A couple of fungi: one resembling a carved carrot, the other an earmuff filled with chocolate. I've no clue as to their identity. Taken in East Sooke with the 24-120/4 at 120 mm.
Monday I hiked Bluff Mountain. I started from the scout camp Camp Barnard, just outside of Sooke. The trail is a slog with the island's typical mossy rocks that don't promise secure footing. The worst was the sea of six-foot-tall Salal where all that one could see of the hikers was a rustling of the plants. Brought to mind Children of the Corn. But the weather and views of the Olympic mountains made the trek worthwhile.
While beautiful to look at, the view to the mountains looks into the sun, which produces glare and shades the details of the Olympic range. Taken with a D800E and a 24-120 f/4 then converted with Silver Efex. The hikers are 24 mm and f/8 and the harbor is 105 mm and f/8. More photos at Bluff Mountain.
Last Sunday I helped represent the JdF Land Trust at Tugwell Meadery's Honeybee Awareness Day event, which featured demonstrations, mead-tastings, and tours of their bucolic flower-filled grounds.
Song of the day: Salala by Angelique Kidjo featuring Peter Gabriel.
Last Friday I grabbed camera and tripod then headed to Goldstream Provincial Park to practice long-exposure shooting. My biggest fear was tripping on a rock and dropping the camera in the water.
When people were in the shot I used an ND to take a long exposure which blurred them. But the people didn't move fast enough to disappear and instead I captured people in different states of blur.
Here are a couple of cliche waterfall shots. For these I found a polarizer more useful than a ND. The long exposure is an easy way to capture an average of the water drop positions - in other words, it blurs the water - but it also blurs the surrounding foliage because the leaves were blowing in the wind.
From today's obituary of Nadine Gordimer:
"It was not her country’s problems that set her to writing, she said. “On the contrary,” she wrote in an essay, “it was learning to write that sent me falling, falling through the surface of the South African way of life.”"
Song for the day is Constant Craving by k.d. lang.
First photo: 24 mm (24-120/4), f/8, 5 sec. Second: 16 mm (11-16/2.8), f/9, 1/8 sec.
At the moment the most important article of clothing on Vancouver Island is a good raincoat. It's not cold, just wet.
I've added a number of shots to the Herculaneum and Palermo photo galleries. A few are copied here: the first six are the ruins - I don't know why I'm surprised at the colors - and the rest are Palermo. The last is of a group of students who insisted on posing.
Palermo and Naples are similar.Block after block of narrow streets squeezing between old stone buildings. So much detail! And you often feel you've seen this before, because it fits some idealized or maybe television or movie sourced brain picture of how Italian cities are supposed to look. Despite their similarities Palermo seems more prosperous, youthful, and energetic.
I like this time of year. If you know me you know that hanging decorations and shopping for gifts aren't my idea of fun, but it's a good time to reconnect with friends. So hello to all and here's wishing that you have a good year ahead.
The photo is of a mural in wonderfully dilapidated Valparaiso, Chile. Spread over several hills, Valparaiso is famous for its old funiculars and its colorful shabby architecture. A moody photogenic seaside city.
The song of the day is Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon.
The barely-there community of Jordan River made the news recently when the regional district decided to close the community's campgrounds. Turns out, visitors to this campground are at risk of drowning should a powerful earthquake strike. (In fact, much of the community is at risk). But it isn’t a tsunami that the government is concerned about, though there is certainly a risk of that. The government is concerned about an old hydroelectric dam upstream on the Jordan River. This dam, one of two on the river, needs a retrofit if it is to survive a big temblor but no retrofit is planned. Therefore, the government decided that no one should camp downstream of the dam.
I was curious about the dam, so I traveled to check it out. It's about 10km to the top which takes about 2.5 hours. The first shot is, of course, the road to the dams. The second and third shots are of Elliott Reservoir, which is held back by the hydroelectric dam. The fourth shot is of the Diversion Reservoir which is held back by the higher-altitude earthen dam. As shown in the last shot, there is a lot of clear cutting in this area of the island.
I have no problem with taking a photo and manipulating the hell out of it, as long as it looks good, whatever good means. A couple weeks ago a local photographer shared a photo he'd processed with Topaz Simplify. The resulting image of the front of a building was more painting than photograph and I loved it.
So I had to try Simplify. And the first candidatethat came to mind was a staircase in Valparaiso.
Simplify seemed the perfect tool for Valparaiso. Valparaiso envelopes a cluster of seaside hills with crumbling buildings, tangles of overhead electrical wires, and lots of loose dogs. Against this background are many colorful murals and a seaside light and it all adds together to give a lot of pleasure to one's eyes.
In this picture Simplifythrows away the grubby detail so that all you see is color and shape and light. I like this example of Valparaiso's popular colored steps because of the addition of the cat and I think its a dog. There is a snake to left of the door but it appears simplified out of existence. Across the top, the black lines are actually electrical wires and the colored panels between them are artifacts of Simplify's simplification process.
What I'm listening to: The annotated Hamlet.
What I'm reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen.
24-120/4 at 6.3, 1/100 sec.
Yesterday I woke to the sad news of Oliver Sacks. It wasnt a surprise; he had written earlier in the year of his diagnosis. And of course he wrote as he had written on many other topics - like the mysteries of the brain, recreational drugs, and being gay clearly and rationally. He lived an interesting life, made many contributions to the human condition, and was always a pleasure to read.
Sacks was in my mind yesterday as I hiked part of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a damp, grey trek accompanied by the crashing of the cold Pacific. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is one of two long trails on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The two trails - the other being the West Coast Trail - would be one if it werent for the bay of Port San Juan.
The section I hiked was from Botanical Beach to Parkinson Creek. The hike is a bit of a slog, which is because the west coast of Vancouver Island is a lush rain forest overlaid on a jagged outcropping of rock. There is no flat land and there are no stretches of dirt path. The ground is largely rock and root.
Following the shore, which is what both trails do, means hiking a sequence of ups and downs, down to a creek then up to a ridge then down to another creek. And the footing sucks. The spiderweb of roots that blanket the ground are slippery smooth, just tempting you to stand on them where the slightest movement translates to a slip and a fall. There are the occasional breaks, wooden boardwalks and clever wooden stairs, which help make the hike a bit easier, but there arent enough and the dampness rots the wood faster than they can be repaired.
The day started with sunshine but it soon reverted to the norm of mist and rain. I spent most of the hike staring at my feet, calculating what placement offered the best hold. The hypnotic crash of wave on stone was background music to the hike.
Lucy the dog came along for the hike, her first adventure with the hiking group. She quickly assumed the typical dog behaviour of running ahead then back then ahead again, easily tripling the distance her fellow humans covered. She was full of energy all of the way but was so tired by the time she landed in the truck that, for once, she forgot to get carsick.