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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Somewhere Saturday - Cappon, Alberta

Last summer my brother and I traveled across the Canadian Rockies for a family reunion in Alberta. During that trip we visited this lonesome graveyard. Most of the graves you can see are those of members of our extended family dating back a hundred and fifty years or more. This landscape is so vast that for those of us who live amongst mountains it is a bit daunting, though it has an austere beauty. I take this opportunity to wish you all the happiest of New Years.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Light

When the sun does come out the light is somehow still different from the summer isn't it? I love these vines with their fluffy seed pods, I'm unsure of the name of course. They remind me of Dr. Suess and the hair he would often give his characters don't you think? - Fern

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Wet Christmas

Here on the West Coast it has been a damp holiday weekend. This was taken from Fleming Beach facing towards Saxe Point and beyond it, Naden Navy Base. The wind was blowing the rain sideways when we were there and we were soaked through before too long. - Fern

Monday, December 26, 2011

It Ain't Over Till...

Somebody loses their head! -Fern

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tis the Season

I took a break from merry making to get a breath of fresh air and enjoy this lovely view of the Parliament Buildings lit up for the holiday season. Best wishes to everyone for a peaceful Christmas! - Fern

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)

Well, here it is Christmas Eve and I'm still posting photos of birds I've recently seen, this one being the Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani). However, I do have an excuse for not being more seasonal: I'm in the process of moving so everything is helter-skelter this weekend. In any case, all you kind folks who visit here have my very best wishes for a Merry Christmas. I hope it finds you in good health and good heart. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Here's another of those "little brown birds" that I find so hard to identify. I believe this one is a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia). Winter must be a hard season for these little guys and I'm happy to see that some good souls occasionally scatter a little birdseed for them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Centennial Square Christmas 2

At the opposite end of Centennial Square from the giant Christmas Tree (scroll down to see yesterday's post) there is a small skating rink where we Victorians can exercise our Canuck heritage by donning ice skates. When I was a kid on the prairies every school had a rink about 5 times as large as this and we skated at recess and at lunch too. It was also the season for long underwear and felt boots. Anyone else out there remember felt boots?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Centennial Square Christmas

There is a large evergreen tree growing in Centennial Square next to Victoria's City Hall that is always a pleasure to see, but especially when it is decorated for Christmas. It doesn't look like we're going to have a white Christmas this year though the mornings lately have been pretty frosty but those of us who have reached the age of discrimination are happy with a green Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Golden Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)

While I'm on a bird jag (see last week's posts) I might as well add another of what I call "those little brown birds" - those hard-to-identify little birds that flutter and forage near the outside tables at Starbucks and such places, finding food amongst the cookie crumbs. This one is more identifiable than most with its distinctive yellow and black cap, the feature that gives this bird its name, the Golden Crowned Sparrow (Zonitrichia atricapilla).

Monday, December 19, 2011


What exactly is going on here you may be wondering? This is actually a project I did for an art class; we constructed small sculptures from wooden matchsticks and then lit them on fire! I think most people find fire mesmerizing, I know I certainly do. - Fern

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dusk on the Gorge

The sun has been out and the temperatures mild here in Victoria. This was taken at the end of Bridge Street looking out over the Gorge Inlet towards the Johnson Street Bridge. - Fern

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

To complete this week's roundup of recent bird sightings, here is a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) perched overlooking Lime Bay near Spinnakers Brewpub on the Westsong Walkway.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

This is the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus), a year round resident here who always seems to be more visible in the winter. I think it's because these large members of the sparrow family like to hang out in bushes where they can hide behind dense leaves during the summer. When the leaves fall they become more visible.

