Exploring San Josef Bay

There are many areas of Vancouver Island that I’ve explored, but far more that I haven’t, yet.  Most of my exploration has been near the southern end of the island, but my trip to San Josef Bay, in Cape Scott Provincial Park, took me to the far northern end and was quite an adventure.

menacing dark grey clouds and misty rain over the treed slopes of Cape Scott Provincial Park

Angry clouds hang over San Josef Bay beach

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Top Ten (favourite) Images of 2016

This is the second annual list of my favourite images from the past year.  I started last year after seeing the great images of many other photographers featured on the great blog site of JMG Galleries. While I was not able to make as many images as I had hoped in 2016, I did manage to have some interesting and new experiences. Here they are, in no particular order:

bw fog trees
It’s all about the light

Living on the west coast of Vancouver Island offers so many opportunities to make captivating images of nature. It’s easy to wander along a beach or into the woods and see something different every time. In the photo above, the fog was slowly lifting and the sun lit up the scene in a way I just had to capture. Converting the image to monochrome evoked just the feel I was looking for.

man taking pictures on a beach during sunset
Everyone loves a sunset

Sometimes you travel a little bit farther for something special, like the above image of a man taking a cellphone photo at sunset, on a beach in Tofino, BC (one of my favourite places to get away from it all).

bubbles in the ice on a lake
Frozen Bubbles

Just around the corner from me is tiny little Poirier Lake, which has trails around it and a little dock.  I was lucky enough to visit it on one of those rare days when it had a little ice on it.  Just next to the dock there were little groups of bubbles that had formed and I thought in this particular group of bubbles was particularly intriguing.  It seemed to hint at the shape of an animal paw/foot, and the fine powder on the bubble just left of centre had interesting patterns on it.  It’s one of those things that if I hadn’t stopped to take a close look, I wouldn’t have seen and I doubt anyone else would, either, as the weather warmed up and the lake was ice free before sundown.

pinwheel looking lights of a ferris wheel at night
At the Fair

Some of the images here made the list in part because I was trying out different techniques than I normally use, or just plain trying to be more creative.  One of these is my image of the ferris wheel at the Luxton Fall Fair.  I had tried a variety of different techniques to capture the motion  of the rides and/or add some intentional camera motion and most of those images seemed pretty standard to me.  This one I combined a couple things and loved the final result.

ornate brass door hinge
Details Matter

Sometimes you just have to make images with the camera you have with you, such as the image above.  This is a detail shot of a brass door hinge (rotated 1/4 turn counter clockwise) on the Grand Mosque in Constanta, Romania.  In this case, I was on a work assignment in the area and did not have my DSLR or any of my film cameras with me, but I am very happy with the results I was able to get using my iPhone.

man standing with two hats
A Street Portrait

I am most comfortable making photographs of nature, landscapes, cityscapes, or even abstract subjects, so something like a street portrait was a bit of a stretch for me.  The gentleman here was kind enough to pose for a photo I made using a century old Ensign camera and black and white film.  Using the Ensign sparked the film bug in me and I have since blown the dust off my old Canon AE-1 and acquired a Hasselblad 500 EL/M.  I am by no means abandoning using digital cameras, but going back to film and even getting back into film development has really got me excited and feeling inspired.  I now have a dedicated film scanner and am looking at experimenting even more… keep watching this blog for more updates on these experiment.

young girl standing in the rain
Smiling in the Rain

Having a satisfying experience with street photography, I continued to expand my comfort zone and when the opportunity came to make some family portraits, I was up to the challenge.  The weather on the day did not cooperate, but adjustments were made and I really enjoyed the photo session.  In fact, the rain, lit by the fill flash, even added a distinct look to some of the images and gave them a more ‘authentic’ wet… I mean West Coast look.

a yellow boat floats in front of an apartment building
In the Bay

Every year, for the past several years, I have joined in the local area Kelby Photo Walk and always enjoy mingling with other photographers and strolling along for a few hours of photography fun.  This year the one I participated in was in Oak Bay and I found this cute little yellow boat, gently floating on the water, which had tiny ripples on it, while there was an imposing concrete apartment building and dark foreboding clouds in the background… I loved the contrast.Remembrance Day CanadaRemembrance Day has a very special meaning to me and I wanted to make an image that would be simple & respectful.  I chose use the poppy we wear in Canada for Remembrance Day, against a dark background and tried to light it in a way to make it stand out.  I almost never use text on any of my images; however, this was different and I chose a very special poem.  Written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae while serving in the military as a doctor in Europe during WW I, In Flanders Fields has become synonymous with Remembrance Day ceremonies, and always makes me pause and reflect.

christmas tree shaped light display
The Sooke Traffic Circle Light Tree

The year ended with my creative take on the “Lights of the Season“, which was the winning entry in a contest run by Oopoomoo (one of my favourite photography blog sites).  I had fun putting this list together, but had a hard time getting down to the last ten, but that’s a good problem to have.  I know this year the images covered a wide variety of photography genres and I am sure I will eventually have a more consistent type of image; however, it likely won’t be 2017, as I plan of doing a lot more experimenting and expanding my repertoire.

Portraits in the Woods

In a bit of a departure from my usual style of photography, I recently had the opportunity to do some family portraits.  It wasn’t that great a departure, though, as it was done in and around the woods at a local park, and not in studio conditions.

family of four in black and white in front of trees

The Happy Nilsson Family

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Rainy Days in Tofino

One of my favourite places to go to get away from the hectic pace of life is Tofino, BC.  It is a picturesque town about half way up the West coast of Vancouver Island and is exposed to the full force of the Pacific Ocean.  This makes for some great storms and the perfect place to wash away your worries.  Even when the rain is coming down its hardest, you’ll find someone out for a walk on the beach.

a couple with a colourful umbrella walk in a downpour on the beach

Perfect Weather for a Walk on the Beach

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Time Changes Everything

One thing is certain… no matter what else is happening, time goes on.  And with it, things change.  Some so slowly it’s almost imperceptible, while other things so quickly it seems if you blink you might miss them.  Somewhere between the extremes is the changes that take place in autumn.  Slowly the leaves start to change colour, at least on certain types of trees and other plants.  Then they begin to fall cover the ground like a colourful carpet.  Around here the rain starts to become more frequent and the rivers and creeks start to flow more swiftly.  In some cases they go from being almost totally dry stream beds to rushing flows of water.

Ayum Creek is little more than a dry stream bed dotted with a few puddles in Late September

Ayum Creek is little more than a dry stream bed dotted with a few puddles in Late September

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World Wide Photo Walk 2014 in Downtown Victoria

I had a great time attending my first World Wide Photo Walk (WWPW) a couple days ago (in it’s 7th year).  I met a few photographers for the first time and a couple I’ve known for a while.  We met just as the first few, scattered, drops of rain were falling and had time for a brief overview of the recommended route and a group picture.  As we headed out the rain started to become more consistent.  About an hour and a half into the walk, as I was crossing the Blue Bridge, the sky opened up almost as if someone had turned on a firehose.  Fortunately, I had rain gear for my camera and camera bag.  My clothing, on the other hand, was good for a light rain at best.  After quickly ducking into a nearby hotel for some shelter, it was decided to enjoy a hot coffee and hope the downfall decreased.  I was in luck, and by the time I finished a tall cup of Starbucks Pike Place coffee, the clouds had parted and the rain let up.  I returned across the Blue Bridge, back to the downtown area, and managed to slowly dry up a bit while taking some photos that I am quite happy with.

Looking into Downtown Victoria from the Blue Bridge

Looking into Downtown Victoria from the Blue Bridge

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