Impressionistic Photography at Tourist Hot-spots

While my first love is nature photography I will venture into the city and urban areas to make photos of other types of subjects. Sometimes I employ a version of my drive-by-shooting technique, this time on foot. Some of these urban subjects have been done a billion times and done very well. Victoria BC attracts a lot of tourists and visitors are drawn to the downtown Inner Harbour where there is an excellent view of the Provincial Parliament Buildings. One particular location, near the tourist bureau overlooks the boat basin, offering the best view of the Parliament Buildings with their lights reflected in the waters of the Inner Harbour at dusk.

After photographing the traditional version of the Parliament Buildings and their reflections I decided to see what else I could do. I walked with my camera among the tourists, horse-drawn carriages, street vendors and buskers.  I adjusted aperture, ISO and shutter speeds to make exposures of four to eight seconds in length. I checked my histogram and review screen to see if I was in the ballpark with exposure. For composition, my method involves walking but keeping the camera loosely trained on one central point in the scene- say a set of lights, while I walk. I don’t put my eye to the viewfinder, I simply check the review screen to see if I have captured an interesting version of the scene. Sometimes I need to repeat an exposure, raising or lowering the camera a bit, to improve the balance of abstract lights in the capture. I don’t delete much, in-camera. I wait until I am back at the computer to eliminate the more obvious weak images.

Abstract imge of Victoria street lights near the Parliament Buildings

Abstract imge of Victoria street lights near the Parliament Buildings

Impressionistic image of Victoria street lights near the Parliament Buildings


Alternatively I enjoy photographing reflections of vessels or buildings in the boat basins. The wharves are usually sturdy enough for a tripod and I am often free to wander almost anywhere. In this image, the famous Empress Hotel, warmed by evening light, is reflected in the Inner Harbour waters.


The boat basin at Nanaimo BC offered me similarly exciting subject material before and after dark. Not as famous as Victoria but there were some lovely colours and exciting images created by my ‘walk-about’ technique.

Night time view of the Nanaimo Boat Basin. Nanaimo BC.

Nighttime abstract views of Nanaimo boat basin and the performing arts center. Nanaimo BC.8 sec exposure.

Pedestrian bridge at night in Maffeo Sutton Park. Nanaimo BC. 5 sec exposure.

Boat and wharf reflections in Nanaimo Harbour water. Nanaimo BC.

Fall Colour Report, Northern Ontario

Autumn is a frantic time for outdoor photographers. So little time, so much colour. We hope for an alignment of the colour planets- favourable weather and excellent displays of pigments in the foliage of the hardwoods, among other things. This year I was moping a bit, disappointed in the progress of autumn. The birches just weren’t doing anything and it seemed as if the maples were peaking too early. Add in several days of bald blue skies, which are OK to a point, and I was largely sitting on the sidelines. I have to be careful that this type of ‘seen it better before’ mindset does not influence me to miss otherwise good opportunities- one of the themes in my Close to Home Book.

In the meantime I got a blog post from Adventure Photography in Colorado. Cathy and Gordon will be leading a group to New Mexico (Bosque del Apache for birds) in December. Brenda and I signed on for that tour. Their blog post was packed with great pictures of Colorado Fall colour. That helped to nudge me to get off my eastern butt and get out there to see what I could find. Fortunately the weather was calm, making for great reflections around here, since we have so many lakes. Close to Home are Simon Lake and McCharles Lake/Vermilion River. The colour planets had indeed aligned and luck was with me as the maples had not yet passed their prime.

Reflections in Simon Lake

These two locations are minutes apart, by car.

Reflections in the Vermilion River