landscape

Dieppe at 75

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid by the Canadian army. Very controversial, as to what was achieved, it is none the less, a key point in history.

The Canadians were tasked with storming the Dieppe beach, obtaining information, and getting out. It didn’t go so well, and was considered a disaster by many historians. Others consider this raid as a testing bed for what eventually became D-Day. No matter what the opinion, it was a key attack.

This year, I was able to visit Dieppe on our tour of Belgium and northern France.

On our visit, the day we were to arrive at the August 19th 1942 Memorial, we were running very late. The day before, we went back to Vimy to see the tunnels and trenches that were not open due to the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy ridge. And we had to drop some other travellers of our group in Arras. So we were there over two hours late. From what I could gather, the people at this memorial were waiting especially for us! The woman was very upset at our tardiness, and my girlfriend spoke to her in French and explained our situation. It seemed to mollify her. Her husband, one of the owners of the memorial, was still very welcoming. We soon learned why.

Turns out, his mother was in occupied Dieppe. The day of the raid by the Canadians, leaflets were dropped, saying “stay in your homes, be safe. This is not a raid. We are the Canadian army. We will be back”. The French held to that hope. He said, “and then in 1944, you fulfilled your promise…you came back”. As such, he holds the Canadians in very high esteem, because we came back and liberated Dieppe. Very powerful. The museum/memorial, which is an old theatre, is full of memorabilia, photos, portraits of Canadian infantry. While the old theatre held its own appeal (being a theatre type, and he allowed us to go on the stage and such), I felt both very honoured to be Canadian, and unworthy. I had no connection to the raid or liberation. Its amazing how much this man held Canadian citizens in such high esteem.

We kept our promise. We came back.

That still sticks in my memory. Photos were not permitted of the artifacts (see the link above for more information), but the man allowed me photos of the theatre itself. Maybe on a later post. We went down to the beach. These photos are of our trip down. Its no wonder the soldiers had a tough time on the rocky beach. Just walking normally was difficult; never mind having to run up it with an enemy firing at you!

And what sticks the most with this, is that the men who participated in this raid were volunteers; not professional soldiers. They gave up their lives to fight for freedom.

All photos taken with the Fuji X100T.

On the beach. Rocky, and difficult to walk on.

A soldiers view. How can anyone manage this?

Birds-eye view of the beach.

Reflected bridge

After the fireworks, and everyone left, I took the opportunity to grab this photo of the Alexandria bridge with its lights reflecting in the water of the Ottawa river.

I placed my X-Pro1 on the stone wall and made the long-ish exposure.

Beaumont Hamel

While in Belgium, we visited the site/memorial of Beaumont Hamel.

The Newfoundland regiments signed up to fight for King and Country in a time when they were their own dominion, not yet a part of Canada (not until 1949). They sent a contingent over to fight, and on July 1, 1916, at the beginning of the battle of the Somme, they attacked. The Battle of the Somme was the regiment’s first major engagement, and during an assault that lasted approximately 30 minutes the regiment was all but wiped out.

Newfoundland purchased the land and preserved it and it stays to this day untouched. Shell holes and trenches remain. Although not a part of Canada yet, this is truly a Canadian place. The walking paths encircle the battlefield area and one can tour around from the Newfoundland side to the German side. From the German side, you can see a clear view of the Newfoundland position and can see how they had easy sight lines to mow down the opposition. Its terrible.

One of the cemeteries included a number of tombstones next (very close) to each other. I wondered why. I later learned that those this close together indicate comrades who died in close proximity or in the same battle together.

This is a very powerful site to visit.

The calling Caribou – iconic monument

Died in 30 minutes, brothers in arms.

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.

A day for a walk

Its been a nice few days. After last week’s snow storms and dump of 50cm of snow, this weekend was well above normal, and freezing temperatures was a happy change. It was Family Day in Ontario, which means a day off from work, so we went to the Jack Pine trail for a bit of time outside.

Others did too, so it wasn’t quite as quiet in the woods as one would like. But still, nice to see people outside and not sitting in their houses watching TV.

I brought along the Fuji X-T1 and wide angle lens to get some photos. I’ve been lacking in photos for a while. While I did get some good shots, a telephoto lens would have been useful for some bird shots. In this area, the chickadees will land on your hand for some seed.


Winter Wonderland

Happy New Year!

January in Ottawa always brings some crazy weather. Storms, rain, snow, warm and cold. In this first week of 2017, we had a nice bout of freezing rain followed by 10 cms of snow. It made for crappy driving, but the ice on the trees looked magical.

This shot is from my office. I was hoping to catch some sun before it became to warm and everything melted away. As expected, the sun came out, it got above zero and the wind picked up, shaking off the icy designs on the trees.

And believe it or not, this is a colour image.

Taken with my Fuji X100T.

Hometown Holidays

It’s a regular event, possibly a tradition, that I go down to visit my family in Dundas the weekend before Christmas. This year was no different. We took some time to go into town and do some shopping.

Downtown Dundas is a classic small town with a main street full of small shops. Rarely do we not come away having found something interesting or new treasure. Its the way I like it, unlike in Ottawa in the suburbs where there is no central location like this.

I few shots of the town, all decked out for the holidays. All shot with my 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.

Early morning ride

Over the summer I’ve taken up cycling as a way to stay in shape and keep some weight off. There are a few bike paths near the house so I don’t need to ride on the streets. I find that going out early in the morning on the weekends the best. Most people tend to sleep in so there are less people on the paths other than joggers or dog walkers. Not that its a problem, it makes for a hassle-less ride.

Last weekend I awoke early and saw on the weather site that there was fog. I jumped to it to ride to a spot I knew there would be fog. I brought along my X-Pro1 and 35mm lens to get something.

Sadly, at 8:00 am the fog was burning off already, such that by the time I got to where I wanted to be, it was too late. I carried on though and ended up down at the Rideau river by the locks. There I scored a few photos. So all was not lost. There was still mist on the very calm waters.

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And in an inlet the water was perfectly still allowing me to get these photos for my reflections series I’m poking along with.
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As the days get shorter, and my ability to get out for a ride after work continues, I hope to maybe get some nice sunset photos as well. We shall see.

Wild Backyard

Living in the suburbs presents an interesting dichotomy. While it is a bunch of humans in big boxes, there is still the ever-present wildlife, who have adapted to having people around.

Our backyard on some days, is like something out of a Disney movie: various birds and animals coming and going. From the birds at the feeder (Chickadees, Finches, Cardinals, Grackles and now Red-winged Black Birds) to other wildlife in red and black squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits.

Tonight there was a couple of visitors, one being a new little bunny. We have a couple of domestic bunnies, and to see the wild ones are fun to see and forever welcome in the backyard. I grabbed my Fuji X-T1 and affixed the 60mm (my longest lens) to get some shots. And the chipmunk also made an appearance. Both these shots have an extreme crop to “zoom in”. The 60 is my longest lens, and I’m thinking its time to invest in something longer to get some better shots.

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