Category Archives: Travel

History: A Photographic Opportunity

‘Prof. Loft’ at the University of Victoria could make Canadian history come alive. His lectures captivated me. It was one of my favourite subjects.

That was a long time ago but my interest in history and how our landscape has evolved is still of interest to me. “How did our forefathers cope with such an inhospitable environment?” and “How were they able to build such wonderful structures with tools that we would term primitive?” are questions I often ask myself while on my travels.

In most of Australia’s cities the beauty of historic architecture both domestic and commercial is very evident.  Individual houses have unique rooflines, verandas and facades. Commercial and government building are made of stone and are usually quite ornate. It is wonderful to see  that history and heritage is important to Australians and  that their buildings are restored and repurposed rather than torn down in favour of new modern structures.

Some of these buildings are more that 100 years old. They are often surrounded by modern, tall structures. The contrast is remarkable. Both are beautiful but it’s the old that seem to tell a story. These buildings reach back in time to reveal a resilient forward thinking heritage.

 

 

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Aussie Cuisine: Pie, Slice, Flat White

Australian summertime temperatures, particularly in the semi arid and desert regions of the continent often exceed 40 degrees Celsius. For the remainder to the year temperatures tend to moderate. This is especially so in coastal regions where most of Australia’s 24 million residents reside.

Family activities, sports and restaurants all thrive under these moderate conditions. Parks are very popular and often have protective awnings from the still dangerous sun. Community barbeques located in many parks are very well used. Also popular are bakeries and restaurants with outdoor seating and patios.

An inexpensive coffee as we would find in North America doesn’t seem to exist in Australia. I had thought that McDonald’s universal menu would include my favourite, a “medium coffee, 3 creams”. Not so!

Australian McDonald’s fondly referred to as Macca’s, have barista machines and serve a small selection of specialty coffees at a cost of about $4.00 or more. In fact, barista machines can be found in the vast majority of coffee shops.

Restaurant patios present themselves in many different forms. They are prevalent wherever there is shade from the sun and room on the sidewalk. A small meat pastry or pie and cheesecake are inviting choices to accompany my favourite coffee, a flat white. Very tasty and addictive despite the price.

Enjoying a relaxing moment in Hahnsdorf, South Australia

 

I photographed many street side patios. Those in small towns were particularly interesting. Visitors and towns folk alike seemed to revel in these colourful, active gathering places.

Patio in the trees in Flinders, New South Whales

A patio in Glenelg, South Australia, in the shade of beautiful palms

The Hahnsdorf Inn, a colourful, street side patio in South Australia

A busy seaside patio near Glenelg, South Australia

The Great Blue Heron: A Continuing Story

The Great Blue Heron…majestic, solitary, territorial. In recent months I have made many attempts to photography the Great Blue that is the resident heron of the Fascieux Creek Wetland in Kelowna’s lower Mission area. While I have been somewhat successful this heron knows his territory. Most of the time it cunningly locates itself behind a wall of reeds or is perched high in an old snag.

A Great Blue Heron resting on the rocks near the Oak Bay Marina.

A Great Blue Heron resting on the rocks near the Oak Bay Marina.

In Victoria where we have been visiting for the last month it is a much different story. I have spent a lot of time along the Dallas Road and Beach Drive waterfront. Great Blue’s are much more evident.

Within an easy walk of our residence is the Oak Bay Marina. Two herons seem to reside close by. One in particular has caught my attention. On a number of occasions it has allowed me into its space. As long as I move slowly and oblique to its location I can get quite close. Last week the two of us sat staring at each other on the rocks about 20 feet apart.

Regardless of the weather its routine seems to be quite regimented. It will hunt, rest while standing on one leg seemingly for hours and fly off to its perch in a nearby oak tree. Then with a loud squawk its routine begins again. It flies off to a nearby beach for another hunting expedition. At some point it returns to where I first spotted it. I love the way it moves in on its prey, catches it, deftly tossing it about before sending it down its gullet.

The image quality of my Nikon d7200 even at higher ISO settings is excellent. It is ideal for ‘birding’. Its cropped sensor when compared to a full frame camera sensor increases the reach of my lenses by a factor of 1.5. So my 70mm to 300mm lens would seem like a 105mm to 450mm lens. For my budget and shooting style it is perfect.

In the few days that remain of our Victoria visit I’ll be out and about with my camera as much as I can. There is so much to photograph. And I will remain on the case of the elusive, Great Blue Heron.

