Category Archives: Travel

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

The Polar Express: A Huge Opportunity

Belching steam, a 400 tons steam locomotive, sat restlessly in front of me. Roaring, spewing, breathing! It seemed to be alive.

The Pere Marquette 1225 was the model for the Christmas classic, The Polar Express. Built in 1941 with a 2-8-4 configuration, it ran on rails that connected the towns of Flint and Pere Marquette with Detroit. In 1957 it was put on display at Michigan State University and is now owned by the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation.

When the opportunity to photograph a steam train came up I jumped at it. Amy, our daughter-in-law called to invite us to accompany them on a steam train excursion to Ashley, MI where the residents had set their small town up as a Christmas destination.

Two weeks ago Ellen and I travelled with our son and his family to Owasso, Michigan where we boarded the Pere Marquette steam train. In all its glory the beautiful steam engine was waiting at a level crossing.  Its beauty and power were very evident. And I had the opportunity to photograph it. Priceless!

Departing in late afternoon I was a bit concerned when I realized that our arrival would be after sun down. Would I be able to capture decent images in low light conditions?

The conductor walks the line past the locomotive prior to departure.

The conductor walks the line past the locomotive prior to departure.

 

Arriving in Ashley, I quickly saw that darkness was going to be my friend. The ambient light that affected my subject would work. Black subject, black background and enough light to cast the subject dramatically. How then, would I setup my camera to take advantage of these conditions?

I decided to utilize the auto ISO function on my camera. That way I could set aperture and shutter speed to capture images with a fairly wide depth of field. I was pleased with my images. They were sharp but due to the high ISO some were somewhat noisy. I found that this could be dealt with in large degree in computer. Next time though I will limit the ISO range to that which would allow me to capture the best image.

 

 

Also posted in My Work

Memories: Photographic Inspiration

The Dale family moved to Cadboro Bay near Victoria, B.C. when I was about 15 years old. After years of renting Mom and Dad finally could afford to own a home. Newly built to their specifications, it was their palace. Looking back, I’m sure it was a financial stretch but they did it. They were so proud.

Having lived in the Fairfield area of Victoria since grade 5, I came to know the nooks and crannies of the Victoria waterfront. Clover Point, Smugglers’ Cove and the Breakwater were places I regularly visited especially in the summer months.

Once we moved to our new home I had new places to explore. A short bike ride would get me to the beach at Cadboro Bay, Cattle Point and even the Oak Bay Marina. Today, whenever we visit Victoria, I take at least one drive along the waterfront from Cadboro Bay to the Breakwater. There are always lots of stops and many images captured.

Storm clouds pass along the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Storm clouds pass along the Strait of Juan de Fuca

The view above is from Cattle Point just past Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C. I’ve spent many hours there even into my university days conducting observations for my biology and zoology courses.

About 10 days ago, I sat there in the front seat of my pickup with my father in law. The view of a storm passing along the Strait of Juan de Fuca was fascinating. He too, had spent many hours of his youth here. At almost 93 he has many fond memories. As we sipped our coffees we talked about times past…he in his sailboat 75 years ago, me exploring the rocks and beach combing. And both of us at different times somehow getting out to Chatham and Discovery Islands and meeting the reclusive owner Captain Beaumont.

His eyes sparkled as we shared our experiences and enjoyed each other’s company. He just loves to get out and see the world around him. I love being with a man who over the 50 plus years I have known him has aged but not changed…still kind, gentle, honest, respectful and witty. I’m looking forward to our next shared coffee!

I think my childhood in Victoria and the places I frequented motivate me to return and capture its beauty with my camera. On my most recent trip I managed to get to some of my other favourite haunts – the Inner Harbour, Fisherman’s Wharf, Mount Douglas Park and of course Cattle Point.

Vivid colour is displayed in the reflections at Fisherman's Wharf.

Vivid colour is displayed in the reflections at Fisherman’s Wharf.

My  images were of reflections in the protected waters of Fisherman’s Wharf. These colourful distorted reflections made for some interesting compositions. I think that a few of them will look stunning as prints. Getting them to that stage will my next challenge.

