Time is a relentless master, forever marching forward and never altering it’s pace.  A boat now lies prone on the banks of the shores of Alert Bay, on Cormorant Island, with only it’s memories, memories that are secret to us now but never forgotten for those who stood upon her deck working the seas.  She was once the source of a living on the rugged west coast of Canada, but today only the haunted skeleton of what once was remains behind.

"Ode To Glenda Lynn" - Limited Edition Print: 10 Prints

“Ode To Glenda Lynn” – Limited Edition: 10 Prints

Where is her soul today?  Does it remain forever locked at the bottom of the sea in Davey Jones’ Locker?  What did she witness all those years she toiled at sea?  Surely gales and storms and waves a thousand feet tall pounded on her hull as she pitched on roiling waters, only to come home to survive another day.  One day it was her last.  She was brought ashore where now she sits in a state of perpetuity, forever longing to return to the oceans that she once traversed with certainty and courage.

Such is the life of a wood fishing boat on the shores of western Canada.

This image in now available as a Limited Edition Print from Toad Hollow Photography.

The trip lasted 3 days, but it left a mark on our very spirits that will follow us the rest of our days.  Vancouver Island is an amazing and very special place on earth, with no end to the discoveries that can be made.  The tallest mountains, the most beautiful oceans, beaches that go on forever and forests that are so thick there are many spots hidden that have never witnessed a human visitor before.  The island itself is much larger than most think, with hundreds upon hundreds of kilometers of landscape to enjoy as you travel the main highways and roadways that ribbon across the vast expanse.  At the northern tip of the island is a place frozen in time, a place that we had been looking forward to visiting for many years.  In the fall of 2015 we were lucky enough to finally have a chance to make the trip, and in doing so we find ourselves to be forever changed.  Today’s post features Christ Church Anglican Church, a tiny parish in Alert Bay on Cormoront Island that forms an integral part of the area’s history.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

It was early fall and the weather on Vancouver Island had been lovely all summer, yet as we arrived at the northern end of the island to our anchor spot that would serve as our hub for the rest of the whirlwind trip, the rain fell and a slight chill lingered in the air.  It was really wonderful to see how even over such a relatively short distance between the southern and the northern ends of the island, the weather was tangibly different.  Our first day in the area found us exploring the wonderful community of Port McNeill, in intense anticipation of what lay before us.  If you are just joining us on our big adventure here on our blog, please feel free to check out our previous two posts on Port McNeill “Port McNeill – Day One” and “Exploring Port McNeill“, and to see a sneak peek as to what the community of Alert Bay has in store for us please visit “Alert Bay – A Visit Of A Lifetime“.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

We awoke early on our second day, anxious to get to the ferry terminal for the short trip from Port McNeill to Alert Bay on Cormoront Island.  The rains were refreshing after a long, hot summer, and they added a certain personality to the whole area that really speaks to a life led on the west coast in a dense rainforest.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

For those who follow us regularly, you already know of our deep love for our heritage architecture, and our reverence to visit and photograph our local churches.  Christ Church Anglican Church in Alert Bay is well beyond any typical place you’d visit.  The character of the parish makes it place that stands alone in terms of amazement.  We were given free access to the entire church, and were allowed to explore it with our cameras with no time limits.  This allowed us to become fully immersed in the experience, and in doing so we came away with a fresh perspective on life and on west coast existence.

Alert Bay itself is a place with deep-rooted history that goes back thousands of years in native culture, and is one of the first areas settled during colonization in the 1800’s, making it a hub of sorts.  Even with this all being true, life on Cormoront Island runs at its own distinct cadence, beckoning you to slow your pace and to take in all it has to offer.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church was built and established in 1878 by the Reverend Alfred James Hall, making it the first such church in the area to serve a growing community.  Signs of this wonderful history and time are evident everywhere inside the church, providing us countless photography subjects.  Each picture we captured was much more than a simple image, it was a moment in time frozen forever.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

