Things have changed

Its been an interesting few days, as the eyes of the world focused in on Ottawa and the events that occurred. Living here, and working not a block and a half away from the entire thing, I was front and centre for it all. The building where I work was on lockdown, and I watched from my window as the police gathered, and dispersed to make sure the streets were safe.

Quite. A. Day.

One of the things that I love about the city, and country, is our freedom and openness. As I mentioned earlier in a post, I enjoy walking up to Parliament Hill, and being able to wander the grounds, and be near the building. It is, after all, where things happen. And I liked seeing what the protest of the day was. I have a few photos of various protests. The beauty of the country and city, is that there is freedom of speech, and the freedom to protest whatever you believe in. For example:

The protest against abortion (or something like that, it wasn’t fully clear), but the entire front of the lawn was decked out with pink and blue flags.


And just last week, a small protest about the cancellation of the mail being delivered to homes by Canada Post employees. The protest was surprisingly small, and I only knew of it through some online media which I don’t even recall. There was more media there than actual protesters, but the guy talking was some pissed and shouting his cause.


And finally, this guy, who is there every day. He has his signs, his chair, and rain or shine, he is there for what he believes in. Most people I’ve seen ignore him or at least read the signs. But he has his rights, and he’s exercising them.


Now, I may not agree with their protests, but its their right, and freedom to say what they need to say. That’s the beauty of this awesome country.

But after Wednesday, that bit has been stripped away. Today I walked by the Parliament buildings and the gates were closed, two RCMP per potential opening, and no one on the front lawn, not even old man gay marriage.

The city will stay on alert for a time, just in case some other nut-job tries one on in the same fashion, but I suspect that this freedom that was there before may just not be the same again. Too bad.

Ironically, the same morning as the shooting events, I got off the bus a few stops early, and decided to walk by the Parliament buildings, just because I like to be near them. Its Canada; its history. On my way, I happened to see “old man gay marriage” walking towards his “job” of giving his opinion. Knowing I had the above photo, I thought this would make an interesting post. Little did I know, that an hour later, it would most likely be his last walk there for some time.

Things have changed.


Gone fishin’

With the fall fast approaching and the temperatures cooling off, I take advantage of every chance to get outside.

Today, I took a walk along the Rideau Canal in hopes of getting some fall colours on…er…film. Digital film. Not too much just yet, but I happened by these two gents fishing in the canal. I don’t know if the fish are worthy of catching, or for that matter, eating if caught. But sometimes its just an excuse to hang out with a friend and wile away the day.


Shot with the Fuji XPro-1 and the 35mm 1.4 lens.

The Hill

My new job is right downtown Ottawa, and is only two blocks from where it all happens; Parliament Hill.

Every morning, after getting of the bus, I walk up the street to my building, and see the Peace Tower, and at lunch, and on any breaks, when I walk out and up the street, there it is. I’m still amazed to be working so close to such an iconic and historic building.

One other fun bits is seeing who is protesting each day. Thanks to the freedom of speech, there is always someone making their voice heard, right or wrong, big or small in size. Here is a photo I took the other day with my X100. I love just thinking about the history in the building and the people who have walked its halls.


A short visit

There are two flying Lancaster bombers in the world. One in the UK, and one in Canada. This year, the Canadian one, VRA, went to England to fly with the other for a couple months. By all accounts, the tour was a big success.

Lancaster VRA is based in Hamilton, Ontario, near my hometown of Dundas, such that, to me, the Lanc is a piece of my home. As such, I watched as it left Hamilton for England. I waited outside my house in Ottawa in hopes to see it fly by. Sadly, the day was very cloudy, but I heard the engines in the distance. I followed its tour on Twitter, as photos were tweeted of its journey. On its return, I followed it again, thanks to modern technology. It was through this, that I learned it would be stopping over at a small airport in Gatineau, just on the other side of the Ottawa river in Quebec. It was staying for the night and heading on its final leg in the morning.

My excitement was palpable. My favourite WWII aircraft, and bit of home, was stopping HERE! My girlfriend managed to calm me down. On saturday, their departure was delayed, and my plans to see her come in were unraveling. I had a show to do downtown (on crew, not on stage). I may not get a chance to see her. And as we were waiting outside my GF’s parents house in the east end of the city, I saw my chances dwindling. I was following on radar and there was no way we could get over there in time. Then in the distance, I heard *that* sound. I said to the air, “there she is”, and shortly after she appeared over the treetops, escorted by a P-40 and P-51 fighter. My GF said, “do you want to go see it?”. I didn’t think we could make it over there, see her, and get to the theatre downtown in time.

To cut it short, we went.


Glad we did too. So nice to see VeRA (as she has come to be known). And it being a small airport, there was little warning, and the gathering was only some two dozen people, and we could get right up close.

Lancaster VRA

Exhaust on the cowlings. Well weathered for her journey.



