Top Ten (favourite) Images of 2020

This will be the sixth consecutive annual review of my images from the past year and it’s also a good opportunity to look back at those previous posts and see how my photography has progressed. There certainly have been a lot of changes in my life during that time and with the crazy year we just had, it will be interesting to see how my photography changes going forward. Without further adieu, here are ten of my favourite images from this past year.

The Stone Bridge

I enjoyed exploring a small but interesting area in Mill Bay where this stone bridge can be found.

C-FLAP Asleep at the Dock

There were a few things I liked about this image. Night photography is always fun to me and I have always loved airplanes (and in this case the aircraft registration C-FLAP is great). The city lights across the water and their glow on the clouds add interest as well, but what tops it off is the crane that stood still, almost totally hidden in the low light (beneath the “Saltspring Air” logo).

A Shipwreck Breakwater

I went to explore the shipwrecks that are part of this breakwater and couldn’t get as close to them as I’d have liked, but as a result had to work around other angles and found this one, which features the mountains and the town of Comox in the background.

This Post Features an Owl

Who doesn’t love a raptor? It was fun doing something a little different and spending some time photographing birds.

Spotted from a Logging Road

After a morning in spent in some of the last old growth forest on Vancouver Island, I explored the backroads and came across this small creek and waterfall.

Reaching Out

I loved the character in this old tree, which I felt was accentuated by processing it in black and white. It’s an area I want to return to in different weather conditions to see if I can isolate the tree and make some more interesting images.

Soldier on Memorial with Canadian Flag Above

Having spent 25 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, this WWI soldier on top of the memorial at the BC Legislature has always been special. That he is highlighted, standing guard for eternity, underneath the waving Canadian flag makes the image special to me.

Tree on Fairy Lake

Probably one of the most photographed single trees on Vancouver Island, this tree on Fairy Lake can look so different depending on the time of year and weather conditions. Usually I select a tighter crop to make the tree more prominent, but in this case I thought the wider view with the reflections and little bit of fog really gave it a better context and added to the feeling of being there.

Long View of Mary Vine Falls

I’ve been to Mary Vine Falls on many occasions, but typically photograph from near the top third of this image, so as to really feature the main part of the falls. I liked this location because it shows the falls in better context, as the waters flow through the forest.

Holiday Lighting in Victoria

The view across the harbour to the BC Legislature buildings, with it’s colourful holiday lighting and light adorned tree our front, is the typical shot I’ve taken here in past years. This year I went further back, so I could capture the Canada sign (which was put there several years back as “Canada 150”, for 150 years since Confederation and since has had the “150” removed) and reflections on a rainy day.

That was 2020… What Photographic Adventures will 2021 bring?

That was 2020… What Photographic Adventures will 2021 bring?

In the past, I’ve written a year end recap and look at things I plan or hope on accomplishing, photographically in the coming year. After a one year absence of that post, I am getting back on track. Somehow missing a post looking forward at what 2020 might hold in store for me seems fitting. Not in my wildest dreams (nightmares???) would I have guessed that almost the entire year, and beyond, would be dramatically affected by a global pandemic. I had been looking forward to a major photography trip in October, which had been planned well over a year in advance. At first I thought things might be getting back on track by then, but as the months wore on, it became apparent that it wouldn’t happen and it would be difficult to say when things might be back to a point when I could even consider an international trip would be. I had big plans, in my mind, for the year, but felt sapped of energy and let many things, like this blog, my YouTube channel, local photography outings, etc, slide. As I write this, the first people have received vaccines and while it will take many months yet, better times are in sight.

Bull Kelp

Despite all the cancelled trips, outings and events, there was much that happened for me, related to my photographic endeavours. I started off the year with a photo trip to Tofino, where I explored the wreckage of an old warplane and even made a short video of it. Shortly after that, things first got hectic in my non-photography work and then Covid set in. Still, I became even more involved in the local arts scene. As a Director on the Sooke Arts Council, I was involved in starting our art gallery, and subsequently became Vice President of the Council. This took up a lot more time than my earlier involvement did, however, it has been very rewarding, and working with artists of various other forms has been a positive influence on my artistic development.

