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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ross Bay Cemetery

On the eastern side of Clover Point is a large semicircular bay called Ross Bay. It's named after one of the early factors of the Hudson's Bay Company who had a farm on the shores of the bay. That farm became the Ross Bay Cemetery after the death of his widow and it contains the graves of many Victorians who were prominent in the early days of the city. Next week we'll look at what I saw when I recently spent an afternoon there.

Friday, January 30, 2015

After Dark in Old Town - Lower Johnson Street

The southern side of Market square is marked by lower Johnson Street, where many of the most colorful and interesting of the old town heritage buildings can be found.

All these night shots for the last week or so were taken with an SMC Takumar 28mm lens. This is another of these old Pentax lenses I rave about from time to time, this one made in 1971. These night shots offer good examples of some of the qualities I prize in these lenses. First, they are incredibly sharp. To illustrate this I have left the larger version of today's photo at full size (7360 pixels X 4912 pixels), although I have compressed it into a smaller file so it can be uploaded and viewed without waiting for five minutes. Click the photo and then click it again to see it full size. Scroll around and look at the details - the moldings on the building and the writing on the parking meter for examples. Secondly I love the way this lens renders color. It's accurate but just a little richer and more saturated than reality. I often find myself taking phtos of stuff around the house and marveling at how it looks better through this lens than it looks through my eyes.
For those of you who may be interested in the technical aspects, the lens is a fully manual lens - I have to choose the aperture (for these night shots I closed it down to f5.6 or f8) and then focus manually. The camera selects an appropriate shutter speed. I used a tripod for the night shots - shot them at low ISO (80-100) and long exposures. The lens was made originally for Pentax cameras. I use it by putting an adapter on my Sony A7r mirrorless camera.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

After Dark in Old Town - Market Square

When Swans Hotel was built in 1913 it was as an extension of the grain business developed by the Peden Brothers and carried on in what is now Market Square. In the photo above you can see Swans Hotel on the far left. The photo is of the "front" of Market Square that faces the harbour. Market square is now home to many shops, boutiques and restaurants. The interior of the square (below) is used for many different kinds of events throughout the year though it is pretty quiet in the winter. Click HERE to visit the Market Square website.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

After Dark in Old Victoria - Swans Hotel

Just around the corner from Chinatown is this landmark heritage building, Swans Hotel, at the bottom of Pandora Street. Originally erected as a feed store in 1913, it was completely re-purposed about thirty years ago by Michael Williams, the man responsible for a number of other heritage restorations in Victoria's old town. You can read more of the history of this building by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

After Dark - Chinatown Tea and Coffee Houses

And after a delicious meal what could be better than a cup of coffee (above) or tea (below)? Though it's only a couple of square blocks, Victoria's Chinatown is another world, one well worth exploring.

Monday, January 26, 2015

After Dark - Chinatown Shops and Restaurants

I promised last week that we'd have some more Chinatown after Dark. You can buy almost anything in Chinatown, from paper umbrellas to pomegranates. You can find stuff here that you can't find anywhere else in this city - like durian or cassava. But it's not just curiosities or curios; you can also find whatever groceries you need too. And when you're tired of shopping and are hungry there's a wide range of restaurants - some specialize in noodles, others in dim sum or won ton. It's all good.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ramblin' in Saanich

I took a walk down West Saanich Road in the rain and while it's a busy road there are little glimpses of it's rural beauty if you stop to have a look. This time of year the sense of quiet waiting is palatable in the air; spring isn't here yet, but it's coming. - Fern

Saturday, January 24, 2015

After Dark - Chinatown

Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and though it's not very extensive it has a very distinctive character. Next week we'll have a look at what it's like after dark.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Highrock Park