Nearly two years ago I posted another photo of this bird and if you click HERE you can see today's post and that post together for a comparison. The older post was taken with a different camera (Sony Alpha 200 - 10 megapixel sensor) and an old Minolta 75-300 mm zoom lens. Today's shot was taken with a newer camera (Sony Alpha A55 - 16 megapixel sensor) and a new Tamron 70-300 mm zoom lens. Most of the improvement visible in the more recent photo can be credited to the improved kit since the settings were nearly the same. However, I think my technique is getting a little better too since the most recent photo was shot with a smaller aperture that contributed to the increased sharpness.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Yesterday some other winter visitors turned up along the shore, these Harlequin Ducks, favorites of mine because of their wonderful colors and markings. Above are a male and female.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

I mentioned yesterday that there were lots of birds on the West Bay Walkway on Sunday morning and here is another, the Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis). This variety is also known as the Oregon Junco.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Northern Flicker

Sunday morning was bright and sunny and that seemed to bring out many more birds than I've seen lately on the West Bay Walkway. While I was busily photographing the robins and the chickadees, I suddenly noticed this Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) posing on a nearby boulder. I've been waiting for about three years to get a shot of this bird like this and just happened to have everything set up just right to capture it. Good thing I was ready because with the usual shyness of flickers, this one took flight within a few seconds.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Colours

The greys and browns of this image speak to me of dark, wet winter days here on the west coast. I just have to remember that soon the days will begin to grow longer again. - Fern

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Perspective

This is the view from atop Cairn Park (or Highrock Park) facing towards the city just as the sun was coming up. Benjamin's shot yesterday eclipses any that I took. Ha ha - Fern

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lunar Eclipse

Once again while the rest of you were submerged in swinish slumber the Victoria Daily Photo photographers were out in the frosty pre-dawn to capture the latest celestial event, this morning's total lunar eclipse. Why is the moon red? When it passes behind the earth it is still lit by refracted sunlight which turns it red. An hour later (below) it had begun to regain its normal pearly brightness.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Westsong Walkway

Excuse me please while I fiddle with the regular photo format in an attempt to fix the posting problem I described yesterday. The photo above is of the Westsong Walkway looking towards the city as one approaches Songhees Point.Please click on the photo to see a larger version.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Love? or War? or Simple Propinquity?

It's lichen time of year!
I am in some distress this morning since Blogger has apparently arbitrarily decided to change its interpretation of photo resizing so that the procedures I normally use to post photos here no longer work. What's worse is that the changes they have made are retroactive, meaning that most of the photos I've posted for the last three or four years now look like they were shot using the bottom of a coke bottle for a lens. Take a look at yesterday's photo of Shoal Point which I posted partially because I was pleased with what a sharp, clear image it was. Click on it to see the larger version and you will see how crisp it is compared to the murky version Blogger is now producing for the default image. Well, I'm looking (and have asked Blogger) for a solution to this but it doesn't look good.... (Today's photo is posted using Blogger's new method and it looks OK. My main concern is the last 1000 photos I've posted here that all now look terrible.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gray Dawn

I went out this morning before dawn hoping to capture one of those warm orange sunrises over the Inner Harbour. No such luck. Lots of damp, gray days lately and this morning was no exception. Oh well this is a dramatic view even under these glowering clouds.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Classic

This old beauty is sitting in my neighbor's driveway. - Fern

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An Interesting Accident

On the bus ride home, I snapped this hoping to get an interesting picture of City Hall and so while it didn't turn out as I hoped, I like the result. - Fern

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Somewhere Saturday - India

My trip to India last spring was the first time I was out of Canada for about 10 years and I had forgotten the wonderful variety of vehicles that crowd the streets of countries in Africa and Asia. These photos were taken in Delhi exhibiting some of the uses of bicycles and tricycles there and a little of the ingenuity and determination of the people. The gentlemen above and to the left are carrying loads that most Canadians would have to hire a truck to haul. The man on the right is moving his entire business around to wherever the customers are. The rickshaws below are one of many means of public transportation, rather than being quaint novelties for tourists as they are here in Victoria.

Friday, December 2, 2011

December Blooms

We're definitely into winter now and it always amazes me how many plants continue to bloom during these cold months. I saw these flowers, luscious dense clusters of them, on a decorative shrub beside the Westsong Walkway recently on a day of bone-chilling cold.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rainy Night

Often what's hardest to capture at night is the color of the light. Cameras I've used generally get it wrong and one ends up spending a lot of time fiddling with white balance to get a satisfactory result. However, on my Sony DSLT the "handheld twilight" setting that I am currently exploring almost always gets the light exactly right. Though I've never worked in an office building like this, something about this photo gives me a nostalgic "after work" feeling.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Night Lights

