Ottawa

CP 150 Train

Over the last few weeks, Canadian Pacific railway has been touring the CP150 train across Canada. Consisting of vintage locomotives from the 50s/60s and old-school passenger cars (CP closed down passenger service, as did CN in the 70s, with the creation of the current passenger rail system, VIA rail).

I’ve seen great photos and stories of the train and the events surrounding it, including concerts and, well, the cool vintage locomotives!

The last stop was in Ottawa, so I was keen to see it. The week before it was in Montreal. Through my network of railfans, I learned it was laying over in Smiths Falls, a CP Rail yard about 45 minutes (by car) from Ottawa. I further learned when it would be coming into town, so I planned to find a spot to photograph it inbound. There are a few locations near the house where I could have caught it, but decided on a side road to give the best sight lines and hopefully less people.

My intel said the train would leave Smiths Falls around 10:30, 10:45. I knew there was a Toronto bound VIA train coming through at 9:30 and 11:00am, so I figured it may try to sneak in between those trains. The run time from Ottawa to Smiths Falls is about 30 minutes.

So I got to my locale at 10:30. Best be there early, scope it out and if changes are needed, there’s time. As it turns out, the 11:00am train came first which gave me opportunity to check angles and exposure.

Toronto-bound VIA.

By my calculations, then, the CP150 wouldn’t be by until about 12:30 (from this train, half hour to Smiths Falls on single track, then CP150 coming east). So I hunkered down for a wait. No one else was around until a little after noon when some guys from Albany NY showed up, frantic that they hadn’t missed the train. No worries, lots of time. They stayed for a bit and went further down the line to check out a trestle a little further down.

I had a medium-telephoto lens on my Fuji X-T1. With extra time, I figured I would put on the longer telephoto lens to get shots down the tracks. I had a bit of time, and there are other level crossings further on, that I would hear the train coming. My position was a bit aways from the car. I considered bringing the whole camera bag with the lens change, but decided against it. I have time (you see where this is going, right?).

I took some shots. Then I took this one.

Down the line east towards Ottawa, showing the not-so-flat right of way.

A second later, I hear the train horn as it crosses the bridge where the Albany guys went, about a kilometre away at about 12:20. Damn. Not enough time to get to the car, change lenses and get to my position.

In bound CP150. Snuck up on me.

Adopt, adapt, improve. I’m going with the telephoto 70-200 equivalent.

It worked out fine in the end. The adrenaline fired up, and I’m sure the image stabilization in the lens helped to obtain the shots.

After it had gone, I was looking forward to the event at the Ottawa train station. It started at 3pm. I got there at 3:30, so see people leaving. Already? When I got there I could see why. A bunch of tents were set up in the parking lot and three coaches were on display. One was the stage and two others. No locomotives. When approaching the coaches, most of it was blocked off for CP employee VIP section. So no once could get close to the coaches, really. No visiting the inside of the vintage coaches and not locomotives. So the best anybody not a CP employee could do was see the coaches from a distance and maybe the show.

My partner complained quite a bit to others listening on the sad event planning. Turns out the locomotives were at the station, but behind the coaches. Of course wouldn’t want to showcase them. The track the visible stuff was on was quite short, but could easily have accommodated at least one locomotive for photo ops and please the kids (and railfans).

There were a lot of unhappy people, and reading the Facebook posts on the event page made it clear; it was a shitty event. We drove around to the other side of the station and found a gravel parking lot to at least get a picture of the engines. I brought a wide-angle lens for some close ups of the train, so this is the best I could manage:

Hiding the star of the day from public view, even though advertised as a feature.

I had to stand on the hood of the car to get the picture. Very disappointing.

I had read of a great event in Winnipeg from railroad blogger Steve Boyko. Check it out. Great shots and coverage.

To end on a positive note, I did get to see the full train, got some fine shots and, as always, fun to watch trains, even in Ottawa where they are as sparse as they are.

All shots taken with the Fuji X-T1 with the 15-55 f2.8 (VIA), 50-170 f2.8 (inbound CP train) and 10-24 f4 (hidden locomotives).

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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