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Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows Eve

This is one of my favorite holidays and carving pumpkins, my favorite part. - Fern

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Matheson Lake

Yesterday's photo was taken during a walk in Matheson Lake Regional Park and here is a photo of the lake that gives the park its name. It's a long narrow lake with several rocky little islands. There is a hiking trail that completely encircles the lake and intersects with the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, used by walkers and cyclists. It's a lovely spot and, at this time of year, practically deserted. During the four hours we were there we saw only a few other people.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Matheson Lake Regional Park

Victoria is a lovely city but it also has within a half hour's drive a multitude of wilderness areas preserved as regional parks. While the lakes and trails in these parks are at their most beautiful in the spring, the fall brings another kind of bloom to the forest floors - Mushrooms. Mosses too that have been struggling to survive through the long dry summer now thrive in the cool damp of autumn. This photo was taken yesterday during a beautiful hike Fern and I took around Matheson Lake, near Sooke.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

I mentioned yesterday the return of one of my favorite ducks, the Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). Above on the left is the female of the species with the male on the right. Females and young first-winter birds of both genders look very similar so I could be wrong. I was very happy to see a small flock (6) of these birds fairly close inshore yesterday since they have been fishing and flirting much further out since their arrival. However, as can be seen below, they weren't cooperating with the photographer otherwise. All of them were catching up on their sleep and it was a long wait before they perked up and took their heads out of their feathers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Black Turnstone

As well as fall colors, another positive aspect of autumn is the return of many of the seabirds that spend the winter here after their summer breeding season in the north. The Black Turnstones (Arenaria melanocephala) pictured here breed only in Alaska during the summer and spend the winters further south on the Pacific Coast. Recently I have also welcomed the return of one of my favorite kinds of fish-duck, the Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). They also spend the summer further north for breeding and nesting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


...and overcome by the rich autumn colors, Barbie lost her head.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pigs, lovely pigs.

These two residents of Saanich were enjoying a weekend, just like most of us, involving lots of naps and snacks.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Time Marches On

And yet seed pods, such as these, hold the promise of new growth come spring. - Fern

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Somewhere Saturday" - Red-Cheeked Cordon Bleu

Regular visitors here will know that I sometimes venture further afield than Victoria, on Saturdays. I wish this photo was more competent but I think what it lacks in craftsmanship is more than equalled by the cuteness of this pair of Red-Cheeked Cordon Bleus (Uraeginthus bengalus). The house I lived in then (in West Africa) was surrounded by orange, lemon, grapefruit and mango trees and these two lovebirds were cuddling up in the lemon tree that was beside the veranda that wrapped around the house. I was too busy in those days for much photography but seeing these little birds every morning on my way out the door was so delightful that I took this photo in order to remember them. The song/video below captures some of the feeling these birds gave me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Victoria Skyline

This building has the style and features of an heirloom structure but it appears to be a new building that echoes features other older buildings in downtown Victoria. And to my eye it does this very attractively and successfully. If any visitors know more about this View Street building I will be grateful for any additional information.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Autumn

This Vic West street is definitely dressed for autumn. The house on the left is one of Victoria's Heritage Homes and was built in 1891.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Morning

As one gets older it seems one has ever more call on Robert Burns' consideration of "the best laid plans...." The various exciting photo-excursions I had planned for this week have been shelved in favor of recuperating from a back problem. So I trundled myself out into the backyard this morning and here is what a Victorian garden looks like on this bright and sunny day in October. We had some early morning frost earlier in the week but only a sparkling dew today.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Victoria!

At this point in time (Monday 17 October), Occupy Victoria presents a peaceful, almost idyllic scene. It's a nice change to see Centennial Square occupied by relaxed citizens being themselves and expressing their views freely as we are supposed to be able to do in a democracy. Surely this is what a city square is for. There's food and discussion and information. If you live in Victoria, drop down to Centennial Square and see what's going on. Click HERE to find out more about the People's Assembly. And HERE's a local news story.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall is here.