Gallery by Sooke Arts Council

I also became more involved in various social media endeavours. While I have not grown my Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Flickr followings significantly (in fact, I have not kept up on them nearly was much as I wanted), I have made more connections with other photographers and artists through them, which has led to positive artistic growth. As a direct result of my involvement in some of these sites, or reaching out to those on them, I have had the opportunity to appear, or have my photography be featured, on various mediums. Images of mine have been reviewed on episodes of Behind The Shot. I have been a returning guest on Latitude Photography Podcast, and represented the Sooke Arts Council on the All Sooke Days Podcast. I even had my picture in the local paper, hanging the sign for our new Gallery… and there’s still time for a little more exposure before the end of the year!

BC Legislature & Victoria’s Inner Harbour

I did manage a couple quick trips on Vancouver Island, where I scouted areas I hadn’t previously been to. Strathcona Park and the surrounding area have much to offer, and I know I will be doing a lot more exploring there in the future. My short trip to Campbell River included a whale watching trip with Aboriginal Journeys Wildlife & Adventure Tours, and had a fantastic day viewing Humpback whales, seals, sea lions, various birds and other sea life. This is another area that I want to spend much more time in with my camera!

Humpback Whale “waving goodbye”

This all brings me to the point where I look forward to 2021. A lot of things are still uncertain and trying to make any definitive plans will be difficult, but I have some general goals in mind. One of those is quite simple. Get out with my camera more often than in 2020. Along with that, I want to be more regular and consistent with my blog posts and YouTube videos. Hopefully, I will be able to grow followers on both, as well as other social media platforms. In addition, I want to continue to increase my exposure on through appearing on podcasts, blogs, local media and anywhere else I can arrange. With any luck, travel will be back in the cards in the not too distant future. I’ll definitely be exploring more areas on Vancouver Island and if all goes well I’ll be checking out more of British Columbia this year, as well as at least one more distant locale. I’m looking forward to a great year and hope you follow along on my adventures, here and on my other sites.

No Time For Photography

No Time For Photography

Okay, maybe I have had some time for photography, but far less than normal, and certainly less than I expected. Since Covid-19 related restrictions started, months ago, I, like pretty much everyone else, have had to make changes and adjustments to many things. While we were lucky enough in my corner of the world to be able to get out locally without too many issues, there were still a lot of disruptions. I had to cancel a couple planned photo trips off Vancouver Island, but managed to fit in a quick visit to Strathcona Provincial Park.

Lower Myra Falls

It’s an area I’ve been wanting to visit for quite some time, and now that I’ve had a chance for a little exploration, I’m eager to get back and see more of the area; however, that will have to wait for some time. Since getting back, I’ve been involved in a new project that has been taking up the majority of my spare time.

A little background first. For the past several years, I’ve been involved in the Sooke Arts Council; a group that promotes local / regional artists and participation in various art forms. As a Director on the SAC board, I assist with planning, organizing and running various initiatives. In late May/early June, an opportunity came up for the SAC to potentially start our own gallery! This could be a physical space to display & sell our art, hold our meetings, have art classes and let other community groups have a space for meetings. We started preparing the gallery space in late June and had hoped to have it up and running quickly, although we knew it would take a lot of effort to get everything in place.

The Future Home of Gallery by Sooke Arts Council
Rough Beginnings

As you can see, the gallery space would take a lot of work to get ready to show anything. All through July and the first part of August, we worked at transforming the space into something resembling an art gallery. This meant untold hours of planning, cleaning, building, moving, etc. On top of all that, we had to get the proper permits and inspections done and make sure we were compliant with all the Covid-19 precautions.

Work in Progress

Once some things were patched, the floors, walls and ceilings were painted, and lightbulbs replaced, we could start to see more of the potential in the space. Another thing we needed was a sign. After a little debating, we settled on a straight forward sign that would go above the main door. At 4’x8′ it almost acted like a sail and practically pulled us into traffic as we temporarily moved it into the gallery on the breezy day we picked it up. A photo of me putting up the sign even made the local paper.

A Fresh Look to the Exterior of our new Gallery

Show Ready

One of the biggest supporters of SAC and the arts in Sooke had been the late Sooke councillor, Brenda Parkinson. Brenda had started painting in her last few years, and her husband, Stewart Parkinson, was kind enough to let us exhibit (and sell) a selection of her works. We also featured some paintings by late SAC member Lili Wilde in the first show.

The (Covid-19 compliant) Grand Opening was this past Saturday, 15 August, 2020, and was a great success. I’ll be volunteering at the Gallery one day most weeks and look forward to meeting everyone coming through the Gallery. Up to this point, I’ve had very little time for photography, but with the gallery up and running now, that should start to change and hopefully I’ll have some interesting photo adventures to share with you soon.

