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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Up Island Roadtrip

We love to head out on Highway 1 and explore this beautiful island we call home. This is the view off Cobble Hill Road facing northwest towards Duncan. - Fern

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labour Day Weekend

I thought I'd close this week's posts with another shot of the Legislative Assembly Building with usual scattering of tourists at this time of year. This coming weekend, a long weekend called Labour Day here in Canada, marks the end of summer since children return to school next week and Canada prepares for autumn and winter. Tourist season isn't really over - it is year round here - but the number of tourists certainly drops after Labour Day and drops again in mid-October when the last of the year's cruise ships docks at Ogden Point. It's hard to believe another summer has come and gone so quickly. I hope yours was as trouble-free and pleasant as ours.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lens Distortion 3

Stefan Jansson suggested in a comment on yesterday's post that a good experiment would be to shoot a panorama using a standard lens and that was precisely the thought that occurred to me as the next step. The photo above of the Empress Hotel was shot using a 35-70mm zoom at 35mm. The panorama consists of 9 shots altogether - 5 across the bottom and four on top. I wish I had included a bit more foreground but most of the foreground was Government Street with busy traffic and wouldn't have improved the photo. Also I would probably have needed a third strip of photos across the top if I had aimed lower for the bottom strip of photos. Aside from that, the distortion in the above photo certainly is less than in the single 10mm wide shot below, although the latter (shot several years ago) is much more dramatic. However, when all is said and done, it seems to me that some level of distortion is inevitable because of the nature of lenses. Even our eyes distort reality. In fact, we probably never know what anything really looks like. However, it behooves a photographer to at least have some awareness of how his or her equipment is affecting the image being created. This series has helped me to understand a bit of what happens when you point a lens at something.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lens Distortion 2

Yesterday I said I would try an experiment to reduce lens distortion on wide angle photos. Above is the BC Legislature through a 10mm wide angle lens. Note the way the walls seem to slant towards the center on the edges of the photo. Below is a stitched panorama of the same scene composed of two photos. Here all the walls are not sloping in but sloping out and if you compare the rooflines in the two photos you will see that in the top photo the rooflines are nice and straight but in the bottom photo they are sloping. Hmmm. Back to the drawing board I guess....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lens Distortion

Last year around this time I was exploring the way lenses distort reality. All lenses distort reality to some extent. (This, in my opinion, puts paid to the purist argument about the truth of images taken directly from the camera without further processing as against images that have been altered or enhanced after being downloaded from the camera.) Notice in the top photo how the Hatley Castle's walls appear to slope inward. This was caused by using an ultra-wide angle lens at its widest setting (10mm) in order to get the whole building inside the frame. The problem I was trying to deal with had to do with how to correct this lens distortion. The solution I found is below. Sometime later I returned to Hatley Castle and took a whole series of shots (10) with a 50mm lens. 50mm lenses are generally agreed to produce photos that are most like what our eyes see. These were then stitched together and straightened using software called Hugin. It produces enormous panoramas (the original of the shot below is over 10,000 pixels wide). The end result (below) is certainly much closer to what we see. The next challenge is to photograph the Legislative Assembly Buildings using the same technique. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Victoria in Black and White - Another Rattenbury

Today's photo provides a nice wrap-up to two photo series I've started in the last few weeks. Earlier in August we had a look at three of architect Francis Rattenbury's creations that frame Victoria's Inner Harbour. Nearby, there is a fourth, the Crystal Garden. Originally a swimming pool and recreation center, it is now a part of the Victoria Conference Centre. It is located at the bottom of Douglas Street, behind another Rattenbury building, the Empress Hotel. While not as monumental as the Empress Hotel, the CPR Terminal, or the Legislative Assembly Buildings, it is nonetheless an impressive building. It should be noted that Rattenbury designed The Crystal Garden and the CPR Terminal in conjunction with another architect, Percy James. This photo will also be the last in the series I started last week to explore black and white photography.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dallas Road 2

When you first look at a series of photos you can so easily pass things by that on a second look, really stand out. This simple composition captures the wide open feeling of this sun drenched ocean vista. - Fern

