The Hollow’s Gate

Posted: 7th September 2012 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Much like chasing the fabled Yeti through the snow-caps of the Swiss Alps, this has been in the planning stages for years now.  Armed with only a 10 megapixel sensor and a 50mm prime lens, we stalked our quarry with steely determination.  As we sat, waiting, in our chairs the mythical being finally emerged from the plush dense forests of Vancouver Island…  even if only for a fleeting moment.  And finally all the years of planning and preparation came together in the blink of an eye and we got what we came for.

Seconds later it was gone again.

The Hollow's Gate - Toad Hollow - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

The Hollow’s Gate – Toad Hollow – Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

For those with more than a passing curiosity, this is indeed The Hollow as it sits today.  Several years ago Mrs. Toad and I made a decision to move away from the hustle and bustle of city-living, and to head for the countryside.  This decision has resulted in meeting new friends and having new adventures, and is something we are thankful for every day.

The Hollow currently sits on a small patch of land, filled with beautiful trees, magical wildlife and is just a hop away from a gorgeous local lake and the ocean.  The house is well over 100 years old now, and due to no official records of its creation being found, the history has to be surmised through an assortment of clues.  You can honestly feel the character and history of this place in the ground, as those who minded the land before we got here were very much in tune with it and were devoted to its care.

This picture is something that has beckoned to me since the moment we arrived.  Surrounded by extremely tall Douglas Fir and Maple trees, Vancouver Island sits fairly far north and as such is subject to all sorts of variances in natural light.  Moments like these come and go faster than you can hop off a Lilly Pad and catch a fly.

Over the course of the Labour Day Long Weekend, Mrs. Toad and I set out to capture this picture.  For two days we patiently sat in the yard, stalking the light as it changed by the moment.  Great moments came and went.  Our memory card in the camera began to fill up resulting in 36 potential shots to sift through, hoping to find the perfect rendition of the visual story we wanted to share.  Props were placed and taken away, reflectors were setup in various spots trying to bring a smidgen of natural light into corners where none naturally existed.

Finally everything came together and we were presented with the gift we share here today with you all.

If you have enjoyed your visit today and this feature, please do let us know by sharing your comments below.  We are considering running a series featuring this gate in the different seasons we have up here in Canada, and your feedback here will be very important to us in this consideration.  Not to mention that we absolutely love to hear from all our visitors.  Thank you so much for your kind visit to Toad Hollow today!

  1. avatar Helen Curtis says:

    What a delightful story. Sometimes I envy the lifestyle of those in beautiful country surroundings; you have certainly served to heighten my coveting!

    I would really love to see the same picture through the seasons; where I am from (Adelaide, South Australia) it’s pretty much green winter/hot dry brown summer). I am already imagining how this will look as we approach Christmas!

    Thanks for sharing this with us.


    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      What wonderful comments to find here, thank you so much for taking the time Helen! We really appreciate it! We truly hope to see you here at The Hollow again, my friend!

  2. avatar Heather says:

    I am coming to your house 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      The coffee is on and we’ve got a little space set aside for you, Heather, you know it! It would be an absolute highlight for us! Thank you so, so much for your kind visit my dear friend, you’ve made our whole day here.

  3. avatar Edith Levy says:

    It’s a wonderful shot Toad. The waiting and planning paid off. The light is beautiful and I love the red lantern hanging there.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Gosh, Edith, that just means so much to us! Thanks so kindly for your visit and most wonderful comments!

  4. Your effort and patience were well rewarded. What a wonderful image

  5. It’s beautiful, I love gates, don’t know why there’s just something about them, I guess because they are an opening to somewhere. Such perfect light

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      There is great natural tension that can be found in scenes like this. It’s exactly what we were trying to capture in this shot, so it means a lot to us that you noticed this, Linda! I am always on the lookout for great gates… as a matter of fact there’s a really cool rusty one done the street I just have to shoot!! Thanks for popping by and leaving us your comments today, Linda, it’s been really nice to chat with you on Twitter and now here on our blog! Please do pop by again!

  6. avatar Rick Louie says:

    Looks like it was worth the wait. Nice diffused light!

  7. avatar ehpem says:

    Toad – that is great light and processing; somehow you have lit the underside of the leaning gate, which must have been tricky.

    I think the idea of seasonal shots of the same location is a great one. I have contemplated the same, even the idea of fixing a camera mount somehow so that I could come back to the exact spot over and over. Have yet to do that.

    Which leads me think – maybe there should be the occasional fixed ball head firmly attached to post, low wall, street light column, etc as a public utility for photographers. There could be a web site to upload photos taken from that spot as a form of public art where the lighting and the photographer could show their influence from that location – in all directions even.

