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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hatley Castle 2

Here we see Hatley Castle from the Croquet Court, a sunken lawn area below the Italian Garden that is adjacent to the castle building. The bystanders so picturesquely posed were engaged in planning a wedding scheduled for the following day. As well as providing a backdrop for numerous Hollywood films, the castle, like other Victoria scenic locations such as Saxe Point Park, is often a venue for wedding ceremonies.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hatley Castle

This magnificent edifice, Hatley Castle, lies on the rising ground overlooking Esquimalt Lagoon. As well as being an intriguing building in itself it is set amongst some splendid gardens - an Italian Garden, a Bog Garden, a Japanese Garden and a Rose Garden. Since I'm looking at Landscape photography lately I thought it would be fitting to examine some formal landscaping such as is found in classical gardens. We'll have a look at some of the gardens later in the week. Hatley Castle has an interesting history - it was built by James Dunsmuir, a son of the man who built Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria's other castle, and because it is so photogenic it has been used in numerous films and television shows such as X-Men and Smallville. In its day job it now is a part of Royal Roads University. Wikipedia has a good short article on the Hatley Park National Historic Site.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Going through photographs this morning it struck me that this one that I had taken a few weeks back suddenly reminded me of yesterdays post of the summer grass. The shapes share a resemblance and a certain whimsy although this structure is much more solid and unmoving! Its a sculpture built in the central courtyard of the Library Building on Broughton Street. It's known as Dynamic Mobile Steel Sculpture by George Norris. - Fern

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Golden Light

Strolling through the tall summer grass early in the morning is a delicious treat. - Fern

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hands of Time 7 - Tying a Rope to a Mooring Ring

Here's another in the Hands of Time sculpture series by Crystal Przybille. This one references Victoria's long relationship with ships and the sea. It shows hands tying a rope to a mooring ring set into the bedrock very near to where ships visiting Victoria used to moor. This sculpture is located below Wharf Street just north of the old Customs House. The fish & chips stand of Red Fish/Blue Fish is visible on the right side in the photo to the left.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Inner Harbour

Victoria's Inner Harbour is a beautiful spot, perhaps one of the loveliest city centers in the world. I must confess though that its most winning charactistic - it's a beautiful spot to relax and spend some time - is slowly being usurped by its use as a venue for huge crowd attracting events. It's a great space but when it is so full of people that it is impossible to relax and stroll around it loses some of its charm. Above is what I consider a pleasant summer scene. On the left is the crowd that turned out for the recent car show. It was a great show but I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't have been as great if it were held in some other part of the city, leaving the charms of the Inner Harbour and Causeway intact.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hands of Time 11 - Cupping Dogwood Blossoms

Here's another in the Hands of Time sculpture series by Crystal Przybille. This one is located directly across the street from the Legislative Assembly Buildings on Belleville Street. It's appropriate that it should face the British Columbia Legislature since the flower in the sculpture, the Pacific Dogwood, is our Provincial Flower. "The sculpture symbolizes Victoria as British Columbia's Capital City, and the importance of appreciating the present and nurturing the future."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Landscape 4 - Garry Oak

Last week we looked at one of our most distinctive trees, the Arbutus. Here's our other most distinctive tree, the Garry Oak, pictured in a fairly typical environment on the summit of Pkols (aka Mount Douglas). As you can see, we've had a long string of hot dry days that have turned all of spring's green grass to gold.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Northwest Deuce Days

On Sunday the Inner Harbour was the venue for the Northwest Deuce Days car show. Originally the show was intended for owners of 1932 Ford Deuce Coupes but has since been expanded to include a wider range of custom cars. These cars are really fantastic works of art with every molecule trimmed and polished and shaped to perfection. The exteriors are beautiful, the motors are splendidly chromed and gleaming and the interiors are finished with just as much loving care and attention to detail. My hat's off to the people who have created these and to the owners who display them for the rest of us to enjoy.