Also posted in Education, My Work

Oregon: Back Stories

The Thursday Morning Shooters’ trip to Oregon had its memorable and perhaps not so memorable moments. For me, it started a day earlier when I sliced off the end of left thumb while chopping onions. Fortunately, I’m a righty so my photography was not overly hampered. But it was not a good omen.

As mentioned in my last article, I was one of two ‘back seat boys’. We had chosen or were assigned to travel in the backseat of our respective travel vehicles. I rode in absolute comfort. My ‘backseat’ partner travelled in a different level of comfort. He appeared to have been shoehorned into his seat. Surrounded by gear and after many miles of discussing camera and software issues and debating  U.S. politics I’m sure he felt somewhat battered.

Our accommodation at the Silver Falls State Park although warm and dry bordered on rustic. Rain forced us to cook and socialize on the porch of one of the cabins. Somewhat difficult but we made it work.

On the morning of day two, I emerged from my cabin to laughter and guffaws. It was coming from our pilots and co-pilots. They pointed to a cooler bag lying on the ground. It was scratched, dirty, ripped and empty. It was mine. Needing a coffee, I was not amused.

During the night a ruckus on the porch had woken them. Through their cabin window they observed two raccoons fighting over the contents of my bag. Not wanting to interrupt they watched. My breakfast options were severely reduced as a result. Note to self…’Don’t leave food items accessible to the ‘wild ones!’

While on the beach near Lincoln City one of our pilots lost his keys. Our pilots had exchanged their spare keys in the event of such a situation. Fortunately, a kind soul found and turned the keys in to the restaurant at which we were lunching. All of us were relieved but it did give us another opportunity to direct barbs and insults at one another.

I don’t think any of us had an understanding of the terrain within the Silver Falls State Park. The trail to the North Falls was easy. But to get to the other falls and the far reaches of the park we had to descend into a gorge some 200 feet. This was not really a concern until it was time to come out. The uphill climb was long, strenuous and slow. As a result we missed rendezvous times and we worried. It was a good reminder that our youth has long passed.

Our plans for day three unfortunately changed. One of our group was not well. So after much discussion and a quick final trip into the park we headed for home.

A shaft of light shines on moss covered branches iOregon's Silver Falls State Park

A shaft of light shines on moss covered branches iOregon’s Silver Falls State Park

Our Oregon trip was a success despite being cut short. We made some excellent images, shared ideas and told forgettable stories. The ancient trees in the Silver Falls State Park and the thundering waves on the Oregon coast have left me with the lasting impression of nature’s beauty and power.

Waves relentless crash the beach near Lincoln City, Oregon

Waves relentless crash the beach near Lincoln City, Oregon

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Oregon: The Coast

Day two of the Thursday Morning Shooters’ trip to Oregon found us up early and on the road to the coast, a two-hour trip. Drivers and co-pilots in their usual seats as were the ‘back seat boys’. A quick coffee stop had put us all in an optimistic mood.

Our destination was Lincoln City, Oregon, a small coastal town. I had never been there having spent time on a previous trip in Newport and points south.

The drive through a combination of quiet farmland and rainforest seemed to pass quickly. As we approached the coast though, we noticed a change. The temperature had fallen and fog was beginning to conceal the hillsides. I’m not sure that I remember too much about the town. The ocean was my focus.

Thundering waves, whistling wind and screeching sea gulls filled my senses. I could just sit on a log and appreciate the raw power of the ever-changing landscape. It was truly a remarkable sight. The photographic possibilities seemed endless.

Camera gear in hand each of us set off in different directions. I chose to take only my camera fitted out with my ‘walk about’ lens, a Nikon 18mm to 140mm zoom. I didn’t want to be changing lenses in an environment where sand and salt could get into the inner workings of my camera.

A high tree capped headland rose above a rocky outcrop at the north end of the beach. Looking south along the beach a line of flotsam and seaweed marked the farthest reach of the waves. In the distance, storm clouds added drama to this wonderful scene. In short, so much to photograph!

As the day progressed we moved north up the coast towards Tillamook, a town famous for its cheese. We stopped along the way when we came across landscapes that were ‘photogenic’.

Even more than the rain forest I love the coast. The long expanse of the sandy beaches, the thundering waves and the incessant screeching of sea gulls is so captivating. The coastal areas within the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island provide me with the same attraction.

It will be interesting to see how each of us approached this shoot. Typically, when we head out on a shoot such as this one our images are dramatically different even though we were shooting the same things.

As I mentioned in my previous post I found there to be a spiritual quality to the rainforest within the Silver Falls State Park. The same can be said of the Pacific coast where the ocean stretches beyond the horizon, waves relentlessly crash on sandy beaches and from moment to moment the landscape evolves.

