Continuing the theme of casting back into the past for shots of things that compensate for not going anywhere anymore, this one isn’t too long ago. Our visit to Victoria in the run up to Christmas involved staying in a hotel alongside the harbor. We had a view from our hotel room across to the legislative building which is nicely illuminated at night – not just for Christmas but all the time. Here is the shot from the hotel window!
While we got to Butchart Gardens before the sun set as seen in this post, the purpose of the visit was to see the illuminations. I had been there before during the day and knew it was a pretty garden but I didn’t know what to expect with the illuminations. I thought it might be pretty but was not expecting it to be so dramatic. The first are had some lovely lights within the trees with animated icicles. We then followed a route around the gardens to cover all of the areas. These areas also included displays themed around the twelve days of Christmas.
One area that really blew me away was a section under tree cover where they had lasers mounted on the tree trunks that scattered their light into the canopy above. The effect was magical and I spent a long time looking up at it as well as trying to get a decent shot of it. On one, the lens wasn’t originally zoomed out and so it drifted a little in zoom. The result was rather good but not what was needed. I like it but it will stay out of public sight.
Walking down in to the valley below the main house, the lighting was absolutely amazing. The density of light installations and the use of color was really impressive. The use of trees and plants to catch the light was great as was the use of some of the surrounding rock. They also had some streams of blue lights to give the effect of flowing water.
We had arrived at the gardens before the sun went down and we got in very quickly. There was no traffic. As a result, we had seen the whole display after dark relatively early in the evening. We were able to head back to town and, as we started to drive out, the traffic coming in was awful. We were sailing out but the cars were backed up the hill. I imagine it would take a long time to get in. I think our timing worked well.
One of my meetings in Tokyo took place in the Akihabara district. The company had a cafeteria on one of the higher floors of the building which served food and beer after work and they invited us up there. Aside from having an enjoyable meal and fun company, we also got to enjoy the view of the city as the sun went down. Tokyo is a city that is lit up at night and it looks beautiful. I took along a camera because that’s what I do and grabbed a few shots of the view. It would be good to have set up a time lapse as the sun went down. If I ever get invited back, maybe I’ll try and get that done.
A short distance south of us is a preserved railway, the Niles Canyon Railway. They run services all year along their corridor which runs in the attractive Niles Canyon between Niles and Sunol. During the time around Christmas, they run a train with lights illuminating the vehicles. They have a mix of coaches and open cars all of which have lights and illuminated shapes along the sides. A diesel locomotive at each pulls the train in each direction.
I figured I would pop along to see what it looked like. I got to Niles ahead of the departure which was still before the sun had gone down. I found a location near the station where the train was just up a bank from me. I got some shots as it passed by and then headed up the canyon to be in Sunol when it arrived.
As I drove along the canyon, it was clear that there were a few places where it would be possible to stop and see the train pass. I picked one location and waited for it to come through. This was a far better place to shoot from. I was at pretty high ISO and handheld but the low shutter speed did mean that I had parallax issues causing the distant parts of the train to blur out a lot.
The train is pretty slow – like all preserved railways – so I was still able to get to Sunol ahead of it. I saw it come in and the crew turned it around for the leg back to Niles. By now it was quite dark. I chatted to one of the team after it left on the return leg and he explained that they would run a second journey later in the evening but this time starting at Sunol. Ridership was very good so this is obviously a popular trip for people.
Downtown Oakland is an interesting combination of old buildings and newer structures. It has some appealing parts and some that are a little less attractive. However, one thing did catch my eye once I had checked in to my hotel. A neighboring building had decorated a tree in its grounds with some great lights. These lights had a rippling effect which looked really great. Video is the only way to give an impression of this so here is a clip to explain what I mean.