Monday, July 22, 2013

To-Do List

It's very important, even on holiday to maintain a strict schedule; swim, read, eat snacks, float around on an dinghy, swing on the swing and repeat. Throw in a nap too if you can, it takes real discipline and and focus but it can be done. - Fern

Sunday, July 21, 2013

At the Lake

We spent a lovely couple of days on Saltspring Island, playing in the water at St. Mary's Lake. This little boat was floating around and while old and leaky was quite entertaining to the local kids. - Fern

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Landscape 3 - Arbutus

Garry Oaks are probably the most distinctive tree in our local landscape but the wonderfully colored Arbutus are also very characteristic and often found in the same environment as the oaks. Arbutus don't lose their leaves seasonally. Instead they shed their bark so that their living trunks are this wonderful shade of red. This landscape is the view from the summit of Pkols (aka Mount Douglas) looking southeast.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Landscape 2 - "Views"

This is a classic landscape meme - the view. It always involves getting up on some eminence so as to be able to overlook the landscape. We instinctively like views - our eyes apparently relax when they are not required to focus on nearby objects. However, aesthetically it is hard to do much with a view. It seems the best approach is to make sure there is something in the foreground that gives the viewer a place to stand. The view above is from the summit of Pkols (aka Mount Douglas) looking northwest. That's the Saanich peninsula on the left and the San Juan Islands on the right.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Hands of Time 9 - Raising a Teacup

Here's another in the Hands of Time sculpture series by Crystal Przybille, this one entitled "Raising a Teacup". It is installed on a lamp standard on the corner of Government and Humboldt Streets with the Empress Hotel and its world famous afternoon tea service providing the perfect backdrop. "This sculpture references Victoria's traditional customary and historical connections to Britain."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Where Have All the Seagulls Gone?

About six weeks ago I noticed some unusual behaviour amongst seagulls while I was taking my morning walk along the West Bay Walkway. Several mornings in a row I saw four seagulls floating in a small circle, all facing one another and uttering a regular (and rather monotonous) squawking. They would sit there in the water doing this for ten or fifteen minutes at a time then wander off. Some weeks later I noticed there was a distinct drop in the local gull population. They weren't totally absent but there were fewer. Where I would see forty gulls before I now saw ten or fifteen. Around the same time I was chatting with my caricaturist friend Dean Lewis on the Inner Harbour Causeway and listening to his enthusiastic report of seagulls nesting near the webcam on Race Rocks. Suddenly it all came together: the gulls' initial weird behaviour was probably some form of mating ritual. And the later drop in the shoreline population was because many of the gulls had moved to small offshore islands to nest and rear their young in relative safety. One gull chick (photographed through the Race Rocks webcam, courtesy of Dean Lewis) is pictured to the left.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Landscape 1

In my recent forays into the wilder parts of Victoria in search of birds to photograph I always find myself captivated by the scenery though I often ignore it. However, lately I've been appreciating it a bit more and trying to explore landscape photography - in particular, the landscapes we have around here which are unique to this general area. What we are looking at in the above photo, for example, is a fairly typical Garry Oak Ecosystem scene. Wherever Victoria has not been built or paved over, this kind of landscape (or remnants of it) can be found. This photo was taken on the summit of Pkols (formerly known as Mount Douglas).

Monday, July 15, 2013

Portrait of a Leek

Sometimes you don't have to go any farther than your own backyard to find worthy subjects. - Fern

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Far Far From Home

But not as far as you'd think. On a recent trip up island we stopped along the road in Chemainus where these lovely statues reside. I can't be sure but I think the Buddha likes a little attention from a pretty girl! - Fern

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Hands of Time 6 - Holding Binoculars

Here's another in the Hands of Time sculpture series by Crystal Przybille. This one's on the seaward side of the Wharf Street sidewalk directly opposite Bastion Square. "This sculpture looks out to the ocean, referencing the compelling nature of Victoria's geography and the foundation of its tourism and sightseeing industries."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Beach Time - Willows Beach 2

People go to the beach for a lot of reasons but let's face it, beaches are mostly for aimless play, loafing and goofing off. Among the many activities available are balancing on a log and framing a volcano.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beach Time - Willows Beach

Now that summer's definitely here everybody's looking for beach time. This is one of the more popular urban beaches, in Oak Bay, called Willows Beach. Victoria's sea beaches are never very crowded, perhaps because many people prefer swimming in some of the numerous local lakes. The lake water is often warmer than the Pacific. Thetis Lake and Durrance Lake are two lakes much frequented by local people.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


The last few days have been very frivolous and full of people having fun, so let's just get back to life's hard realities. You wanna piece o' me? Go ahead, make my day!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

After the Parade....

