Ottawa

The works

We took in the Lac Leamy fireworks competition last night. Typically, this is an international competition over a number of weeks (Wednesdays and Saturdays) but this year, being the 150th birthday of Canada confederation, it is a Provincial competition this year. We took in Ontario last week. For a $10 fee, you can go down by the river where there is speakers to listen to the music that goes with the fireworks. This week, being a Wednesday and having other schedules, we could only make it to a free location to watch Alberta’s contribution.

I brought along the Fuji X-Pro1 with the 35 f1.4 on it, should I get some acceptable opportunities to make some pictures. The view wasn’t the best with a tree partly obscuring the view, so I went for silhouettes and other ambient shots.

Train Double Play

Train watching in Ottawa is, to be kind, limited. This city is definitely not blue collar or industrial in any way. As such, there is very little in the way of rail traffic other than passenger trains. For the railfan, it is a wasteland. Basically, the only freight is local 589 that services a couple of industries, and this is on a weekly basis. Oh, and not on a particular schedule, so to see something is pure luck.

So double-bonus for me! My new job has a view to the railway up to Almonte. The once-a-week delivery to the Nylon plant up there. The window behind my cubicle looks that way, and if I’m at my desk, I hear the horn of the train approaching the level crossing. If I see/hear it, I know six hours later (at the end of the work day) it returns, and I can potentially catch it.

Such was last week. I heard the horn, and looked to see two locomotives pulling five tank cars up the line. I looked at the time, and knew when they would be coming back. The time is random, but the day is not, so I had my X-Pro1 with me to hopefully catch the return. Luckily, I did.

I knew where I wanted to be, so I hung out there a bit early to make sure I’d catch it. When it did come, I got some shots. When I came home and looked, I saw that in my excitement to see the train (remember, nothing much happens here) some shots were not very crisp. The one below looked better with a black and white treatment.

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The other shot, though not much better, worked in colour.

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As a bonus, this Sunday while I was sweeping up the walkway, I heard a train coming. I’m just across the street from the tracks served mostly by Via Rail. The train sounded different and when I looked, it was the local delivering lumber to the nearby lumber yard. I immediately grabbed my camera and made for the tracks. There is a bike/walk path along the tracks on either side. It was a quick job, and I caught it on its return to Walkley yard.
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XT015335What the photos don’t show is motion.  The locomotive is pushing the box car. As I saw it coming down the tracks, I could see the flashing red light of the End of Train device coming towards me.

I’ll leave out the train-geek reasons for this. But suffice to say, for a very barren train location of Ottawa, I had a pretty good week.

Doozers

The other day was a really nice crisp bright winter’s day. The kind that make you want to be outside because the heat from the sun makes the cold air feel tolerable. A nice warm cold air.

I was wandering around Parliament Hill and saw workers setting up scaffolding on the East Block. The whole grounds is now 100 years old and in need of constant repairs. With the clear blue sky as the back drop, the safety vests of the workers stood out so I grabbed a photo.

It also reminded me of Doozers. They were little construction guys on the TV show Fraggle Rock in the 80s. The Doozers were constantly constructing things that looked like scaffold, which the Fraggles would eat. They were always building, like the endless repairs on the Parliament buildings.

Shot with the Fujifilm X100T.

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Christmas

Its Christmas eve in Ottawa and its 16 degrees Celsius. Blame it on El Nino, global warming, climate change, or just dumb luck, its kind of nice for a change. I find as I get older, winter becomes longer and more of a pain.

However, I must say, the lights downtown are not the same without the bounce light from the snow, and the Rideau Canal is far from ready for skaters. But still, being able to go to work with a sport coat on this late in the year? I can get used to it. Maybe.

The shot below was the fates giving me a break. I follow a blog called fujilove.com. They recently had a contest for a sweet camera bag. Now, I don’t need yet another camera bag, but this one was way cool. The stipulations of the contest was to show one’s hometown with only on photo, and hit had to be shot within the last week. I had some great ideas, all of which involved some cold, snow and other winter affects, and it had been raining all week. To top it off, I had to pick up my son from school this week, and that negated staying downtown long enough for it to get dark.

