many thanks

For the milestone of half a million views over at Webshots – which arrived shortly before the website would be forever shut down, a special album of favourite images was prepared as an expression of appreciation for all the support received by friends and visitors. The images were posted in October 2012, and bore the moniker of ‘christianchen’, my user id there. There is a bit of a story to the name, however it will have to keep for another time.

In any case, most of the images contain the original copyright from the webshots site, as well as a newly acquired one here at photojourneying. Because of the large number of images in this set, the images will be posted in several installments throughout the year. Enjoy!

1. Thanks
00 thanks, cover 00
2. Storm Clouds Breaking
01 storm clouds breaking
This was captured in October 2007, the day of an incredible storm when I first noticed a mother seagull with a junior bird. That story begins here.

3. incoming tide at Cox Bay
02 cox bay ws 2
You may know that Vancouver Island’s Pacific west coast is my favourite place that I have seen so far, something I keep mentioning. 🙂

Since the first visit here more years ago than I can believe, I have seen many mountains, forests, gardens, parks, and have travelled thousands of miles between Canada and Europe, and the USA as well. Everywhere I went, there have been some incredible places to see. And yet, there is something compelling about this place with its air rich with salty mist and the roar of an endlessly pounding surf.
4. Beach Art
03 beach art
captured while beachcombing with my camera at Cox Bay
5. Morning Light
04 morning sun, green border
6. Afternoon Sunshine, #1
05 afternoon sunshine
7. Afternoon Sunshine, #2
06 afternoon sunlight

8. Autumn Moments
07 autumn moments collage

9. Winter Fog
08 fog

10. Spring Blossoms

11. Summer in Bloom
10 P1350724 (800x450)


to the Pacific and back again, part 3

Continued from part 2

And so it is a very relaxing vacation, with one glorious view after the other to savour. The weather varies, and creates magic on both cloudy and sunny days.

 another Storm Break! Hurrah!!

another Storm Break! Hurrah!!


various shades of grey

various shades of grey


driftwood gathering at Wickanninish Beach

driftwood gathering at Wickanninish Beach


At the tip of Pettinger Point along the northern edge of Cox Bay there is a rock which has a crack in it, resembling the mouth of a giant creature.

looking like a giant sea creature

looking like a giant sea creature

The first time I saw this fissure was a few years ago, when it was just a minor crack visible at sunset during a low tide, however it has been growing rapidly over the years and is now visible all the time, unless momentarily covered by the pounding surf or during a very high tide.
another wave crashes onto the rock, momentarily hiding the "creature's mouth"

another wave crashes onto the rock, momentarily hiding the “creature’s mouth”

glorious view of Wickanninish Beach from the platform at the Visitor Centre

view of driftwood and Krummholz at Wickanninish Beach from the platform at the Visitor Centre

If it looks like the tree above is on the wrong side of the railing, it is not. A number of giant Sitka Spruce trees had long since taken up residence well before the visitor centre was built, and so the platform was built around the trees, their trunks emerging as if from the deck although they extend down to the ground below from where their roots work hard at keeping them anchored as well as providing nourishment to the branches above.

the tide rolling in

the tide rolling in

Most days it was cool, but frequently sunny, causing the tide-tossed algae to cast a shadow on the sand.

tiny shadows

tiny shadows

Miles and miles of almost-empty beach.

the vastness of Wickanninish Beach

the vastness of miles and miles and miles of Wickanninish Beach

Such is the vast wonder of Wickanninish. Regardless of the weather, this view is still my favourite on the planet so far.

Sunsets are anything but predictable. They can be brilliant or subtle, or they can be a no-show. But not today. The sun is setting on a cloudbank which looms above the western horizon.

the sun on a cloudbank

the sun on a cloudbank

The restless surf continues to pound, as wave after wave rolls toward the shore. Some moments are simply timeless in their beauty…. Abba you sure are an artist!

And so ends another day….

And then the last morning of our stay at the Pacific arrives. There is time for just one more walk on the beach and a Farewell to Cox Bay.

Farewell Cox Bay!

Farewell Cox Bay!

The car is packed, and we head home again. The fresh snow which recently fell on the shores of the Pacific was but a fraction of the new blanket which has covered the mountains. These are some of the views we are enjoying on our journey back along Highway 4, eastwards towards the ferry terminal in Departure Bay, Nanaimo.

a fresh blanket of snow

a fresh blanket of snow

One beautiful vista after another comes into view. Our time at the Pacific west coast may be over, but our vacation surely is not.


