salt spring island photography

New Book

My latest book, Salt Spring Island Memento, is almost complete and will be off to the printers in the next couple of months. This is a hardcover, 128 page book chronicling life on the island. From the Saturday Market to the Fall Fair, Apple Festival, Parks & Hikes, Artists and their studios to the birds and beasts in the forests, fields and other wild spots on the island.

Each time I publish a new book my goal is to not only improve on my last one but also to differentiate it in such a way that I avoid repetition. I appreciate the fact that so many people choose to follow and collect my work and I feel that it is only fair to continue to bring them all new, exciting and unpredictable work!



Forest Dwellers

A journey out to a small waterfall on the South end of the island yielded some beautiful late-Fall images. My sister Barbara and friend Jaime accompanied me and shared in the splendour of the scenery. They were both singing along to the trickling water of the falls and it created a perfect environment for me to photograph not only the natural environment but the people in it as well.

The timing couldn’t have been better for my friend Jaime: she is just leaving for a 3 month tour of Southern India where the landscape, flora & fauna will be so much different from our West Coast island. Hopefully this trip into the woods will help serve as a reminder of what she will be coming back to following her journey.

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Back Home on SSI

After my somewhat lengthly stay in Vancouver, I returned home to Salt Spring to find our friendly Rufous Hummingbirds had returned from their winter sojourn down south. We now have a very happy and active couple that are nesting nearby as well as our resident Anna’s Hummingbird who seems to have found her own mate for the season. I expect to be seeing some baby hummers sometime soon: what a treat that will be!

The males have their full mating plumage grown back after a low-key winter with more subdued throat plumage. The feathers are incredibly irridescent and seem to change from moment to moment as the light hits them from different angles…a tiny flash of red or gold buzzing by lets you know there is a rufous about!


Migrants in Booth Bay

An unusual number of ducks showed up in the waters of Booth Bay this year: Mergansers, Common Golden-eyes, Buffleheads, Mallards, an American Widgeon and even a Loon! It was exciting to watch then paddle about in the canal, Booth Inlet and the bay itself as they wandered far and wide in search of food.


Spring Lambs

Another visit to the Harbour House to see the new life that has recently sprung up in the past few weeks: lambs bounding through the front yard! Incredible to see their connection to each other as well as to their mothers…visiting regularly for a “top up”!

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Maple Sugar Day

Hard to believe but there are active maple syrup, good maple syrup, producers west of the Rockies! I grew up sampling the sap straight from the trees in Quebec before it had been boiled down into thick, rich, delicious syrup. There was always a good amount of snow on the ground and I had to take my mittens off to keep them from getting sticky as I scooped the sap out of metal buckets hanging from spigots in trees. Fond memories from a few decades ago!

Imagine my surprise when one of our local hotel/restaurants (The Harbour House) began tapping the maple trees nearby to produce their very own maple syrup. As most other people were, I was skeptical at first so when this year’s annual Maple Sugaring -off came around I decided to go have a taste and decide for myself! It turned out to be excellent syrup and, to top it off, a great little celebration where families could watch tree-tapping demos, wander through the organic gardens and sample fresh syrup on miniature pancakes. I’d recommend it highly to anyone in the area next year!

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Dew Drops

Despite the fact that it is mid-winter here on Salt Spring, there is still plenty of life in and around our garden. The birds that don’t migrate can be found searching for berries & seeds, spiders continue to weave tenuous webs and the plants continue to thrive, some even producing winter buds!

It is an especially pleasant time to venture out early to see what patterns the dew has formed on the various fauna. Tiny lenses on each bud & leaf that magnify the world around them creating miniature, upside-down versions of the garden. The textures and colours show up particularly well in the overcast conditions where there is even light to illuminate every tiny detail…beautiful!


Cloud banks, snow & ice

Periodically throughout the year, here in the Gulf Islands, we experience a weather phenomenon known as an inversion: high pressure systems swoop in above low pressure systems and we have clear, blue skies hovering above low, dense clouds. If you happen to be lucky enough to gain higher ground on one of these days, you’ll find yourself with a very privileged view of the islands as they float amongst the clouds!