 

Watch for my next post, Oregon; Back Stories.

Also posted in My Work

Oregon: Geezers on the Road

Two weeks ago on Sunday we were on our way….six retired guys, in two vehicles, with a stack of camping gear and bags of camera gear. Our destination: Silver Falls State Park just east of Salem, Oregon. A long discussed trip had finally materialized.

We arrived at the park Monday afternoon having stopped for the night at Ellensburg, Washington. After checking in we found our accommodation, three yurts. I hadn’t heard the word ‘yurt’ before. My first guess was that it was some sort of goat. Rather it was a small manufactured log cabin. The driver and co pilot of each vehicle chose a yurt each leaving the last one for me and our other back seat passenger. From then on we were known as the ‘back seat boys’.

Rain fell steadily as we unloaded and moved into our yurts. And I believe that this damped our expectations. As it turned out rain fell mostly in the late afternoon and at night. This cramped our style for cooking, eating and long chats around the campfire. Daytimes, however, were cloudy and quite pleasant. We were thrilled with the resulting light quality.

After breakfast on Tuesday we headed off to the Silver Falls State Park trail head, a 15 minute drive. Low expectations were quickly upgraded. The park, a narrow gorge with a rushing creek and 8 waterfalls the highest being almost 200 feet high and in my opinion the prettiest with around a 50 foot drop, was serenely beautiful.

More so than just the falls, this was an area of old growth rain forest. The trees were magnificent! Some, I guessed, would parallel the size of those found in Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island. I’m not overly religious but when I’m in the midst of a forest where the tree are so ancient I find the feelings I hold to be very spiritual.

While we hiked through and saw many parts of the park I could have spent the day along the trail to the Upper Falls, a short distance from the parking lot. There was so much to photograph. The falls was our first objective. The fall colours accented the greens and browns of the forest. Rain had left the landscape wet and vibrant. So many compositions were there to make. Leaves and small mushrooms challenged our microphotography skills.

The collection of images below is but a small sample of our day at Silver Falls State Park.

Next edition, The Oregon Coast.

Also posted in Education, My Work

Up and Running, again….

Almost three weeks ago I was in the midst of program upgrades to my blog platform, WordPress and my theme provider, Photocrati. It should have been as simple as pushing a button. It wasn’t. Well, the button was pushed but the desired results did not happen. My website and blog completely locked up. Not good!!!

Trying to solve the problem was somewhat complicated by my lack of patience and a few unforced errors. But in the end the problems were solved. I now have a new hosting company, SiteGround. This company’s tech support and those at Photocrati were outstanding. They helped me understand the issues and then worked with me to get online once again.

Today, my blog is alive and well as is my website. I had contemplated a complete redesign of my blog and spent quite a bit of time exploring various ideas. In the end however, I was happy with my current design so made only a few minor changes. The website will take a bit longer. While it is still active it will be refreshed with new image galleries and hopefully an ecommerce section.

In my search for a suitable replacement image for the header of my blog I came across the image below of a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. Taken in a 2009 near Cairnes in Queensland, Australia it was part of a group of cockatoos cavorting in the upper reaches of the trees outside our hotel room. The framing of the cockatoo by the tree fronds makes this a very interesting image.

Sulphur_Crested_Cockatoo

Also posted in Education, My Work

Geezers on the Road: Kootenay National Park

The last time Ellen and I journeyed to the Canadian Rockies was in September of 2008. Travelling with our wonderful friends from Australia, John and Elizabeth Bradley, we camped near Field, B.C. and later toured   Banff, Alberta. Having not seen John and Elizabeth since their return to Australia in the early 1970’s our friendship was renewed in grand fashion.

The mountains were spectacular as they reached to the sky. And more so, were the reflections we encountered in Emerald Lake. The grandeur of the moment left a lasting impression with me. Finally, after all this time I have the opportunity to return.

Tomorrow, I will join five of my photography friends on a trip to Kootenay National Park. We’ve decided to base our trip in Radium Hot Springs, B.C. This small town overlooks the Columbia Wetlands, an area where some of the world’s best wildlife viewing areas are located. With a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains we will have some awesome opportunities to make great images.

The six of us, the Thursday Morning Shooters, meet weekly on Thursday morning for coffee and chat about our photography and other topics. Our backgrounds are very different but we all share a great love of photography. This trip to Kootenay National Park has been in the works for a while. We are all looking forward to getting on the road. Regardless of the weather we will spend as much time as possible making photographs. At the end of each day we will have long follow up discussions around the campfire.