We stop at an official rest stop, Taylor Arm, where a cheeky Stellar’s Jay hides in a tree just as my camera gets ready to click. However the lack of foliage makes it easy to capture an image anyhow. There are mixed feelings about this delightful bird which can be a nuisance to farmers since it manages to get into the chicken feed. But it has beautiful colouring and I enjoy the challenge of trying to photograph it, even though it moves very fast.

It is the official bird of the Province of British Columbia, incidentally.

in hiding - but far from hidden

in hiding – but far from hidden

how glorious is this!

how glorious is this!

It has been said that the journey is already part of the destination. How true it is. We are surrounded by sheer eye candy as we continue ever westwards.

driving through Cathedral Grove

driving through Cathedral Grove


Before long it is time to board the ferry which will take us back to Vancouver. It will actually take us only as far as West Vancouver, and from there we will continue driving home. But there is something about disembarking on the other side. Something that feels like home.

view of the mainland from the ferry between Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver

view of the mainland from the ferry enroute to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver

This has been our road trip to the Pacific, and back again in 2010. The vacation is over, but life awaits. Looking forward to the next adventure!

All images captured April 2010.

Christmas :: a visual medley, part 3

Many Christmas memories come to mind…. Christmas meant the smell of Christmas baking, and being part of that baking process with my Mom – cutting out cookie after cookie after cookie and adding the egg glaze and coloured sprinkles…. And it also included the decorating of the Christmas tree with well-loved ornaments which emerged out of boxes every year.

26 not a creature was stirring.... not even a - bear

And for a number of years it meant being an angel for the annual Sunday School Christmas play. Being an angel was a no-brainer. If you weren’t one of the shepherds or the wise guys, or one of the main characters, you were an angel by default. You sang your verses and looked angelic.

But being Mary was the coveted role.

And one year, when all the beautiful Mary candidates before me had graduated, it was up to me. I was it. Mary at last. I cannot say that it was as awesome as I had imagined it. The role of Joseph was not assigned to the boy of my dreams. But it was satisfying, no doubt, to be one of the stars of the program.

Trivial now, those childhood aspirations, in comparison to what the original Mary must have gone through on that very first Christmas.

Pregnant, unwed, with nothing but a promise to keep her going for nine months at a time when that would have been deemed a status of shame. How courageous she was, and how her faith must have grown as she sensed that first kicking within her and felt the wonder of it all. Realizing finally that which she had been sure of all along: the gift of life which was about to be born. All on that long-ago silent night.

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To be continued at the next post.

◆ Originally published December 2007 ◆

Christmas :: a visual medley, part 2

It is the second Sunday of Advent. Another week closer to Christmas, and another installment of Christmas :: a visual medley. It’s time for more carols….

The first image below is of a welcome sign that a friend brought back from Germany. It became an annual tradition for some time and graced the front door for a number of Christmas seasons, cheerfully announcing to one and all, “Welcome here!”

10 oh come, one and all (750x750)

11 ... every Christmas card I write.... (750x562)

12 Go tell it on the mountains (750x563)

13 Leise rieselt der Schnee (750x563)

14 What Child is this (750x563)

15 Frosty the snowman (750x563)

16 moor & mountain (750x563)

17 star of wonder (750x563)

18 we light a thousand candles bright

Oops! Got my blogs mixed up. The images are all showing © pix & kardz 2013 in error rather than © photojourneying 2013.

I didn’t notice until this post was almost ready for publication. The images really were intended for photojourneying, and if that is where you were wanting to be, you really are in the right place. Sorry for any confusion caused. All rights reserved, regardless. 🙂

to be continued at the next post

◆ Originally published December 2007 ◆

Christmas :: a visual medley

Just in time for the Christmas season… advent, advent

Growing up, the four Sundays of Advent were important occasions – the four Sundays before Christmas. Sometimes they would already begin in late November.

A special wreath with four candles was set up, and on the first Sunday, one candle would be lit. In later years I would hear that each candle represented a certain aspect of the original Christmas story, although depending on which tradition was in place, the meanings varied. But back then, there was no particular significance of one candle over the other. The second week, two candles would be lit, and so on. The more candles that were on the wreath, the shorter the time until Christmas would be there.

And by the time all four candles were lit, Christmas would be just around the corner. Happy times!

Advent, Advent.                                                    Advent, Advent.
Ein Lichtlein brennt.                                              One small light is burning.
Erst eins, dann zwei,                                            First one, then two,
dann drei, dann vier                                                Then three, then four.
Dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.          And then the Christchild is at the door.