Yesterday was such a day and I managed to make my way along Musgrave Road in the South end of the island where the views from Mt. Tuam towards the mainland are some of the best that you can hope for. It was a perfect day to wander among the clouds…


New Works at Barb's Bakery & Bistro

I was fortunate enough to have some help hanging a group of framed photos at Barb’s Bakery & Bistro for the month of December. Sometimes having an extra pair of eyes (or two!) can make a big difference in how a show is hung.

I haven’t had a solo show for quite a number of years and it was an interesting challenge to have to look through an incredible amount of photos from the past year and choose just a handful to print & frame for this show. In the end I believe that the series came about in a very organic fashion mostly to do with a recent fascination with time and space and how I am able to catch each photographically. Time…we see so much each day and most of what we see happens in less than a second…fleeting by so that we are lucky to even capture a glimpse! This is especially true of the hummingbirds that frequent our garden flitting quickly from flower to flower they are barely visible unless you happen to be quick & you catch them on their rounds! With a camera and a high shutter speed I can stop them in their journey and take a closer look at these beautiful birds. I decided to print each bird in monochromes so that the form would be more prominent without the distraction of the background colours of the garden.

The sap that is slowly dripping from a huge, old-growth fir tree captures time & space in its own fashion: the bubbles in each drip act as a magnifier for the environment around the tree. The sap captures time in much the same way as amber…a slowing down of whatever is embedded inside that we can examine much, much later.

My studies of Honeysuckle blooms play with our spatial concept os a garden and what we find there. By effectively eliminating the background (high contrast, B&W), the blooms appear to hang in space as they might in a pre-arranged studio setting. The fact that these blooms exist as they are in our garden and that they can be isolated so effectively through photographic techniques is fascinating to me…it gives me such a different perspective on very familiar, day to day objects that surround me.

I hope that you can make it down to Barb’s to see the photos while they are still up on the walls. I think that you will find it to be a real treat! I’d also appreciate hearing what any of you have to say about the show,



Back to Life

Now that the rains have begun in ernest, the levels are rising in our local creeks and streams and the greens are beginning to “pop” once more in the woods. Virtually all of the leaves have fallen from the Oaks, Maples, Alders and other deciduous trees and the first frosts are greeting us in the early morning.

It is a time of transition from Fall to Winter when the forests come back to life despite the lack of leaves on the trees. The earth is nourished once more by frequent rains and you can feel the relief as the plants and animals hydrate as much as they please once more.



Fall Colours

The autumn colours are almost at an end: one more storm and most of the leaves will be gone from the trees. It is an interesting time of the year to be photographing especially as the conditions change so quickly: from overcast to cloudy to clear blue skies and back all in the same day at times! The low cloud and mists creeping their way through the woods are eerily beautiful and lend an alpine feel to the world around the island.



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Upcoming Show

I’ve been offered a local venue for a show in December and, as always, deciding on which photos to print is a daunting task. I prefer to present new works with each show that I do and this will be no exception: I have so many to choose from it is critical to establish a theme before going through my archives.

I have decided to explore the macro work that I have from Salt Spring, in particular, the more interpretive macro photos that I have in my collection. They are not necessarily abstract but I have chosen images that present some familiar subjects in an unusual way. It has been quite an experience to re-examine my catalogue from a slightly different perspective and I feel that the final result will be quite impressive as a show.

Here are a few early samples of what I am considering:

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Seed Saving Workshop

This past weekend I had the good fortune to be able to attend a seed saving workshop hosted by Dan Jason of Fitz-Roy Farms / Salt Spring Seeds. The workshop was not only informative but also a pleasant experience wandering around the farm with Dan and his workshop participants. There was a healthy range of ages and everyone was glad to learn new techniques for harvesting and saving seeds.

The best way to preserve seeds is to keep growing the plants that they come from! Salt Spring Seeds is part of a growing network of independent growers who keep heritage and organic seed crops thriving.

Check out for more info!


Fall Fair

Our annual Fall Fair was a resounding success this year with may happy locals and visitors attending. There is always a happy, family oriented feel about the Fair and with sunny skies and warm temperatures it was especially apparent this year…so much positive energy!

