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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Swiftsure 2011

The latter part of May is when Victoria starts to wake up from winter. After Victoria Day (May 24) weekend, the following weekend sees Victoria hosting the Swiftsure International Yacht Race. Here we see some of the competitors leaving the Inner Harbour for the start of the race last Saturday morning.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gorge Waterway

One of the main roadways in Esquimalt is Tillicum Road, which includes Tillicum Bridge. It crosses the Gorge Waterway and I have often wanted to stop and take pictures but am usually in too much of a rush. However, tonight I made a special trip to do this and while my timing was somewhat off due to the setting sun, I think it shows off Esquimalt-Gorge Park (Formerly Gorge-Kinsmen Park) quite nicely. For a view of the bridge this was taken from, click here. - Fern

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Strait of Juan de Fuca

Growing up in Victoria and always living a few blocks from the water, I have an affinity to the ocean and it's ever changing moods. -Fern

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Somewhere Saturday" - Seattle, USA

I've visited or lived in some of the world's most beautiful cities but one of the nicest and most interesting is relatively close to Victoria. I am speaking of Seattle in the State of Washington, USA. As is so often the case with places that are nearby I had never spent any time in Seattle until recently, although I had passed through it many times on my way to other places. Today's photos are of the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum building designed by famed architect, Frank O. Gehry. It's only one of the many interesting things to see in Seattle. There are four Seattle Daily Photo Blogs - one two three and four. They're all worth visiting but I recommend especially the first of these not only for the quality of the photos but since I have had the pleasure of meeting the photographer, Kim, several times, both here and in Seattle. It's a wonderful city.Above, looking up inside the entrance to the Science Fiction Museum one can see the monorail whizzing past.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Morning Dew 2

Early this month I posted a photo of morning dew. I didn't mention in the post that it was taken as an experiment in that I used a telephoto lens. It worked well to give the effect I wanted though it is not what a telephoto is generally used for. Today's dew photo is another experiment that used a unique feature of the Sony a55 DSLR Camera

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)

Salsify or Oyster Plant (Tragopogon porrifolius) is an invasive species that was imported from Eurasia and Africa to North America because of its edible roots. Though not much eaten nowadays its purple blooms continue to decorate roadsides and other waste places. Apparently salsify roots have a flavor similar to oysters, hence its other common name, Oyster Plant. Also common in our area is the yellow variety, Tragopogon dubius.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Victoria Day Parade

Victoria Day is a national holiday in Canada but is an especially big holiday here in the city named for the English queen whose birthday is being celebrated on that day. The parade is a long tradition and it never fails to delight. As usual, there were lots of marching bands but I thought the tyranosaurus (left) was a nice feature. As for the 12 year old on the right, getting to ride a growling dirt bike in an outfit like that is pretty awesome, but doing wheelies down Douglas Street in front of an admiring crowd - well, I hope he went home happy - it's not gonna get much better than this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mckenzie Creek Spring

Here's a different take on the lovely creek pictured yesterday. The photo above is getting to be a fairly cliche way of dealing with moving water but it has been a challenge for me to learn how to achieve this misty, silky effect and capture the sun dapples at the same time. Often, in fact, working through cliches is how I learn - I see photographs I like and then try to reproduce them. Sometimes I succeed but I whether or not I succeed I always learn more about my camera and about photography.Click here to see what this creek looked like in January when the water was higher and it was a cloudy day. Mckenzie Creek is in Thetis Lake Regional Park.

Monday, May 23, 2011


On another photo mission this week, Benjamin Madison and I revisited Mckenzie Creek to the north of Upper Thetis Lake. It is truly a magnificent spot, well worth the extra bit of bushwacking to get there. I took some okay pictures which show the area's beauty but it's this one, with it's almost abstract or painterly quality that really was the winner for me. Photographing water is a challenge, especially when balancing on a mossy rock mid-stream! -Fern

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Luxton Fair, Langford

The May long weekend marks the beginning of a summer tradition, the fair. And nothing says the fair quite like the ferris wheel. - Fern

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Abang Dancers

For Somewhere Saturday today we will visit Calabar where I lived for a few years. Calabar is in southeastern Nigeria, on the eastern bank of the Cross River, about 5 degrees north of the equator. When I lived there about twenty-five years ago it was a sleepy city with more of a history than a future. Calabar, early developed as a slave port, became a major export location for the trade from the “oil rivers” when slavery declined in the mid-nineteenth century. In those days, the oil referred to was not from offshore wells but was the palm oil derived from the abundant natural growths of oil palms in this area and the vast Niger delta just to the north. This oil was a hot commodity during the industrial revolution and is still widely used in many industrial processes.

The climate in Calabar is hot and humid. The average air temperature is slightly less than body temperature (around 85 degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity is often as close to 100% as it is possible to get without actually being under water. Calabar averages 116 inches of rain per year. By comparison, Seattle, in the rainy northwestern USA gets about 38 inches per year. If you sit perfectly still in Calabar, large beads of perspiration will form on your skin and roll down until they drip off you. People install electric lights in closets, not for their light but for their heat, to keep the clothes a little dry. Without such bulbs, clothes hanging in closets become moldy within a few days.

