Mountains over Victoria

The Olympic Mountains are visible from many parts of Victoria. Often they seem to be hanging directly over the city. There are places where they startle you with their beauty and apparent nearness. For instance, I am often caught off guard when cresting the hill above Royal Oak driving south on the Pat Bay Highway, especially on clear spring days when there is still snow on the peaks. For a while my office was high enough to have this view, and I even had a window, that opened. The view was by far the best thing about that office.

These photographs are taken from Mt. Tolmie near the University of Victoria. In the view above the playing fields are on the south side of Hillside Avenue between Richmond Avenue and Shelbourne Street – the latter can be seen as a line of trees angling across the image. In the distance the dark clump of trees below the patch of light in the clouds is around the Lieutenant Governor’s official residence on the top of the slope overlooking Fairfield.

The Olympic Mountains are in Washington State on the other side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and are a terrific place to visit. It’s a place that people from Victoria do not make enough use of, in fact lots of people in Victoria don’t even know where Port Angeles is (it’s in the top image where the wisp of smoke at the edge of the water is coming from the mill). The 20 mile ferry ride from Victoria to Port Angeles takes just 90 minutes. Once in Port Angeles, one can drive up to Hurricane Ridge in about 20 minutes – which is no time at all to go from sea level to the alpine zone at 5,000 feet. Hurricane Ridge is within the Olympic National Park which has an interpretive that serves also as the trail head for several montane trails that lead in different directions. A 10 or 20 minute walk gets you away from almost all the people who arrive by tour bus or just for a quick look (which probably characterised most of the visitors), the views are fantastic and its a great place to take photos, which I must do sometime again soon. A good time to go is when the alpine flowers are in bloom. I have also done some cross-country skiing there in the winter which was quite the experience for a novice on skis. All around, a fantastic place to have so close to Victoria. And that is not even mentioning those parts of the park that are on the outer Pacific Ocean coast.


In the image above the Royal Jubilee Hospital dominates the foreground next to Richmond Avenue. Gonzales Hill Observatory, a frequent visitor to his blog, is visible in the distance.

I took these pictures with my SMC Takumar 200mm lens, which I rarely use. I find it difficult to use well though it has a reputation as a good lens – I am not sure if it is the way I use it or if it’s the magnification of particles in the atmosphere, but it always seems to leave a bluish and slightly unsharp cast to the photograph. I have a polarizing filter for it, which seems to help a bit, sometimes. In my Spotmatic days I sometimes used it with an extension tube for macro work, but pretty much stopped that when I bought a macro lens.

I am having computer problems that leaves me with little access to images right now, and no ability to do any post-processing. I might not have published these ones, but they were accessible, so this is what you get. And tomorrow could be worse as I missed the drop off time for getting he computer to the shop, and so will be without it entirely tomorrow. If you don’t hear from me at all, that is why.




12 thoughts on “Mountains over Victoria

    • Hi ken – I am totally aware that I am lucky to live here. I have lived in other places, and it was big relief to return here. But, I think most places have great photo ops, even if you have to strap on the macro lens to find them. There is always something if you look closely enough.


  1. “Startling” is one word for that view of the Olympics from Mt Tolmie, “spooky” is another! By the way, that tower block on the left of the picture is the only bit of Victoria visible across Haro Strait from San Juan Island, USA. The building is on a rise just south of where Oak Bay Ave joins Fort St.


    • Hi Valerie, how nice of you to join in on the comments. I remember seeing that building from San Juan Island, definitely in the early 70’s, possibly even the 60’s. They must have terrific views from up there, every single window above about the second floor has no obstacles at all.


    • Hi Sally – it does seem surreal. The still remember the first time I ever truly appreciated the effect of a long lens. I was racing sail boats in those days, was a teenager and had just bought my first Spotmatic with 50mm lens. A professional photographer took a photo of our boat with the Olympic Mountains in the background – it pulled them so close and made for a very dramatic photo. I wondered why my photos did not look like that, and when he told me why, I became determined to get a long lens for my kit, which I did a year or two later. Its the same lens I took this picture of the same mountains with. More than 35 years later. Some things don’t change – like mountains and telephoto effects.


    • Thanks David, just about to unplug the thing and take it downtown. My other computer has a clean bill of health so I won’t be off line, just away from all my accessible images.


  2. Often, as you sort of mention, photos in order to bring across the vision you initially saw, need a little enhancement. In this case I especially like the first photo. It is a great scenic shot that catches the light just right. The accompanying text makes me want to get out my travelling shoes.


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