Category Archives: My Work

Facebook, Instagram, a Blog: What’s the Point?

Europe was great!  So many pictures and wishes that I had made more. Mexico on the other hand didn’t happen. Disappointing for sure but there has been a silver lining. ‘Time found’.  It’s time that I’ve devoted to my on going photography projects at home.

At this time of year I look for inclement weather conditions to provide atmosphere and mood for the landscapes I want to create. The images I’ve included below were made under such condition in the Kelowna area, near Victoria and in Michigan. Some of those made in Kelowna were made a year ago in conditions that were extreme with temperatures reaching -19 degrees Celsius.

For the most part this year the conditions here in Kelowna have been calm and not very dramatic.  So my time  has been devoted to reviewing my image library, examining my presence on social media, planning for revisions to my blog and trying to answer these questions: Why am I doing this? What’s the point?  Is it time well spent?

Of the few social media platforms I’ve joined Google+ was my favourite. It rendered images so well and its defined photography communities were awesome. I loved participating in the Landscapes and Black and White communities. Sadly, Google decided to scrap its social media platform.

Initially, I thought Facebook would be an effective  avenue to show off my photography and communicate with other photographers and  friends. I dove right in!

I enjoyed posting my photographs and  interacting with friends on Facebook. In time though, I learned that there was a downside. Some of my friends were hacked which meant that I had to constantly be on guard to prevent the same thing happening to me. And then I became concerned about Facebook’s volume of mindless clutter and advertising that buried the content that I wanted to share. A solution though emerged. 

Until recently, Instagram has been on the back burner. I couldn’t determine how to include it into my workflow. This platform seems to be ideal for posting photographs. All posted content is readily available on the ‘home’ page. This was a game  once I figured out that Instagram could easily be connected with Facebook.The combination of Instagram and Facebook has given my the social media vehicle I’ve been searching for to properly share my images.

Geezer with a Camera, my blog, has been active since June of 2013. I’ve published close to 200 articles. Based on a WordPress platform I just love the way it renders photography. Images are so clear and sharp. And I love to write.  I’ve made countless modifications  to give my blog and website their current look. But to me they look a bit tired and in need of refreshing. New content and a new look is badly needed. So, in the next week or so my website will go ‘under construction’ while I tend to that work. Once that is done I will tackle my blog. 

I’m not sure how long the reconstruction process will take. Hopefully not long. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what I can create.

Also posted in Education, The Creative Process

Cruising in Europe: After Thoughts

As the crow flies the distance from Budapest to Amsterdam is just over 1200 kilometers. The winding route of our river cruise from Budapest along the Danube River to the Main River and then on to the Rhine River would be well in excess of that distance. It gave us an interesting view of European culture.

At every turn history was on display. Centuries old  castles and their surrounding walls and narrow cobblestone streets all exuded a permanence that is difficult to compare with anything we’ve experienced here  in North America. Homes and businesses occupied buildings that in some cases were built 500 years ago.

Three memorials  particularly caught our attention. The Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial in Budapest, The  Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam and the ‘Stumble Stones’ Memorial Plaques in a number of cities, all commemorate  Jewish persecution during the WWII in Europe. The memorials were riveting, poignant and thought provoking to say the least. Rather than write about  each I’ve linked them to websites where descriptions are more complete. And within the gallery of some of my favourites below I’ve included an image of Anne Frank, one of the memorial shoes and another of three Stumble Stones. 

We had never experienced the European culture. The food, art, architecture and life in general is so interesting. The landscape was just plain beautiful.  In all of our walks, tours and interactions we found the local residents to be friendly and very helpful. Now that we have an understanding of how to get around and what we would like to see more of,  I’m sure another European adventure will be planned for the not so distant future.

Also posted in Education, Travel

Amsterdam: Canals, Narrow Streets and Bicycles

At the end of the dock our taxi, a large black BMW sedan, was waiting. The driver, neatly attired in a white shirt, black tie, suit and shoes, had already loaded our bags into the trunk. With sunglasses he could easily have been mistaken for a foreign operative.

Accelerating smoothly away from the dock we drove towards our new address, Bilderdijkkadje 18. The drive was not long but our eagerness to get out and explore was only heightened by Amsterdam’s sights and sounds. The next phase of our European adventure was about to begin.

We were left standing at the top of a narrow steel staircase. Below was  a float home on a quiet canal. This would be our home for 3 days. Linda, our host was waiting on deck. She had been in this location for 40 years in 3 different house boats. She raised her family here.

Linda gave us a brief orientation then we gathered ourselves and headed out.  We had no idea where we were going.  She had marked the location of her house boat on a map and outlined relevant trolley routes. That was it. We began to explore. It was 11:30 am.

