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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beacon Hill Spring Bouquet

It's said that when Hudson Bay Factor (and later Governor) James Douglas was sailing past this place in 1843, he saw these meadows of Camas Lilies on the slopes of Beacon Hill and decided to found Fort Victoria nearby. What he thought was a natural phenomenon we now know was a human artifact. These glorious meadows are the result of selective cultivation by the local Lekwammen native people, who harvested the edible roots of the Blue Camas Lily as food. They called Victoria "Camosun", which means something like "place of Camas." While the Camas here are no longer harvested, they still form a fabulous carpet of blue on Beacon Hill at this time of year. The intermixed white flowers are Fawn Lilies and the yellow are Buttercups.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Raptors on the Causeway

Yesterday's photo of the high-style canine reminded me of other animals on the Inner Harbour Causeway. Above is a man having his photo taken with a falcon. A photographer on the causeway offers this service and will print photos of you with this magnificent raptor and an Inner Harbour scene in the background. Well worth the $5 it costs.

To the left is another raptor I spied recently on the Causeway. This is one of a number of Bald Eagle statues that have been painted by local artists and distributed around the city. This particular eagle, entitled "Free Fall", was painted by Wendy "Sage River" Rogers. The eagles will remain in place until the spring of 2010, when they will be auctioned to raise money for the BC Lions' Easter Seals Campaign that raises money for children with disabilities. To find out more about this campaign, visit Eagles in the City.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Self Portrait

As the summer season begins, sunny days provide a good excuse for bringing out those designer sunglasses. This pooch on a stroll with his valet was recently sighted catching some rays on the Inner Harbor Causeway.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Times Colonist 10k Run

The youngster checking his time above must be one of the youngest competitors in this year's Times Colonist 10k run but there were runners of every age and ability in this mini-marathon on Sunday morning. The Times Colonist, our local newspaper, in publication since the 1850's, has been sponsoring this race for the last 20 years to raise money for charities. This year they raised money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and for children's literacy programs through their "Raise-a-Reader" program. While the child above may not be the youngest, the gentleman crossing the finish line on the right, at 80 years old, is almost certainly the oldest runner, but everyone who particpated can be proud to have done so.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Adding a Little Color to the Causeway

One of the more interesting aspects of the Inner Harbour Causeway is that not only can you buy the works of artists, you can often see them creating their artworks while you watch. Prints and often originals of art produced here are usually for sale. The artist above is Martin Machacek. His vibrant colors and unique style are very attractive. Not surprisingly, most of his original paintings are in galleries or in the hands of private collectors. However, if you're lucky you might snap one up on the Causeway. In any case he's got some excellent reproductions of his work you can enjoy inexpensively. To find out more about this artist and his work, visit his website:

The Causeway's live musicians generally have CDs also. When you like the music you hear, ask the performer for one of his or her CDs - they usually have some for sale.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Similkameen Valley

Those of you who visit this blog regularly will know that I've been on holiday recently, into the southern interior of our province, British Columbia. I visited an area generally known as the Okanagan. This is a semi-arid desert climatic zone where farming is dependent on irrigation. The land is very fertile and many of the farmers in the Similkameen Valley are organic.During the week I was there my friends (one of whom has just started a blog about this area, Cawston, Canada) drove me around so I could take lots of photos. Over the next few days I'll post more photos of the splendid sagebrush country and its sights.This old wagon is part of a display at a BC heritage site where there is an old grist mill. The horses below represent some of the animal life I saw.

Friday, April 24, 2009


With the beautiful warm weather Victoria has been having our slightly late spring has gone into overdrive with blossoming trees that seem to light up the streets more brilliantly than mere sunlight can do. Here's one in James Bay that I particularly like.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Getting Home

By the time this image is posted I will be riding this ferry or one very much like it in order to return to Victoria from the mainland. I've had a wonderful trip but it will be nice to get back home and see how spring is progressing in Victoria. See you soon!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the Road....

I'm still on the road so here's a photo of an old Ford I came across in this BC interior town I'm visiting. I should be back in Victoria tomorrow night.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In case...

...I'm not back when I figure to be back (today), here's an image I took on the 15th of April, a glorious sunny day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cherry Blossoms 2009

What would a photoblog be without a few cherry blossoms in the spring? So, here's mine for this year, captured in the grounds of Government House here in Victoria, a lovely place well worth a visit and one to which I will be returning soon (when it's NOT raining).