The people we met on our trip were all absolutely wonderful, with a strong and evident pride in both the community and in the bonds that have been created by all from living in a very remote area together for so many years.  Everyone seemed to know everyone, and even while standing on the main road taking in the sights you could see folks everywhere cheerily waving at each other in greetings of the new day.  It was truly heartwarming.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Almost everywhere we looked, we found connections back to a time nearly 140 years ago, a time that would have been incredibly difficult to live in.  No modern conveniences existed at these times, everything was created by hand and done without machinery.  This, undoubtedly, would create connections with the people and the land that are indelible and lasting.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Who were the people who made all this?  What were their lives like, how did they earn a living in such a remote community?  What was it like in the heart of brutal winters, cut off from other communities by-and-large as storms swirled ferociously through the region?  These were just some of the questions that haunted us as we spent time inside this lovely church, trying to take in every single iota of experience that was making itself evident.  In many ways, it felt as if the church itself was trying to tell us something, tell us stories of times past, of loss and sorrow, of incredible joy and happiness.  The human experience isn’t always based on a single thread, it’s always a garment woven into a rich and storied tapestry formed of many fibers.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

As with all our visits, eventually they must come to an end.  We stood inside the church, desperately trying to find any vestiges of things left undiscovered, realizing that due to the remote location and the difficulties found in traveling here we wouldn’t be back any time soon.  As we said earlier, the entire experience left us changed with a deeper understanding and appreciation for life at the northern end of Vancouver Island in remote communities.  It also left us with a yearning to see and feel more, an unbridled desire to return, and to return as often as we can.

This incredible and amazing journey would not have been possible without the support and kindness of The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia.  We will always be indebted and forever grateful to all those who helped make this a reality for us.

We have much more to share from our incredible adventure, including some surprises, so please stay tuned as we continue to publish feature stories and photographs from our 3 day tour of a lifetime.

As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.  If you’d like to see all 52 high quality photographs from the collection, please visit our online gallery “Christ Church – Alert Bay“.

Rat Rods On Parade

Posted: 7th January 2016 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography, The Toads At The Sportsplex
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In a world where shiny and new is predominant in our culture I always find personal joy in exploring things that are far from that.  Car shows are quite typically full of highly polished examples of hot rods and restorations, yet a new trend has been emerging the past few years that I really enjoy…  that is what is commonly known as the Rat Rod.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

These creations are designed to look unfinished, a culmination of assembling various mismatched parts with the goal of creating a pure driving machine.  Make no mistake, most of these creations are highly personalized and stylized versions of a particular vision the creator has been working towards, in many cases for years.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As Mrs. Toad and I were making our way through our local car show, the “Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015“, we encountered many cars, trucks and bikes that caught our eyes and imagination.  One of my very favorites was this one here, a car that was obviously inspired by the old radial engine powered warplanes of the early 20th century.  What might appear at first to be a varied bunch of parts in truth is a carefully planned and executed build that takes most of its cues from the old planes.  One of the best things about this genre of car is in finding all the details that the builder has added.  Each item and feature looks to be carefully selected, and in many cases modified, to fit both the car itself and the overall aesthetic design.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The next one we encountered appeared to be inspired from old planes as well, but it was very distinct from the first one.  Again, details are to be found everywhere here, each of them adding to the overall visual story the car is telling.  On this particular car, I was personally drawn to the steering wheel and gear shift lever that are obvious throwbacks to the muzzles of the old war plane’s guns.  Small touches like this can add so much to the overall feel and experience you have while exploring the car.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Further on down the line at the show we encountered this terrific creation.  You’ll note the front grill states this was originally a Fargo truck, but if you look closely at the side profile shot of the hood you will see a clear Cadillac moniker subtly applied.  This only adds to the overall car, once again giving the viewer a feeling that so many disparate parts were used to build this car.  The truth is that this is likely far from accidental, the builder had this in mind pretty much from the start, and once again it really adds to the complete package.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Our last discovery of the day was this car.  It is very difficult to identify the car that started this build as so many varied parts are used here.  But once again, time spent checking out all the wonderful details reveals a patchwork quilt of various features that add to the look and feel of the car.  On this one, I really loved the rat that stands tall in front of the grill holding a can of Budweiser Beer.

I’ve seen some of these cars over the recent years that really do look difficult to get in and out of, and in some cases they don’t always look like a Rolls-Royce in terms of traveling comfort.  These are all secondary factors to the primary one; that is designing and building a totally unique car that speaks to the personality of the owner.  I am not sure you’d get a glimpse into the complexion of an individual as well as you do when checking out a Rat Rod they’ve created.