Also posted in My Work

Vancouver Island: A Return Trip

Forty-seven years ago Ellen and I moved from Victoria, B.C. to Quesnel in the central interior of British Columbia. Having been married for only a year it was a big move. My father-in-law helped with the move. I’m sure he thought we were out of our minds. But he kept his thoughts to himself…ever the gentleman.

We had never experienced temperatures of -45 degrees Fahrenheit. We did that winter and in a few winters after that. Our sons were born there and our careers in education took off. After 6 years we moved to our current location, Kelowna, B.C.

We were very happy living in the central interior and are equally as happy here in Kelowna. Both have their own special beauty. But in the back of our minds we missed Victoria and the coastal area of British Columbia. I think the beauty there is unsurpassed. Whenever I have the chance to visit I take as much of it in as possible. My camera becomes very busy.

This week we will be travelling to Victoria. I can hardly wait to get on the road. Last year we made several trips to Vancouver Island and Victoria. I loved being up early and wandering around the wharves, back alleys and streets of Victoria and the coastal forest as seen in Mount Douglas Park.

Some of my favourite images were captured on those trips. Others though, could have been better. So, this trip will be a perfect opportunity to ‘redo’ those that didn’t turn out the way I expected.

As I wandered Fisherman’s Wharf last year I shot a small group of reflections. Two or three captured the colour and whimsical feeling I experience when there. At the time I didn’t think too much about it but on this trip I’ll be looking to capture as many interesting and colourful reflections as I can. Should be fun.

Oh, there is one more item on my list…an outing with my father-in-law. He’s 93 this year. All things considered he’s doing pretty well. So we’ll head out in my truck, grab a couple of coffees at ‘Mickie D’s’, drive to Dallas Road and the Victoria waterfront and have a great chat about life and things…..Priceless!!!

Vivid colours are reflected by the waters of Victoria, B.C.'s inner harbour

Vivid colours are reflected by the waters of Victoria, B.C.’s inner harbour

Also posted in My Work

A Creative Choice: Colour or Black and White

“A photo shoot on Vancouver Island…?” Tell me when. I’m always ready!

Several Vancouver Island destinations completely capture my interest and imagination. Victoria harbour, Chesterman Beach near Tofino, B.C. and Cowichan Bay just south of Duncan, B.C. are some of my favourites.

Last year, I made two early morning treks to Cowichan Bay. Opening to the east the growing intensity of predawn light gradually reveals shapes, lines and patterns of this beautiful west coast landscape.

I like to plan my arrival at Cowichan Bay to coincide with the emergence of ‘first light’. Usually, I locate myself at the community boat launch which allows an almost 180 degree view of the bay, marinas and surrounding hills. By the time I have my tripod and camera set up the glassy surface of the bay begins to emerge from the blackness of night.

As the light intensifies, surface breezes begin to tickle the water. Gorgeous reflections persist where headlands and wharves protect the stillness of the water. The resulting patterns and tones are so beautiful. Mist that hugs the distant hills and mountains begins to rise with the heat of the first rays of the sun. The haunting screeching of seagulls indicates that their relentless search for food has begun for the day. So beautiful!

The emerging light of sunrise reveals the tranquility of Cowichan Bay.

The emerging light of sunrise reveals the tranquility of Cowichan Bay.

The emergence of the sun reveals a much different landscape. So colourful! I visualize the jaunty activity and beauty of the many pleasure craft, tugs, fishing boats and their surroundings as colour images. However, my vision of the monotones created by the emerging light of a Cowichan Bay dawn are best presented in black and white.

Also posted in My Work

The Saguaro: Cactus with Character

My first encounter with the desert in Arizona was on a road trip shortly after retiring in 2002. Staying at an RV resort near Blythe, California close to the Arizona border we decided one day to trek over to Quartzite, Arizona, a 20 minute journey.

Rave reviews circulated that the ‘Quartzite Yacht Club’ served a great plate of fish and chips. Interesting, we thought.

The ‘Quartzite Yacht Club’ was a club in name only. There was no water….no boats either….just pictures on its rough board walls of wave cresting sailboats and lots of dust. True to it’s billing, the fish and chips were indeed very good.