Calm waters invite boaters to enjoy the beauty found in the Canadian Rockies at Emerald Lake.

Calm waters invite boaters to enjoy the beauty found in the Canadian Rockies at Emerald Lake.

The image above was captured in 2008. It is one of my favorites from that trip. It was a time when my foray into digital photography was just beginning. My camera, a Nikon d70s was my pride and joy. I’m very proud of the images I made with that camera and since that time have learned so much.

Stay tuned for future articles in which I will share images and experiences for my 2016 trip to Kootenay National Park.

Also posted in My Work

Northward: A Long Drive Home

The end to our winter sojourn in Arizona is fast approaching. By this time on Friday we will be half way to Las Vegas. After a mandatory visit to the casino to deposit our $20.00 limit and a smorgasbord dinner at Sam’s Town we will turn in early. The drive on Saturday to Jackpot, NV will be long. The landscape is far from interesting. Once into Oregon, however, the scenery improves measurably as does our interest.

Three months in Arizona provided many opportunities to discover interesting places to photograph. There is no doubt, though that our three-day trip to the Grand Canyon was the highlight. I made a lot of photographs of the canyon. Some I loved. Many I did not. I could have done better. Next time, hopefully in 2017, I will spend more time researching the canyon and its photographic opportunities.

A lonesome tree clings to the rim of the Grand Canyon.

A lonesome tree clings to the rim of the Grand Canyon.

In the meantime, I will savor the memories of the places we visited, the people we met, and our many friends who shared their lives and experiences with us. And I will remember those who have passed on and those who for medical reasons can no longer spend time in Arizona. Knowing them has been such a privilege.

Kelowna, B.C. is home. We are looking forward to being reunited with our son, Jeff and his family, Trish, Cam and Kyle. The downside of being away is missing their activities, especially the hockey games that Cam and Kyle play. But with spring, I will be at the ballpark with my camera watching them enjoy their second favorite sport.

When next I post an article to my blog it will be from Kelowna. Likely, I will already have been out shooting with my friends in the Thursday Morning Shooters Group. So many images to make, so many adventures await. Its all good!!

Also posted in Education, My Work

Grand Canyon: One Off The Bucket List

Magnificent? Breathtaking? Awe Inspiring? Really there are no words suitable to describe my feelings as I stood on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Its textures, colours, shapes and size gave me the feeling that I was on another planet. A huge slice of geologic history lay right in front of me.

Over our 3 day visit I was very busy making photographs. I bracketed, made panoramas and experimented with a variety of my lenses in an effort capture images that would reflect my vision of the Canyon.

At around 7000 feet above sea level temperatures were much cooler than they had been in the Phoenix, AZ area that morning. Snow was still evident in some shaded areas of the Canyon’s walls. As the afternoon advanced into evening I captured a variety of images including the Canyon lit by the last rays of the sun at twilight.

Rising well before sunup the next morning I headed for Mather’s Point. It was cold. As I arrived many were already waiting for the sun to rise. Some, like me were serious photographers. Their tripods and cameras already set up I hurried to catch up. Most others were there to take ‘selfies’ with the sun rising behind.

Gradually, early light brought depth and definition to the dark canyon. And, a stiff canyon wind began to blow. I thought I had dressed appropriately for the cold and wind. I was warm enough except for my hands. My fingers were numb from the cold making it difficult to quickly adjust my camera. I persevered until the sun was well up and the canyon fully lit.

As I headed back to my truck I noticed that a large herd of Elk was in front of me. In fact they were all around me as I walked down the wide path to the parking lot. Realizing that I couldn’t back up to avoid them I continued. A couple of Elk walked towards me on the path. We passed eyeing each other suspiciously.

Further down the path I noticed a younger photographer who had been set up next to me on the rim. He was holding his tripod with just 2 fingers. It was dripping wet. Having stopped to take a few shots he had left his gear on the path. An Elk ‘pissed’ on his tripod. He was indignant but thankful that his camera bag was spared.

So, I was able to scratch one item off my bucket list. I had what I hoped were decent images and a few stories to tell as well. However, after reviewing my images I realized that I needed to make a second visit.

The Grand Canyon is so big. I was overwhelmed. My images show this. While some are certainly acceptable many others are not. Perhaps, I need more time to let the trip sink in before attempting to work with the images I did make. That fact remains though. I need to make a second visit.

Next time though, rather than immediately trying to capture the vastness of the canyon I will start with small vistas and objects and move to larger compositions. So, the Grand Canyon is back on my bucket list.

Grand Canyon View

Also posted in Education, My Work