We're getting more night shots lately partly because there's more night lately but mainly because I am getting addicted to the Sony Alpha 55's wonderful handheld twilight setting. It's really liberating to be able to walk around in the darkness and shoot photos just like it was daytime. Above is a shot taken from the Bay Street (Point Ellice) Bridge looking down the Gorge towards the city. That's the Galloping Goose Regional Trail for cyclists and pedestrians with the nice yellow line down the middle. It's nearly deserted at night but in the morning it carries many walkers and commuters on two wheels.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)

Here's another winter visitor I have not identified before, the Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus). These grebes are now in their rather austere non-breeding plumage. We are not likely to see them here in the more colorful plumage they don when mating since they move further north and into the interior for breeding season.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dramatic Skies

There has been lots of very stormy weather here of late. That almost always means if you can brave the cold wind and rain, the heavens put on a pretty good show. - Fern

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In Search of Snow

This stretch of the E and N Railway line runs just south of Shawnigan Lake and we went up there looking for some white stuff. I know the rest of the continent gets more than they ever want but here on the wet west coast, we sometimes feel feel a certain lack. - Fern

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Somewhere Saturday - Delhi, India

For Somewhere Saturday this week here's a trio of shots from my trip to India last spring. All these photos were taken at the seat of government in Delhi, the capital of India, and show where the main government offices and ministries are located. Just to the left of the photo is the Ministry of Defense and shortly after I clicked the shutter both of the uniformed men on the left came towards me and informed me that it was illegal to take photos of the Ministry of Defense. However, they were very nice about it and I was impressed with their politeness. The photo below was taken looking in the opposite direction, towards the India Gate. As you can see, Delhi was quite smoggy that day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ferry Stop

This is the Songhees Point Ferry Stop for the little harbour ferries that chug around during the daytime. They stop at various points up and down the Gorge and along the Inner and Outer Harbour as far as West Bay Marina but they don't run after dark or during the winter season.
I just noticed the interesting and strange black bands across the top of the photo above. They are some kind of technological artifact I suspect. Hmmm....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Swan Song

Here's another hand held night shot from Songhees Point, the Johnson Street Bridge, looking apocalyptic in this light. I don't know when it's slated for demolition but every time I see it I expect it to be the last. (Like yesterday's photo the photo above was shot at ISO 6400 but the shutter speed on this was 1/30. These night shots (last 3 posts) were taken with my Sony Alpha 55 DSLT using a Minolta 50 mm 1.7 lens at f2.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Songhees Point at Night

Last week I posted some views from Songhees Point during the daytime. Here's a shot taken a few nights ago from Songhees Point looking across the harbor towards the Legislative Assembly Buildings. This photo is a bit of a tribute to technology since it is a hand held shot - Look Ma, no tripod! The technology here is in my camera. On the "Hand Held Twilight" setting it shoots at high ISO (6400 in the photo above) which enables a relatively fast shutter speed (1/80 second in this case). High ISO like this usually results in a photo with lots of noise (noise in a photo is like television "snow" or static, random pixels of odd colors). My Sony deals with this by shooting 5 exposures in rapid succession and cancelling out the noise by merging them all. The end result is the photo above. The five exposures are automatic and very fast to minimize blurring due to movement (this camera will take 10 frames a second so 5 exposures take about a half second). It can take multiple exposures at this speed thanks to translucent mirror technology. Unlike normal single lens reflex cameras the mirror does not need to flip up when the shutter is opened because it is translucent (not transparent but clear enough to allow light to pass through). Since it does not need to wait for the mirror to flip up and down between shots, the shutter can open and close much faster.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Night Lights

The Westsong Walkway is beautiful during the daytime but it's magical at night too and part of the magic is these lovely ball lamps that light it. They're probably not the most efficient lighting available but they've certainly got style.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Light

The sun goes down so early now, that our afternoon walk turned into an evening walk, but this makes for lovely light. - Fern Long

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This is poutine. It's a national favorite, which originated in Quebec. How can you go wrong with french fries loaded with fresh cheese curds (tasting somewhat like mozzarella) and a gravy sauce? We had ours at a little place in Esquimalt called La Belle Patate and it really feels like a little slice of Quebec. - Fern