There is a brief period each year around Christmas, euphemistically termed “the dry season,” when it rains less than normal and the temperature is marginally cooler. The local people don woolen sweaters, wrap scarfs tightly around their throats and complain of the cold when the temperature drops below 75 degrees F. However, these “cold” days are few and far between.

This season is also an intense period for traditional activities of the Efik people of Calabar when many secret societies display their dances and songs to the public by walking in their groups from compound to compound. When they arrive they are invited in and will usually perform for fifteen minutes or longer depending on the amount of encouragement they get. It is traditional to offer them a donation and some refreshments. The photographs above and below were taken in my compound in early January 1989. These beautiful young girls are members of the Abang Society, a traditional association of women and young girls. Traditionally the girls dancing would be trying to attract marriage partners. Much of the dance consists of the girls miming the performance of various women's tasks such as preparing food in a mortar and pestle or hoeing in a field.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Floating Hotel

Victoria is now well into cruise ship season and between now and October we will see hundreds of these huge floating luxury hotels. The one pictured above is the Radiance of the Seas while it was making the turn to enter the Ogden Point Cruise Ship Terminal. The rocky point in the foreground on the right is Work Point, which marks the western side of the entrance to the Inner Harbour. Ogden Point is just off camera to the left. Click the name of the ship above for a virtual tour of its interior. These ships are quite extraordinary and are much removed from the ocean liner I boarded 50 years ago the first time I crossed the Atlantic. In those days an ocean liner was a means of transportation. Now it is a way of life. Some of these ships have been built as condominiums where the residents live aboard more or less permanently and decide collectively where to cruise, etc.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

Here's another wildflower one can't help but like although it apparently is an invasive species from our neighbors to the south. This is the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica). It seems to have settled very comfortably into our environment and its brilliant orange flowers brighten waste areas where more demanding flowers will not grow. They are one of the first to bloom in the spring and continue all through summer to well into the autumn.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Barefoot Season

Lilacs and freshcut grass
The smells of coming summer
The joy of no school
Whole weeks of wearing nothing but a speedo
The perfectly dirty griminess of bare feet
Brown and green from grass and sun
How well they grip the earth
Days thrown gloriously away
Catching garter snakes
Sun crackling in the dry grass
Cold water straight from the hose
Hiding out under the porch
Long long evenings
Running wild outside the house
Sleeping half out the upstairs bedroom window
To see the wheel of heaven turn the stars

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vic West Fest - The Colts

The annual Vic West Fest was celebrated Saturday in Banfield Park. And for those who think Victoria is only for retired folks, here's proof that there are children here too. And very talented children. These neighborhood kids, ranging in age from 7 to 11, gave a great performance at the Vic West Fest. The group is called The Colts and below are some portraits of band members. Yay Vic West!

Bass GuitarDrums
Lead SingerLead Guitar

Monday, May 16, 2011


There is something about ferns that I love, besides sharing a name. They may not have showy flowers, or any flower at all for that matter but, in the spring when they first unfurl their fronds it is truly a sight to see. - Fern

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Summit Park

This park is one of Victoria's hidden gems. From the corner of Quadra and Hillside, just 5 or 6 blocks north east, lies this lovely garry oak meadow. At this time of year the whole place is a sea of purple camas flowers and yellow buttercups. Quite a sight! - Fern

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Beijing International Airport

A couple of weeks ago on "Somewhere Saturday" I posted a photo of the stunning Bill Reid Sculpture in Vancouver International Airport. Here's a sample of what you'll find in Beijing International Airport. Above is a detail of a tea house, complete with a large pond full of carp, that has been erected inside the departures terminal. It's a vast airport and though these traditional structures (there are two of these tea houses) seem a little out of place, they nevertheless bring a more human scale to the building.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Big Picture

At this time of year when there are so many spring flowers coming into bloom I tend to spend a lot of time focusing on details in the environment so here's a glimpse of what downtown Victoria looked like yesterday. The sun finally burst through the clouds and rain and it's starting to look like spring has arrived. These wonderful cherry blossoms like pink popcorn balls are almost blown but even the drifts of their fallen petals are beautiful.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


There are about a thousand species of Rhododendron and I'm not about to try to identify which one this is. It's one of many I photographed at the Abkhazi Garden on Monday. They grow well in our climate and at this time of year it is worth a trip to this garden if only to see the wonderful collection they have. The flowers range through the spectrum from the palest whitey-yellow to deep magenta and a purplish blue.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Morning Sun

We haven't been getting much morning sun lately but when we do this orange cat likes to sit in this sheltered spot and soak it up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Victoria Daily Photo rarely has the opportunity to share something that is both unique and splendid such as the peony pictured above. It is unique because it is the sole plant produced from the hybridization of two other varieties of peony in the Abkhazi Garden. Both the parent plants can also be seen in this wonderful little hideaway here in Victoria and neither look like their offspring. We were visiting to catch the rhododendrons in bloom since the garden has a famous collection of these in a multitude of colors. In the midst of the riot of these blossoms I was attracted to this peony and while I was photographing it, its creator, a plant geneticist, came by and kindly told me about its history and how he came to produce this plant for the Abkhazis. You may not be lucky enough to have quite such an informative guide if you visit this garden but I guarantee you will have an interesting experience and enjoy yourself. Plan to stay for lunch - the food is as wonderful as the garden.

Monday, May 9, 2011


This was once part of an old GM truck; it's been outside for a long, long time now and our wet weather has taken it's toll. While rust is considered a bad thing when it comes to old cars, it has a certain beauty. - Fern

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Beacon Hill Park Petting Zoo

The petting zoo is the place to be on a sunny day in spring. -Fern

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Somewhere Saturday - Beyond Timbuktu

When I was young Timbuktu stood for all the wondrous places that were so far beyond normal human experience as to be almost otherworldly. But at least we had heard of Timbuktu. And today's photos were taken in an area equally unknown, strange and beautiful. These photos of young cattle herders were taken on the banks of the Kaduna River near the headwaters where it tumbles down the slopes of the Jos Plateau in central Nigeria. Nearby towns are Jos, Vom, Riyom, Manchok and Kafanchan, names that for me are even more evocative than Timbuktu. I lived in this area for about a year, amongst the Aten, Birom, Hausa and Fulani peoples. The first two are mostly agricultural, growing crops. The Hausa are generally traders and the Fulani usually have cattle as their main source of income. The cattle in these photos are Fulani cattle but are being herded by Birom or Aten boys. These boys will care for the cattle, ensuring they stay off crop land and find enough to eat and taking them to the river each day to drink. After a year or two the boy herder will be given a calf as his pay. This he will raise to form part of his gifts to the family of his bride when negotiations for their marriage have been completed. These photos are particularly suitable for Saturday since they were probably taken on that day a few decades ago. I often used to spend Saturdays on this riverbank washing my clothes and cooling off in the shallows.

Friday, May 6, 2011

In-Flight Entertainment

We have had very low tides recently and the consequent exposure of tidal flats that are normally covered with water seems to be encouraging increased activity amongst the Great Blue Herons. While I often see one on my morning walk along the West Bay Walkway, I seldom see more than one. Yesterday I saw three in various places along the walkway fishing in the shallows where the water is normally much deeper. I also saw a River Otter just offshore yesterday but there was little of him visible but his head popping up above the water from time to time to do some vigorous chewing and swallowing.

Why Great Blue Heron? When I look at the above photo I see lots of gray, some black and orange, some yellow and white but no blue of any shade. There is also a "Green" Heron which is equally un-green if the photos are anything to go by. One doesn't mind if the Latin names for plants and animals don't communicate much except to ancient Romans, but generally one expects the common names to refer to some distinctive aspect of the plant or animal. Oh well, sometimes life is just plain disappointing. Things don't make sense and there is not even any good reason for the confusion.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Morning Dew

...the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
Hamlet. ACT I Scene 1
Dew is water in the form of droplets that appears on thin, exposed objects in the morning or evening. As the exposed surface cools by radiating its heat, atmospheric moisture condenses at a rate greater than that at which it can evaporate, resulting in the formation of water droplets.

When temperatures are low enough, dew takes the form of ice; this form is called frost.

Because dew is related to the temperature of surfaces, in late summer it is formed most easily on surfaces which are not warmed by conducted heat from deep ground, such as grass, leaves, railings, car roofs, and bridges.
From Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

I was out at Esquimalt Lagoon on the weekend and managed to capture this close-up of a Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia). I have seen Caspian Terns at the lagoon before but never more than three or four. On this day this bird was the only tern I saw and he was content to stay on the ground while I was around. I was hoping that after he had given me some static close-ups he would do some fishing. These terns are a pleasure to watch when they are hunting. They hover high above the water like kingfishers and then suddenly plunge down onto the small fish that are their prey. The first recorded sighting of a Caspian Tern in this area was in 1959 but since then they have been regularly seen in the summer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Election Day

These bright yellow signs popped up all over the country yesterday directing voters to local polling places for the national election. About 60% of registered voters voted and brought in a Conservative Party majority. For those not familiar with Canadian politics we currently have three major political parties: the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP (New Democratic Party). Insofar as I understand our political system we must have national elections at least once every four years. However, in cases where the government must call or wishes to call an election earlier they may do so at any time, so our elections do not fall on regular dates like the USA. (Canadians will please correct me if I am wrong about any of this information.) The Prime Minister is not elected independently as in American presidential elections but is elected like any other member of parliament to represent a particular electoral district. He or she becomes Prime Minister by virtue of being the leader of the political party that wins a simple majority of parliamentary seats. More information about the Canadian electoral process can be found on Wikipedia by clicking HERE.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Johnson Street Invaded by Naked Zombie Mannequins

Nothing I can say tops the headline. The only clue I'll divulge is that I LOVE reflections....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

That's Dandy!

We can in fact only define a weed, mutatis mutandis, in terms of the well-known definition of dirt - as matter out of place. What we call a weed is in fact merely a plant growing where we do not want it.
~E.J. Salisbury
I can't help but feel some respect for these hardy little plants which have such a brilliant flower. Gardeners please don't hate me.