Miscellaneous

Waiting…

I recently purchased a new-to-me (used) car. A Volkswagen 2014 Jetta TDI. My previous Jetta was in slow decline, and as I needed new winter and summer tires going forward, it was time to look for something new.

Of course, with all the current social distancing stuff going on, where is one to go? To watch trains of course!

I drove down to Brockville and hung out at the VIA station for the morning. I had tips that there would be a few trains in the morning. As usual, there is a lot of waiting for something to happen. The visible signal lights indicated something was coming, it was just the “when” part that needed filling in.

To pass the time I walked up and down the platform and looked around and snapped various pictures. Most were just throw-aways, or test of different features on the Fuji X-Pro2. These were a couple interesting ones though.

An apartment building across the street. Possibly a hotel back in the day for travellers taking the train.
Accidental art. Paint splatter on the ground in a shelter, framed by shadow.

The chase

A couple weeks ago we were going to Montreal to see a football game. I took the day off while my other half went to work for the morning. As I was at the house I heard the local train came through after dropping off lumber at the nearby distributors. It was pushing back an empty flatcar and some tankers. That meant that it was going up the line to Arnprior to switch the tankers.

I had plenty of time before we were going to leave, so I jumped in the car and went to a spot to catch it coming. It always seems to take longer to get somewhere when time is of the essence.

I got to my spot and waited. I was wondering if the train had already passed, but looking at the rails, some debris was on it. The train would have crushed that out, so it certainly hadn’t come yet.

While waiting I set up my exposure and took some random shots.

It took more time than expected, but the train came around the corner….

And as it came by I got the shot I was looking for. This train is pretty standard, as I have posted before. So its about getting a unique angle.

After it passed I ran to the car and caught it at another location to watch it go by again. I didn’t take a photo, I just wanted to watch it for a change.

The Gathering

I have a bird feeder in the backyard. I like to see the birds come and hang out and get something to eat, especially in the winter. In the summer there are lots of songbirds, blue jays and cardinals. In the winter, the jays and cardinals stick around, and juncos show up too.

This year there are a lot more birds. It started with just a dozen or so, and I would need to fill the feeder every day or two. Now there have to be about 30 or more and the feeder empties daily.

They sit in the tree and take turns at the feeder or congregate on the ground for any fallen seed.

I got out my telephoto lens and got some pictures through the patio window. They don’t stick around if I’m outside. They stay around and wait for me to leave.

Waiting their turn.
The frenzy!
Just hanging out.

Midway hawkers

On Canada Day, we went to an event nearby. There was a midway, bands and of course, fireworks. We went in the evening for the fireworks and toured the midway. It was nice to see people out enjoying themselves on a clear, hot night. I reminded me of my younger days at the Cactus Festival back at home in Dundas.

I’m also reminded of the Rush song, Lakeside Park, in particular the opening lines:

Midway hawkers calling “try your luck with me”
Merry-go-round wheezing the same old melody
A thousand ten-cent wonders, who could ask for more?
A pocket full of silver, the key to heaven’s door.

That was written in 1975, and of course, nothing is 10 cents anymore. Still, the opening lines are pretty much still exact. I took a lot of shots of the midway.

Stay warm

We went for a trip out to Perth, Ontario. About an hour drive from our home in Nepean, near Ottawa. I like Perth. It is a small town with a long history. As it happens, my family was originally from Perth before moving to southern Ontario, so its kind of like coming full circle, living so close.

We took in a tour of Top Shelf distillery, my favourite gin, and went to lunch at our regular spot; a Mexican food place called Mex & Co. (say it quickly to get the play). It not that there are any other places in Perth, we always end up there, and in the summer, the patio is overlooking a canal which makes for a nice setting. I took this shot. I love water reflections.

As we were there, it cooled down as a storm was approaching, and one of the servers brought out blankets if needed. A nice touch. I snapped both pictures with the Fuji X-Pro1 with the 18mm f2 lens.

Washing up

Being in the suburbs, there is a lot of wildlife around. There are a couple chipmunks that live nearby and like to gather up the bird seed that falls from the feeder. Sadly, they also like my tomatoes, so its an ongoing battle to keep them out.

Now that it’s summer, I like to keep my X-T1 and new 50-140 lens close by for any bird pictures or other fauna that comes by. So I was pleased to see the little chipmunk finding a place to clean his face. I was able to snap this picture. It looks like he is saying “I can’t see you, so you can’t see me”.

To the next adventure

A few days ago was a terrific evening sky. No storm, just puffy clouds and a wonderful sunset. Being in the suburbs, seeing the sun to the horizon wasn’t going to happen, but the sky was still great.