Highrock Park is a small neighbourhood park in Esquimalt. It's close to where I live and I take frequent photo walks there in the spring. At that time of year it is a riot of spring flowers and migratory birds passing through on their way north. However, since it is basically a very large rock with shallow pockets of soil supporting its vegetation, it dries out very fast once summer begins. Then I usually ignore it until the next spring brings it back to life. Recently, however, I decided to check it out during this season and was pleasantly surprised. No flowers, of course, but it was generally fairly green and pleasant. This photo was taken looking westward towards Esquimalt Harbour and the Metchosin Hills. Those large cranes visible just to the right of the tree are at the Esquimalt Graving Dock, a facility capable of servicing very large ships such as cruise ships and naval vessels.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Winter Sun on Saxe Point

Winter sunlight has a particular quality. Because the sun is so low in the sky it often seems like sunset starts in early afternoon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bateman Gallery

To round out our afternoon on the Inner Harbour here is a detail of some of the columns on the classically styled Robert Bateman Centre. This was built originally to serve as the Canadian Pacific Steamship Terminal and was also designed by Francis Mawson Rattenbury, responsible for the design of the buildings in the previous two days' posts.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Empress Hotel

Francis Rattenbury was the architect responsible for the British Columbia Legislative Assembly Buildings pictured yesterday and was also responsible for centrepiece of today's photo, the Empress Hotel. This view was taken from where a tourist amusement called Undersea Gardens used to be. The floating Undersea Gardens building has been towed away and what now occupies the location is a small wharf where the Harbour Ferry stops to pick up and drop off passengers. The low white structure in front of the hotel on the right side of the photo is a small skating rink erected so that children here can have a taste of what the rest of this country enjoys at this time of year.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Legislative Assembly Building

Last week I was down on the Inner Harbour taking advantage of some warm and sunny weather to try out a "new" legacy lens - a Super-Takumar 35mm 1:3.5. This lens was made for Pentax film cameras about 50 years ago. I use it on my Sony camera with an adapter. Since the sun was behind the Legislature, shooting the building while facing it didn't work well so I took this shot from the side. I think I like it better than the head-on shots that are more typical.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

China Beach

Yesterday some friends visiting from out of town desperately wanted to go up the coast and check out China Beach and even though is was rainy and blowing we made the trek. Wow! It was beautiful and I am glad we did it. I've made a pledge to myself that we will do it more often too; it's easy to take for granted the wild and rugged coast we live on but thanks to people who don't live here I see it again! - Fern

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Marina - Looks Like Summer

Our weather this week has been positively balmy, up to 10 or 11 degrees Celsius (about 50°F). This photo of the West Bay Marina taken earlier in the week looks positively HOT.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Snowdrops - Looks Like Spring

Every year I post a photo of Snowdrops. It's usually one from around the yard but I noticed this bunch in an old barrel while out for a walk around the neighborhood. These flowers bloom so early in the year they don't really count as spring flowers but it sure is nice to see them as well as the odd little daisy popping up in the lawns.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Out for a Stroll

The sun came out on Wednesday and warm weather brought Victorians of all kinds out for a stroll or a run or a graze. These Canada Geese went for a swim later but the rest of us were content with walking or running around. The photo was taken in Rainbow Park, a tiny little green space on the Songhees Walkway.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Usually I try to post photos that are current but sometimes, like today, I am forced to post something archival because I have nothing current. Here are a couple of photos I noticed recently when I was archiving photos I took last November. They were taken during the blustery dramatic days of late autumn on the West Bay Walkway and seem to capture that season well. The panorama below is BIG - click on it once or twice to see it full size.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I took this photo standing on Saxe Point looking east. The next point in view is Macaulay Point. On the upper right of this photo you can see some green meadows - those meadows are on Macaulay Point. Out of sight beyond Macaulay Point is the next point, Work Point, which marks one side of the entrance to the Inner Harbour.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Government Street at Night

I heard somewhere that movie directors often spray streets with water before shooting because the reflections make the scene much more interesting. Since then I've noticed a lot of gratuitous rained-on streets in films. These photos of Government Street at night seem to support this technique - that wash of color from the lights reflected in the moisture on the pavement adds a lot to these photos.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Oh Winter

