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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Family Group - Jack Harman

Here's another sculpture I have just noticed though it was installed some years ago. It is called "Family Group" and is by sculptor Jack Harman, a Canadian who lived and taught in British Columbia for much of his life. The more I looked at this sculpture the more I liked it. Though it must be heavy since it is bronze, as you walk around it it seems to float above its pedestal. The Royal BC Museum and the Provincial Archives share grounds and this sculpture is just behind the archives on a walkway that leads through to the museum. There is a brief write-up on Jack Harman HERE.
I take this opportunity to wish all visitors to this site A Very Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Last Alarm - Dean Lauzé

I thought we might close the year off by looking at some of the sculpture that I've noticed lately. First is this statue of a firefighter in working uniform. It is located behind the Legislative Assembly Buildings and was installed in February, 2013. The statue is by artist Dean Lauzé. It commemorates firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Up and Down the Gorge

Above is the view you see if you stand on the bridge pictured yesterday and look up the Gorge westward. On the left bank is Gorge Park. Below is the view from beneath the bridge looking down the Gorge eastward towards the Selkirk Waters.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Esquimalt Lagoon

Sunday morning walks on Esquimalt Lagoon are one of my most favorite things in the world. - Fern

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tillicum Bridge

The Gorge is bridged in a number of places but its narrowest width is crossed by the Tillicum Bridge pictured above and below. The Gorge here is very narrow. The direction of water flow changes with the tide and it is sometimes called "reversing falls" and has a very strong current here. Protected in a fenced off area to the right beneath the bridge is large midden - the refuse of many centuries of shellfish harvesting here by First Nations People.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Takata Gardens

The Takata Garden is located in Gorge Park. Here's a bit of the history of this garden, from the Township of Esquimalt Walking Tours pamphlet:
In 1907 the Takata Gardens opened. Yoshitaro Kishida, a partner in the gardens, brought his father Isaburo Kishida to Victoria from Yokohama, Japan to design the gardens. Kishida also designed the Japanese Gardens at Hatley Park and Butchart Gardens.

The one-acre Takata Gardens had many trees and shrubs imported from Japan [that] were highly respected for their authenticity and beauty. The Tea Gardens were in operation until the beginning of WWII when the Takata family was relocated, along with other Japanese families, to the interior of the province and beyond. The Tea Gardens closed and the grounds fell victim to neglect and vandalism.

Today, enjoy the beautiful beginnings of a restored Japanese Garden and if you look closely some of the original plantings can still be seen.
When it opened in 1907, the original garden was the first Japanese garden in Canada.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Causeway Christmas

This post is for regular visitor and lover of Victoria, JoJo, who asked about Christmas lights here. Above we have the Inner Harbour Causeway with the Legislature wearing its special Christmas lights in the background. To the right, Captain Cook doesn't look very thrilled by the skating rink in front of the Empress Hotel across the street from him but maybe it's just the seagulls' sense of humour that is concerning him. Below is a quick glance up Government Street. To JoJo and all our other regular visitors and commenters (Stephanie, William K., Mike L., Furry G., Dean L. and Stefan J.) I extend Christmas Greetings. Many thanks for dropping in and for leaving your kind comments. They are very much appreciated. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Camellia

Last week I mentioned that I'd seen some blossoms lately despite this being mid-winter. Here's one I saw last week in the Japanese Garden in Gorge Park. I think the flower pictured here is a Camellia. It was bearing many of these lovely flowers on a bush about as tall as myself. Though it was a cold wet afternoon, seeing these flowers made it seem a lot warmer. Sunday was the shortest day of the year so we are now on what I think of as the downhill run towards spring with every day a little bit longer than the one before. The Japanese Garden in Gorge Park is an on-site restoration of Canada's first Japanese garden. We'll have a closer look at the garden later this week.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cloudy Weather

I'm posting this photo today mostly because it shows clearly the kind of weather we've been having for the last week or so. A second reason is that it nicely shows the mountains on the Olympic Peninsula across the water. Usually lately they have been invisible behind banks of low cloud. Lots of snow up there. The seaplane coming in for a landing is West Coast Air, one of several airlines offering flights from Vancouver to Victoria Harbour.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Wondering Minstrel

There is nothing grander than a little music on a crisp evening stroll. - Fern

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Carr House

It's been several years since I visited the house in James Bay where Emily Carr grew up and spent much of her adult life. When I stopped there last Sunday, however, I discovered it is only open during the tourist season from May until September. A National Historic Site, it's well worth a visit. It's a lovely old house still looking as good, I'm sure, as when our most famous artist lived there.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Old Bandstand

This little building was used for many years as a bandstand for summer concerts in the park. It has been replaced by a larger stage but the original bulding is preserved here near the southern end of the stone bridge. I like this photo because of the hardy rhododendrons blooming though it is nearly mid-winter. I came across some other winter blossoms recently we'll have a look at next week.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Goodacre Lake 4 - Dabblers