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dallas Road

This is a excellent little beach just below Holland Point to enjoy the sun and sea and watch all the comings and goings from Ogden Point. While we were there for a few hours one cruise ship docked and two more appeared on the horizon. - Fern

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Victoria in Black and White 4 - Chinese Public School

Here's one of many gems in our small Chinatown, the Chinese Public School, originally erected by Chinese residents because in the early days of Chinatown their children were barred from other schools. Though that need has thankfully passed into history the school is still used by the Chinese community to pass on aspects of their culture to the younger generation.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Victoria in Black and White 3 - Fisherman's Wharf

Here's a bunch of people enjoying their lunch on Fisherman's Wharf and not realizing they are being entertained by a truly amazing guitarist, Jean Bedard. Next time you pass a street performer, stop and listen, really listen - chances are you will be surprised at the quality of what you are hearing. Don't feel shy to leave a tip. Even superb musicians have to eat.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Victoria in Black and White 2 - The Suzhou Gate

Here is the gate that marks the entrance to Victoria's Chinatown. It was a gift from our sister city in China, Suzhou. I don't what we gave them in return but it is hard to imagine that it was anything as magnificent as this gate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Victoria in Black and White - The Delta Ocean Pointe Resort Hotel

I love color but lately I've been experimenting with black and white - mostly because I happened to be looking at some old prints of early photography when they used to use glass plates for negatives. The photos I was looking at had such rich contrasts and splendid detail that I wanted to try to reproduce that using modern technology. I don't feel I have succeeded yet but I am enjoying striving in that direction. The photo above is of the Delta Resort Hotel just off the western side of the Johnson Street Bridge. It's an imposing building on Songhees Point that is a little dwarfed by the newly built "Promontory" condo development just behind it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dragon Boat Festival

Last weekend crowds attended the annual Dragon Boat Festival in the Inner Harbour. This is a very big and popular event that attracts thousands of people to view races and other activities that are focused on raising money for the BC Cancer Foundation. In the last 6 years the races have raised over a half million dollars in support of Cancer research and treatment. Above, some of the competing dragon boats race past Laurel Point in James Bay.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lake Cowichan

Like old barns and babies, lily pads are impossible to resist with the camera. - Fern

Sunday, August 17, 2014


This sign is all that is left to what was once a popular dining tradition in this area; the "Chinese and Canadian Food Restaurant" which had a menu that included burgers and fries as well as chow mein and the like; the original fusion cuisine. Located on the city limits of Duncan, north of Victoria these old signs are becoming very rare indeed. - Fern

Saturday, August 16, 2014

After Dark 4 - The Inner Harbour

Another important contributor to the Inner Harbour's magic is the Inner Harbour itself - the water and the boats of all shapes and sizes that are moored there.

Friday, August 15, 2014

After Dark 3 - The Fairmont Empress Hotel

Here is the third Rattenbury-designed building that frames Victoria's Inner Harbour, the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Like the Legislative Assembly Building and the Bateman Centre it's also monumental, but with a completely different style. I suspect the differences in style between these three buildings may contribute to the feeling of many visitors that they are in some kind of theme park - here is Greekland (the Bateman Centre), over there is Romanland (The Legislative Assembly Building) and on the other side is a bit of French Chateau-land (the Fairmont Empress). Toss in the vaguely Art Nouveau Visitors' Centre (formerly a Mobil Gas Station) on the extreme left of the above photo and the mix becomes truly eclectic.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

After Dark 2 - The Robert Bateman Centre

Here's another Rattenbury design, formerly the Canadian Pacific Railway Steamship Terminal. Now the building houses a restaurant on the main floor with upper floors devoted to prints and paintings of Robert Bateman, a contemporary artist now resident on nearby Saltspring Island. It provides a dramatic contrast to the Legislative Assembly Building pictured in yesterday's post.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