A few planes flew over and I had my new 50-140mm f2.8 lens on the Fuji X-T1 at the ready to catch this silhouette of a jet taking travellers to some adventure.

Travel results

In my previous post, I indicated a trip and what I was taking for camera gear – very minimalist. Now that I have returned, the verdict it in, and it was a success….basically.

Having the small Fuji X-100T and complimentary converters was light-weight, and never a burden or pain to carry. Even the small bag proved to be easily accommodating to include sunglasses/reading glasses and a flask of water. The bag, a ThinkTank Retrospective 5, had plenty of room, and the bonus of velcro seals for the opening, meant that I never had to worry about someone reaching in and stealing my stuff, especially when in Paris.

The only downside was the lens converters. The screw on feature was a bit cumbersome, as sometimes I was switching them on a regular basis. And with the 100T, I have to tell it when it was using which converter or not. On many occasions, I simply forgot for a number of shots. At least with the X100F, that is now automatic and certainly a great feature. I tried to keep to one converter for a while, but that never really worked. Again, the screwing it on and off was not very fluid. As for focal length, it worked out fine. A few times I would have liked an ultra-wide lens, and only once a longer telephoto.

The other small thing, if you look at the last post, I had a shutter release button thing on the camera. Yes, I said “had”. As I expected, it eventually came off as there is no to keep it on without gluing it. Each time I used the camera, I found myself automatically tightening it. It may be in the camera bag, I haven’t checked, or its on the streets of Paris near Notre Dame cathedral. I won’t be getting another one. As nice as it was, its too pricey (with shipping) to have to replace or constantly check on it.

Other than that, the camera was great. I brought along three batteries and I could have fared well with two. I was concerned about the overall battery performance, because I haven’t used the camera for a full extensive day and didn’t know the longevity of it, and I have read that it wasn’t great. I don’t know what other people are doing, but the battery lasted a couple days before I needed to switch it out.

I also shot entirely in JPeg Classic Chrome. On quick inspection, the photos came out great. there will be some tweaking, as there always will be, but the images look great.

Stay tuned for updates as I put up photos of the trip.

What to take?

If you lurk around the camera and photography forums, you will inevitably come across the post “What camera/lens/gear to take to location X”, where the person is wondering what type of camera gear they should take to where ever they are going. The worse ones are where they say they are going to location X and will be purchasing gear, what should they buy.

The inevitable answers are a range from take a 16-300 all encompassing lens, to just take two primes, three zooms and three camera bodies, to the question, “what type of things do you like to shoot?”

Ugh.

Its like they can’t make up their mind, so the faceless of the Interwebs will decide for them. My thought is, research the location, decide what you want to shoot, and take a chance with what you bring. Its either that or a veiled question that basically says, I’m going here, who else has been there and what should I expect if I want to take pictures.

Which now sets focus on me. I will be heading to Belgium and northern France for a trip to various Canadian WWI and WWII locations. I decided some time ago, that I would go really simple.

Some background. Back in 2010, I went to England and took a Nikon D700 with battery grip, 24-70 f2.8 and 16-35 f4 lens, even bought a sling bag to carry it. At one point during the trip, I left it all at home. Too heavy. A couple years later, I went back and included Scotland. I took a Fuji X-Pr01 and two prime lenses (35mm 1.4 and 18mm 2.0). I loved the second option. Did I miss some shots? Probably. Does it matter? Not really. I really enjoyed the camera and the 18mm stayed on much of the trip.

So for this trip, I’m going even lighter. Here is what I’m taking with me:

A Fuji X100T, and the wide angle and telephoto converter lenses, extra battery and the Fuji container will have three cards. So that gives me three focal lengths: 35mm, 28mm and 50mm (full frame equivalent) That’s it. I can hear photo nerds concerned. No telephoto!? No ultra wide?!? How will I get the photos?

I might not. Its about the complete photo opportunities as it is lightweight and portable. I’ll get great photos. Its about using the tools available.

I can’t wait to get some shots.

Lego in the snow

I have a collection of Star Wars Lego. Some of it is from The Empire Strikes Back, specifically, the scenes from Hoth, the snow-covered planet. For a few years, I’ve been itching to photograph the items in the snow. Usually its too cold, too windy, too dark or not enough snow. The AT-AT wouldn’t stand up if it was too windy or the snow not soft enough to set it in.

Today, besides the wind (which seemed to not be a problem) was an ideal day. So I took it to task to get some shots! The sun was in a good spot when I did this to make some great shadows. I’m very pleased with the results.

Photos done with the Fuji X-T1 and 60mm macro lens.