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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Well here we are at the last day of 2010. I'd like to say something profound but nothing comes to mind except to hope that everyone who visits here has had a good year on this planet. As well, you all have my best wishes for peace, happiness and prosperity in the year to come.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Summer Dreams

I'm indulging myself this week with a lazy browse through the archives. Today's photo is not Victoria but is from a trip I took to the interior of the province a couple of years ago. I can almost feel summertime heat radiating from this photo.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Postcard

While browsing through the archives I came across this photo of the MV Coho, the car ferry that operates between here and Port Angeles in Washington State, and was struck by how much it reminds me of a fifties postcard - something to do with the slightly washed out colors. It's also taken from an unusual vantage point - Macaulay Point. The rocky foreground is Work Point. Beyond it the Coho is moving through the entrance to the Inner Harbour.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Archival

Well I had plans to go out today and shoot some photos of the Bay Street (Point Ellice) Bridge but it is so damp and gray out there that I'm posting this photo from the archives - a warm summer evening on the Inner Harbour. I like how pleasantly watery it looks.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Miniature Gardens

I'm still fiddling around with various ways of photographing the very small and today's photograph of moss reminds me of a miniature tropical garden. Though mosses are one of the most primitive plants some of them bear a striking resemblance to bromeliads, plants that evolved much later.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Santa Was Here

Regular visitor Dean Lewis sent me this splendid video. Thanks Dean. Enjoy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Well, here it is Christmas Eve again. With my hands full of scotch tape and wrapping paper, etc. I've not had time to cook up a nice Christmas card for you so I'm recycling last year's. You all have my best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Victoria Clipper

While I have indicated the Victoria Clipper in other photos, I have not featured it in the past so here is a photo that shows one of the Clippers entering the Inner Harbour. That's Shoal Point on the left and Work Point on the right. The Clippers are high speed catamarans that carry passengers between Seattle and Victoria. I traveled down to Seattle last August on one and I recommend it highly. It takes about 3 hours to make the trip, depending on the weather.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blustery

This photo pretty much sums up our weather lately. Lots of wind and rain and when the sun breaks through, it's patchy and dramatic like this. However, it could be worse - it's not very cold and there's no snow.


After my announcement of the eclipse yesterday I discovered that it had actually already taken place. This sort of thing has happened to me before and it gives me the opportunity to air a grievance. When someone says "Tuesday night" I always think of the period of darkness that follows Tuesday daytime. The eclipse so glibly referred to in the media as occurring on "Tuesday night" apparently occurred on what I consider to be Monday night or Tuesday morning since it was the period of darkness that immediately followed Monday daytime. Oh well, I would have missed it anyway...but now I have to wait another 372 years.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice

Talk about a mixed bag! I went out last night to try to capture some Christmassy house decorations. There were some nice life-size plastic carollers nearby but when I arrived there I found the high winds had blown them all over so they looked like they'd been drinking too much. Inside the house however, my daughter and I began playing with some of the lenses I've accumulated over the last few years. This picture was taken (by my daughter) with a filter called "Multi-vision." I like the effect and it's a pretty picture to mark what for me is an important day - the winter solstice. Today is the shortest day of the year with little more than 8 hours of daylight here in Victoria. From now on, however, the days begin to lengthen and that means we're on the downhill slope to summer, even though the weather may get colder for the next couple of months. Tonight also, we have an eclipse of the moon, an event that has not coincided with the winter solstice since 1638.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brian DeBunce Music

Exactly two years ago I posted the above photo of the Dockside Green totem pole. Now this photo appears as the cover of an album of fine new age music entitled, appropriately, "Totem." The music is written and performed by Brian DeBunce and you can hear and/or buy some of it using the player below. I always liked this photo and am happy to see it in use with such fine music.
Click here to visit Brian's website and find out more about this musician.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crypsis