Sunday, April 19, 2009


So, ART is the door? Behind the door? 420 is where ART is to be found? 420 is the address of someone named "ART"?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Roberts Bank Superport

When I left Vancouver Island earlier this week I took a ferry across to Tsawassen, on the mainland of British Columbia. The Tsawassen Ferry Terminal is adjacent to the Roberts Bank Superport, also known as Deltaport. I took this photo last summer because I liked how the cranes look like mechanical animals grazing amongst the containers and piles of coal.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Inner Harbour - Spring 2009

Easter weekend saw the unofficial opening of Victoria's Inner Harbour Causeway, and there were lots of Victorians and a few tourists out enjoying it whenever the sun came out for awhile. This Good Friday also included the first causeway performance of the year by one-man-band bluesman, Dave Harris. Dave's been busking on the causeway for over 30 years and has entertained hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city. That's him surrounded by his instruments in the lower left of the above photo. Above him towards the center, under the large white umbrella, is another Causeway veteran, artist/caricaturist Dean Lewis. As the weather warms up they'll be joined by the many other artists and entertainers that make a visit to Victoria a memorable experience. To find out more about the Causeway artists and entertainers, visit their website by clicking HERE. If you visit Victoria make sure you stop by and say hello to Dave and Dean and tell them I sent you. Below is a photo of Dave Harris doing what he does so well, making music.Dave Harris has a MySpace page: and a YouTube Channel: where you can see him on many different videos.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Vic West Skate Park

Here's another archival image from late last spring, of the skate park in Victoria West. I'm planning another visit here in the next month or so but next time I'm going to be shooting through a fish-eye lens.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Street Art 3

This sultry lass peeks over the edge of a building roof in Victoria's Chinatown, above Fisgard Street. Do you think it's by the same artist who did the drawing I posted on the 12th of April?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Old and New

Though this long weekend was mostly gray and rainy, we had a sunny day on Good Friday. I took this photo because I liked the contrast between the two means of water transport. On the far left is the Victoria Clipper, a high speed catamaran passenger ferry that operates between here and Seattle. On the far right is one of Victoria's resident tall ships, the Pacific Swift, a sail training vessel for young people.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I'm not too sure what a majorette is. They seem to be a completely North American development. I suspect that originally they were modeled after the drum majors who led pipe bands and used their batons to signal group movements. Majorettes on the other hand appear to be entirely decorative, sort of martial cheer leaders. The young lady above graced last year's Victoria Day Parade - usually held on the May 24th weekend in celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday. I'll be dipping into the archives a little for the next ten days or so since I am traveling out of town for a brief vacation. I've lined up a number of current photos mixed with others that I like that got skipped over during the last year. I hope you enjoy them too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Street Art 2

I don't much like the term "Street Art," particularly since, as in the above example, it may not be on the street. This one is under the Gorge Bridge. But I've been using "street art" for want of a better term. I've been avoiding the use of the word "graffiti" because it has associations with writings on lavatory walls and or with scrawlers who simply have identity issues ("Kilroy was here!") though there is often socially significant content in these writings on walls. (For a time, when I was a grad student (Anthropology), I used to collect writings I found in men's washrooms. They are witty and creative surprisingly often, but I digress....) I'm also reluctant to describe the kind of public art seen in the photos above and below as "popular art" because it seems a little patronizing - as if it's not "real" art in the same way that comic books are not considered to be "real" literature. I hope someone out there can suggest a better term.

I think it's interesting that while we all applaud "art" and revere professional artists, these unknown street artists work in the depths of the night for fear of arrest and often decorate difficult locations at considerable bodily risk. (No Canada Council Grants for these guys - they're lucky if they don't get thrown in the pokey!)

In reference to the artwork above, I am impressed by the location chosen as well as by the execution. And the somewhat cynical, world weary expression on the face is not the work of some immature vandal.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Street Art

I've featured this building before, last year, when it was lacking this artistic comment. These blue pacman ghosts are an inspired addition to a burnt out heritage building that has been looking for restoration for a long time now. We have some perceptive and talented street artists here in Victoria and this unknown spray-bomber gets two thumbs up from me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pinks Revisited

The two blossoming trees featured in yesterday's photo (below) are visible on the right side in todays photo. This photo was actually taken a few days earlier when I was out on the Westsong Walkway trying out the new telephoto lens, and was taken from about two kilometers distant from downtown. The driveway visible to the right of the trees is where I was standing when I took yesterday's photo. The old Custom House in yesterday's photo is hidden behind the condo on the far left of today's photo.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


A return today to cool, gray weather and while I was on a short trip downtown I stopped to enjoy these three shades of pink. The building is the old Custom House (1875) on Wharf Street just above Ship Point. It's also visible at the top of the page on the right side of the header photo. The parking lot serves the seaplane terminals off-camera to the left.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Westsong Walkway

When I went out the other day to try and get a photo of the elephant seal, I walked along a section of the Westsong Walkway I had not seen before. While I've posted many photos of this walkway I've never actually walked its entire length. It's about two and a half miles (4 km) in length. I'm a cyclist and it's for pedestrians only. As a result I tend to cycle to the area I want to see and then walk down to the walkway. Well, walking it from end to end has now been added to the list of things I have to do this year.... In the meantime, here's a shot of this section of this walkway as it passes through Victoria West, one that also gives a hint of the glorious, balmy spring weather we've been having.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The one that got away....

