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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter Visitors

Despite the cold, wet weather we've been experiencing lately the Inner Harbour still has a large number of visiting yachts. There aren't many that moor in this location all year round. I suspect this is because the fees are quite high and there are many coves and marinas just outside the city that offer places to moor your boat over the winter.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Low Light, Long Exposure

Here's more of my homework, and while it's not perfect I like this shot of a back alley close to my house. I took it just as it was getting really dark and the streetlights make a nice counterpoint to the deep blue sky. - Fern

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy Accident

I have begun a photography course and this is the result of attempt to take long exposure pictures in low light situations. I didn't have a tripod so with no hope of getting a sharp image I thought why not go completely out of focus? This is one of the reasons I continue to love photography, you just never know what's going to happen next. - Fern
Ps It's a stoplight if you're wondering.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fair Weather Friends

On almost any afternoon in July and August this scene would have a thousand people in it, strolling, eating and drinking, taking pictures, busking, selling crafts and artwork, performing or just having a good time. It's about as quiet as it can get at this time of year and although it makes a nice change from the summer crowds, I'll be glad to see the bustling throng return in the spring.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Customs House

Regular visitors here will know that in the summer I spend a lot of time down on the Inner harbour Causeway and the nearby streets. I've been neglecting the downtown lately because it has been so cold and wet so for the next few days we'll take look at some of my favourites as they look on a SUNNY winter day (yesterday). Here's the old Custom House looking pretty good in the winter light. On the left you can see what it looked like from the same vantage point in April 2009.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blue Bins

I often feel quite negative about the human race's chances of continued survival though there are some things (like the internet) that give me hope. One other aspect of modern life that seems to me to be hopeful is how readily people have taken to recycling over the last twenty years. Today is recycling day on our street (once every two weeks) and almost every house puts out the blue bins containing recyclable refuse. So far as I know this is still voluntary here (though it is sustained by legal means in other places) but almost everyone participates.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Water Walks

Those of you who visit here regularly will know that I recently moved. But I am still in the westernmost part (Vic West) of Canada's westernmost city. Not surprisingly, no matter where in Victoria you live you are never far from the Pacific Ocean and in Vic West it can often be glimpsed at the end of the street or through the trees such as in this photo. This is an inlet of the ocean called The Gorge seen through the trees at the edge of Banfield Park. My new location is almost equidistant from the Westsong Walkway and The Gorge so I'll probably be dividing my morning walks between the two from now on.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

John Sebastian Helmcken

One of the most interesting and likeable characters in our early history here is Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken whose statue is pictured above. It's a relatively new statue that was erected in May 2011 in the small square in front of the house the doctor built and lived in during the nineteenth century. He arrived here in 1850, only seven years after the colony was founded and became an important part of the colony's political and socal life.Wikipedia has a good short biography of Dr. Helmcken. And there is some interesting anecdotal material on the BC Heritage website. Below is a short video of the unveiling of the statue in front of Helmcken's house last spring. The house still stands in its original location beside the Royal BC Museum overlooking the Inner Harbour.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snow Berries

Victoria had a HUGE windstorm Sunday but I did not venture out to the beach, instead heading for the woods. Here are two of my favorite things; snow berries and bare winter branches with the light so soft and diffused from the cloud coverage. - Fern

Sunday, January 22, 2012


The rain has melted all the snow and the wind is howling outside my window so today's post comes from the archives. Technically this picture has problems but I can't help but like it anyway. - Fern

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Yesterday's photo was of a heritage house that might be described as elegant or statuesque. Today's post is another of my favorite heritage houses in Vic West, one that I would describe as cosy or comfortable. It looks particularly snug with the snow tucked in around it.

Friday, January 20, 2012


In the last couple of months I've had occasion to be strolling around the neighbourhood and looking at some of the many heritage houses in Vic West. Here's a favourite of mine, called "Montview." I've processed the photo in the architectural drawing/cartoon mode that I like because it brings out the architectural details. I first photographed this house in 2008. (There's still lots of snow outside right now. This photo was taken last week.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Since I'm beyond the age of considering a career change we can all rest comfortably with the certainty that I will never become a weather forecaster. All I have to do these days is make some glib remark about snow like "it usually melts off during the day" and we are immediately deluged with about 20 centimeters of snow that is quite clearly not melting away. Oh well, it continues to be pretty but Victoria is a city that always seems caught by surprise when it snows. Nobody seems to know what to do and a snowfall more than ankle deep means businesses and schools close.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Neighbor

I've recently moved and one of many new benefits I'm enjoying is a window into the lives of a squirrel family (of at least three members). This photo was taken from inside my new suite. The squirrel family has been enjoying the seed log I put out for the birds. This a Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wipe Out

Southern Vancouver Island gets so little snow, but when we do, the kids take full advantage of it. These two had their share of good fun and a few good spills as well! - Fern

Monday, January 16, 2012

That White Stuff

You can blame it on me - this white stuff. Last week I was careless enough to write about being on the "downhill slope towards spring" and the weather gods were obviously listening. We've had light snowfalls the last two nights. However, usually it melts off during the day. I don't have to be out in it any more than I want so I'm free to enjoy how a light dusting of snow makes even the most mundane objects interesting.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Boat 2

You'd think Benjamin and I had planned this but really, it's lovely bit of coincidence that I had a boat picture lined up for today. - Fern

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I've been thinking about why I like this photo and also why I derived such pleasure out of the Wood Ducks I've been posting photos of the last few days. I think it's an effect of seasonal affective disorder. Around this time of year, especially after a succession of short gloomy gray days, anything that bears the bold brilliant colors of warmer seasons is refreshing to the eyes and to the mind. The Wood Ducks and this small boat have this in common and remind me that we are now on the downhill slope towards spring. This little boat was moored yesterday below the Selkirk Trestle in Vic West and I thank its owner for these rich colors.