It was not Santa Claus who brought Christmas gifts, but the Christ Child, somehow. Didn’t quite get how that worked. Santa Claus wasn’t part of the story at all, although he was not a stranger to me. I did learn about him in school, and he put in an appearance in every shopping mall in town. But I always knew that he was not an official part of Christmas.

However a distant relative of his, St Nicholas, did put in an appearance, but already much earlier than Christmas itself. On the night of the fifth of December. And he was quite real.

So it was a matter of putting out your polished shoes your polished shoes before going to bed, and in the morning, if you had been a good child, there would be candy and chocolate in one of your shoes on the morning of December 6. If you had not been good, there would be a lump of coal in it, or a stone, or something like that. And so either I was always well-behaved, or else St Nicholas closed an eye and gave me the benefit of the doubt. There was never any rock or coal in my shoes.

While some of those traditions were as nebulous as they were exciting, Christmas carols were definitely part of growing up, as well as some well-loved poems. Illustrated here are some of my favourites.

Originally all the medley images were posted at once. However that makes for a lot of viewing in one go. So the original collection has been split into four separate posts, one for each of the Sundays of Advent for this year. Hope you enjoy.

Happy Advent!

01 dreaming of a white Christmas

02 deck the halls - deck the walls

03 we three kings (750x593)

04 in his master's steps he trod

05 here we go a-carolling (750x592)

07 deck the boughs

08 the stockings were hung by the chimney with care

09 o Christmas tree (750x592)

to be continued at the next post

◆ Originally published December 2007 ◆

Creative Challenge :: Fall Flowers

What is/was a Creative Challenge?

Not unlike the weekly photo challenges here at WordPress, Webshots also had a version of weekly photo challenges, in which it was possible to submit up to three images for any given topic. Each challenge was open for a specific time frame, after which it was no longer possible to submit new images.

While the logistics of the challenges changed from time to time, the challenges always yielded winners as selected by the editorial staff. Winners or not (mine were almost always not), it was fun to see what lay photographers from around the world posted for the various topics. And the winning image would then appear on the website’s home page.

The first one I participated in was in November 2007, and the topic was Fall Flowers. These ones were, and are, dedicated to all late bloomers:

Fall Flowers

More Creative Challenge posts will appear here from time to time. Maybe sometime in the future, these can become live challenges again, although not for the purpose of winning but simply so that you can share your creative side with photos suited to a particular topic, if you would like to participate. Just thinking off the top of my head, but it could be renamed as a three-photo-challenge, or something like that.

You could post your interpretations of the given topic at your site, and then provide the link here for all to enjoy. And I could come up with three new images for the same topic, as well, or something like that.

Am definitely not ready to start something like this at the moment so this is not set in stone, but possibly something to consider for future reference, when things are less busy at this end. What do you think? Will keep you posted.

◆ Originally published in November 2007 ◆

5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell

Not too long ago I came across a very practical post with some insightful tips on photography. Just had to share.

Hope you enjoy! Just click on the link below.

5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell


For the record
In case you were wondering about the reason for the summer hiatus the last two months, it was largely due to a very limited internet access while on a trip to Germany, a trip which was prompted by a 75th birthday celebration. In addition to that auspicious occasion, there were a number of adventures, including an overnight train trip to Amsterdam, losing a passport, some time in the beautiful Black Forest which included an unexpected roadside surprise, a visit to the very green Taunus Forest near Frankfurt – although not entirely in that order – and much, much more.

Although there will be more on the trip in future posts, here are some moments with three friends in the Taunus Forest on a sunny July day.

Taunus 01

Taunus 02

Taunus 3

Taunus 4

Taunus 5

Taunus 6

As always, it was good to reconnect with longtime friends and the time passed much too quickly as we shared stories and laughter and enjoyed one another’s company. The weather held throughout the day, and it was a blue sky that was bidding farewell from Frankfurt Central Station as our last scheduled train pulled in, which would take us to our final destination for this trip to Germany. In three days we would be on our return flight to Canada once again.

leaving Frankfurt Central Station

And as sad as it is to always is say good-bye, it is most definitely good to be back home again.
time to unpack

round and round

Finally getting aROUND to experimenting with the round & spherical in a round-about-way while still thinking globally, yet not running around in circles, LOL!!

