New Gallery: VanIsle2013

Have a look at the new gallery (last choice on top menu). It includes shots from Paradise Meadows, part of the Forbidden Plateau in Strahcona Park, BC, plus images from Litttle Qualicum River (falls) and the usual westcoast beach shots. Hope you like them. Here are three (click for larger) to give you the flavour...

Photographing the Amazing Garry Oak Tree

This is a shot of a Garry Oak at Pipers Lagoon in Nanaimo BC. It illustrates one of the characteristics of this tree; the ability to bend, move on the ground or take whatever shape it needs. This, of course is one of the reasons it is so photogenic. Click on image for large view.

From Vancouver Island Wilderness and Historical Conservation:Garry Oak EcosystemsThe Garry Oak ecosystem ranging from Nanaimo to Sooke is the only substantial habitat of its kind remaining in Canada. The foundation of these systems, the Garry Oak, is not listed as a threatened species in BC, but it is estimated only 5% of the area once covered is remaining. The plant and animal assemblage surrounding these trees is unique, with more plant species present in this ecosystem than in any other in BC. As well, the Garry Oaks support more than 100 species of birds, 7 amphibians, 7 reptiles, and 33 mammals, making them an invaluable part of Vancouver Island’s biological landscape.

This blog is about the Garry Oak from a photographer's perspective but with some context provided. I am not an ecosystem expert but will provide links for those interested in a more detailed view. This is the first photo/article but more are coming for the Garry Oak.

The following map shows the main locations of existing Garry Oak ecosystems:


From: Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society

Aboriginal people tended the Garry oak ecosystems, using fire and cultivation as management tools. The edible bulbs of camas and other species were the focus of the plant harvest. So important were these plants that the Victoria area was originally known as Camosun, or "place to gather camas."

Some Camas flower shots (click on for large):

From a photographers view the Garry Oak is a spectacular tree. To conclude this first article on this topic I offer a few more images; remember to click on the image for to view a nice large version. 

This image is an on-going panorama project. It consists of many images stiched together using my new pan tripod head. I will do another blog in a month or two (I'm learning) to explain the technique and show the results. This is a very large Garry Oak in the Nanaimo River eastuary and shows the branch shapes without the leaves. I plan to catch the leaves coming out soon.

To conclude a view of Pipers Lagoon with a Garry Oak on the hill.

Digital Painting

I started a mandala series of images in 2004 based on digital camera images. I used the camera images as “paint” to fill-in the mandala drawings. Now I’m doing something similar with landscapes I discover here in Canada, and around the world. Since what I do is clearly not photography in the classic sense, I simply call it digital painting. Often this term is used to describe the process of using a "computer brush" such as found in the Corel Painter program to create digital artwork with a traditional painterly look. I'm using the digital painting term in a much broader way.

There are areas of photography such as photo journalism, documentary and scientific where it is considered bad practice, even unethical, to manipulate digital photos except in small ways. The idea is to capture reality "as it is" and so this has some merit. However, the truth is that the camera captures only one version of reality and so has its own limitations for the "purist" photographer. Certainly I feel free to do whatever I want with digital data because for me it is just another art form. Ansel Adams, perhaps the most famous landscape photographer, spent many hours in his darkroom burning and dodging his prints to alter what the camera exposed to match his own vision. If living today, I have no doubt he would be an avid photoshop user and experimentalist.