Sunday's Pride parade was, as usual, funny, surprising, interesting and lively and it seemed to me that it's now a little more about acceptance of diversity in general rather than strictly focused on gay lifestyles. More businesses, churches, political parties, schools, ethnic and age groups were represented than I remember seeing in the past. But perhaps the most remarkable demonstration of the change in social attitudes was the massive crowd that had joined the parade at its end. Above you can see a small portion of this crowd following the final float along Broughton Street.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Pride Parade

What an event; loud LOUD music, a million rainbows, smiling, dancing people, an incredible array of pagentry all bathed in gorgeous sunshine. It was a fantastic day! - Fern

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dusk on the Gorge

For an after dinner walk through Banfield Park,there is nothing more lovely than the sun setting over the Sooke Hills with all the various boats tucked up to their docks for the night. - Fern

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

When I was out for my morning walk along the West Bay Walkway a few days ago I noticed a couple of gulls harassing what seemed to be a third gull. As they came nearer though I realized that the third bird was not a gull but perhaps some kind of hawk. This was a little exciting since I seldom see hawks or raptors of any kind along the West Bay Walkway. By the time I fumbled my camera into position the gulls had driven this mystery bird beyond range. However, a few minutes later the raptor re-appeared and cruised right overhead, allowing me to take the above shot and make a good identification when I returned home. This is an Osprey (Pandion heliaetus), often called "Fish Hawk" since they live exclusively on fish they catch by diving down onto them from considerable height. They are not rare on this coast although they are not generally seen in my neighbourhood. For many years their numbers were in decline but since the banning of DDT they have begun to recover.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Concentration - Christian Tatonetti

It's possible to hear the sounds of the guitar, banjo, mandolin or violin almost any time down on the Inner Harbour Causeway but it's a special treat to listen the rich tones of the sitar threading their way through the hustle-bustle murmur of the crowds. I very much enjoyed the little bubble of peace created by Christian Tatonetti and his sitar the other day and plan to hear some more soon.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

I went out to Albert Head Lagoon to do some birdwatching on Canada Day and spent a couple of hours watching a group of Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). I think it was some parents and fledgelings. Above is a mature adult. Killdeer are a species of Plover and generally only visit this far north in the summer. Wise birds that they are, they spend the winter in Central and South America. This is one of the first birds I remember learning to recognize and name and I think it is because of their distinctive behaviour when disturbed during nesting season. If one approaches their nest too closely the adult bird will leave the nest and act as if wounded, faking a broken wing and hobbling and flopping about while uttering pitiful cries. As a child I remember being very impressed with this cunning strategy to distract possible predators - it made me realize that animals too have emotions and intelligence.
Happy Fourth of July to JoJo and all of our other friends south of the border!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Hands of Time 12 - Digging Camas Bulbs

Here's another in the "Hands of Time" sculpture series. This one is mounted on a large boulder in a garden on the summit of Beacon Hill. The location is very appropriate since it overlooks a large meadow that sweeps down the hillside to the ocean. In the spring this meadow is a sea of Camas flowers and it is known that the First Nations people used to harvest the bulbs here. Some were eaten fresh (boiled) and others were dried and ground into a kind of flour that would keep. The sculpture installation consists of the hand holding a few bulbs, a woven basket and a digging stick used in harvesting the bulbs. All twelve of the small bronze sculptures in the Hands of Time series are by local sculptor Crystal Przybille.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


As usual, I had this idea that I was going to go to the fireworks last night and capture some AMAZING shots (cue laugh track now) handheld. So I'm sorry to say there will be no photos of the beautiful show last night but instead I must find a pool such as this and gaze upon it's surface searching for the answer as to why I think I can do such things. - Fern

Monday, July 1, 2013

Canada Day

Canadians celebrate Canada Day in a wide variety of ways but here is a unique expression. This is "That Statue Guy", Victoria's own Plasterman, one of the most perennially popular entertainers on the Inner Harbour Causeway.
Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians and to visitors from around the world.