Keeping Busy During the Pandemic

Keeping Busy During the Pandemic

As I write this, at the beginning of April, 2020, the Corona virus / Cover-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on people around the world.  It is hitting some areas far harder than others and there are varying levels of restrictions being put in place depending on one’s location.  Here, in British Columbia, Canada, (without going into  too many specifics, as things tend to change) we are still able to do essential things, like grocery shopping, working (in some sectors), etc., and exercise outdoors is permissible, as long as an appropriate distance between others is maintained and there are not large crowds. Many businesses are closed, as are some parks, with restrictions in many of the ones that remain open.  This has meant that I have not been getting out with my camera much, lately.  I did manage to make a few photos of flowers, though.

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A Beautiful Day… Trashed

A Beautiful Day… Trashed

Okay, I may have overstated things slightly in the title of this blog post, but it is really annoying when some people have to be so inconsiderate, especially when they are out in nature. This isn’t something that is specific to this day trip I took, unfortunately it is something that is far too common. Today started out great. It was a clear, albeit frosty, morning, which was a relief from all the rain we have had to start the year. I had decided to go explore an area hadn’t been to before, as well as some of the surrounding area that I was more familiar with.

A Frosty Start to the Day

The half-hour drive to the turnoff went smoothly, but I was certainly glad to be driving a 4×4 vehicle once I was on the, at times, very uneven, rough, gravel road. The great thing about the rough road and the fact that it is a little more remote and rustic area, is that there are less people and vehicles around, so it is easier to make photos in nature than some other areas. As I drove along the road towards my destination, I came across several little waterfalls that I had no idea were there. While there was a lot of branches obscuring them from a clear view, I was able to get a couple images of them and now know they are there so that I can return in the future.

One of the Unnamed Falls Along the Way
Scenes Like This Seemed to be Around Every Corner

I pulled up to my destination, by the Diversion Dam, which was by no means the end of the road, but it was as far as I had planned to explore on this day. A quick look around and the area was beautiful… but it didn’t take long before I saw signs of the kind of people who have to trash a place and so often result in areas being closed to the public or otherwise restricted.

Warning (Sign) Shot

One of the first things I noticed was a yellow warning sign, which had a bullseye target taped to it, and had been shot to hell. Although hard to tell without looking closely, the sign warns that when the siren sounds the water may rise fast, due to operation of the diversion dam. Nearby, there was a large circle of rocks that someone had made for a fire pit, and close to that were several deteriorating boxes of used shotgun shells and other debris. Sadly, this wasn’t the only area along my drive on the backroads that I saw this type of junk, along with other trash.

An Old Campfire Rock Ring and Pile of Shot Shells
The Outdoors is Not a Dumping Ground 😦

As it was still frosty out and the way down to the water and river below the dam was slippery and steep, I decided not to go down there on this occasion, but instead went up to the top for a better view.

The Diversion Dam
A Thin Layer of Ice Still Partly Covers the Surface Beyond the Dam

Having scouted out the area, I started my return journey and stopped for a coffee at the wonderful Cold Shoulder Cafe, in Jordan River.

Jordan River’s Best (and Only) Coffee Shop

Despite the 6°C (43°F) temperature, there were quite a few people in wetsuits on stand-up-paddleboards, surfing & kayaking. The local campground had quite a few people in it as well. While most of those would have been day campers, I had noticed several cars in the area with heavy frost on their windows at a campsite I had passed earlier in the day, so apparently some people are cold weather campers.

Is That How They Surf Down Under???

Thanks for taking the time to check out this post. Please make sure not to be one of “those people” who leaves a mess… better yet, try and take back a little of the litter that others have left there, to leave things a little better than you found them. It’s the least we can do.

Paddling Off Into the Sunset

 

Canso Bomber Crash – Tofino

Recently I went on my annual trip up to Tofino, B.C. I have done a lot of exploring of the town and surrounding areas, including Ucluelet, on previous trips, but this time wanted to explore something new. I was aware of a Royal Canadian Air Force Canso Bomber that had crashed in what is now the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, in 1945, but had never been there before, so that’s what I set my sites on. When I got to the area, it had been raining for days, but seemed to have stopped when I was setting out on my hike.