The volunteers put on quite a spread and the grounds were well organized and clean throughout the two day event. My favourite part of the Fair is sampling the various pies made by the Lady’s Auxiliary that makes upwards of 400 delicious pies each year. The sheep dog demos are a highlight as well.

If you ever get the chance, come over to the island to enjoy the Fair! Well worth the trip…


Fall is Coming

As the glorious summer winds down, I begin to see the first indications that fall is just around the corner: a slight chill to the air, birds finishing their cycles before beginning their migrations south, bountiful produce at the local markets and, of course, the kids all heading back to school (the village is much quieter as a result!).

At the end of August we witnessed our last Blue Moon until 2015 and it arrived in spectacular fashion on a clear, cool evening just as the sun was setting. The Tuesday Farmers Market is thriving with more farmers setting up than ever before: a truly inspiring sight! And in the garden the flowers continue to bloom and I have been exploring their forms in B&W through the digital medium…now that I have packed up my darkroom for good, I don’t have a choice in the matter!

Check my Recent page as well as B&W digital for new works.


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Photosynthesis Show

The annual Salt Spring Photographer’s show, Photosynthesis, is on now at our local arts centre, Artspring. It is open from 10-5 daily with one of the show’s members in attendance.


Arbutus: the peel sessions

It’s the time of year once again when our local Arbutus trees begin to peel their old, russet coloured bark to reveal fresh, avocado & lime green new bark beneath: quite a breath-taking display of textures and colours! I particularly love to capture the delicate curls of “skin” as they peel away from the trees and hang on by an invisible connection until the wind, rain, heat, cool or someone’s/thing’s touch breaks the last bond to set them free...a very improbable looking process that last a few days at most.

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Photosynthesis Show 2012

Each year a select group of Salt Spring photographers presents a group show at our local performing arts centre, Artspring, called Photosynthesis. There is a strict policy when it comes to what can be submitted: new works that have not been previously displayed especially in the Photosynthesis show. Despite having participated in this show since its inception, I still struggle each year with what I will be presenting and have left it to the last possible moment once again. One of the satisfactions of waiting for so long is that I’m more likely to choose images that I have just created and this year is no exception: the past few days have produced over half of the photos that I will be using!

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The summer is finally in full-swing here on Salt Spring Island and, despite the cooler than normal temperatures, it is going quite well so far. I have been puttering around our property more and more these days exploring the garden which is teeming with life: ladybugs, butterflies, damselflies, bees, wasps, dragonflies and spiders all going about their daily business. My time spent in the garden is well rewarded with new, exciting compositions of colourful insects on budding flowers...compositions that will be sorely missed in the winter months!

My energy has been less than stellar so I have had limited access to my usual hiking trails and have been exploring the farm up in the Cranberry Valley as well as other easily accessible areas like Ruckle Park, Burgoyne Bay and Booth Bay. I did manage a short hike partway up Mt. Erskine yesterday and photographed the Arbutus trees which are shedding their leaves and beginning to peel...incredible to witness every year!

check a few updates to my RECENT WORKS page!

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Summer has finally arrived on Salt Spring Island and with it blue skies and warm weather...perfect for getting out to capture new images! The winter seemed particularly long this year stretching all the way through spring and bumping up against summer. I had a challenging time keeping my energy levels up and am still struggling against daily fatigue but I am staying very productive despite having to piecemeal my work.

The fields at Fitz-Roy Farms are in full production mode, our garden and all of Salt Spring is teeming with life: animal, vegetable & human! Tourist season has arrived, the harbour is full and the Saturday Market in the Park is thriving. All is as it should be


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A morning stroll at Ruckle Park

I decided to forego my morning coffee session this past Sunday and drive down to Ruckle Provincial Park instead...albeit with a “to go” coffee in the cup holder! The park was fairly free of people in the early morning so I had a fairly free run of the farm area where I took advantage of the solitude to get close to the resident turkeys.


The hummingbirds were busy in our garden this morning flitting from one honeysuckle flower to the next at lightning speeds!


Hummingbirds on the Solstice

The Summer Solstice has come and gone and along with it the longest day of 2012. The Summer has yet to really get started here on Salt Spring with cool, rainy weather being the norm for the past several weeks but a change is definitely in the air and I can feel the better weather just around the corner.