The crew even made a speech to the crowd. The cost for the trip is close to $750,000.

The crew who made it all possible.

The crew who made it all possible.

So glad I chose…my GF pushed me into making the trek. Why? Because as they were closing up, the airport crew made a very important statement. They were leaving at 10am the next day.

Well, Sunday morning was planned. We would be there to see her take off.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. We got there about 9:50am. And because we hung around to the very end (something I tend to do for most things), not too many knew about the takeoff time. So there were maybe a dozen people there to see her off.

Lancaster starting engines

Firing up engine #1.

And being a small airport, the security and personnel was light. As such, I was nice and close as VeRA fired up her engines and headed out


All four engines running. What a sound.



Heading out. Great to be so close.

As she taxied by, I got behind for a few shots. The wind from the engines was incredible.






And she’s off.



Soon after she was on her way, but not before she came around for a flypast, then on to YHM and home.


As I watched her disappear I felt pride. For our country and the happy British people who saw two lancs flying, some for the first time in 60 years, for the crew for the great job, and for my hometown girl.

To me, living in Ottawa, she is a little piece of home. And after following her for the past two months, I’m glad she stopped in so I could say hello, welcome back, and good job.


Revisiting the X100

I am…sort of, a Nikon photographer. Sort of, because I’m moving ever so slowly to the Fuji X system.

Having used Nikon gear for a long time, I was in search of an easy, cary-around camera. And Fuji came out with the X100. Cool. A camera that was small, light and a fixed lens, meaning I never have to think about which lens(es) to bring with me. It was a bomb, and getting one was nearly impossible. We went out west for a vacation to Edmonton, and in doing some research, McBain Cameras had them in stock. My girlfriend knew the area and knew where it was, and we ended up getting there a few minutes before closing. I bought the camera. Next day we went to the McBain outlet in the West Edmonton Mall to get a leather case (gotta have the cool case).

Now, being a Nikon guy, it took some getting used to, this new camera, interface and such. Remember also, this was 1.0 of this camera, and it was loaded with issues. Some I wasn’t even aware of, and chalked it up to my learning curve. Suffice to say, I didn’t like the camera, but I did. It was quirky, but gave some great looking photos. Every time I was about to throw it out the window of a moving car, it gave me a great looking shot. How could I ever throw away such a lovely camera! Rinse and repeat.

My one issue was actually the fixed lens. While I thought it would be the great levity from choice, it was quite the opposite. See, I usually like to be close to my subject, and the 35mm equivalent lens never quite cut it, for what I was shooting. I hated it. But the built in macro made for some lovely shots. I loved it!

I ended up buying the X-Pro1. Another love/hate/love relationship ensued which, after a trip to London with only that camera and two lenses, made it a full love relationship, put the X100 on the shelf.

Fast forward to this week. Fuji has come up with, essentially, the X100 3.0, called the X100T. Reading over the specs and videos, I have that “I want it” feeling again. So, I pulled out the original X100 (which I do carry daily to work…just in case) and today, set the different film modes and went for a walk.  Gotta say, still not sold on the focal length. Not close (telephoto) enough for me. And even with the cool film sims, fiddle with it in Lightroom. Habits die hard. I am a RAW shooter, so film sims, though neat (and never having actually shot the film types) are not for me. Also, I have to say, I’m still not a fan of black and white. I’ve tried, oh, I’ve tried, and I just can’t get into it.

Still, its a fun camera to have around. And while I love what Fuji has done to make the X100T, I won’t be running out to get it. I have the X100, the X-Pro1 and the X-T1. Don’t need another camera. Below are some of the shots from a walk today. Just a few. I’d say what the film simulations were that I used, but I ended up tweaking them enough in Lightroom, that they aren’t straight out of the camera to be fair.

I still have a love/hate relationship with the X100. Certainly enough to keep it around just the same. And there is that teleconverter to make it a 50mm equivalent…..


Using the Black and White film simulator. Still don’t like monochrome. Nothing to do with Fuji.



Shooting from the hip. I’m no street photographer. No guts.

Load in

One of my many “hobbies” includes working as stage crew for various theatres in the city. As well, every June, I also am on stage crew for the Ottawa JazzFest. For me, it is one of the highlights of June, and truly initiates summer.

This year is no different, and the other day I took the day to help with the load in of the main lighting and sound equipment. All this gear is rented from a company in Ajax. They bring it all up on a 40 foot truck. So the first order of business is unloading the truck and putting road cases in locations where they will be needed. For the most part, the cases include lights (and their cables, control consoles and such) and sound (speaker arrays, monitors, more consoles and a lot more cables).

Road cases

A fraction of load in for the jazz festival.

After unloading, I took time out in our rest period to take a few frames of the cases. By the end of the day, we had the lights up, speakers in place and cabling near done. And at the end of the festival, we do it all in reverse. Striking it takes a lot less time, and loading the truck is an art unto itself.