Make no mistake, these designs aren’t just for observation.  Almost all of them are VERY fast cars, in many cases being machines that are capable of doing donuts in a parking lot for quite the time.  I can smell the tire smoke and see the thick acrid atmosphere from here as I type this feature blog post today…  it’s a sight and sound I crave, and one I am looking forward to as spring is just around the corner for us, and this usually means the Rat Rods are about to hit the streets again.

Thanks for visiting us here at The Hollow today, we really appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below.  Happy Hot Rodding!

The Ethereal Nature Of Winter’s Fog

Posted: 6th January 2016 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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Wisps of fog linger in the air, creating a natural light diffuser that takes much of the color out of the landscape and leaves behind an eerie and ethereal feel.  Figures come and go in the mist, playing tricks with your eyes, leaving you wondering if you really saw that shadow move or if it’s just an artifact of the atmosphere.

Foggy Winter Farm Scene - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Foggy Winter Farm Scene – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Many photographers like to photograph landscapes at certain times of day, or during certain seasons.  This is for good reason.  The natural light can change a scene drastically as the elements morph during the year and time of day.  One of my favorite times to shoot is in the heart of winter when clear skies overnight leave pristine frost on the ground.  On many days it also creates a thick fog in the Cowichan Valley that can work for or against you.

This is a shot I had been planning for quite some time.  You could argue I’ve been stalking this scene for years without finding the perfect conditions I so desperately sought.  Until this winter.  One day here recently luck would find me ready and waiting, with Mrs. Toad at my side and the conditions coming together that were necessary to complete my vision.  If you view this photo fullscreen, you will find wonderful elements that add to the aesthetic; the patina of the weathered buildings, the old farmhouse perched on the bluff, and the haunting light that reveals faded silhouettes of the trees in the distant background.  What more could you ask for?

Foggy Winter Farm Scene - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Foggy Winter Farm Scene – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

This farmhouse is so much more than just another old farmhouse, it’s a part of the Cowichan Valley’s rich history and is an important landmark.  If I have my geography correct, this farmhouse was one of the original heritage homes that was built during the early colonization of the valley, built and owned by one of our founding families.  It remains standing, yet the sands of time have taken their toll over the years and weathering is very evident now.  We have been trying for several years to secure a visit to the house so we can document it and preserve it for future generations, so please do stay tuned to our humble corner of the internet in case we finally are able to make that happen.  But, while we work towards this and wait, we are happy to share these truly wonderful, moody and dramatic shots of our beloved valley as winters icy grip takes hold for a period of time, leaving all creatures and inhabitants on the lookout for the first signs of spring.  We certainly don’t want to wish our time away as these scenes only make themselves known for a short time, but it is no secret that most of us anxiously await the thawing of the landscape that warmer temperatures will bring.

Thank you so much for visiting us here at The Hollow today, we truly appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below.

Duncan Wellness Centre

Posted: 28th December 2015 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
Tags: , , ,

We were recently commissioned to do a full Commercial Photography Session with the group at the Duncan Wellness Centre in our hometown of Duncan, BC, Canada.  It was a wonderful session that we enjoyed working on, and through the process we got to know the terrific people who operate the centre and learn about their services.  We were absolutely amazed at what we discovered.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Situated right in the heart of the town, surrounded by cobblestone walkways and heritage architecture, we find the people at the Duncan Wellness Centre offering a wide variety of services that benefit a complete range of needs.

Andrew Teufel - Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Andrew Teufel – Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Violet Reynolds - Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Violet Reynolds – Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Heather Fergus - Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Heather Fergus – Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

These are some of the practitioners who work out of the centre.  Each of them takes a completely holistic approach to working with their clients.  With a deep background in the health care sector they are able to apply their experience to the individual to create a plan that works with their specific goals in mind.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Classes and workshops are offered, making it easy for clients to join in a group learning experience.  All aspects of healthy living are covered with offered classes, or personal sessions are available that are tailored to the individual.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Yoga, Tai Chi, Somatic Stretching, and Somatic Yoga classes and workshops give everyone the tools they need to deal with recovery issues, pain management, circulation issues, posture and a healthy mind/body balance.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

As the photography session progressed, we saw everyone experiencing an increased range of motion with corresponding elevated mindsets.  The core benefits of these practices were evident and visible even to us with no past experience.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

After photographing the classes and the yoga workshops, we followed Andrew into a treatment room where we watched him work his magic.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Once again the results were visible and obvious, in a short period of time.  It really made us appreciate the work they do, and the tangible results they achieve.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

After our work with the clients was completed, we had a chance to watch Andrew and Violet in action practicing their yoga.  The poses that they were able to do were amazing, creating art through what they could do with their bodies.  Not everyone who visits the Duncan Wellness Centre is expected to reach this level of flexibility, but is was absolutely amazing to watch masters perform their craft in person like this.