Fun in the Round! Clockwise from Upper Left: blueberry buds, chives, sunset and mature thistles seen in a whole new light.

Fun in the Round! Clockwise from Upper Left: blueberry buds, chives, sunset and mature thistles seen in a whole new light.

Stepping away from the ordinary & extraordinary and dabbling with some experimental photo recipes: The first ingredient is a downloaded photo, then mix in some software, and voila! The results are Fun in the Round!

And with those words and the opening four images above, the Amazing Circles were originally introduced when this post was first published over at webshots almost five years ago. However, this is the first attempt at creating a slideshow here at photojourneying. Enjoy!

Slideshow Trivia
If you would like either to look at one image longer than the slideshow allows, or to skip through the images quickly and do not mind manually clicking, hover your cursor over the display, and you will see a backward, pause and forward button. Clicking the pause button will do just that, and clicking the pause button again resumes the slideshow. Clicking the forward or backward buttons manually will allow you to view the images at a faster pace.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Some of these amazing circles were previously featured at pix & kardz. If you would like to create some images of your own – and I hope you do – go to Amazing Circles. Enjoy!

All images © photojourneying 2013. All rights reserved.
◆ Originally published in 2008 ◆

Tales of Travel, Germany 2008 (part 3)

Tale #4 :: a sad look back

Travel Tales, Germany 2008 - part 3

Travel Tales, Germany 2008 – part 3


Sometimes when you visit a place, you discover that there is a lot more to it than a travel brochure may reveal.

The town of Stühlingen has a prominent landmark that we have often seen from a distance as we were driving in the southern Black Forest area. Unmistakable, really, and not easily overlooked. So one day two friends and I decide to take the designated exit, and stop to take check it out. It would not be the first time we have made such a spontaneous stop, and each time it has been an adventure to discover a new place that none of us has been to before.
09 (640x470)

For once it is easy to find a free parking spot, and the car is parked in a quiet square. We set out to explore, our cameras in tow. One of the first buildings to catch our eye is a hotel with an imposing, ornate sign announcing its presence. A mural on the wall depicts a thriving and busy community, in direct contrast to the silence echoing around us.
09 a

In the middle of the square is a typical town well, surrounded by flowers. Often such a well has its own distinct flair. This one has a very silly-looking frog comfortably reclining and basking in whatever weather there happens to be. It is a good day today – lots of sunshine.

09 b

We walk to the perimeter of the square, a square which seems strangely quiet indeed, and read the history which is painted on some of the walls.
09 c
City of Stielingen (an alternate spelling appears painted on the wall)
1262 – first named a city
1499 – destruction in the Swiss war
1524 – the peasant war starts here
1639 – 1723 Residence of the Prince
Until 1828 the Lower Gate was located here

Did I mention it is quiet here? Very quiet. Everything is tidy and neat. There is not a speck of litter to be seen. There are flower boxes at many of the windows. And it does not surprise us to see a tree surrounded by a garden in the middle of the square, near the well. However, on a closer look, it turns out that this is no ordinary garden.

Beneath the tree is a plaque standing next to a broken grave marker – a grave marker from a former Jewish cemetery. The plaque indicates that it is from the 16th or 17th Century, and that this square was part of a former “Judenwinkel”, or a Jewish quarter, where Jewish citizens were obligated to live.
11 (640x480)
Continuing with the facts, the plaque goes on to say that the cemetery soon became forgotten, following the expulsion of the members of the Jewish community in 1743. Cold facts, etched on a plaque. The story intrigues and saddens me. My friends and I have stopped chatting as we spend a few more moments in this square which enshrines a terrible history.

Not far from the Jewish memorial, some flowers grow in a pot outside an unassuming house. A plaque is attached near the doorway.
12 (640x480)
The plaque says, in the German language: The former residence of a rabbi once stood here, in one of the most prominent Jewish communities in South Baden. Around 1680, Moses Meir added on a synagogue. His grandson, Natanael Weil (born 1687 in Stuehlingen, died 1769 in Rastatt) would one day be a famous head rabbi among the Jews in Baden. In 1743 all Jewish people were expelled by the local prince.
A few more signs and plaques make reference to the former prominent Jewish community that once thrived here.
09 d

Up until the middle of the 18th Century AD, the Jewish community of Stühlingen is one of the most prominent in all of southern Baden. The most prominent member of the Jewish community born in Stühlingen itself was Nathanael Weil, who was born in 1687. His grandfather had built a new synagogue. Nathanael was only 5 years old when both his father and brother were murdered.