JazzFest runs from June 20 to July 1. If you are in the Ottawa area, its truly worth checking out.

Oceans Apart

Being a volunteer at a number of theatres and venues, I have a large group of creatives within my circle of friends. Of those is Alain Chauvin. I met him when working a show at Ottawa Little Theatre. He has since moved into writing a play about a Canadian soldier and his battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and his journey across Canada to figure things out, meeting a buddy in Saskatoon en route to the west coast.

Well, that’s the Coles Notes version.

Alain was fortunate enough to have his play selected to be put on at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this month (June 20, 21, 26-28). I asked to photograph his show, and in the conversations, ended up doing some set design for him as well, creating a cool lighting effect on two benches, that represent the two coasts of the country. I’ll take a moment to make a nod to Les Petite Ballet, another group I helped set up in May for lending us the benches for this production.

Oceans Apart Rehearsal

Oceans Apart Rehearsal

Alain asked me to come to a rehearsal to shoot some promo shots, and it worked out that I could deliver the set pieces as well. If you want to see the set pieces, you’ll have to see the show. I can say without prejudice, it is a fine show, and worth the trip downtown to see, and the Ottawa Jazz Festival is on at the same time. The photos here are a small selection of the shots I made.

I used the Fuji X-T1. Love the high ISO settings with little degradation on image quality.

A moment to reflect

On this day, 70 years ago, D-Day took place. Its hard to believe its been that long, when so many relics of that time are still in service in one way or another through various museums, role playing clubs and movies. A perfect example is the collection at the Warplane Heritage Museumand their Lancaster, which this summer is heading to England to fly with the only other flying Lanc. That will be a sight to see.

Cenotaph in the Military Cemetery, Ottawa

Cenotaph in the Military Cemetery, Ottawa

A few weeks ago, I finally managed to get to the military cemetery here in Ottawa. There are two areas, a newer area with veterans and service people who have recently come to rest, and an older area with some more dated  headstones. The centre of the military portion as shown here had a path leading to it, and graves circling it. Looking at the headstones was humbled by the inscriptions. Many closest to the cenotaph were from soldiers in the CEF. That’s the Canadian Expeditionary Force – the original soldiers to go and fight in the Great War.

Included nearby were those who fought in the Second World War, and knowing this anniversary was coming up, wondered how many were on the beaches that day.

Stepping out of the comfort zone

I have shot with Nikon since I got into this digital photography world. I have great confidence in my camera, and I know what it can do.

Last Friday, was the National Day of Honour for the Canadian Forces who were deployed in Afghanistan for the past twelve years, and to remember the 158 service people who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I made a point of heading down for the event, and chose to leave my Nikon gear at home and bring my FujiFilm X-T1 and lenses instead. The X-T1 is still a new camera to me, and I’m not using it enough. I decided to change it up, and try something different and use the Fuji. My lens selection is purely primes – 18mm, 35mm and 60mm (28, 50 and 90 35mm equivalents). I was a bit nervous. No zooms, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, other than a flypast with a selection of aircraft used in the missions. I didn’t really want to be swapping lenses throughout the ceremonies, but that is what I chose and I stuck with it.

I went down early enough to scope out the location and find a good vantage point. The event took place on Parliament Hill, and there was a Chinook helicopter and other Canadian Forces items on display. So I got to go inside the helicopter and see the other displays before the masses appeared.

Chinook Helicopter

Chinook Helicopter at 18mm.

I had an awesome spot, until all the security people blocked my views. I stuck to the 60mm for most of the event, trying to get some good shots. I switched out to the 18mm for the flypast – which happened so fast, I didn’t really get great shots of it.  They were okay, but I kept thinking if I had my Nikon gear it’d be better. But in retrospect, it wouldn’t.  It was just the need for the comfort of a heavy camera.

However, the X-T1 did shine. The back LCD screen tilts for better viewing. I’m not one to use the LCD as the viewfinder, but as the march of the flag from the Kabul base came up the pathway, I used the tilting screen to raise the camera above the crowd and get a photo or two of the procession. Couldn’t have done that with my Nikon.

The flag procession using my 60mm and tilt screen to get above the crowd.

The flag procession using my 60mm and tilt screen to get above the crowd.

It was a fine ceremony, and while at times I wished I had a zoom (even though it probably wouldn’t have been as useful in the end), the lightness of the Fuji meant I never had a sore back for the three hours I was standing in one place. I’m looking forward to the new zooms coming in the fall that are weather sealed and have a constant aperture.

A bit of spring

Spring is taking its sweet time getting here this year. While at Costco I picked up some tulips. Over breakfast this morning I had this idea to light the bunch from above. I went into action. Using a studio light, I positioned it such that it pointed straight down on the flowers, added a grid and barn doors.

That’s it. One light. Used the X-T1 and Elinchrome wireless trigger.

A similar shot is available as a print at my SmugMug page.

Yellow Tulips