As I recall the trip now, the ‘Yacht Club’ was also known as a hangout for those who loved to bet on the horses. Half a dozen TV screens hung on the walls each broadcasting a different race. Sitting at a corner wicket a crusty babe busily collected money and passed out tickets and winnings. Memorable for the absurdity of the moment was that she was smoking up a storm while connected to an oxygen bottle. Quite the scene.

The desert around Quartzite was rocky, dry and dusty. Vegetation was sparse. Ideal for rock hounds and desert rats but I found little of interest there and looked forward to getting back to California. I had lots to learn.

Extending over the distant mountain saguaros stand as sentinels in this rocky environment.

Extending over the distant mountain saguaros stand as sentinels in this rocky environment.

After almost annual trips to the Desert Southwest in Arizona and countless hikes in the desert my perspective has changed. Regardless of the terrain interesting images are there for the taking. Vast scenes of rocky outcrops, wind blown designs in the sand, grasses reaching deep for life giving moisture or a high flying raptor searching for its next meal are all subjects for interesting compositions.

Saguaro and other cactus thrive in rocky outcrops.

Saguaro and other cactus thrive in rocky outcrops.

My favourite areas to hike and make photographs are where the saguaros grow. The saguaro stands above the many species of cactus that thrive in these areas. No two saguaros are the same. Each seems to have a personality. Many stand straight like soldiers. Some can exceed 40 feet in height. Character comes with the development of arms that appear when a saguaro is between 75 and 100 years old. Some seem to be swinging their arms as if dancing, others saluting, clapping or even pointing directions. Older saguaro offer housing for birds that peck holes for their nests.

Character and expression seems to emerge when Saguaros develop  arms

Character and expression seems to emerge when Saguaros develop arms

Last week I found a trail in the Tonto National Forest where many huge saguaros reside. This past weekend I journeyed to the Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. Reaching well in to Mexico this ecosystem has wonderful saguaros seemingly standing in regiments for as far as the eye can see. This weekend I hope to hike in the Pikachu Peak State Park near Casa Grande, Arizona to photograph the saguaro and hopefully, desert wildflowers.

Also posted in My Work

Blog Silence: A Creative Funk

Photography and blogging has been on the back burner this past two weeks. I’ve been distracted. This month two friends both of whom had a huge impact on me passed away. Louise Burgart was a colleague of mine during my term on the Council of the B.C. College of Teachers. Her patient demeanour helped Council navigate though some difficult times. Stanley French was a former president and later Director of Communication and Executive Director of the British Columbia Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association. His integrity, honesty, and friendship guided me through my term as the Association’s president. My thoughts this past few weeks have been with them. I will miss them both.

Yesterday, I was finally able to sit down with my images and begin the process of selecting those that I will post to my website. My website has been active for several years. As mentioned previously, I built it. For some, not a big deal. But for me, a Geezer, it has been a real challenge at times.

I chose my site on a WordPress platform. That was fortunate. I found lots of material on You Tube and on the ‘Net’ to guided me through the process. Even better, I purchased a theme package from Photocrati. It provided the look that appealed to me. In my opinion, their technical support was second to none. It had to be.

A ‘tinkerer’ at heart, I’m always tweaking and trying to make changes to my website. Sometimes, that’s been good but on other occasions it’s been a disaster. Lots of lessons learned.

Scrutinizing my images has been interesting. I’ve become really picky. Images that at one time I wouldn’t hesitate to post on my website or for that matter on Facebook or Flickr, now don’t make the cut. So, in the next few weeks and certainly before I return to Canada my website will have a different look and much of the content will have been changed. Stay tuned!

The skeleton of the S.S. Dicky slowly erodes into the sand

The skeleton of the S.S. Dicky slowly erodes into the sand

This image will make the cut. The S.S. Dicky ran aground in February 1893 on what is now called Dicky Beach near Caloundra, Queensland in Australia. Plans are in place to move the wreck as a matter of public safety.

I was on Dicky beach well before sunrise on a beautiful morning in April, 2010. Several other photographers showed up shortly after my arrival. Sunrise was spectacular. I captured images from many different angles. My only regret is that I didn’t have a tripod due to airline weight restrictions. A long exposure image would have been great. Now I’ll have to live with this image and others I captured at the time. The wreck of the S.S. Dicky will have been moved by the time I get there again. Dang!!!

Also posted in Education, My Work