After Dark - The Legislative Assembly Building

On summer days Victoria's Inner Harbour is full of life and color and, of course, thousands of visitors to the city. After dark its magic is different so I always try to get down there at least one summer evening every year. In the winter, it's usually too cold for me to venture there. It's hard to define the character of the Inner Harbour to find out where the magic lies but I'm sure the key to its charm must be credited to an early city architect, Francis Mawson Rattenbury. He designed the Legislative Assembly Building pictured here. It forms the centerpiece of a trio of buildings designed by the same architect. Rattenbury was also responsible for the CPR Steamship Terminal (now the Bateman Gallery) and the Empress Hotel (now the Fairmont Empress Hotel). These prominent buildings are very different in style and character and this gives the Inner Harbour a richness and interest it would not otherwise have.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Harbour Ferry Taxi

If you look on the right hand side of yesterday's photo you will see a several of these small ferries of different colors. They are all operated by Victoria Harbour Ferry but the different colors offer different services. Some operate like buses on fixed routes and schedules. Others offer tours of the Harbour or Gorge. The yellow and black ones such as pictured above operate like taxis, circulating around the harbour and picking up and carrying passengers wherever they want to go. Since most of the City of Victoria is close to the water these are very handy ways of moving around to see the sights and many tourists take advantage of them.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer on the Causeway

Here's what Victoria's Inner Harbour Causeway looked like on the weekend.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rough Seas

It was a wild night on the coast with the wind whipping up the surf. Quite dramatic but very cold! - Fern

Saturday, August 9, 2014

lunch 2 - The Sandwich

Above is the sandwich made from the tomato that was featured in yesterday's post. It was excellent although I think I should have left the tomato on the vine for another few days to get a little more sun-ripened sweetness. But I was impatient - you can't get tomatoes like this in the store and it seemed I'd been watching this one ripen since the dawn of time.... Wikipedia has a long article on sandwiches so if you want a little more food porn click HERE.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Here's a picture of what I'm going to be enjoying for lunch today, accompanied by some crisp lettuce, vegan mayonnaise and a vegan cheese slice on toasted whole-grain bread. This is a homegrown, organic, Beefsteak Tomato, vine-ripened in the back yard and I know just how delicious it will taste. I love summer for many reasons but one of them has got to be that the food is better than in the winter. I hope you too have a good lunch.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)

I mentioned yesterday that two kinds of hummingbirds are visiting our feeder. These photos are of the second kind, a Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus). Unlike the Anna's Hummingbird pictured yesterday, Rufous Hummingbirds are only here during the summer. Within the next month or so they will head south for a long flight that will carry them to their winter home in the Mexican state of Guerrero, an extraordinary journey for such a tiny creature.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hummingbird Delight

As I spend more time in the back yard this year I am starting to notice who likes what. The honeybees, for example, definitely prefer Oregano flowers. The Hummingbirds, on the other hand prefer the Fuchsia flowers. I say hummingbirds (plural) advisedly because while watching the Fuchsia yesterday morning, I noticed that there are two distinct kinds of hummingbirds visiting these flowers. Above is an Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna), probably a female. The other nectar eater dropping by occasionally is a Rufous Hummingbird and we will have a look at him tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Sandpipers come in large and small varieties and here are one of each. On the left is a Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos), one of the larger Sandpipers. On the right is a Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla), one of the smaller variety. I saw these on the shore of Esquimalt Lagoon yesterday, the first time I have seen either species.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Favorite Place

Victoria is having a hot and sunny summer and while I love every moment of it this is the the kind of spot where I'd like to be most. - Fern

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ogden Point Breakwater

The cruise ships that visit Victoria really light up the night sky. - Fern

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Busy as a ...

These little white flowers are on an oregano plant in our backyard herb garden and do the honeybees ever love them! Sometimes there will two or three bees sipping on a little cluster like this.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dave Harris - One Man Band

The Inner Harbour Causeway is humming with the vitality usual at this time of year. There's lots to eat and drink and interesting things to look at and buy and the whole scene is enlivened by music performed by our resident buskers. Above is a photo of Victoria's famed one man band, Dave Harris, performing on the Causeway. Below is a video of Dave doing a song written by another of our veteran causeway performers, Country Dave Ryerson. Country Dave is pictured to the right. The song is called "Now That You're Gone."