- Welcome to my blog! "Geezer with a Camera" is where I tell the story of my photographic journey. As regularly as possible I'll post articles about my experiences, travels and the photographs I make. Sometimes, I'll even step off into the deep end and share my opinion on issues that affect the precious world we live in. As I post new articles I hope that you read them and perhaps comment on my thoughts. Thanks for your interest in my blog, my story and my website. Enjoy!
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Category Archives: Travel
May 25, 2019 by Stu Dale |
Port Renfrew, B.C. is a small coastal town on the west coast you of Vancouver Island located directly opposite Cape Flattery, the northern most point of the continental United States. It marks the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca which separates Vancouver Island from Washington State. In mid 1900’s Port Renfrew was central to the logging industry. Today, it is better known for ecotourism activities.
Recently, I participated in a four day workshop in the Port Renfrew area with professional photographer, Dave Hutchison and four other enthusiasts. He presented a similar workshop in September, also in Port Renfrew which I attended. .
On my most recent trip to Port Renfrew conditions were mild and relatively calm. In September it was stormy. Winds, waves and hanging mist along the foreshore and in the forest were ideal for making very interesting images. Regardless of the weather it is always beautiful.
I’ve participated in four workshops with Dave Hutchison. Two have been in Port Renfrew. The other two have been in the Tofino/Ukuelet area in the Pacific Rim National Park. His workshops are well organized and thoroughly researched. I have appreciated and benefitted from his hands on teaching style. The ease with which he helps his students solve problems reflects his wide photographic base of knowledge.
Pristine beaches and ancient old growth forests are easily accessible from Port Renfrew. Dave designed this workshop to take advantage of the best light for making effective landscape photographs in these beautiful locations.
The Vancouver Island photography workshops have been wonderful learning experiences for me. I’ve learned a lot about photography, my camera and about the effective use of ‘light’ in making landscape compositions. But I’ve also learned a lot about myself.
We hiked into some pretty tough (for me) locations. The willingness of the mind was certainly overshadowed by the reluctance of the body. Fortunately, the mind prevailed. I’m sure that when an opportunity arises for me to again spend time on the west coast of Vancouver Island with my camera, I’ll take a very close look. But fitness will have to remain a priority.
The collection of images I’ve included with this article were made in close proximity to or along the various beaches we hiked during the May and the September workshops. I so much enjoyed the variety lighting conditions, the textures of the beaches and rocky cliffs and the beautiful vistas as I hiked along such beautiful west coast beaches.
November 6, 2018 by Stu Dale |
From our home away from home last month near Victoria’s Quadra Village I took a long circuitous walk through Chinatown, the downtown area and the water front. My walks really have no set plan. If a street looks interesting, that’s where I go.
I took a break at the Breakwater coffee shop. I enjoyed a very good cup of coffee and a scone while examining the images I had made so far. A few, especially those I made at Fisherman’s Wharf had possibilities.
Continuing on, I decided to explore some of the back streets of the James Bay neighbourhood. I’ve written of this area in an earlier post. It is historic, colorful and it has a special character that sets it apart from all others.
As I explored the streets I noticed that some residents had built small raised vegetable gardens on the boulevards in front of their homes. A good use of space I thought . As I approached the corner of Niagara and Pilot Streets I noticed an older woman (probably my age) struggling along with a walker. I was more interested in the school and park across the street so paid her little attention until we both reached the middle of the crosswalk on Pilot Street.
Surprised, I replied, “No.”
“Over there!” She replied with a wave, her tone, impatient.
I looked and saw only houses and fenced yards.
“Follow me,” she commanded. And off she went. I followed.
‘There!’ she exclaimed, pointing to a patch of ground at the base of a large tree.
To my surprise, laid out neatly around the base of a large tree was a miniature village. Tiny whimsical characters, houses, fences and animals all placed to tell a ‘fair tale story’.
Pointing out that other villages surrounded the next few trees she bid me a pleasant good day and went on her way.
Much care and love had been devoted to the creation of these miniature fairy villages. I spent some time appreciating and photographing these beautiful little creations before continuing my walk.
After a few more streets of exploration I crossed Beacon Hill Park and found another coffee shop to enjoy lunch and of course another cup of coffee. Reflecting on the interesting people I’ve encountered on my walks I smiled.
The images below were made on several camera walks. They are but a sample of the many I captured along the ‘trail’. (Tap images to enlarge)
October 30, 2018 by Stu Dale |
Last week, just before returning home from Victoria I embarked on a camera walk that took me through my old stomping grounds: the Fairfield, Rockland and Fernwood neighbourhoods. I passed by a number of landmarks in this area that are as prominent today as they were almost 60 years ago.