    I can just see it now, a stealthy young (has to be young) street artist, welding torch in hand, 3am, fixing a tripod head to a metal light standards in the Victoria Inner Harbour for our use, enjoyment and amusement.

    So, back on topic. Great shot, and if that is your back yard, then you do indeed live in the perfect place

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      This is, indeed, our back yard my friend! Thanks for your terrific comments here. Indeed, getting that underside of the gate subtly lit was the real challenge in getting this piece right. Took 36 tries to find the one I liked!

      I love your idea of welding a tripod head to a pole downtown, geez, I’ve never even considered something like this before, but wow it’s BRILLIANT! Would a Toad with a torch look funny downtown at 3AM?

      • avatar ehpem says:

        Anyone skulking around with a torch at 3AM would look pretty funny. Maybe the answer is epoxy – it would have be gorilla brand to go with guerrilla art.

        Actually, the answer is probably going to Victoria City council with the idea and setting something up with their agreement, and a facebook or other site to go with it. I bet there would be sufficient support for the idea. Heck, if people can litter downtown with clapped out pianos for the sake of art, then a few tripod heads should be a breeze.

        • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

          I love your wordplay here, my friend, well said! This actually is a great idea, if I had some free time I’d actually try to implement it.

  8. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Much more patience than I could ever show! Good form Toads!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so, so much there, Jim, that is very much appreciated! I have to admit, I had great company in the form of the beautiful and talented Mrs. Toad… this is a big bonus is helping the time pass, I can honestly say. 🙂

  9. I love it, Toad! Both the image and your story about stalking/creating it. Like you, I live on a wooded island property (in my case, a Gulf Island rather than the “Big” island), and the light filtering through the Douglas firs and other trees can be amazing – and challenging to capture in its fullness of tones and textures. I spend a lot of the year photographing little corners of our woods and trails, trying to do just what you’ve done, so your story made me chuckle in recognition. Thanks!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      What a wonderful set of comments, thank you so much Laurie! I know we have a few more potential compositions of interest in our backyard, I guess it’s time to start laying out a 3 year plan for those shots, as well! LOL Many thanks for taking the time to come see us here today, and for leaving this great thoughts for everyone to enjoy!

  10. avatar LensScaper says:

    Isn’t it amazing how a flash of red (even when its a hurricane lamp well past its sell-by date) can elevate an image to a far higher rung. Beautiful light too. Doesn’t look like the mower’s been the other side of the gate lately! LOL!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I was wondering if anyone would notice! I half expected a crew to show up towing a mower to take care of this for us after I let this post loose in the wilds of the Internet, but so far it’s been quiet. 😀 Thank you SO much for your wonderful comments here, Andy, you really have a great way with words that never ceases to put a smile on my face!

  11. I love this shot Toad! Your patience paid off. The lantern definitely adds an element of interest. I enjoyed a glimpse of your backyard and it would be awesome to see it during the different seasons. Down here in Florida we get 2 seasons – hot and not so hot!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      First off, Michael, let’s be clear here. I wanna move to Florida. Youse guys have the BEST weather!! 😀

      Alright, now that we have that formality out of the way, I’d also like to thank you so much for all your support & friendship here, that is so awfully kind of you, good sir!

  12. avatar Lind George says:


    I recognize this gate! My husband and I rented the cottage on Maple Bay Road for the summer months sometime around 2007. We loved the ambiance of the home, especially the lovely old lead glass windows, the conservancy dining area, the beautiful winding stairwell into the hobbit attic, the kitchen seat, the luxurious bathroom, and the space and airiness of the master bedroom. The yard lured us outside. We spent many a relaxing hour under the giant maple tree, tucked up with a book and a refreshing glass; morning coffee on the pebbled patio; and relaxing evenings watching the setting sun from the porch. The setting sun, filtered through the big maple, was especially unique. I remember the grapevine, with it’s 4″ base, winding it’s way gloriously throughout the garden and securing the gate at it’s current angle…I may have even released it’s hold from time to time to deter the deer from coming into the garden. We had some lovely times and great parties in that sweet little cottage and property. I love your photos – you have captured the magical light perfectly. Thank-you for taking me down memory lane.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      How wonderful is this!! Wow, it’s so fabulous to see you pop by like this and leave us such a wonderful set of comments! We are so lucky to call this magical place home these days, and to have a connection like this with someone who also really enjoyed this fabulous spot is just so meaningful! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for both taking the time to come by, and for leaving us this wonderful story!! We really hope to see you again here at The Hollow!