Crypsis (my new word for the day) means hiding and is used to refer to the camouflage employed by certain plants and animals to avoid predation by blending into the background. It might seem hard to apply this to the outstanding mushroom above but I will only mention that it is one a clump of about 75 big fat mushrooms that have been growing in plain sight for some time only a few steps off the West Bay Walkway. Despite my eagle-eyed pursuit of fungi, these guys passed unnoticed for a week or more because they are precisely the same color as autumn's fallen leaves and their clump, at a glance from above, just looks like a pile of leaves.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Flowers in December

After yesterday's experiments with depth of field I went out for my walk hoping to see something that would lead to an inspired use of this new understanding. I don't think I succeeded with either of these photos but it was so nice to see some blue sky and some flowers that it doesn't matter. I don't know what this flowering bush is called but any plant that can put out such clusters of spring in mid-December gets my respect.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Depth of Field

We had some sun and blue skies today but I got engrossed in some experiments indoors with regard to various lenses I own and depth of field. Today's photos were shot with the 90mm macro lens. On the left, with the lens open to its maximum aperture f2.8. On the right with the lens closed down to its minimum aperture f32. Below is midway between the two - f16. These are the images I expected to result but for me it was valuable to actually see the difference aperture size makes. In all these photos, the number "9" was nearest to the lens and the number "3" was most distant.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blur

Ever since I started to take photos with a digital camera I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to get sharp images. It's a special challenge to do this digitally because the smallest unit of color digitally is a pixel whereas with film, the smallest unit is a molecule of whatever photosensitive chemical is used on the film. And, while a pixel is pretty small, a molecule allows for much finer detail. But along with this quest for increased sharpness I have grown aware of the beauty, variety and uses of blur and now, in addition to my ongoing search for increased sharpness, I also try to gain more control over blur. Today's photos are results of some recent attempts to produce a very shallow depth of field (lots of blur) by shooting with a wide aperture (between f1.4 and f4) and using a short extension tube. My underlying goal here was to isolate the subject of the photo by having everything else blurry. My favorite kind of blur is very smooth and creamy as in the photo above. But I also like the more patterned blur as in the photo below. Either, however, serves to isolate the subject of the photo and draw attention to it. The more proper photographic term for the out-of-focus areas of a photo is bokeh and Wikipedia has a good article on it.

Above is a species of Usnea lichen, probably Usnea filipendula. Below is the remains of a seed cluster from English Ivy (Hedera helix).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coal in THEIR Stockings For Sure

Above, busy with a cell phone and an i-Pod, passersby fail to notice Mr. and Mrs. Santa strolling by on Victoria's Government Street.

Below, what looks like a normally busy day in downtown Victoria is a bit unusual because this was taken on a Sunday. Usually on a Sunday here there is very little traffic and few pedestrians. It's because of Christmas shopping, of course. How's yours coming?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Memories

I'm getting to be old enough so that I often hear myself saying, "When I was a boy...." because so many things have changed since then. Seeing these Christmas trees stacked up for sale outside a local supermarket triggered one of these long-forgotten memories. I remember going out into the bush with my father to get our Christmas tree. At the time (around 1946/47), we lived on the prairies and it must have been a bit of a drive to find some pine forest. Around where we lived it was pretty much just grassland. I suspect that was the way that most people in Canada got their Christmas trees in those days, tramping around in the snow with an ax in hand. Another feature of Christmas was after the tree was brought home. Then last year's lights had to be repaired. These were small screw-in incandescent bulbs, not like the modern leds, and the strings were often wired in series. Finding and replacing the burnt out bulbs and getting the strings working was an evening's work. My older brother, a much more logical and methodical child than I, was very good at this. While I'm waxing nostalgic I'll include this school class photo taken a few years later (maybe 1949) around Christmas - there's a decorated tree in the background. This photo, particularly the way I'm dressed (felt boots for the snow season and the knee stockings and breeches that were always worn with them), brings back a lot of memories also. I'm the leftmost little guy in the front row.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Deck the Malls....