The garden is full of life, the birds are all still very active at Booth Bay and our local Saturday Market in the Park is full swing. Everything continues to change day to day as the various plants grow and grow with the rains and intermittent sun. The herons and eagles are growing as well and I see the juveniles becoming more active with each day. Time to get out and spend some quality time behind the lens!


Cards & Nests

I have been working on a series of cards lately trying out different combinations of images to see which ones work the best as a group. Most likely I’ll print 10 or so 4” x 6” images on folding card stock to be sold along with an envelope...something to supplement my collection of B&W postcards that I printed a few years ago. All of the photos will be from Salt Spring and will, hopefully, encompass much of what the island has to offer: a sort of mini version of what I aimed for when putting together my book.


A couple of days ago my good friend Rick brought me out to see the local Heron rookery: a collection of huge nests suspended in Alders & Maples in a small park behind the local swimming pool. The adults go fishing in Booth Bay and at Fernwood Dock and return to the nests with their fresh catch for the adolescents. The young ones are looking big enough to leave the nest soon so perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to see them on their first forays out into the World.

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Oceans & Gardens

The nearby beach at Booth Bay always provides me with wonderful opportunities for gathering new images. Yesterday was no exception with a “minus” (very low) tide that revealed many rocks and formations that are usually submerged. The eagles and herons take advantage of the extended fishing grounds and there were at least 12-15 eagles as well as 5-6 herons in the bay...spectacular!

I’ve also been enjoying time in the garden watching the bees, dragonflies and butterflies return as the flowers all burst into life...magnificent!

On top of all of the great photo opportunities, my new book, SALT SPRING: PORTRAIT OF AN ISLAND, was successfully launched on Saturday night to a very welcoming crowd of appreciative Salt Springers. It is now available online on my ITEMS FOR SALE page where you can purchase a copy using Paypal.

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Eagles at Booth Bay

It’s May on Salt Spring which means that, as usual, the Eagles are busy at Booth Bay teaching their young to fish, fly, survive and thrive in the World that awaits them as they approach adulthood. The juveniles begin to moult and lose their spotted camouflage to become true, majestic Bald Eagles with white tops & tails. I love to watch as they swoop and glide in the air above my head just out of arms’ reach sometimes but well within the range of my telephoto lens! The Great Blue Herons put on a pretty good show as well...

Updates to two of my galleries, EAGLES & HERONS and B&W DIGITAL include some more of my recent photographs of these incredible aeronauts.

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Sunny day at the farm

Since my recent return from Vancouver the weather on Salt Spring has been anything but co-operative, until now that is: warm and sunny with a cool breeze means ideal conditions to get out for some photo ops!

I haven’t been up to Fitz-Roy Farms in about a month and was expecting to see some changes in the fields: I wasn’t disappointed. The green house is in full swing, the garlic is going mad and the fields are drying out enough that planting is now going ahead almost full tilt. At 3pm the sun was still almost directly overhead so there was a good 6 hours of daylight left...summer is definitely just around the corner! I enjoyed catching up with Dan and Celeste and captured a few photos of them around the farm along with some of my usual documentary works.

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New book on it's way

After many months of editing and many years (!) of photographing, my new book Salt Spring: portrait of an island is just about ready to go to the printers! Following my successful kidney transplant in the spring of 2010 I decided that I would focus as much as possible over the next few years on producing a book for the Salt Spring market. My last book, Salt Spring: the people, the place, had been sold out since 2008 and there was a desperate need for something to fill the gap on the local book stores’ shelves. When I reflected on what sort of a book I wanted to present this time around, two things became abundantly clear:

1. It was going to be a very photo-intensive book designed more than anything to be a keepsake, a memento of the island for visitors and residents alike to take away or to send to friends and family
2. It was going to be affordable to most people in this tough economic climate. The previous book was a lush 120 page hardcover edition that sold for $49.95. My new book is going to be $24.95 for a 96 page hardcover so I feel that I have managed to produce a meaningful, beautiful book at a very reasonable price: win-win!

Salt Spring: portrait of an island will be available online & in bookstores by the first week of June 2012!