We went for a walk today and it was such a grey, grey day...I love it all the same. - Fern

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Winter Flowers

Saxe Point Park is quite a small park but as well as a nice patch of forest (with an eagle's nest and some resident Bald Eagles) it has some more formal gardens. It's a popular place to get married and there is a special grove designed for this ceremony. All this is at its best during the summer months, of course, but I enjoyed seeing the Hellebore blooming even now.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Songhees Point

The weather here has warmed up and we've been getting some sunshine too so I took a walk around Songhees Point with another of these old Takumar lenses. It sure is nice to see the sun again.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Heritage Brick

Here's another of Vic West's beautiful Heritage homes, built in 1890. The cost of construction was reported in 1891 as $2,400. Times have changed! Most of Victoria's older homes are wood construction - hardly surprising since this province has always had plenty of timber.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Vic West

Vic West is mostly a residential neighborhood, but the range of residences is quite varied. The condos above, for instance are only a few hundred yards from the Queen Anne style house pictured yesterday. When I first saw these condos I didn't like them very much but their cheerful colors and interesting shapes have grown on me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter Bonus

Winter does have its benefits and here is one of them. During the summer I often catch tantalizing glimpses of this lovely old Queen Anne style heritage home in Vic West. I can never see very much of it then, however, because when its trees are in leaf it is nearly completely hidden behind foliage. Winter remedies this problem.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Black and White Walkway

I've been shooting black and white lately because with the weather so overcast and gray it seems that most of the color is drained out of the landscape anyway and black and white just avoids the problem of the colorless environment. And sometimes like in the photo above, black and white actually looks warmer than a color shot of the same scene. This photo was shot during a brief moment when the sun peeked through the clouds. I had one these old Takumar lenses on my camera, this one a 28mm f3.5 prime lens. It gives a quite a wide field of view with nice detail from from a few feet away to infinity.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Post Modern Landscape

These are the genius of Rosie, 3rd generation Victoria Daily Photo blogger and she took these pictures "because she thought they looked cool." I acted as curator and I have to agree. - Fern

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Black Turnstone and Brewer's Blackbird

While I was out at Esquimalt Lagoon I was so focused on the Goldeneye and the Pintail ducks that I almost didn't see these little Black Turnstones and the female Brewer's Blackbird (far right). The saying is "Birds of a feather flock together" and it certainly seems to be true most of the time. However, I've begun to notice that sometimes there will be quite a mixture of species hanging out together. In the case above I think it was just chance that the Turnstones and the Blackbirds were intermixed since they were both feeding on the same bit of shoreline. But in the city here I have often noticed robins flying and feeding with starling flocks during the winter. In our back yard, the House Finches and House Sparrows don't seem to mind sharing the feeder and nearby roosts but both are quite intolerant of any Chickadees that try to share.

Friday, January 2, 2015

My First Hybrid

I've mentioned before that one of the challenges faced by a novice birder like myself is that many birds look different in different seasons and at various stages of their lives. However, there is a further though rarer challenge and that is that some species of birds interbreed occasionally and produce hybrids that may bear some of the characteristics of both parent species. Above is an example. There are two species of Goldeneye Ducks, the Common Goldeneye and the Barrow's Goldeneye. Differences in head shape, size and plumage distinguish the two species. However, occasionally they interbreed and produce a hybrid such as can be seen in the photo above. The hybrid is second from the left. He bears the teardrop-shaped white cheek patch characteristic of the Barrow's Goldeneye but the black and white pattern on his back is much closer to the Common Goldeneyes that surround him than is usual with the Barrow's Goldeneyes. Below is a photo of some Barrow's Goldeneyes for comparison. Note particularly the bird on the far right of the photo as he is the only male.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Elegant, Dapper Northern Pintail

I can't think of a better photo to start the New Year with than this neatly attired, spotless and immaculately groomed Northern Pintail Duck as seen recently on the clear blue waters of Esquimalt Lagoon. Below is his mate, more demure but equally attractive.