The rain let up yesterday afternoon so I joined a lot of other Victorians Christmas shopping downtown. The DVBA (Downtown Victoria Businessmen's Association) provides wandering groups of carolers for music in the streets as in the photo above. In the Bay Centre mall the classy duo below rendered some smooth variations on Christmas themes for shoppers. Though it was a Sunday, many people were out trying to avoid that last minute rush.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Magic Time

I had wanted to post something a little more urban and seasonal today as a change from all the fungi and lichens we've been enjoying lately. The weather, however, has not been cooperating - not just cold and damp but raining heavily enough so that I am reluctant to take my camera out of its bag - real "Vancouver" weather. Whatever the weather, sunrise is a magical time and here's a shot from a little while ago taken very early in the morning. We are getting close to the winter solstice now and soon the days will be getting longer again.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Orange Jelly

Probably most of us have noticed this fungus at some time because of its bright orange color. It appears there are a couple of kinds of fungi that look like this, mostly differentiated by what kind of rotting wood they grow on. Since I don't know what kind of host this particular fungus is on, I will not try to identify it beyond offering the two possibilities: It's a member of either the Tremella or Dacromyces genera. Here's a link to a site written by a more knowledgeable blogger than myself, that identifies a very similar orange blob as Dacromyces palmatus. I highly recommend the aforementioned blog, "Island Nature," for anyone interested in our local flora and fauna. It's very well written, interesting and informative. Just lightly browsing through it this morning has taught me a lot, including the name of a mystery fungus earlier featured here. Good photos, too!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mushrooms

I decided that rather than share my lame guesses as to the id of the various mushrooms I encounter I will just leave them nameless until I locate a good, easy-to-use field guide and can feel a little more confident of my identification. This group was one of several having a slow feast on a huge fallen tree out at Thetis Lake Regional Park.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shoal Point Revisited

Here's a view we've seen before, in part because it is very close to where my street meets the shoreline, but also because I like it. It often ends up as the "test" shot when I want a sunrise picture because I find it difficult to get out of the house when it is still dark. Consequently, the earliest sunrise pictures I have are almost all taken from this spot. What I was particularly interested in here was how multiple polarized filters (2) affected the dawn colors.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Olympic Mountains

Often visible across the strait from Victoria are these magnificent mountains of the Olympic Range, here seen just after sunrise last week.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mycena Genus

I spent some time yesterday looking for a field guide for fungi, unsuccessfully. This morning I decided to see what resources are available online. I finally settled on a database program called "Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest." Fumbling my way through that I came up with a tentative id for the above mushrooms as members of the genus Mycena. I Googled that and checked out the images until I found one that matched and decided to call it quits for this time around. I suspect my identification of fungi will never be more than approximate or hopeful. There are many, many different kinds and often, precise identification involves spore prints and other activities that I prefer to avoid. That, however, is not going to stop me from mushrooming (defined by Mykoweb as "the pursuit of mushrooms") and continuing to try to identify what I find. I will welcome any suggestions.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wonderful

After yesterday's promise to try to identify the plants in my photos, I have to confess I have been unable to find out what this mushroom is called. I need to find some good field guides so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. As for the moss, I'm pretty sure we're looking at a species (one of the 350 or so) of sphagnum.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mosses and....