Our days were long. For the next 2 and half days we returned well after dark. We ate in small cafes and ethnic restaurants, walked narrow streets, figured out how the trolley system worked and signed up for a canal cruise. We could have visited any number of galleries and museums but chose only to visit the Ann Frank museum. Oh, and the Red Light District Museum. What really interested us was Amsterdam life.

The tall narrow buildings in most areas we visited fascinated us. The oldest building still standing is the Old Church which was consecrated in 1306.There are only two wooden building remaining in Amsterdam. One of these was built around 1425. Most of these had disappeared by the 16th century replaced by brick construction.

It was amazing to walk streets and pass buildings as citizens of Amsterdam did centuries ago. Some of the buildings we passed displayed plaques designating the year in which they were built.  The most interesting to me were located in the Canal District. They were narrow and tall. The narrowest that we saw looked to be about 3 meters wide. I loved the character of these buildings. Some seemed to be tipping over. Each had a distinctive facade and street presence. 

Our favourite area of Amsterdam was the Canal District. Amsterdam started out as a small fishing village in the 12th century. In the 17th century canals were built to facilitate trade and commerce. Today,  Amsterdam, due to its large number of canals which now form a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North”.

Everyone rides bicycles in Amsterdam. Bicycles transport lone riders, two riders, small families and packages. There are regular two wheelers and large bicycles with up front cargo containers. Riders dress casually or in their ‘going out to dinner’ finest. Poor weather doesn’t stop people from riding. There are bike parkades and of course bike paths and bike traffic rules.

 But the most important rule is for the pedestrian. Don’t linger in the bike lane! Riders don’t slow for pedestrians. We had to be careful. More then once when I was concentrating on my camera, Ellen had to tug me away from oncoming bicycle traffic.

 The images below are just a slice of the many sights that can be seen in Amsterdam. There is just so much to photograph there. 

All too soon it was time to leave Amsterdam. We loved each chapter of our European trip. But next time in Europe I think we would spend more time exploring. The cruise was fantastic. A great introduction to Europe. But getting to know a community or neighborhood is what we like to do.

Also posted in Education, Travel

Cruising in Europe: Rhine Gorge to the Sea

The Rhine Gorge fell behind us as our ship, the Scenic Opal, made its way past the town of Koblenz, Germany. The high hills and cliffs above the winding river were replaced with a more rolling pastoral landscape. It was our second last day on the ship.

Farms, small towns and as we sailed closer to our destination, Amsterdam, industrial sites dotted the river banks. Groups of travelers gathered in the lounge to share last visits and later in the evening a gala supper and party with the staff. What fun we had!

The next morning we awoke to a very busy river. It was an amazing sight after so many kilometers where it seemed no other boat was on the river. We were close to our destination. At first glance it appeared to be very disorganized but in reality it almost seemed to be choreographed with each ship, boat or barge knowing  what the other was doing and where they were going.

Just before noon on our last day the Opal docked near Amsterdam’s Central Station. An early lunch then we boarded busses for our ‘free choice’ tour. Since we would be spending the next three days in Amsterdam we chose to tour  Zaanse Schans,  a neighborhood in the Dutch town of Zaandam and the small town of Edam. Both are  about a 30 minute drive north of Amsterdam.

Zaanse Schans is renown for its windmills and distinctive green wooden houses which were relocated  to recreate the look of an 18th/19th-century village. The working windmill we toured is the only one  of its kind in the world that still produces chalk powder for centuries old paint recipes. It was so interesting to watch wooden gears and their supports that were made in the 1700’s actually performing the the task they were designed to do. A windmill nearby which we didn’t tour seemed to be set up as a saw mill. 

Artisans demonstrated the rare skills of wooden clog carving, barrel making and pewter casting. Today, clogs are made on a ‘pattern’ lathe but the artisan still has to roughly shape the block of wood before it is attached to the lathe. 

Edam was  founded in the 13th century. It was known for ship building and fishing and is the original source of the cheese with the same name. A canal system in this region serves to keep homes and fields dry and ready for the raising of cattle. 

As darkness fell our busses returned us to our ship for our last night aboard. It was a quite evening with the usual scrumptious dinner. Good memories of the last 14 days were shared and hopes expressed that  paths would again cross. 

Also posted in Education, Travel

Cruising in Europe: The Main River to the Rhine River

The Danube Main Canal with its long  series of locks has enabled the connection of the south flowing Danube River to the north flowing Rhine River. It is an astounding engineering feat. This route allows river traffic to travel over the European water divide with  cargos of coal, fertilizers, building materials,  fuel and of course passengers.