We went for a lovely walk in Francis King Park today and while the sun was shining, there was no denying that autumn has begun. - Fern

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just Another Day

In Paradise. - Fern

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Somewhere Saturday" - Sierra Leone

When I stayed on this beach for a few days in 1988 I thought it was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. In memory it still is. Only a few years later this country was ravaged by one of the most brutal civil wars in history. This is St. Michael's, about 20 kilometers from Freetown, Sierra Leone. I'm happy to think that at the end of the civil war in 2001 the luxury hotel where I stayed became The Family Homes Movement and housed about 90 former child soldiers during their rehabilitation.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumn Colors

Victoria's autumn colors tend to be a bit muted because a large number of our deciduous trees are Garry Oaks. These don't turn glorious autumn shades of red and yellow but go directly to brown. However we do have some nice stands of other trees here and there. Above are some of the trees lining the Gorge at Banfield Park showing that autumn has definitely arrived in Victoria.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Maltby

Here's another mural by local artist Jeff Maltby. This one is on one wall of Ellice Recycle Ltd., a recycling company near Point Ellice. At 152 feet (about 46 meters) wide this is probably Maltby's largest work. Even with my wide angle lens at its widest I wasn't able to get the whole mural in though the photo above has about 90%. (Of course I never thought to use the panorama function of my camera, which would have been perfect for this!) As usual, the artist offers us a historical perspective, looking at recycling in the Victoria's past. I like everything this artist does and I hope that more of our city's firms will commission him to decorate their buildings with our history seen through his eyes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Memories of Summer

Ahhh...snoozing under this Arbutus tree....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Queen's Printer

Governments generate a great many documents. In Canada these are produced by the Queen's Printer. Above is a picture of the classy art deco building that houses this service here in Victoria. The BC Legislative Assembly Buildings were directly behind me when I took this photo. The building was erected in 1928.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Early Morning at Government and Bay

The street lights reflecting off the wet pavement create such a nice juxtaposition to the black, black sky, don't you think? - Fern
PS Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians who stop to look at these photos and many thanks to you for doing so. Also, congratulations to everyone who got out for the GoodLife Fitness Marathon, well done!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Urban Art?

Sometimes I take my camera out, even though there doesn't appear to be anything worth taking pictures of. Here is the result of my latest effort; creating an interesting image from mundane surroundings, in this case a bike rack. - Fern

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Juliet

Though we still seem to be in an economic slump Victoria's downtown continues to grow upwards. Here's a relatively new building on the corner of Johnson and Blanshard Streets (i.e. right downtown) called "The 834". Like some other downtown developments it is a condominium development rather than office space. Though I like the idea of residential housing in the downtown it doesn't seem like it adds to the number of people who actually live downtown since many of the owners are likely to be time-share or owners who are mostly absentee. When I ride through the Songhees, for instance, it makes me a little sad that despite a great many residences the neighborhood is like a graveyard. There is no neighborhood, just a bunch of beautiful condos that are fully owned but largely vacant. At the same time, a young working class family probably cannot afford to buy their own house in Victoria.

Thanks to reader Graham's comments this post can be corrected - the building above is NOT "The 834" though it houses the sales office for The 834. This building is "The Juliet".

Friday, October 7, 2011

Public Works Through the Years

I think Victoria muralist Jeff Maltby's works are wonderful and here's another one I haven't shown you before. This one, entitled "Public Works Through the Years", graces an outside wall of the City of Victoria Public Works yard on Bridge Street. It shows city works crews engaged in various jobs throughout the history of the city from the past (on the right) to the present. If you click on the photo above you will see a much larger version of this mural, should you wish to see more detail.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Lens!

An aspect of photography that I wasn't aware of until the last few years was the wide range of variation between lenses, not just in their general characteristics such as wide angle versus telephoto or prime versus zoom but in the kinds of images they produce. For example, two 50mm lenses by different manufacturers will likely produce quite different images when it comes to color, sharpness, contrast and bokeh. Amongst the cognoscenti certain lenses, such as the Takumar 50mm F1.4, have become almost legendary for their image quality. Flickr has a group photo pool devoted to this lens with over 500 members although this lens hasn't been in production for about 40 years and you need a special adapter to use it with modern digital cameras. Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I often shoot with old Minolta or Takumar lenses. As well as the differences in specifications of lenses, each lens has its own characteristics which can only be learned by experience with that lens. Photographers talk, for instance of a lens' "sweet spot" referring the aperture setting for that particular lens that produces the best image in terms of color, contrast, sharpness and bokeh. Some lenses are best nearly wide open and others need to be stopped down to produce their best images. I always figure to take two or three months to get to know a lens and learn its virtues and limitations. Consequently, I offer the above photos as examples of my first outing with a new telephoto zoom lens. It's a Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 SP Di USD XLD and so far at least, I like it, but I expect to take a few months before I really know what it can do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Upper Harbour