Earth Day & more

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than getting out into the heart of Nature? I launched my friend’s wooden kayak from the end of Long Harbour this morning and paddled around to Chocolate Beach in Ganges Harbour for a 3+ hour tour. It was a mix of sunny and overcast with a light breeze at times but nothing worse: perfect conditions for a day out in the boat! I enjoyed playing with perspective alongside the BC Ferries dock at Long Harbour Terminal working with the various pilings in the foreground and other terminal structures in the background to give a sense of the monumentality of these forms when seen from a kayak (see RECENT WORKS)

I’ve also been diligently working through my archives scanning slides and negatives so that I can finally retire film based photography for good. It’s been quite a process going through the older works but it has also given me an idea of what I need to aim for with my digital work (in some cases at least). Viewing my B&W negatives in their positive state has lead me to begin working in the digital darkroom to process my colour work into something other than tweaked RAW files. At this point I am enjoying the process of desaturating some images while working in faux B&W with others and everything in between. Photographing with an end goal of an almost monochromatic image in mind has opened up new and exciting alternatives in the digital world for my work...more to come!

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Back on the water

After a 5 year hiatus, I finally got a chance to get back into a sea kayaking for some paddling around Salt Spring Island with some good friends. I was a bit hesitant at first but once I got a feel for the hard chine hull of the boat I was using, all was well once more.

One big difference between 5 years ago and now is that I have a spare pair of hearing aids (my old pair) that I can use while on the water. I need hearing aids for my day to day life and the risk of losing a $3000 set to salt water was never that appealing; now I’m not risking nearly as much and the old aids still work fairly well (better than cupping a hand to my ear and hoping I can hear what my friends are shouting at me!). It gave me a whole new perspective on the paddling world: I could hear the swoosh of my paddle’s blade as it cut through the surface of the water, the wind as it changed direction, the various boats motoring through the channel where we were paddling, the snort of the seals as we passed a wee bit too close, the cry of the eagles perched in their trees looking for easy much that had been lost to me before!

Now that I have had a taste of the sea faring life once more, I’m definitely hooked! There is a certain serenity that comes with leisurely paddling a kayak around the Gulf Islands on short day trips when the most you need to worry about is where to stop for a snack & to stretch your legs...pure bliss! I’ll have to see how my energy keeps up over the coming months and then decide whether or not a West Coast trip is in order: I would love to return once more to the rugged coastline for some adventures!


Lambs & Goats & Spring

The sun has been rather reluctant to come out for more than a few hours but that’s just enough to get people out to enjoy some vitamin D! When I ventured out this afternoon the sun was high in the sky and shedding warm rays across the island. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at my destination for the day, Salt Spring Island Cheese, the sun had decided to hide behind some rather intense looking clouds. No worries, I merely adjusted my ASA and began to explore the farm and to photograph all of the new, young lives that were gambolling across the fields and sleeping in the hay.

The Spring brings with it new growth in the garden as well and when I’m not off running around the island there is much to see in my own backyard. Recent Works features some of my latest Spring time images: enjoy!

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news for February

February, despite the dismal weather, has turned out to be quite a productive month for me with quotes coming in from printers, a few outdoor shoots, website updates as well as the seemingly never ending task of sorting through archives!

I decided to restructure the new website to make it more comprehensive in terms of images of Salt Spring and the surrounding area. Ideally, as with my original site, will not only be a place for me to showcase my photography, but also a resource base for images of Salt Spring and the surrounding area. Even though my adventuring is somewhat more limited these days, I’d like to share photos from my past adventures that will, hopefully, inspire others to explore these remarkable areas for themselves.

Enjoy the new galleries (Salt Spring & Kayaking)


Fall & Winter

moving through Fall and into Winter is always a challenging time: fewer hours of daylight, lower temperatures and more precipitation means tougher working conditions. On the plus side are the changing colours of the leaves on the deciduous trees as well as the increase in the amount of water in the streams & waterfalls...the forest becomes much more alive this time of year as all of the mosses & ground plants are nourished with the rains. Can’t wait to get out to photograph the many shades of green in our woods along with the mushrooms that are popping up everywhere!

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Mid-October 2011

typical day out hiking & taking pictures: light pack, hydration, spare lenses & batteries, comfy tree to sit on for a rest stop