Category Archives: Travel

Victoria Favourites: 2nd Installment

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.   

Also posted in My Work

Under the Hood: James Bay

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.  

Dallas Road Beauties by Rick Thomas

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.

Street Side Flowers

 

 

 

 

Also posted in My Work

Thinking Time: Exercising the Brain

Three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 7:30 AM I head up to my neighborhood’s YM/YWCA. I, like many others arrive early to work through an exercise routine in an effort to keep fit. Its relatively mindless activity so I also use this time to think, solve problems and develop ideas.

The ‘exercisers’ are interesting and generally fall into two groups. The young who possess the great figures and chiseled physiques and the rest, a group that is working hard to arrest the affects of gravity on certain body parts. That’s my group.

Lately, Facebook and my participation in Lake Country’s Artwalk are the topics most current to my ‘thinking workouts’ at the ‘Y’. The 24th annual edition of Artwalk will be held this weekend, September 9th and 10th.  I’ll save that discussion for my next blog article when the show is over and I’ve had time to consolidate my thoughts.

Facebook and social media in general have been top of mind lately. With the plethora of material that is displayed on Facebook every day I wonder if it is the best platform to exhibit and promote my photography. In the past few months I have virtually ignored my blog and website opting to post very regularly to Facebook. I’ve even tried Instagram and a Facebook Page. Instagram seems to reach the same audience that my regular Facebook posts do. Facebook Page has become annoying with its constant effort to ‘sell’ me advertising.

I’m interested in Google Plus but have so far only dabbled with it. It does reach a different audience and I believe it’s searchable on Google’s vast network. That could be advantageous. And, I love the way it displays photographic images.

So the challenge is to get my website up to date and return to writing regular blog posts. The big question remaining though, is how do I become more efficient with Facebook and perhaps take advantage of the power that Google Plus offers?

 

Resting on an old iron fence this bicycle patiently waits for its owner.

 

With Lake Country’s Artwalk scheduled for this weekend I thought I would include one of the images I entered in 2010. I captured it near the town of Cormorandel in New Zealand. As we completed a hike through a forested area we came across an old bicycle leaning on a fence. It’s appearance suggested it had been there for quite some time. The fence was constructed from sheets of corrugated steel. It was very rusty. In developing the image I chose to bring ‘life’ to the image by increasing the colour saturation. I liked the way it turned out as did the person who purchased it.

Also posted in Education, My Work

Cross Country Flight: Thinking Time!

Window seat! Awkward, but it was a must for the view.

Early last Thursday morning as our flight climbed into the sky a rolling landscape emerged. Grasslands, then the checkered patterns of farms and in the distance cumulus clouds like fluffy pillars rose high into the sky. I hoped that our flight wouldn’t become bumpy.

Sleep doesn’t come too easily when I’m traveling by plane. So I find that times like these are wonderful opportunities to read, write or play with a few images. I neglected to pack my reader so I chose to work on my images.

Even though I don’t have the hard drive with my library of images with me I am able to edit smart previews that reside in my library catalogue. I chose one that I thought had some creative possibilities. It was a good time to experiment with Lightroom and the creative possibilities of my Nik and Topaz plugins.

Waves and Wind Batter a Lone Tree

On a Sunday afternoon hike we visited a narrow, stony beach on Lake Michigan. It was windy, warm and wave crashed onto the beach. A narrow peninsula protruded from the beach. It extended a short distance into the lake. A lone, skeletal tree guarded its entrance. Waves flowed freely over the peninsula as the level of Lake Michigan is higher than normal.

I thought that one of the images I captured that hike was a good candidate for applying some of the techniques I practiced on the plane a few days earlier. I worked within Photoshop using Topaz Lab’s Impression plugin. 

All elements of the scene seemed to be in motion as the wind was very strong. My objective was to create that feeling of motion. I’m happy with the end result!

 

Also posted in Education, My Work

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.

 

 

Also posted in My Work

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

Also posted in My Work

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