Victoria’s Harbour: a perfect place for photography

Making pictures with John Enman, Victoria’s Harbour: a perfect place for photography

Port view

Port view

We had decided to escape for a few days to Victoria, B.C., over the Thanksgiving weekend. The ferry docked at Schwartz Bay, we disembarked, and made the scenic drive into Victoria.

This is a bustling, picturesque city surrounded by water that is, in this photographer’s opinion, a perfect place for a photographer to wander around looking for photographic opportunities.

We were lucky in that our hotel room was on the ninth floor with a beautiful view overlooking a panoramic harbor only a block away. It was the perfect setting for a photographer.

Upon reaching our room, the first thing I did was set up my tripod on the balcony, attach the camera, and start taking pictures of the view.

I wanted photos that showed the warm afternoon light; and later on I more photos displaying the early evening sky as the city lights began turning on.  Finally, as the sun vanished, I made lots of long exposures with the only illumination coming from the harbour and the city.

Our first morning had a beautiful blue sky with only a slight breeze, and as my wife got together with her longtime friend, leaving for a day of site-seeing and some shopping, I got out my camera and made my way down to the water front on foot.

My wife and I live in the very dry Interior of the province, with rolling hills, lots of lakes, and a large river.   However, the ocean and everything connected to that environment; there is unfamiliar, and exciting, and I couldn’t wait to start taking pictures.

I chose to bring my 18-200mm lens. The 18-200mm is a lightweight,a multifocal length lens with an aperture range of f/3.5 – f/5.6. I know that many photographers these days are favoring wider apertures like f/2.8, but I would be using smaller apertures because I wanted scenics with a sharp focus from foreground to background.

Using a wide aperture would reduce that depth of field. And for those readers that would say, “what about those low light evening images from the balcony?” My answer is that those were the images that especially needed all the depth of field I could get and most were f/8 or more.  Besides I was using a tripod and a cable release.

Anyway, there wasn’t anything in my pictures of that low light cityscape that would be moving, and I could use as slow a shutter speed as was necessary to get an exposure that worked.

I call lenses like that 18-200mm “vacation” lenses because they are so versatile. I have never been one for carrying lots of equipment and a lens that gives me both wide and telephoto capabilities saves me from carrying a bag full of lenses.

My plan was to spend as much time as possible walking along the waterfront. I meandered back and forth thinking nothing of retracing my path when there might be another subject angle I wanted to consider, and the added weight of a heavy wide aperture lens, or additional lenses, would have slowed me down.

Exposures change with how the sun reflects off a subject and returning to a place previously photographed several blocks away seemed worth the effort.

I had to get used to how the reflection off the water tricked my camera’s light meter. I don’t know if all cameras are the same, but in my experience relying on the camera’s meter in many cases will result in an over exposure. So I always underexpose around large bodies of water. That’s easy. I just make a few exposures and check my histogram until I am satisfied.

I had a great time photographing boats, planes, birds, and pretty much anything else on, off, and around the water that caught my eye as I roamed Victoria’s waterfront. I found new subjects, met interesting people, and even spent time with other photographers. I really enjoyed the change of photographic scenery and highly recommend any photographer to change things up to refresh their perspective.

These are my thoughts this week. Contact me at or  email to:  Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops.  And if you want an experienced photographer please call me at 250-371-3069. I also sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment.