Many years have passed since my dad left us. Age has given me a different perspective of his life and on fatherhood. There are no lessons, only experiences, values, hard work, honesty and integrity.

 

Ellen, our family and  friends who have come into my life are what is most important. I still have many challenges left on my bucket list. Photography is at the root of most of them. Thanks to my dad’s vision and his desire for us to have a better education than he had and the more than several head bumps that occurred between us I have a good chance of clearing some of those challenges from my list.

Posted in Uncategorized