One of those landmarks, a giant Sequoia, is located at the corner of Moss and Richardson Streets. . Commonly found in California it was planted here as a seedling in 1854.
I biked past it on my way to and from school in the late ’50s and early ’60s. A particular memory flooded back as I walked past it last week.
Located at the bottom of the Moss Street hill a group of us regularly blew through the stop sign at the bottom of the hill. One day though, that practice came to a fateful end.
Not noticing the parked motorcycle we raced down the hill intent on winning some sort of race. Through the stop sign we went, coming to a screeching halt when a policeman stepped out from behind a parked car, with the command, “Stop!”
It was Constable Haymer, VPD’s motorcycle cop. He had been waiting for us. Sternly reprimanding us he handed each of us a ticket. I said nothing at home. A week or so later a summons to appear in court was hand delivered to my parents. To say the least I was in trouble.
It was a very embarrassing experience for my Mom as she was a court reporter and knew many of the court officials I was standing before. A stern warning and a fine from the judge and a lot of ‘humble pie’ from me for some time afterwards at home.
At first glance most of the homes in this area were much the same as they were in the early 1960’s. But as I explored a saw that some had seen better days while others and been beautifully refreshed. Others, particularly in the Rockland area were exactly as I remembered them, big, solid and in some cases, enormous.
I found our house on Craigdarroch Road, just below the castle walls. Our house on Oscar Street had long since been replaced by an apartment complex. I walked through the beautiful gardens of Government House remembering the fire that consumed its predecessor.
At the end of my hike I sat down in a small coffee shop on Cook Street and thought about all that I had seen. Many of the homes and gardens I had walked past seemed not to have changed. It was a great walk. It was fun to revisit memories of a time past. The images (click to enlarge) I’ve included with my article are a mosaic of my old neighbourhood and for me a reminder of those memories.
September 14, 2018 by Stu Dale |
Dave Hutchison’s “ Vancouver Island Coastal Experience” took place last weekend in Port Renfrew, B.C. I had been looking forward to this workshop for several months. It more than lived up to my expectations.
September weather conditions on the west coast of Vancouver Island can be variable. Sunshine is not guaranteed. For the most part the sun did not shine for the duration of the workshop. Rain came instead, sometimes heavily. Despite being well prepared, I did get soaked a few times. Most important though, I was able to keep my camera gear reasonably dry.
Most of what Dave had planned for the weekend took place. Unfortunately, overcast skies on Saturday forced the cancellation of a night shoot. Given the complete lack of light pollution that would have been spectacular. Instead, we hiked back to Botanical Beach creating interesting compositions until darkness set in. A debrief session at the Port Renfrew Pub was a welcome end to the day.
Age is a factor when I go on wilderness hikes and workshops. I use the word Geezer in the title of my blog for a reason. I’m old! For that reason I make sure I have a good understanding of the physical challenges that I will be faced with. And I try to keep reasonably fit.
The eleven or so kilometers of hiking we did on Saturday plus those accumulated on Friday and Sunday were OK. But I had difficulty finding solid footing while climbing up a wet rocky headland on Saturday morning. Despite my best efforts to remain upright I took a tumble. Luckily, I was not seriously damaged. I mention all this only as a caution to be considered when embarking on a wilderness workshop or expedition.
Dave had us in the field from first light until after sundown. Short breaks to change out of wet clothing and to grab a bite to eat were the exceptions. Always teaching, Dave challenged us to simplify our images by selecting the lens suited to the landscape and by using appropriate exposure and focusing techniques.
The locations he guided us to were stunning. Each had unique possibilities for creating beautiful landscape photographs. Each of us was challenged by the qualities of the light, weather conditions and our individual technical and creative abilities.
Botanical and Sombrio Beaches at either high or low tide had many interesting compositional opportunities. The poor weather with its rather somber light brought a unique look to these beautiful landscapes.
It was raining steadily on Saturday afternoon when we reached Sombrio Canyon. Everything was wet. It’s beautifully sculpted sandstone walls formed a very narrow passage that only 2 of us could work in at a time.
Beyond the beaches and rocks the forest began. At first, knarled trees twisted and bent from the relentless wind and then those that were tall reaching high above the forest floor. Many of these were second generation to those that years ago had fallen to the logger’s axe. But some of the old growth trees remained. They were magnificent. Even in the solitude of Avitar Grove these huge trees made my existence seem small and unimportant.