Goodacre Lake has a large resident population of dabbling ducks, mostly American Widgeons and Mallards. Many people like to visit the park and feed the ducks, a popular activity with kids, The ducks like it too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Goodacre Lake 3 - McTavish Island

There are a couple of small islands in Goodacre Lake - above is the most prominent, McTavish Island, viewed from the stone bridge in yesterday's photo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Goodacre Lake 2

Here's another view of the stone bridge seen in yesterday's photo. Although the park was not so crowded as it can get during the summer there were still a fair number of Victorians out to enjoy the winter sunshine.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Goodacre Lake

We had a lot of rain last week but that means it's been warmer - temperatures as high as 9 or 10 degrees Celsius. As soon as the weather clears up though it starts to get cold again. On Sunday the sun came out and the temperature dropped a few degrees but it was still nice enough to encourage me to take a walk around Beacon Hill Park. This photo is of Goodacre Lake in the park. The rustic stone bridge was built at the same time as the lake in 1889.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Craftivisim

I have recently taken a course called 'Art & the Language of Craft' and for our final project we did our own bit of craftivism. This is a mash-up of craft and activism. Using traditional crafts such as sewing, knitting and embroidery we looked at social issues and a way to address them using 'soft sculpture.' I did mine on homelessness and about how everyone who needs a home should have one. It provided a way to address an important subject in a creative and (hopefully) inspiring way. - Fern

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bonus

I'm still shooting with these legacy Takumar lenses and as well as lovely colors and amazing detail and sharpness, they have another additional quality I haven't gotten around to exploiting yet. When there are bright points of light against a dark background these lenses turn them into wonderful star shapes as in this photo of the sun reflected on the water. This is particularly attractive with night shots of city lights - something I plan to do soon (or as soon as it warms up a bit!) Of course, this characteristic is not limited to Takumar lenses. There are other lenses that do this but there are many lenses that do not and it is an effect I like very much.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Canoes and Kayaks and....

It seems to me that in the last few decades there has been a real upsurge in the kinds of boats that people use. It used to be you either had a canoe or a rowboat or maybe a small sailboat. Then kayaks started to become more common. Stand-up Paddle-boards are another new entry. Recently I am seeing these large team-paddled canoes, often with outriggers. Perhaps the Dragon Boat races have made this kind of activity more popular. I like to see that many of the new canoes and kayaks have outriggers. I have always been a bit wary of the kayak lesson on how to get your kayak upright when it has turned over. Turning over is a bad characteristic for a boat and I am never going to get into a boat that offers that opportunity. I suspect outriggers make this much less likely, sort of like training wheels on a bicycle.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Upper Harbour

This is a view of the upper harbour that lies between the Johnson Street Bridge and the Bay Street (Point Ellice) Bridge. On the right we can see the two tall ships of S.A.L.T.S. (The Sail and Life Training Society), a charitable organization that works with young people. In the distance is Rock Bay and Victoria's small industrial area. Out of sight on the left bank is a dry dock where all sorts of ship repairs are undertaken. When Victoria is spoken of as being a "working harbour" this upper harbour area is what is being referred to.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Favorite View

Here's a view to which I often return, downtown Victoria as seen from Songhees Point. Here we are looking at the oldest part of Victoria, where the original Fort Victoria was built and where the oldest extant buildings still line Wharf Street. It's a picturesque view that encapsulates much of our history.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Learning Experience

Photography is a fascinating hobby. I've taken several hundred thousand photos over the last 5 or 6 years and I am still learning more about the art every day. I mentioned last week that I have been experimenting with Pentax Takumar "legacy" lenses. They are called "legacy" because they are left over from the days of film cameras. Most of the Takumar lenses I have are 40 to 50 years old. Fortunately their metal and glass construction ages well. They mostly come from the time before autofocus and autoexposure so they are nearly fully manual - not quite in that although I set the aperture and focus manually, I am happy to let my camera choose an appropriate shutter speed. Lately I've been experimenting with de-focused backgrounds, mostly using these Takumar Lenses. This technique is widely used by photographers to isolate and accentuate the subject of the photo - particularly portraits. I can't say as I've got it under control yet but here are a few examples of the technique.