As it happened, the rain held off one night before we were to go away for the weekend, and my son went to a friend’s after school. Sweet. I put off leaving work a bit later and managed a few shots like this one.

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Shot with my Fuji X100T and the teleconverter. I rested it on the bridge railing for a long exposure.

I didn’t win the bag, but did have fun finding a photo – which really is the point, in the end.

Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope it is a safe and happy time.

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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Lights of Parliament

This week was the launch of the Christmas lights around Parliament Hill. Each year its a big event with carolers, a fire pit to roast marshmallows, free beaver tails (if you are willing to wait in line for eternity), and fireworks.

We went down to take in the festivities. This year, as the countdown ended, a five minute projection story shone on the centre block of Parliament Hill before the fireworks and lights were turned on.

It was a nice evening weather-wise, with a balmy 5 degrees Celsius and no wind – which was a minor problem with the fireworks….see the photo below.

I just upgraded my X100 to the X100T and a wide angle converter, so I put them both to good use that night. I live the new camera. Its great. The new and upgraded features are totally worth it (even if I did ponder it for four months).

Ironically, being at the opening of the start of the Christmas lights season, I actually didn’t take any photos of those lights. No worries though, they are on until January 7th.

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Fireworks!

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What happens when there is lots of fireworks and little wind? This. More smoke than a Pink Floyd concert.

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Patterned Array

Downtown Ottawa seems to be in constant construction mode. Most buildings and streets are being upgraded, fixed, or rebuilt. Most of Wellington street in front of Parliament Hill is, or has been, in a state of repair, such that the city could be renamed Scaffold Town. I presume most of this is due to the fact that in 2017 it will be the 150th anniversary of confederation in Canada, and things need to look all perfect for the country to come visit.

Recently, another building has been swallowed up by scaffold. It does make an interesting pattern, such that one day I made this image with my X100.

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Reflections

Every once in a while, one needs a project to keep the creative juices going. I’ve been in a wee bit of a slump lately. Partially because I’ve been busy in other avenues to focus on making pictures.

XP014443The last post I put up, the reflection of the Laurier bridge over the Rideau Canal, coupled with a “missed shot” (I didn’t have a camera with me and the picture showed up) has me inspired to do a project of reflections. Specifically, but not limited to, water reflections. Each lunch time, I walk down the Rideau Canal and see the reflections of the buildings in the water, or the boats in the water, and think what a neat shot that would be. So hey, why not do a series on reflections!

Take this shot to the left. It is the Department of National Defence headquarters. I’ve seen its reflection a number of times but today as I saw this. I had my Fuji X-Pro1 with me with the 18mm f2. I had to back up a few steps (a few times) to get it all in.

Yesterday was not the best day as a bit of a wind rustled the waters. I would prefer a calm water like the bridge shot. But, there were still some opportunities for some shots.

 

This one for example, of the trees in the water, and some runners along the pathway. Surely better with a still water. Also with  the X-Pro1 and the 18mm f2.

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I’ll keep trying. I found some great Lightroom presets from Thomas Fitzgerald. Check them out. They are pretty cool.

Repose

The sudden onset of warmer weather has been a boon to downtown Ottawa. People are out at lunch time to take in the warm and sunshine. I made this shot near the Rideau Canal at the old Sapper’s bridge.

With all the angles and business around her, she is in her own space, granted, on her smartphone, but separate from everything else none-the-less.

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Spring has Sprung

Ah yes, spring is back. And so back it just stopped by for 15 minutes and we skipped over to summer weather. From the forecast, its a short respite, but the warm temperatures are welcome after a very cold winter. And how can we tell besides the warm weather?

For one, the daffodils are out. This shot was taken along the Rideau canal. The entire banks are covered in daffodils.

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And the canal, which in the winter months was the place to skate, has been filled again. Fish are in the water, and before the boaters come in, I spotted this guy paddling down the canal towards downtown. A great way to spend a warm afternoon.

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