After studying the Talmud, Nathanael became a Rabbi in Offenbach, and later Rabbi in the Black Forest District, and later still a head Rabbi of the Jewish community of Baden. His remarkable personality and unique teaching skills were appreciated by all. On May 7, 1769 he died in Rastatt. His funeral was a large solemn, festive affair and he was buried in the Jewish cemetery of Karlsruhe. In all the synagoges throughout Europe special days of fasting and prayer, with mourning and celebration and sermons of repentance were held in his honour. And then, allegedly, on the 1st of April in 1773, all Jewish citizens were expelled from Stühlingen by the local prince.

Since 1774 there have been no Jewish citizens resident in Stühlingen.

No reasons, no explanations, and oddly enough, no apologies. Just the facts. And yet, there must be so many untold stories of life and hope, joys and celebrations, dreams and plans, sorrow, hardship, mistreatment, racism and things gone horribly, horribly wrong. Untold, yet on silent display, the memorial garden and the signs stand guard, celebrating the lives of those who once lived here so long ago.

13 a

And just a few steps away from the square is a short wall overlooking a splendid, peaceful view of the Black Forest, the terrible history we have just discovered, appearing somehow impossibly remote and far removed. And just as silent as all its brochures are on this bleak chapter we have just encountered, the Black Forest itself appears quiet and calm, hiding more than it reveals at first glance. We are having a hard time wrapping our minds around this sad story. It has been good to be here, to be informed, to take it all in.

But now it is time to go again. We return to the car in silence and continue driving in the sunshine, each of us lost in our own thoughts. If we had entered the town from the other end, we may have never seen this spot.

Since this visit to Stühlingen, I have visited the southern Black Forest a number of times. I see the familiar landmark, and I remember the sad story found hidden within the town’s walls. The interesting thing about this place is that you can find out many of its tourist attractions and hotels when you search about it online, including the official website of the town itself. Wikipedia even has an article on it with a passing reference to the planting of the town tree in the Jewish quarter. But none of them seem to provide any information about the story of a long-ago Jewish community that once lived here.

Tales of Travel, Germany 2008 To be concluded in the next post

◆ story originally published October 2, 2012 ◆

sometimes the changes are quicker than the plans

greetings from Germany clockwise from upper left :: church tower of St Veit Church, Waldenbuch – the most prominent feature of the market square; Cafe am Markt, Waldenbuch; Black Forest Vista; wildflower in the Black Forest 

If you have previously visited photojourneying, you will know that the reason this blog was started was because of Change. A change of ownership which involved a change of plans.

For almost five years, more than 4,000 of my images and their accompanying stories had been uploaded to a much-loved photo sharing website –, which was also home to more than 700 million other photos posted by some 32 million members.

My user name there was christianchen, and all was well and good. And fun! And then one day, an unexpected announcement was made that the ownership of Webshots had changed hands, and rather than continue with business as usual, there were plans in the works to shut down the site forever, and soon. The adage, that change is the only constant, was proving itself true.

And so it seemed like a practical idea to reinvent some of those photo stories in a blog rather than have them disappear from cyberspace altogether. More details on that big change can be found here.

It turned out that among the last set of photos posted there was a short collection of images from a trip to Germany in June/July last year (2012).

Highlights from that vacation include:

Departure from YVR
Vancouver’s somewhat green airport which has undergone much change and reconstruction and has since been found to be the top Canadian airport in two years of surveys.YVR

changeable weather
The weather was unpredictable, and rain showers in the early morning
03 early morning clouds
did not preclude sunshine and blue skies a few hours later.
04 late morning sunshine

Travelling into Times Past
One road trip brought us to a very old castle with a moat – with a foundation dating back to 1007 AD. What kind of changes it would have witnessed, and the stories it could tell if it could but speak….

castle dating back to 1007 AD

castle dating back to 1007 AD ~ Holzgerlingen, Germany

Timeless Moments
And yet, some moments seem timeless, such as the beauty of the Black Forest – flowering meadows, and the dark (black!) trees which dominate many of the scenic views.
06 once upon a meadow flower

unforgettable Black Forest

unforgettable Black Forest


Black Forest vistas

Black Forest vistas

Yes, that is a fox on the upper right. The sign on the lower right says, ‘Wutachtalblick’, or view of the Wutach Valley, which gets its name from the Wutach River.

◆ originally published August 19, 2012 ◆

Related Post
PostCard :: on track


All images in this post © photojourneying 2013
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