Monday, December 8, 2014

West Bay Marina Float-Homes

There are two locations in Greater Victoria where houseboats are moored. One is Fisherman's Wharf - a main tourist destination in James Bay. Houseboats there tend to be a bit funky and relaxed and tourists and locals are free to wander the "streets" and gawk at the romantic dwellings. The second location is West Bay Marina, pictured above. The tone here is decidedly different, much more up-market. This is NOT a tourist destination - in fact the owners protect their privacy with locked entrances to the wharves. However, it is still possible to walk around the edges and enjoy the wonderful shapes and colors of these float-homes.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Light and Dark


When the sun hits the wet pavement the reflected light is intense. - Fern

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Westsong Walkway

Here's a little different view of the Westsong Walkway that goes from Vic West to Songhees Point (just off screen to the right). This photo was taken from the RV Campground on Work Point.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Inner Harbour

More dramatic light and clouds looking towards the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort from the eastern end of the Johnson Street Bridge.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

WOW Lighting

Rain from those clouds cleared the air and then the sun peeked out low on the horizon from beneath the clouds to produce this amazing light.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dramatic skies

I mentioned that we've been having dramatic clouds and lighting lately. Here's one taken on the West Bay Walkway. All of this week's photos are taken with one or another of the Takumar lenses I wrote about yesterday. Click the photo to see the detail - these lenses are awesomely sharp.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Snow 2

Our snow is pretty much gone now although that's not to say we won't get any more. Actually the snow on the walkway here just provides me with an excuse to post this photo. It's taken using an adapter I just got that allows me to use old Pentax Takumar lenses on my Sony camera. I have accumulated a bunch of these lenses from thrift stores over the last few years (50mm, 55mm, 105mm, 135mm, 200mm) and with the new adapter they are producing pictures I like very much.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Snow!

Victoria's weather lately has been wildly variable with lots of dramatic skies, surprisingly warm and then suddenly cold. And while I've been secretly gloating over our snowlessness while the rest of the continent experiences blizzards, I woke up Saturday morning to a light covering of the white stuff. Of course it does snow in Victoria but not usually until after Christmas. And while it can be very deep (a meter or so in exceptional years) it is generally very light and melts rapidly. Saturday's snowfall is still with us thanks to the cold snap Fern mentioned. Above is what it looked like on the West Bay Walkway.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Sure Sign of Christmas

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions; the Christmas lights on the Parliament Buildings. It's not the best picture but Victoria is experiencing a bit of a cold snap and it was too cold to do anything but snap a quick picture and hurry on! - Fern

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Winter Visitors 5

While out at Esquimalt Lagoon I was lucky to see some Black Turnstones (Arenaria melanocephala). These shorebirds are coming south from their nesting grounds in Alaska. They may stay around here but many move further south, even as far as Mexico, for the winter months. Smart birds!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Winter Visitors 4

Birds who spend the winter here don't all come to rest in the Inner Harbour. Esquimalt Lagoon is another favorite wintering site so I went out there on the weekend to see who has arrived. Above is a duck that always impresses me with its elegance and neatness. It always looks as if it just came from the cleaners. This is a male Northern Pintail (Anas acuta). This is not a diving duck like the Mergansers or Buffleheads featured in the last few weeks. This is a dabbling duck, preferring to find its food in shallow water. Mallards and Widgeons are two other examples of dabbling ducks.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Salmon Spawning in Goldstream River

Nearly every year I go out to Goldstream Provincial Park to see its famous salmon run and, generally, I am too early or too late. I usually see only a few salmon struggling upstream but not the legendary "run" when the fish are so solidly packed in the river you can walk across on their backs. Not, at least until this year. Fern and I were out there a week or so ago and the shallow river was full of large salmon. The photo above will give you a little idea but to really experience how many fish there were take a look at the video below. The chattering children in the background testify that this is a favorite field trip for school children at this time of year. It truly is an amazing spectacle and if you ever have the opportunity to see it, don't hesitate.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Work Point

This photo is taken looking in the same direction as yesterday's but from below and eastwards on the West Bay Walkway. If you want to orient yourself, look at the RV Camp in roughly the centre of yesterday's photo. Part of the same camp is visible on the far right of today's photo. Here we are really looking at the entrance to Victoria's Inner Harbour. Any vessel entering the harbour must pass between Work Point (on the right) and the Ogden Point Breakwater (on the left). Blustery weather lately has given us some great cloud formations.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

View from Swallows' Landing

The steep green hillside in the foreground is the Matson Lands, a conservation/restoration area of the Garry Oak ecosystem. On the right beyond the trees is West Bay and its Marina and RV Campground. The stairway in the foreground is to protect the Matson Lands from trampling and other damage. At the bottom it connects with the West Bay Walkway.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter Visitors 3

We have two types of Mergansers resident here in the winter, the Hooded Mergansers pictured a few days ago and the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser), pictured above. Occasionally we see a Red-breasted Merganser but they are not generally resident here. In common with the Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers are diving ducks that catch small fish underwater. The Common Merganser in this photo is just about to eat her most recent catch.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Making My Way Downtown

When you shoot off the cuff, so to speak and you get a photo that somehow captures the 'everydayness' of a moment it's simpleness is poetic. This was taken by my daughter and she's made me proud. - Fern

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Winter Visitors 2

Here's more winter visitors, a trio of male Bufflehead Ducks (Bucephala albeola) competing for the attention of a female of the species. It's possible to see several hundred of these ducks in a morning's stroll along the West Bay Walkway these days.