Heading to the trail

The first part of the hike was an easy walk along the highway from the parking area, but it started to rain a bit, so I put my rain cover over my backpack and hand carried my tripod. The trail soon turned into the bushes and at first it was a pretty easy walk up a gentle slope towards the remains of an old building. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to learn the origins the building and it had long since fallen into disrepair.

The abandoned building serves as a concrete canvas for graffiti

After passing the building the trail went downhill and so did the trail conditions, but at least the rain had stopped. I stopped several times along the path to make some photos of the landscape along the way. At some point, I took the rain cover off my backpack and stowed it, then clipped my tripod back on the pack and carried on along the trail. Much of it had what appeared to be a pretty new rudimentary boardwalk, which was good considering how swampy and muddy the area was.

Trees along the path

Approaching the wreckage of the old Canso bomber, a small section on the ground was the first piece visible, then looking through the trees, the first glimpses of the main wreckage could be spotted.

First glimpse of the wreckage

After circling around the plane for some time and getting some good shots, I started to head back along the trail and suddenly realized that I no longer had my tripod. The area around the plane was close so I didn’t use it there, but I backtracked and circled a couple of times, however, was not able to locate it. On the way back up the trail I searched for it, but again, my search was unsuccessful. The only thing I can think of that makes sense, is when I clipped it on the backpack on the way up the trail, the latch must not have been secure, and on a later stop, it must have let go when I placed the bag on the ground. The tripod then may have rolled off the trail and hidden itself from my view. I had been thinking of eventually replacing the tripod with a better one and relegating that one to a backup, but now I had no backup or main tripod. I have since ordered a new one and it should be here within days.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you want to see more of the crash site, I created a YouTube video if it (just click the link). Please feel free to leave a comment!

Top Ten (favourite) Images of 2019

This will be the fifth consecutive year that I have compiled a list of the top ten favourite of my images from the past year. Every year I create this list, in part, to participate in Jim Goldstein’s blog project on his JGM Galleries site, where he encourages photographers to participate by linking a post with their top photos of the year. It is also a great way for me to see what progress I have made over the year and to have something to look back on to see the changes in my photography over the years.

Without further ado, here are my personal top ten images, in no particular order.

Lions Gate Bridge with Downtown Vancouver

I have been wanting to do more night photography for some time, so I was very happy to get out to West Vancouver and look back at Vancouver for this night image. The lights of downtown are nicely set between the bridge and Stanley Park, and if you look closely, you will see a bird standing still in the water, just to the right of the near point of land.

Falls Through the Trees

I found it tough to winnow the list down to just ten, so I had to make some tough choices. There are a lot of great areas for photography within a couple hours drive that I get out to often, but I thought I’d try exploring some of the lesser known areas that are even closer to me this year. I discovered this little gem on one of those hikes. This image narrowly edged out another hidden waterfall I stumbled upon which was featured in my most recent prior blog post.

High Speed Seaweed

Another thing I’ve found myself doing more of in 2019, is making minimalist images. Often I find compositions I like on the beaches and this little bundle of seaweed, with the sand pattern created by waters retreating back to the ocean, reminded me of a comet streaking through the heavens above.

Fast Moving Fog

In the matter of a few minutes, fog rolled off unseen fields, just to the left of the area viewed in this image. This beach is at the very northern end of Vancouver Island and I had gone on a several day hiking & camping trip to get there, as well as other places in the park.

Flames of Sand

This is another image that started out as quite minimalist, but I decided to get more creative with it. I have a version with natural colouring and that closely lost out to this one for my top ten list. When I saw these patterns in the sand I immediately thought they reminded me of flames that would be painted on the hood or sides of a muscle car, so when I was processing the image, I used a red & yellow split tone effect to achieve what I saw in my mind’s eye. I have since made a large metal print of this and it is on display at the BC Ministry of Health building in Victoria for the month of December.

Milky Way over the Sooke Bridge

I have several Milky Way images from this year, some of which show it much more clearly and fully than this one; however, I chose this for this year’s top ten list because I like that it features the bridge into Sooke, BC. I have only recently been experimenting with astrophotography and low level lighting and can see myself doing a lot more of this in the future.

Mirrored Globe

This reflective ball sits perched upon a pedestal at The Buchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. I found the scene reflected to be fascinating but had to act quickly as there were quite a few people milling about and the reflection covered a very wide angle. A little patience paid off and I managed to get this image, with a starburst from the sun and no people in it, while I hid myself behind one of the reflected bushes at the centre of the image. There were a few little bits of me that were visible that I used Photoshop to make disappear.