It is not always smooth sailing though. High or low water levels can render sections impassable. Accidents can also reek havoc with the system as happened earlier this year when the lock at Regensburg was damaged by a river cruise ship.

Low water levels in the upper reaches of the Danube River resulted in our ship being held up. We had the option of continuing the trip by bus or sticking with the ship and accepting a reorganized schedule once predicted rain had raised the water level. We stayed as did everyone else. I wanted to see the beautiful and historic Rhine Gorge. I was hopeful for  a daylight passage.   

Only a few centimeters of water were required to move us to an acceptable level for safe transition through this part of the river. The ship waited while busses transported passengers to some of the planned city and Christmas market tours.

The Danube Main Canal part of the cruise is dotted with beautiful old cities dating back through the 13th century. Bamburg, Germany is my favourite. Its complete Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Others, also in Germany, such as Rudesheim, Rothenburg and Nuremburg exhibit stunning architecture that on more than one occasion I exclaimed,”How were they able to build that?” The skyline in Cologne is dominated by the elegant twin towered Gothic Cathedral. It too, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most important for our river cruise were the Christmas Markets. Ever popular with local citizens,  tourists also flocked to them. It was not uncommon to see crowds of people, shoulder to shoulder move slowly up and down city streets. Set up along cobblestone streets and central squares vendors offered for sale a wonderful array of Christmas decorations and souvenirs. But the festive atmosphere would not be complete without  the tasty offerings of street food and local variations of gluhwein. Each city had created a unique cup in which to serve its particular gluhwein. We managed to collect 10 of these which miraculously survived the flight home. 

 At some point our captain decided to make an attempt at getting through the impass on the river. Water levels had stabilized.  He was successful but from what our cruise director opined, just barely. We were on our way again. 

The Rhine Gorge was placed on the list of World Heritage Sites in 2002. It is a 65 kilometre section  of the upper middle Rhine Valley. Castles, some intact others in ruins, occupy high, strategic ridges above the valley. At one time it was the core region of the Holy Roman Empire and was the centre of the Thirty Years War. It is truly a magical area. 

After breakfast, on the second last day of our cruise,  I positioned myself on a window seat in the main lounge where I could observe our progress through the Rhine Gorge. It was too cold to stay outside on the upper deck. This would do nicely. And I was close to the coffee machine. As castles and ruins appeared on the landscape I moved  outdoors to either the port or starboard deck to make my images.

We arrived in Amsterdam anticipating chapter three of our journey. Having never been to Europe we were having the time of our lives.  The history, architecture and customs were so interesting.  And we met some new friends. Hopefully, our paths will one day cross again.

Also posted in Education, Travel

Cruising in Europe: Along the Danube

Sixty Eight locks allow our cruise ship the Scenic Opal to transit the south flowing Danube River over the continental divide to the north flowing Rhine River via the Main River Canal on its voyage from Budapest to Amsterdam. And while these rivers, canals and locks are popular with travelers they are major transportation routes for barges carrying everything from new cars, bulk commodities and fuel.

We are at the half way point in the cruise section of our trip, all so far on the Danube River. Weather has become a concern for our cruise director. A lack of rain in the upper reaches of the river has resulted in low water levels. Our ship and others are stopped in the small town of Vilshofen in Germany waiting for a weather system to drop some much needed rain. It seems that the river cruises in Europe can be susceptible to the mercies of high or low water levels. And so we wait.

In the meantime, our cruise director has utilized the fleet of 4 luxury busses that Scenic owns to transport us to a variety of beautiful little towns and villages. Christmas markets are extremely popular not only with tourists but with local citizens. Central squares and side streets are clogged with tiny booths that are decorated for Christmas and exhibit a wide range of traditional and popular ornaments and souvenirs.

Our favorites though are the markets where local artisans display their own creations. There is something very special about an original piece created locally by a talented craftsman.

Also very popular at all Christmas markets is traditional food such as bratwurst, pretzels and strudels. One cannot forget the popularity of gluhwein (mulled wine) of which there seem to be many different varieties each served in a mug representative of the local area.

The images I’ve included here were made in and around Vienna, Durnstein, Melk and Salzburg in Austria and Regensburg, Germany. To my eye the beauty of the street scapes and architecture is breathtaking. The crowds in Vienna in the central square around St. Stephen’s Cathedral and in the various Christmas markets that we were able to visit were astounding.

Early last Sunday morning I enjoyed the quiet solitude of Durnstein’s cobble stone streets. It was a great opportunity for me to get a feel for the history and layout of this old Austrian village and capture a few scenes of interest.

