Black and White

La Machine

Over last weekend Ottawa was invaded…sort of.

As a part of the Canada 150 celebrations, a street theatre company, La Machine, came to town from France to put on one very large and expansive show. Involved, were two mechanical beasts – a horse dragon (Long Ma) and a spider (Kumo), operated by a team of people controlling legs, heads and other things.

They were in the city roaming about starting Thursday. Where the show started, with Kumo perched on the basilica near the art gallery of Canada. The story goes (the very short version) that Kumo steals a sacred temple from Long Ma, and he’s come to get it back. The ensuing four days has these two machines roaming the downtown core, engaging in battles. The final battle, where Long Ma gets his temple back, occurred Sunday night.

We popped down on Sunday afternoon to see some of the event. It was pretty cool and really well done. We managed to catch up and follow Long Ma to the War Museum, where Kumo was. They had a spat that send Long Ma running away to recuperate (and later that night, finally win).

All in all some fun. Apparently over the duration of the events, there was near 750,000 people who came to see the action.

Photos taken with the Fuji X-T1 and 16-55 f2.8 lens.

Tree line

While waiting for the train mentioned in the previous post, I had some time to kill (in the hopes I didn’t miss the train altogether). With camera in hand, one looks for interesting patterns, shapes or compositions. Thus, when looking up I saw the outline of wind-swept trees, giving a very northern Ontario/Canadian look. So I framed it up and took the shot. A little monochrome treatment worked well with the dark tones of the tree and bland sky background.

Shortly after the shot, I heard the train horn, and my attention was shifted.

Shot with the Fuji X100T.

Foggy night

A couple of weeks ago it was a foggy night in Ottawa. I took the opportunity to head over to the VIA rail station. Being the train geek that I am, I knew a train was due, and I was keen to get some foggy light-beam shots. I grabbed my Fuji X-T1 and a tripod and headed to Fallowfield station.

As is typical, the train was a wee bit late, but the end result was worth it.

While waiting, I took a shot of the signal lights. All red. Shortly after, a yellow over green over red appeared, meaning stop at this location, then carry on and proceed with caution to the next signal.

The train did show. And while passengers debarked, I set up this shot. The ditch lights (lower lights on the locomotive) are off at the station. They come on when its set to depart. That’s when I took this shot. The black and white treatment made for a more interesting photo.

After the train had left, I went over to the parking for the bus commuters and got this shot.

All in all, a good set of photos for a last minute decision to see what I could get. Of course, the entire duration was some hour and a half, but it was worth it.

Down by the River

It was a beautiful spring day. No wind, 12 degrees (54 Fahrenheit) and sunny. I took a stroll down by the Ottawa river. I brought along the Fuji X100T and the additional teleconverter and wide angle converter (although the teleconverter remained on the whole time) to grab some shots. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, and decided to make the effort to shoot a “roll” of film – 36 shots or so.

These are a sampling. I set the camera to Classic Chrome simulation and there is only minor adjustments in Lightroom. With the much reported Nik software now free, I downloaded it and a few shots were edited using it.

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Edited with Silver Effects Pro

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Edited with Silver Effect Pro. A piece of driftwood that looks like an alien statue.

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Peace Tower Perspective

The Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa is a well known, much photographed location. So how does one do something different with it?

I went up to the arch leading into the Centre Block that includes the peace tower and shot straight up.

I used the Fuji X100T with the black and white film simulation. The JPG looks great. It has a 1950s feel to it.

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Rideau Falls

I’m not one to go for the Internet fads, but I found this photo in my archives, and figured bringing it out for “Throwback Thursday” was an option.

A few years back I took an online photography course through Harry Nowell. It was a six month span where he would provide a topic or theme, give regular video updates and at the end of the month critique a selection of photos. It was a lot of fun. I took it not so much to improve my skills as to get the creative juices flowing. It worked, and some of the photos I ended up selling as stock on istockphoto.com. Double bonus!

This was the first challenge/theme in April of whatever year it was – slow shutter speed. And if memory serves, the speed had to be no faster than 4 or 5 seconds. I thought of rushing water and it drew me to the Rideau Falls in downtown Ottawa.

I used my Nikon D700 with a 16-35 f4 lens. To get the soft flow of water with the 5 second or more exposure, I racked the aperture as small as it would go and put on a ND4 and polarizer filter. The filters caused a bit of vignetting which I had to crop out. But the end result was great. The black and white treatment works well, given the time of year when everything is brown and grey anyway.

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Entangled

Over Thanksgiving, while visiting family, I went for a walk on the RailTrail. It was for many years, a railway ling for the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway (TH&B). After a landslide washed away part of the track, the line was abandoned. In its second life, it became a trail. The rails were taken up, the roadbed resurfaced and is now a major exercise hub with people walking, jogging, biking and the occasional horseback rider using the line.

But I digress. This particular photo is a group of Sumac trees that have died off. The look of a group of tangled branches caught my eye, and I knew it was destined for a monochrome photo with my X100.

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Under the Bridge

Its getting warmer! As March moves in, the temperatures rise, and its no so bad being outside again.