I selected today's pair of rather junky photos to illustrate something I'm just beginning to realize: I usually ignore anything I don't "know" and since I don't "know" most of what's in the environment, I generally ignore most of what I see. I originally selected the photo above in order to write a little about moss because the forest around Thetis Lake is luxuriously coated with mosses. (When I took the photo I was thinking only about the stream, surrounded by some green and brown areas....) The closer I looked at that big glob of moss the more I realized that there were actually three or four different kinds of moss growing there, not just one moss. When I started to look more closely at some of the other photos I'd taken that day, like the one to the right, I realized it's not just a photo of some orange mushrooms. There are at least three kinds of moss, a green slimy fungus and four or more different kinds of lichen. Some, like the strange coral-like lichen in the upper right corner are even more interesting than the subject of the photo - that dramatic pair of orange mushrooms. So, while I can't promise to identify everything I photograph from now on, I'm going to try, since it is a good way of beginning to see clearly. How many of the plants in today's photos can you identify?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Westbay Wildlife

While I sort out some more photos of the recent Thetis Lake excursion here's a few more birds to add to the roll call of wildlife I've seen on the West Bay Walkway. Above is another shot of the Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). I see this bird almost every morning but he is generally perched high in a tree overlooking the water. And usually by the time I get all the gear out and ready he has spied his next meal and gone off to dive-bomb it. He has a very distinctive call that I now recognize, described in Peterson's Field Guide to Western Birds as "a loud high rattle." This means I see him much more often since his call alerts me to his location. To the left is a Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), a diving duck that is wintering in these coastal waters along with the Hooded Mergansers and the Buffleheads.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thetis Lake Regional Park

Thetis Lake Regional Park is about a twenty minute drive west of Victoria on the very edge of the greater Victoria urban area near Langford. I posted a few photos of the beach area about 18 months ago but I didn't spend any time in the surrounding forest park during that visit. I regret that omission now since yesterday I had the pleasure of exploring this wonderland a little. There is a wealth of trails around the lakes (there are two - Upper Thetis and Lower Thetis) and several ecological zones, ranging from lush, rainforesty swamp to drier, sparser Garry Oak meadows. But at this time of year the overall element is water. Even though it wasn't raining during my visit, there was water dripping off most of the leaves and mosses and squelchy pathways underfoot. It's a fabulously rich environment. I was reminded again that one doesn't need to go to the bottom of the oceans or exotic tropic lands to stumble upon extraordinary and unique sights. I'll be happy to share some of what I encountered there over the next few days.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Celadon in Nature

I took the photo above because the mushroom blooming here among the lichen is the smallest I've ever seen. This photo was taken using a 50mm lens and an extension tube, which gives considerable magnification. The cap of this mushroom is about the size of the head of a pin. Below are some old friends amongst the lichen family. They are probably Pixie Cup or False Pixie Cup (Cladonia chlorophaea). Click here to visit a good page on some common lichens and mosses. One of many reasons I love lichens is their wonderful and unusual colors. Looking at today's (and yesterday's) photos reminded me suddenly of that subtle, pale green celadon glaze found on ancient chinese porcelain. Now I know why that color looks so natural and true.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1,000

Today's post of a photo of some lichen is the one-thousandth daily post I have made on this blog. While it's a purely arbitrary milestone, it seems like an appropriate time to re-define and re-focus Victoria Daily Photo. There are still many aspects of life in Victoria I have not touched here. For example, individuals (except for buskers) have largely been absent from this blog. So I would like to begin to feature some of the normal residents of the city. Some of you may visit some of the other City Daily Photo blogs (link on the right). It is interesting to see how the different city blogs deal with the population of their cities. Some cities are apparently devoid of residents. The photographers clearly wait to click the shutter until the scene is empty. Other city blogs are full of street photography and candid shots of the citizens. Some others are very direct and here I will recommend (as an example) Steffe's blog, Photos from Haninge. All his posts and photos are interesting but the direct way he approaches people, interviews them and photographs them is an inspiration (and a challenge) for me. Click here to see a recent example of this. There are some other changes coming that I hope will keep this blog fresh for me as well as for you.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who visits here regularly. Photography is interesting to me but mostly as a means of communication. It is important to me that people visit this blog and look at these photos. I hope it is not too metaphysical to say that in some sense, these photos do not exist until others look at them. I really appreciate the time that visitors spend here and any comments that are made. I hope to keep it interesting enough to bring you back for the next 1,000 posts.