If you are looking for an holistic approach to a balanced and healthy lifestyle, we can think of no better place to call to make an appointment than the wonderful group at the Duncan Wellness Centre.  Tell them the Toads sent you!

Thank you very much for your kind visit to The Hollow today, we really appreciate it.  As always we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.

Home On The Range

Posted: 21st December 2015 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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Home, home on the range…  where the chickens, horses, squirrels, cows, frogs, alpacas, ducks, turkeys and countless other farm creatures play.  OK, that might not have had the greatest cadence to it, but it sure does strike a chord.

Cowichan Valley Farm - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Cowichan Valley Farm – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As the holiday season draws near this year, Mrs. Toad and I find ourselves back at one of our favorite activities; that is to explore the Cowichan Valley that we so dearly love and call home to.  It’s been said many times here at The Hollow and it bears saying once again, Vancouver Island is an amazing place, full of tall mountains, thick forests, beautiful farmscapes, beaches that go on forever, and ocean views that are almost always just moments away from where you stand.

The Cowichan Valley in particular is a special place, at least in our hearts.  Here we find some of the islands most wonderful farms.  And everyone loves a bucolic farm.  In this shot, in the distance we see snow-draped mountains after this years first snowfall.  Although short-lived, the effects of the event can be found in this area of Vancouver Island, particularly if you explore the back roads.

Cowichan Valley Farm - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Cowichan Valley Farm – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

New friends are always just around the corner.  As we paused to capture the shot above this one of the farmhouse we immediately noticed that we were being noticed by some of the locals.  Within a moment, the entire lot of horses and cows had saddled up to their fences to peer back at those who were peering at them.  If these faces don’t beckon you to wander up and scratch their ears, we are lost for words.

Cowichan Valley Farm - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Cowichan Valley Farm – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Around the very next corner we find this beautiful red farmhouse sitting under the watchful gaze of the dramatic mountains that surround it.  Nearby, farms and fields stretch as far as the eye can see, painting the entire landscape in lush greens that are so predominant here on the island.

Cowichan Valley Farm - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Cowichan Valley Farm – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Character can be found everywhere.  Even the new homes are designed and crafted with a distinct West Coast feel to them, showcasing a seamless integration between the land and surroundings with a contemporary home.  As the holiday season approaches, it’s so easy to imagine this home filled with the gleeful sounds of happy children with the wonderful smells of homemade baking wafting through the vaulted ceilings.

In today’s modern world it sure is wonderful to have a chance to visit places like this, even if they are enjoyed from afar as we typically do.  Your imagination fills in the gaps to what can be seen, creating stories in your mind’s eye that speak to a serene and peaceful existence here on Vancouver Island.  And with the holidays just around the corner now, Mrs. Toad and I find ourselves filled with a sense of being grateful for our lives and experiences.  We find our hearts filled with love and happiness as we meet and greet other local folks out and about, scurrying around for last-minute presents or ingredients for the family dinner.

This is, after all, what makes life here so special.

Thank you for your kind visit to our humble corner of the internet today, we really appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave any comments you may have below.  Happy Holidays everyone!!!

The Toad And The Cat

Posted: 16th December 2015 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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A few days a year, in the heart of winter, the days begin with a glorious fog that rolls over the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.  This fog creates an eerie sense in the valley, both hiding and revealing vignettes at the same time, through the act of natural framing.  The landscape changes, almost by the minute, as things are exposed and then obscured.  It’s almost as if the fog is alive, meandering across the valley in search of secrets to find and share.

Misty Catamaran - Genoa Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Misty Catamaran – Genoa Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The sun was trying to poke its way through the thick fog cover, casting a ghostly orange glow in the atmosphere.  Birds came and went, winding their way through the mist, arriving and leaving at the same time.  Ducks paddled without sound, and even the gulls that are found everywhere were hushed, their presence barely to be noticed.  These incredible fogs are directly related to the stillness in the air, a stillness you can almost hear in its deafening silence.  As the day progresses, and with it the winds that are always sure to arrive, the fog dissipates, leaving behind unfettered views of what once was invisible.