The Bay Street Bridge (center of the photo in the distance) marks the northern end of the Upper Harbour. It crosses the Gorge at Point Ellice where the Point Ellice Bridge used to cross. (Scroll down to see yesterday's post). The southern boundary of the Upper Harbour is the Johnson Street Bridge, visible below. The Johnson Street Bridge is slated for replacement over the next couple of years. The railway span is now permanently in the up position since it is no longer functional. The tables and umbrellas visible in the photo below belong the the Canoe Brewpub.As you can see in both these photos, while autumn is definitely here we are having some beautiful bright sunny days lately.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

History in Stone 2

From The Daily Colonist, May 27, 1896:

Victoria's Queen's Birthday carnival, so auspiciously inaugurated with unalloyed enjoyment for citizens and visitors, was abruptly terminated yesterday afternoon by a catastrophe so sudden, so awful and so appalling in the loss of life entailed by it that no thought was left for aught besides. Electric car number 16, in charge of Conductor Talbot and Motorman Farr, was hurrying to the scene of the sham battle, freighted to its capacity and beyond with holiday makers when in an instant mirth was turned into mourning and between fifty and sixty souls were hurried into eternity. The central span of Point Ellice bridge had again given way, precipitating the car into the waters of the Arm, where a majority of the imprisoned passengers – men, women and little children—to whom the world had a moment before been all sunshine were drowned before aid could reach them. The crashing timbers and ironwork of the bridge piled upon the ill-fated car as the waters received it, and doubling up, pierced it also from below, so that many were killed even before the water was reached, while the others were less mercifully held below the muddy waters – the tide was at the flood and running high – by the rapidly accumulating debris.

News of the calamity spread quickly and by 3 o'clock – the heavily freighted car plunged through the bridge at exactly ten minutes to 2 – a crowd of thousand filled the streets at the approaches to the death-trap bridge – eager to be helpful, frantic with anxiety as to the fate of loved ones who might have been on the car, or dazed, almost stupefied for the time, by the magnitude of the disaster which had come upon the city. The hour was not without its heroes who were quick to think and act, and to these heroes, women and men, the salvation of many lives from the waters is due, as well as the winning back from death of many who had to all appearances passed into the shadowland. The work of the rescuers lasted through all the afternoon, and by evening the greater number of the bodies had been recovered, although it is practically certain that yet others are still to be removed from the fatal waters.

The jury empanelled by Coroner Crompton in the evening viewed in all forty-seven bodies, and their inquiry has been adjourned so that the work of recovery may be completed. The calamity is without precedent in the history of the Pacific Coast – without parallel in the loss of life involved since the memorable Pacific disaster. So many victims has it claimed that there is scarcely a home in Victoria that has not lost some relative or friend. Ours is a city of desolation and of sadness and in its mourning Seattle, Tacoma, New Whatcom, Port Townsend and the other cities of the Sound are joining , for each has contributed among the holiday makers who formed the burden of the submerged car some of its well-known citizens.
Wikipedia has some additional information about this disaster.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Somewhere Mondays

This is Mount St. Helens located in Skamania County, Washington. It erupted on May 18, 1980. Even here in Victoria some people heard it and there was a fine dusting of volcanic ash on everything. I had always wanted to see it and even now, over 30 years later, it has quite an impact. The crater and the surrounding area are beginning to come back to life but it's a slow process. Wikipedia has further information here. - Fern

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Annual Zombie Walk

The pictures speak for themselves I think. Wikipedia has an excellent article here on this event which happens all over world. -Fern

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Old Victoria Custom House

Since it feels like a lazy Saturday to me I'll indulge myself with a photo of one of my favorite buildings processed in my currently most favorite mode. This the Old Victoria Custom House and here's what it says on the plaque in front of it.

Completed in 1875 in the Second Empire style, Victoria's original Custom House is a distinguished example of the buildings erected by the new Federal Government after Confederation. It regulated the trade of the West Coast's busiest port and symbolized the pre-eminence of Victoria as a commercial centre in the late 19th century. Goldseekers from around the world converged on its steps to obtain miners' licences before embarking for the Klondike in 1898. This elegant structure recalls efforts to establish a Federal presence across Canada through the construction of impressive public buildings.