Friday, January 13, 2012

And a Near Miss....

I'm posting this photo because it's a striking photo that could have been much better if I had been a little more careful. I'm not fishing for compliments here, just sharing some second thoughts. When we first arrived I was so excited to see these ducks that I made some mistakes and I thought I would share them with you. First, I immediately started using my Minolta 500mm lens although these ducks were quite close to me - maybe 5 or 6 meters distance. It has a fixed focal length (i.e. it's not a zoom) and it has a fixed aperture (f8) and this photo would have benefited from a smaller aperture (sharper focus on all parts of the duck's front) and a lesser focal length (about 400mm or so) to include all of the duck with some space above and below to allow cropping. As it is, the top of the duck's head and his feet are missing. (The photos i posted yesterday and the day before were both taken with a Tamron 70-300mm zoom - a better choice of lens for this situation.) Secondly, this photo is not quite level. It's tilted to the right and because rotating it a little to fix this means cropping it I would have to cut quite a bit off the top of the duck's head if I straightened it, so it's not fixable. Oh well, live and learn!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wood Duck (Female) (Aix sponsa)

As you can see the female Wood Duck is not so dramatically colored or patterned as the drake (yesterday's post) but her plumage is a splendid palette of earthy tones with some rich blue and purple and she has a patterning similar to the male on her breast.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

World's Most Beautiful Duck

A kind visitor to this blog alerted me to the presence of Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) in Victoria, courting near a small pond in an obscure little park. I've never seen a Wood Duck before although they have long been on my "must see" list. They are brilliantly colorful and it was very satisfying to see them. Thank you Cheryl. I usually think of ducks as nesting in the reeds near the waterline but Wood Ducks generally nest in cavities up in the trees near water. When the eggs hatch the nestlings simply jump out of the nest, sometimes from very great heights. However, they are so light and fluffy that they usually land safely and are able to follow their mother to water (see the video below). Though not so dramatically decorated as the male (featured in today's post) the females of this species are also very attractively coloured (see tomorrow's post).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Royal BC Museum

Every January the Royal BC Museum waives its usual entrance fee and has a weekend of entrance by donation. We went particularly to see the photo exhibit of the year's best nature photos. If you're in Victoria check out "Wildlife Photographer of the Year." Great and inspiring photos.

When I'm in the museum I can never resist photographing the wonderful Woolly Mammoth in the natural diorama part of the museum. That area is always full of kids bent over the information panels and peering into the wonderfully realistic forest and seashore settings.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Benjamin Madison and I went on a birding expedition but I left the birds to him. Over hanging the pond were many weeping willow trees which created beautiful reflections on the water. - Fern

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January Blues and Greys

I headed out for a walk this morning and even though it was after 8 am the streetlights were still on. Normally I would find this disheartening but it makes for a nice photo composition I think. - Fern

Saturday, January 7, 2012


While unpacking and digging about in the archives for something to post while I get myself sorted out after moving I came across some photos of this sculpture by Nathan Scott. It's called "Homecoming" and depicts that emotion-packed moment when a member of the armed forces returns to his native shore and family. It is located on Wharf Street overlooking the Inner Harbour. The sculptor, Nathan Scott, lives here and is also responsible for the statue of Terry Fox that stands at Mile Zero of the Trans Canada Highway in Beacon Hill Park.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Iconic Bird

I've been posting lots of bird pics lately and this morning it occurred to me that I've left out Victoria's most iconic bird, the seagull. These year-round ubiquitous residents not only appear perched in the background of almost any photo of Victoria but their haunting, somewhat querulous cries are the dominant note in our coastal soundscape.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter Night

Though I prefer my trees leafy and green the naked tracery of branches against the winter night sky is undeniably attractive.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

American Coot (Fulica americana)

I've never seen these along the seashore though they are water birds. They like to hang out at Swan Lake and can be seen there year round. This is the American Coot (Fulica americana). (I'm still unpacking so you have to bear with archival photos for another few days.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Well, I've finished moving and all I have to do now is to unpack(!). So here's another shot from the archives, of a bird I neglected to mention in my roundup of winter residents, the Canada Goose (Branta canadensis). These birds are actually year round residents here and are often quite tame, allowing one to approach closely. Since they are grazers they often visit grassy areas such as are found along the oceanside walks and walkways. They are large birds and their copious droppings on the grass sometimes irritate passersby, especially (I suspect) those who have to clean up after their dogs.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mount Finlayson

The weather cooperated and so for a nice way to start the new year we headed to Goldstream Park and hiked up to take in the amazing view. It's a 1.5 km hike and as you can see here, it's almost a vertical climb the entire way!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

The family has all gone home, the decorations taken down and the resolutions for a new year have been made. Happy New Year to everyone and best wishes for 2012!