These days come and go at this time of year.  Even with the stark cold of winter and the difficulty found in rising from a warm and comfortable bed, the treasures we find are well worth the efforts.

Thank you for visiting us here at The Hollow today, we really appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.

My Secret Place

Posted: 14th December 2015 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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We’ve all got spots that we tend to go to for solace, for a moment’s tranquility and peace.  When my mom became ill in the late 1970’s and we moved out to Vancouver Island, I found my spot quickly and came back often for moments of introspection.  This spot is both one of Vancouver Island’s best kept secrets at the same time it’s a must-see for everyone who lives or visits here.

Goldstream Park Waterfall - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Goldstream Park Waterfall – Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

This is the waterfall hidden on the west side of the highway at Goldstream Park, located just outside of Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island.  Surrounded by large mountains, this waterfall is carved out of the rocks after untold thousands of years of water have slowly etched it away.  Each season it takes on a completely different personality.  There are times in the summer when the waterfall is barely a trickle.  Other times it’s an incredible torrent.

This shot hides the true scale and size of the falls.  They are massive.  The tree trunks we see lining the canyon at one time reached for the very skies, and today they look like tiny toothpicks perched against a wonderful natural feature.  It’s always somewhat dark here, the mountains and canyons that surround these falls tend to block out a lot of light.  I have no doubt this is one of the reasons it’s so lush and green in here.

We took this short video clip to show you the true size and power of these falls.  Click here to see this video in fullscreen.  If you look closely, you will see two brave souls exploring the general area in the right part of the frame.  They will give you a great idea on the true magnitude of these falls.

Thank you for your kind visit to The Hollow today, we really do appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.

To call this expedition a trip of a lifetime doesn’t really do it justice.  It changed us in our very core, forever.  Being back home in the Cowichan Valley today leaves us yearning to head back up, to see this area of the west coast of Canada in a different season.  We yearn to leave the trappings of our modern existence behind as we immerse ourselves in the incredible natural beauty that can only be found out here, leaving all our troubles behind as we take in the landscapes and see the wildlife native to this part of Canada.  It’s impossible not to be touched by what you see and feel on the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Upon arrival in Port McNeill we couldn’t wait to begin the big adventure we had planned for the day and for the weekend.  It all started with a quick coffee at one of the local coffee shops as we stared out the window in delight with knowing where we were and knowing that we had an entire 3 day stretch in front of us.  Although the time flew by much too quickly, it also moved in slow motion in a way as we struggled to slow down the hands of time and really take in the full experience we had been so much looking forward to for months.

This post continues our series titled “North Island Toads” that shares all the experiences and photographs we captured during our visit.  This series will likely take months to slowly emerge here on our blog as the volume of stories and images is beyond anything we’ve done before.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Once the coffee was done we headed immediately over to St John Gualbert Port McNeill where we had our first appointment of the weekend to shoot the incredible church.  In case you are just joining us, check out our previous post “Port McNeill – Day One” that showcases our first impressions of Port McNeill, and of course the beauty of St John Gualbert.

The town of Port McNeill itself is a small one, yet it is full of wonderful things to check out and see.  After completing the shoot in the church, we headed right on over to the harbor where we explored the marina and it’s surroundings.  The scenes were incredible, full of fishing and recreational boats, a seaplane coming in for a landing, mountains in the distance, and the lapping water of the ocean on the shores.  Given that the town is small, we had many of the areas we explored entirely to ourselves, accompanied only by the constant cries of gulls.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As a seaplane came in for landing we stood on one of the piers holding hands, excited to be here and in true awe of what it all felt like.  Boats of all varieties were moored in the marina, ranging from beautiful fishing boats that had years of weathering on them, proof of the hard labor they had experienced, to other boats that were pristine and colorful with purposes that didn’t reveal themselves.  Yet they were no less fascinating because of this.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

At the other end of the harbor we found working machinery that is undoubtedly part of the logging industry that both helped create the town as well as creating a source of income for many of the local families.  One of the first things we sought out was to see if there was a local museum as we find that so much can be learned about an area by exploring its history.  In short order we found the “Port McNeill & District Museum” and we immediately got lost in all the terrific artifacts and notes of history that were exhibited.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Situated right next to the Community Hall was a display that featured what is widely believed to be the World’s Largest Burl.  Whether or not this is true is well beyond the scope of our article here, but the artifact was amazing to see in person.  Standing next to it dwarfed us and we realized the impact that nature has on all living beings, including our forests.