Some of the images I made at Port Renfrew I really like but it will take me awhile to sort and process the images all of them. I have included a selection below.
September 2, 2018 by Stu Dale |
In a perfect world I would live closer to British Columbia’s wild Pacific Coast. I love its power and majesty. Even along its more sheltered bays and coves this ever changing landscape brings me great peace and inspiration.
Well, I live in the Okanagan Valley, in its own right a lovely place to live and photograph. The 5 hours of driving time to reach the coast is not insurmountable. So, whenever the opportunity arises to travel to the coast, I take it. Most of the time my destination would be the coast of Southern Vancouver Island near Victoria, B.C. or even the small coastal communities of Maple Bay and Genoa Bay near Duncan. Some of my favourite images have been made in these beautiful locations.
For me though, the most beautiful areas I have photographed are near Tofino and Ucluelet, right out on the west coast. It is where huge waves pound the beaches and rocky outcrops, where the beaches run on endlessly and the sunsets are magnificent.
In early 2011 a photography workshop about ‘composition’ offered by Sydney, B.C. photographer, Dave Hutchison caught my attention. Tofino and Ucluelet would be the base of this workshop. It would be for three days and two night and the cost was very reasonable. I was in! I so enjoyed that June weekend that I signed up again in 2012.
Over the intervening years I’ve followed and admired Dave’s work on his website, on Facebook and through his regular newsletters. Recently, I saw that he was offering a workshop in Port Renfrew, B.C. a small community about 2 hours from Victoria on the southern end of Vancouver Island . It is located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the head of the famous West Coast Trail. The opportunity was not lost on me. I signed up immediately.
The Port Renfrew workshop is next weekend. I’ll be leaving on Thursday and am really looking forward to again spending time with Dave and benefitting from his instruction and experience.
More than anything though I’m looking forward to being surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of such places as Botanical Beach, Avatar Grove, Fairy Lake and Sombrio Beach and Canyon. What more could a person ask for?
The images below were made in and around the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet. They are among my favourites as they remind me of a place that I love so much.
June 5, 2018 by Stu Dale |
It’s no secret that I love visiting Victoria on B.C.’s Vancouver Island. While there, I always try to take advantage of as many photographic opportunities as possible.
Before leaving for the coast I learned about a 3-day photography workshop led by Sydney, B.C. professional, Dave Hutchinson. I had previously attended two workshops led by Dave in Tofino and Ukueltet. They were instrumental in starting me off with digital photography. This workshop would be based in Port Renfrew, B.C., about 2 hours west of Victoria on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to be involved with Dave again. The photographic opportunities along this beautiful stretch of coastline are fantastic.
So, a spur of the moment decision had us take a drive to Port Renfrew then on to Cowichan Lake, Duncan and back to Victoria, the ‘Circle Route’. I hadn’t been to Port Renfrew since I was in high school. It was a four hour trip with many stops to observe and photograph the wonderful west coast scenery.
I was thrilled to learn that our trip to Victoria coincided with the 75th Annual Swiftsure Yacht Race, an event I had not witnessed for many years. Most of the racing yachts were tied up at the wharves in the Inner Harbour. Stragglers were still arriving late in the afternoon when I stepped onto the wharf. The late afternoon sun spread a warm glow over the scene. What a spectacle!
Photographing the pre race activities the evening prior to the official start of the race was very interesting. Flags and banners adorned a forest of masts. Last minute preparations were on going on many of the yachts. Predictably, pre race partying added a noisy backdrop to the entire colourful scene.
With some free time available I headed out for a long camera walk a few days before returning home. I treated this walk as a practice session. My camera with a 35mm lens attached was my only equipment.
Victoria’s ‘Y’ on Quadra Street was my departure point. I wound my way through streets and lanes, crossed the harbour to Fisherman’s Wharf on a jaunty water taxi then continued on to Ogden Point. From there I wandered through James Bay and Beacon Hill Park ultimately ending at a coffee shop on Cook Street. It was a great walk. I hoped that I would have many interesting images to evaluate.
Having a fixed focal length lens on my camera forced me to physically move to make my exposures, good practice in itself as is the use of aperture and shutter speed adjustments as creative tools.
March 21, 2018 by Stu Dale |
Two years ago, winter in the Desert Southwest was dry, very dry. I thought that the weather had been wet enough to result in a wild flower bloom on the desert that would equal or surpass that of the previous spring. I was sadly mistaken. Where flowers once formed a carpet between the Giant Saguaros and other cacti only dust and dried grasses remained.
Our trip to Arizona is much shorter this year but it is at a time when desert foliage usually blossoms. Even though I was aware of drought conditions News reports of heavy rain in the early part of the winter built my optimism. I fully expected an excellent flower bloom on the desert to photograph. Two ‘scouting’ trips, however, yielded only disappointment.
For a few days my camera sat idle. Long held anticipation had been replaced by a lack of motivation. That didn’t last.
Near our Mesa residence is a garden ornament shop. Really, it’s just a large section of a dusty parking lot, fenced in and fill with all manner of Mexican pottery. The colours, patterns and textures of the pottery are so interesting. Amongst this wonderful colour a collection of welded, steel sculptures. Horses, dinosaurs and other interesting creations, some life size, seem to be waiting to be loaded onto a pickup truck and taken to a new garden home.
After asking permission to make my photographs I wandered about looking for creative compositions. Being so close it has become my go to place to photograph when I have a bit of time.
Earlier this week I travelled to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park east of Phoenix. I made sure I arrived there just after the gates opened to have time and space to myself before the crowds arrived. It’s a great place to immerse oneself in the creative process. After spending several hours making images visitors began to crowd the paths and walkways. I headed for the parking lot.
Yesterday, I visited the Desert Botanical Gardens in Tempe, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix. With several previous visits to reflect on I was looking forward to spending time there. Again, I made sure to arrive early.
I love the textures and shapes emphasized by the low angle of the early morning sun. They just seem to jump out of the shadows when lit by sunlight that has found its way through the branches above.
I’ll make one more trip to the desert before leaving for home at the end of the month. Hopefully, wild flowers will have emerged and the cacti have blooms to show off.
January 17, 2018 by Stu Dale |
From a photographer’s point of view Victoria is subject rich. Historic buildings, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Esquimalt Lagoon and Mount Douglas Park are locations I love to visit. There are many more. Almost 8 weeks spent in Victoria in 2017 allowed me to revel in that richness and make many photographs.
‘Random’ would best describe my approach to photography. I love to get out on a camera walk and make images of subjects that catch my interest. Now, as I examine the images I made in and around Victoria last year I see several themes emerging: Nature, On the Water, At the Dock, Historic Buildings and Landscapes. Of the several thousand images I captured in Victoria my objective now is to sort and render them down to a Favourites Collection.
I started this process with my last article, the first of 2018. I don’t believe I’ll be able to work my Favourites down to a small groups. I like so many of them. It will probably take one or two more posts to cover my Favourites 2017 Victoria images. Then I’ll work on the others. Maybe I’ll even get to making a collection of Favourites overall. But that’s for another day. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the images I’ve included with this article.
November 23, 2017 by Stu Dale |
Stately and pristine, Victoria’s best neighborhoods are always on display. Broadmead, Ten Mile Point and the Uplands are top drawer. A leaf has only to flutter towards the ground to have a rake equipped gardener move to scoop it up before the local ratings take a negative plunge.
Other Victoria neighbourhoods are significant in their own right. One though is special. It is the oldest residential neighborhood on the west coast of North America, north of San Fransisco. Like an old doll dressed to the nines heading out for a day of shopping, a little tipsy, hat askew, ankles in ill fitting hose and heals, tottering along, it’s character and textures well earned. That’s the “Hood”, James Bay.
James Bay has been home to sailers, gold panners, loggers and some whose past is somewhat nefarious. Its homes have stood resolute against the ravages of weather and the passage of time. Many date back to the late 19th century.
Getting ‘under the hood’ reveals its timeless beauty. Houses, large and small, front onto narrow streets originally designed for horse and buggy traffic. Some have been refurbished, others torn down and replaced by more modern structures. Most though, remain. Pealing, faded paint adds to the overall ambiance.
Rickety fences contain small front yards. In some, small urban farms flourish. Chickens, ducks and geese, their scent unmistakeable, mingle amongst bushy rows of herbs and vegetables. English style gardens their flowers protruding through fence pickets splash colour on the scene.
The interpretive style of Victoria artist Rick Thomas brings life and character to the homes of the James Bay neighborhood. His sketch above of two old Dallas Road beauties is indicative of his work in ‘the Hood’.
I think of his work when I meander through the streets and lanes of James Bay. My challenge is to photographically represent the character of ‘the Hood’ as Rick has done through his sketches.