Also posted in Education, Travel

Cruising in Europe: To Budapest

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The Colour of Fall: Brilliant

My motivation to be out and about with my camera this last few weeks was to capture the colour of the leaves before they fell to the ground. While there is a wonderful range of colours in the total landscape including orchards and gardens my focus was on the natural landscape.

Ponderosa pine is the predominant species of trees in the Okanagan area. Douglas fir, Engleman spruce and other conifers are also present depending on elevation, soil and moisture conditions . Deciduous trees including alder, birch, aspens, cotton wood and maples provide the colour. They tend to be located where there is greater access to moisture. So, I sought out hillside depressions and local area creeks.

The closest and most popular waterway is Mission Creek, a major tributary to Okanagan Lake. It’s a beautiful area with a very popular walking trail. I find the upper reaches of Mission Creek to be more desirable as it is not as busy and has more interesting compositional opportunities.

Powers Creek runs through Glen Canyon

I also made trips to the ranchland above Lake Country, B.C., Kalimoir Park and the Regional Parks around Mill Creek, Bertram Creek and Glen Canyon. All of these locations provided me with great opportunities and I think some pretty good results.

On all the trips to these locations I was blessed with bright, sometimes filtered sun. The lower angle of the sun served to brighten the orange and yellow leaves.

Fast rushing waters of Powers Creek in Glen Canyon

The images I’ve included with this article were made in the Glen Canyon Regional Park along Powers Creek. I loved how the colour of the leaves enhances the surrounding textures.

I hadn’t been to this part of Powers Creek before. The canyon itself is very narrow. Somewhere in the upper reaches of the canyon there is likely a water fall. I’ll have to check that out on a future trip to this area.

Fall colours surround Powers Creek as it emerges from Glen Canyon

Sometimes, I think I’ve been spoiled by all the photography I’ve been able to do on Vancouver Island this past 4 or 5 years. At home, I’ve caught myself thinking, “There’s nothing to photograph around here!” That of course is a myth. There are many photographic opportunities in the Kelowna area and in the Okanagan Valley. It’s just a matter of getting ‘you know what’ in gear and getting out there with my camera.

Also posted in The Creative Process

Fascieux Creek: An Urban Wetland

One would assume, based on  the images I have included below that the the Fascieux Creek Wetland is located in a rural area far from urban development. Its not! It is located in the Okanagan Mission area of Kelowna. Bounded on opposing  sides by two major city streets and on its other two side by townhouses and apartment buildings it’s an urban wetland.

When I was setting up for this image I didn’t realize that the water was frozen until this group of ducks came shuffling into my view finder. 

This little wetland has an area of about three and a half acres and is a popular walking area for local residents. It  is fed by a network of streams, some now encased in culverts, that ultimately empty into Okanagan Lake. 

From my home to the Fascieux Creek Wetland is about a 15 minute drive. I had no idea that it existed until a friend mentioned it to me several years ago. Since then, I have made countless trips to capture literally thousands of  images of the critters and plant life that reside there.

Red wing black birds, hawks and a variety of ducks are just some of the birds that frequent Fascieux Creek. But the most impressive and my favourite is the Great Blue Heron. I’ve photographed the resident Great Blue many times. Grudgingly it seems, he has allowed me into his space to let me make some very interesting photographs. 

Also present in this wetland are muskrats, beaver, raccoons, rats, weasels and turtles.  I’ve even found a nest of garter snakes.  The most important resident is the beaver. I think he falls into the category of a keystone species. Without the beaver the water level would not be consistent. This allows all the other species to thrive.

The beaver is also an engineer, always constructing dams. City workers show up every now and then to remove the dams only to have them rebuild somewhere else in the wetland. It is an interesting dynamic which the beaver always seems to win.  

Within the Fascieux Creek Wetland are areas of quiet water, beautiful refections, tangled bush and fallen, dead trees.

Initially, there was lots of  open water in the wetland. Photographic opportunities were available in all seasons of the year. Now, as a consequence of the beaver’s engineering  and the resulting the higher water level there is a proliferation of reeds and bull rushes that have clogged up most of the open areas of water.

Some of the branches on this tree are dead. Most of the leaves from the other branches are on the ground,

The best times to make photographs in the wetland now are in late fall, winter when the reeds are pushed down by snow and in the spring before the reeds start to grow. I’ve learned where and when to find many of the wetland’s species. Those that are nocturnal are more difficult to observe but I have spotted their tracks in the wintertime snow.

There are other small urban wetlands in the Kelowna area that I am starting to pay attention to so I don’t spend as much time as I used to at the Fascieux Creek Wetland. It, however, is still my ‘go to’ place to find interesting images when I just need to get out with my camera for an hour or so.

 

Also posted in The Creative Process

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.

 

Also posted in Travel