After this part of our exploration was done, we found ourselves a tad bit tuckered from all the excitement.  Time to head back to our hotel, the Haida Way Motor Inn.  We enjoyed an incredible meal in the Northern Lights Restaurant downstairs, which not only served exquisite dishes but also showcased incredible views of the town below and the harbor in the distance.  The Haida Way Motor Inn became our anchor for the entire weekend and was a place we truly enjoyed and will likely stay at again one day in the future.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The next morning we awoke early with plans on getting to the ferry terminal with plenty of time to spare.  A full moon lingered over the horizon as the sleepy town began to wake.  The rain from the night before covered everything, casting reflections in pools that had formed overnight.  The air was fresh and we were anxious to get moving and begin the second stage of our adventure.

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As it was, we were one of only a handful of cars waiting to board the ferry to head over to Alert Bay.  We took the opportunity to grab a few shots in an attempt to capture the scenes that can only be found on the west coast, ones that speak to the natural beauty but also showcase what is unique and special about this part of the world.  For a sneak peek as to what we were heading towards, check out our previous post “Alert Bay – A Visit Of A Lifetime“.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada Visit our blog “Alert Bay – A Visit Of A Lifetime” for the story behind the photo.

Please feel free to check back here with us over the next several months as we continue to share our stories, experiences and photographs from this trip.  If you love beautiful landscapes and seascapes, incredible history that can be found nowhere else, and sights that are absolutely unique to the west coast of Canada you won’t want to miss our upcoming features.  In the meantime, please do feel free to leave us any comments you have below, we love to hear from all our visitors and promise to answer each comment that is left.  Thank you for visiting us in our humble corner of the internet today.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2015

Posted: 26th November 2015 by ToadHollowPhoto in Review
Tags: , ,

With the holidays just around the corner it’s that time of year once again, the time when we find incredible sales that make our holiday shopping experience terrific.  In today’s day and age it sure feels great to make our dollars stretch further.  Once a year our favorite photography software team, Topaz Labs, has a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale where we usually see their entire powerful suite of tools on sale for 50% off.  These savings are just too good to pass up!

Cowichan Bay Sunset - Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Cowichan Bay Sunset – Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The entire Topaz Labs suite is one of the most powerful sets of tools for the photographer out there today, featuring a wide variety of tools and features that can help you take all your images to the next level, no matter what type of effect or style you are going for.  All of our images here at Toad Hollow Photography are finished with these tools, we just couldn’t create and deliver the quality we strive for without them.

Topaz Labs Says:

From November 25th through November 30th, we’re offering 50% off of the full Topaz Photography Collection. Whether you want to achieve stunning photo enhancements or apply artistic effects, this unique collection has you covered.

With the recent addition of Topaz Texture Effects, the Photography Collection now includes 17 products for only $499.99. With the 50% discount, new users can purchase the entire collection for ONLY $249.99! The savings aren’t just for new collection purchases either. Owners of the older Topaz Collections can take advantage of the savings as well! They will just need to log in to their accounts to see their unique Collection upgrade price, then apply the code for 50% additional savings!

It would seem that the great folks at Topaz have everyone covered!

For those who may like to see our previous posts that highlight and showcase some of the plug-ins and tools in the Topaz Labs suite, here are our past posts:

Topaz Labs has proved to be an industry leader in the photography world, creating world-class tools employing proprietary algorithms to help in making great pictures an easy task.

It doesn’t end there, either.  Topaz Labs has a industry leading support team and excellent training materials, including video tutorials for many of their plug-ins, that allows you to focus on your work.  This makes for a terrific streamlined user experience from time of purchase right up to the time of image creation.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Promotion - 50% off of the Topaz Complete Collection

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Promotion – 50% off of the Topaz Complete Collection

From November 25th, 2015 to November 30, 2015 visit the Topaz Labs Store to take advantage of these once-a-year savings and get the most advanced post-processing tools out there today!

Use the coupon code ‘BLACKFRIDAY2015’ at checkout to lock in your savings today!