Just when I thought I had wildlife photography figured out ("...get the camera perfectly set up and then just wait"), I learned something new - you have to pay attention because when something happens it often happens very quickly. Yet, though I snapped the shutter about 1/1000th of a second too late for what I wanted, I still like the above image for its nice parallels and its simplicity. And I am still enjoying discovering how to use my 300mm prime telephoto, as in the photo to the right. It was a bright, warm and sunny day and I also encountered the two harbour seals below cruising the Gorge. I suspect they were after herring since they are running now.
I also went out looking for an elephant seal yesterday, since one was reported to be moulting on the beach near where I live. It was, alas, gone. However, you can see a photo of it on my neighbour's blog "Cafe Jabbaccino."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shoal Point Decorative Motifs

One of the things I like about old buildings is that often they have details whose only purpose is to delight the eye. Modern buildings are generally well finished but lack those decorative little grace notes on the corners and edges. The condominium development at Shoal Point in James Bay is a fine exception to this as can be seen in this selection of images from the decorative cement work there.
This condo is directly across the harbour from where I live so it has inevitably appeared in some other postings, here and here. If you want to live in Shoal Point you must be pretty well-heeled. There is currently a one bedroom for sale at $479,000. (Actually not as expensive as I had imagined.)
Not everybody likes this building. Click here for a another point of view.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Old Friends

The cherry trees are blossoming now in Victoria's streets and the temperature is warm enough so that people can stop and chat with one another. I like this photo because these people look like they are old friends. Friendship is not so highly rated in today's culture as romantic or sexual relationships, yet it's an important aspect of social life. In today's highly mobile culture it is difficult to maintain friendships and I suspect most of us have no more than a few really close friends from our youth and childhood, when we make friends most easily. True friendship is probably our most selfless relationship in that it's not based on the exchange of sexual, emotional or economic favors and is defined neither legally nor genetically. It's one of those things that we know when we have it and we know when we don't have it but we find it difficult to say exactly what it is. If you have a few good old friends, count yourself a lucky person.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Another Seagull

After a gray, cold, rainy week, blue skies returned this afternoon and I went out to test the new (used) 300mm telephoto lens. It's another old prime lens and what better subject than one of Victoria's ubiquitous seagulls. This one was perched on top of a power pole about a hundred meters from where I was standing. I'm pretty pleased with the lens. And I learned that if you get ready to click the shutter and then wait, wildlife will almost certainly do something more interesting than just sit there. All you have to do is be ready.

Friday, April 3, 2009

And now, for something completely different....

On my way home from Gonzales Hill Park last weekend I stopped at Ross Bay Cemetery, which is just below the park. It is a splendid place to take photographs any time but I wanted something different, something eerie, ghostly....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Of Lions and Lenses

Lately I've been collecting old lenses for my camera (mostly because I can't afford new lenses but also because I'm still very much an experimental, neophyte photographer and don't really know what different kinds of lenses do). Anyway, I recently bought a multi-coated 105 mm f2.8 Takumar lens for $10 and, with an adapter, stuck it onto the front of my Sony DSLR. This is all manual now: focus first, then set the aperture using a ring on the lens case, then set the shutter speed. It sounds a bit much compared to today's fully automatic photography but I found that with just a little practice it's quite easy. The through the lens metering system still works and indicates when the shutter speed and aperture combination will provide the correct exposure. Well, I'm very pleased with this lens. Nice color and very sharp images. The photo above is also an example of learning from another photographer. I always liked Chuck Pefley's shot of this lion from his trip to Victoria last year. This is my attempt to emulate that shot. You can see the original version on Chuck's Seattle Daily Blog by clicking here. The lions (2) stand one on each side of the Gate of Harmonious Interest on Fisgard Street in Victoria's Chinatown.

IF you're interested in lenses, read on: The lens mentioned above is a prime lens, meaning that although it is telephoto, it does not zoom in. If want something in the frame to be bigger you must physically move closer. Nor does it zoom out - if you want something to be smaller you must move back. I have a couple of other prime lenses: a 135 mm f3.5 and yesterday I bought a 300 mm f5.5. If it wasn't a miserable rainy day today I'd be out trying the latter since I am very excited by the sharpness of the test shots I took with it. It probably sounds like I have money to burn but I paid less than $50 total for all three of these lenses because they're old, manual and don't fit on modern cameras without adapters. I found them in thrift stores. You can buy adapters on E-bay. All three of the lenses above are M42 screw mounts so I only needed one adapter ($7). Yesterday's flower photos (below) were also taken with the 105 mm lens.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grape Hyacinths and ...?

Some of the earliest spring flowers here are these Grape Hyacinths. To me these rather prim, tight-lipped, old-maidish blossoms look very unlike "wild" flowers but they seem to be coming up all over the place and there is something undeniably luscious about them. Below is a mystery flower - I don't know what it is but I am hoping one of you visitors can tell me.