Centre of Attraction

Even though I’ve already included one image from The Buchart Gardens, I had to add this one from the Japanese gardens there, as well.I loved the way the sun highlighted the tree and how the branches sprawling throughout it.

Seaweed and Shadows

Looking down on this floating bull kelp, I found the contrast between the lighter sandy bottom and the darker area where the pier cast a shadow on the ocean floor interesting.

On Final Approach

The gardens and castle at Hatley Park are another favourite location of mine to go for photography. There were lots of bees in this particular area of the gardens and so I was getting some shallow depth of field shots of them on these thistles, when I saw one approaching a thistle-head that another bee was crawling on. I was able to adjust my position and capture this image that really makes me happy every time I look back at it.

So that’s it. My Top Ten (favourite) Images for 2019. Now it’s just about time to start working on building up my 2020 portfolio and creating a large digital stack of images that I’ll be sorting through for next year’s list. Before I go, I am leaving one last “bonus” image, that was something of an experiment. I created it early in the year and then left it. I came back to it a couple times and decided to print it out. I framed it in a wide black frame, with a white matt that had a black inner edge, and just love it. While it didn’t officially make the cut for my top ten, here it is (I’ve given it a black outline just for display here)…

Please let me know what you think about the images on my list and make sure to check out some of the other images by some fantastic photographers at JGM Galleries.

Exploring Photography

My latest photography adventure was practically in my back yard. I thought I’d explore one of the vast areas of wilderness that is only a short drive from my place and, while it has many interesting trails, I have only explored a few of them so far. From doing some online research and living nearby, I had a good idea of the general type of scenery I’d find, but I was hoping there might be something a little different than what I’d found on other nearby trails. I figured it would make for a good YouTube video, so I took all my gear for that as well as for still photography.

Beautiful scenery along the trail

As I walk to my planned destination I record footage of me travelling along the route, explaining a bit about where I am and what my goal is for the day. I had been doing that and was going along a route which would probably be easy to identify to anyone familiar with the general area, which ordinarily is not a major concern, as most places I go are well known (at least to locals and online). More on this later.

It was still early enough in the day that the light frost we had overnight had not melted fully from shaded areas. While going up a steep, but small, hill, to set up video to record my approach, I managed to slip on the frost, but didn’t land too hard. Of course I wear a small backpack for my photography gear, with my tripod strapped to the back and when I hit the ground, the tripod head hit the back of my head. Ouch! No damage done, other than having annoyed myself greatly at being careless. At least I was up and back on the main trail a few seconds before some hikers came in to view.

I continued my journey and found the side trail I was looking for, so I took that and continued to film and talk about where I was headed. Then came a steep drop where the trail went down to the creek that I was hoping to find. I debated if I should go down such a steep embankment, but though I’d cautiously try and if it seemed too risky, I’d reverse course. Half a dozen steps down and the earth beneath my feet gave way, sending me onto my backside for a short slide. After that, the rest of the way down didn’t look as bad and I figured I might as well see if I could at least come away with some decent photos, since I was almost at the bottom. When I got to the creekside, I caught a glimpse of what I thought might be a waterfall in the distance, so I made my way across the water to the opposite bank where there was a trail I could follow. One more slip, as the ground gave out on the opposite bank, but this time I didn’t fall, I only slid a couple feet. Then I was rewarded with a good view of the waterfall.

I have no idea the name of this waterfall… I didn’t even know it was there

Having ‘discovered’ a waterfall that was previously unknown to me, and was something I had not found in any research, I wasn’t sure if I should use it in my video, because I was worried about it becoming popular and damage happening to the trail and local area, as I had seen happen at many other places. Then, as I got closer to the falls, I saw something else which I knew, if I did post it in the video, with all the information and clues as to it’s location that I had already recorded on my journey there, it was likely to result in a negative impact upon the area.

A moss covered Vauxhaul

There a short distance from the base of the waterfall was an old Vauxhall. While I have no idea what model or year it is, it’s safe to say it’s been there for a few decades. I decided I might do a video on the falls and car without any details that may give away the location, and while doing some filming, my audio recorder fell out of my pocket and into the water. After draining it and removing the batteries, I have left it to dry out and once it has had plenty of time, I will see if it still has life. At least I ended up with an adventure and some interesting photos on my day of exploring!

Beautiful colours on the old Vauxhall

My next post will be my annual Top Ten (favourite) Photos of 2019.