Today I made my way down by the Rideau Canal locks. It’s still a bit icy in some spots as I made my way down to the Ottawa river. So I doubled back and went under the Plaza bridge, which traverses the canal. This is a really neat place – not creepy like some bridges can be. One one side is the canal, the other a seemingly art deco set of stairs and lights, and as a bonus, the remnants of the original Sapper’s Bridge, built in the early 1800s.

I always like the look of the bridge from underneath. It has that hidden city look to it, and the straight lines and angles merge well with the curves of the bridge arch and openings.

I had my trusty X100 with me, and with all the monotone colours of cement and snow, put the camera in B&W mode and took a few shots.

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The wide view looking south towards the National Arts Centre. The canal is to the right.

 

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A closer view of the stairs. Curves and lines in grand designs.

 

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If you look at the other photos, there are little archways. This is shot from one of those, looking north. The building on the right is the Chateau Laurier. I love how this photo looks like it could have been taken in 1915 as much as 2015.

 

Shine

It’s been a long, and very cold winter. The Rideau Canal has been opened for a record 47 (and counting) consecutive days. That’s cool, but it means it’s been cold for a long time. And after these long cold days, one starts to look longingly at the calendar for spring. And it’s the little things that crop up, unknowingly that brings out the hope of warmer days ahead.

This photo is one of those signs. It’s a garden lamp that runs on a solar-rechargeable battery. It has been dark for much of the winter, with little sunlight available during the day to charge the battery (and cold temperatures on it don’t help).

But last night I looked outside and saw it glowing away. Still holding its own above two feet of snow. The hope lies in that there is enough daylight hours to charge the battery and have it enable the little LED inside. I was excited, and the pattern it threw on the snow was perfect.

I grabbed a smallish tripod and my X-T1 with the new 16-55 f2.8 on it and put it outside. Being the wuss that I am, I stayed in the house and placed the tripod in the snow outside. And thanks to the wi-fi on the camera and my iPhone, once I framed up the image, I shut the door and did all exposure adjustments from the warmth and comfort of the living room.

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The end result is great. A black and white treatment looks the best, compared to the odd blue cast of the LED.

Black and White Challenge

A friend on Facebook was doing the B&W challenge – five days, each with a different photo (in monochrome, of course). She asked if I’d do it. I said sure, it sounded like fun.

Now, I’m not much for B&W photos. I would rather do colour, and after all, it is a technicolour world. But hey, a challenge is a challenge, and it gets me thinking about shots, and makes me do it. In the winter, its really easy to let things slide because its cold and dark.

To further make it interesting, I decided to solely use the Fuji X100, throw it into B&W mode and only use the shots straight from the camera. I did cheat a little on cropping and straightening a couple shots, but otherwise, what you see here is what it came out as.

Here are my five shots and a little background to each:

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Day 1 – Sound Guy  I am running lights at the Ottawa Little Theatre for some of the nights on the run of Clybourne Park. An interesting little play taking place in two different eras in two acts. My role with the lights is pretty light for this show, so during my downtime I sneaked this picture of Ryan running sound cues. Really, the only light you see is from the various monitors on his side of the booth, and a little ambient from the stage, but very little.

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Day 2 – Rest  Shot from the hip (and one I cheated the level on), is on the Rideau canal at lunch. I let the camera hang at my side and just pressed the shutter to focus and click. Happily, it came out great.

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Day 3 – Icicles Taken on a wander around downtown at lunch. Not only to I love the icicles, but the shadows playing upon the house and roof. The shot has a very timeless look. It could have been taken 50 years ago.

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Day 4 – Lx Desk Back at the theatre again, and this time a shot of the lighting designer’s desk with the mixture of gobos and gel swatches. I walked by it a few times in the past week heading to the booth for the show, and decided this was a fine option for the day’s shot.

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Day 5 – Selfie After a day of shooting and getting nothing interesting or worth of day 5, I resorted to trying some artistic shots of my guitars. That didn’t work for various technical reasons. Then I thought, hey, why not a shot of me taking a picture. Its been done enough times – how to make it different? Flip the camera into macro mode and get real close to the mirror. Really, it also shows the star of it all (no not me) – the X100.

Since getting the X100 a few years ago on somewhat of a whim (I was in Edmonton and found out there were some in stock – a rarity at the time – and with no GST couldn’t say n0), I’ve taken a very long time to get into it. But I’ve stuck with it, loving it, hating it, and now loving it again. These days it comes with me every day. With it’s case, I can throw it in my bag and never worry about it being overly knocked about, and its small enough I can put it in my coat pocket. The “T” variant is tempting, but I’ll keep mucking with the original. It suits for my needs, and the feature set with the “T” is cool, nothing that I can’t do without for now.

As well, having been forced (shall we say) to shoot in black and white, I have a new appreciation for it. So much so, that for the remainder of the week, I’ve kept the X100 in that mode. I switched it out back to colour, but changed it back. Its kinda fun (but shhhh, don’t tell anybody I said that).