winter

Chasing trains

I believe I’ve mentioned before about the lack of railroading in Ottawa. Let me iterate; there is very little in Ottawa for a railfan/train person to see beyond VIA trains, which are very typical. In fact, most trains in Ottawa are typical and predictable. So one must make the most of what little there is.

I live near the main track that VIARail uses, and passenger trains just don’t do it for me. I like freight trains. Again, there is very little in Ottawa as I mentioned here. Where I work, I do have a limited vantage of the track going up to Arnprior. There is a weekly local that takes some tank cars up there and that really is the only thing to see. From my cubicle, I can hear the train coming and watch it trundle up the line. Its about a five hour turn to come back, and if its a later train, I can make a stop after work and wait for its return. Of course, the camera comes with me every Wednesday, just in case.

Such was my luck last week. It was a late one going up, meaning I could get to a spot to see its return. Being winter and all, I kept to a spot that I knew I could access easily with all the snow (although, not as easy as I’d imagined). After a short wait, I heard the tell-tale horn and got ready for some shots.

I brought my Fuji X100T. Not the best for variable shots, but I like the camera, and I can learn to make do. As it approached the level crossings, the bells and lights went off. As it came around the corner it blew its horn. As it went under the highway bridge, the echoes made it very loud.

And shortly thereafter it came by. It goes at a fairly slow pace, so there is time to get ready for the picture.

The consist is typically three to four tank cars from (and to) the Nylene plant. Again, very predictable. Even the engine is typically the same. Sometimes there is two locomotives, which I suspect is only because one has had some repairs, and it is sent up the line with the other as a backup should the “fixed” one fail.

And within 30 seconds, the train has passed, and I wait another week to possibly see it again.

Fleeting as it is, I look forward to potentially seeing this train each week. As the warmer temperatures approach, I hope to catch it in a few different locations and scenery.

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.

Record Snowfall

Last week in Ottawa, we had a record snowfall for one day at just over 50cm, or 20 inches. It made for a commuting nightmare going home from work, and knee-deep snow to clear up from the driveway. However, the next day was bright and clear, showing the results of the previous day’s storm. On the way to work, I took some shots of the snow with my X100T.

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Dusk

For me, the best part about the new year is the days, or at least the daylight, lasts longer. I’m not a fan of it being dark by 5pm. Once the winter solstice hits, then Christmas, its all about getting more daylight! I especially like it when its cloudy for a few days. When then becomes clear, the extra daylight is like a little present.

This was my view tonight on the way home. I sometimes catch a bus that will drop me about 10 minutes walk away. The sun sets by this time, but the resulting deep blue in the sky with the silhouettes looks awesome.

This was shot with the Fuji X100T with the Classic Chrome film simulation. Its straight from the camera. No post processing other than a little crop to take out an unwanted element. The camera is awesome.

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Shine

It’s been a long, and very cold winter. The Rideau Canal has been opened for a record 47 (and counting) consecutive days. That’s cool, but it means it’s been cold for a long time. And after these long cold days, one starts to look longingly at the calendar for spring. And it’s the little things that crop up, unknowingly that brings out the hope of warmer days ahead.

This photo is one of those signs. It’s a garden lamp that runs on a solar-rechargeable battery. It has been dark for much of the winter, with little sunlight available during the day to charge the battery (and cold temperatures on it don’t help).

But last night I looked outside and saw it glowing away. Still holding its own above two feet of snow. The hope lies in that there is enough daylight hours to charge the battery and have it enable the little LED inside. I was excited, and the pattern it threw on the snow was perfect.

I grabbed a smallish tripod and my X-T1 with the new 16-55 f2.8 on it and put it outside. Being the wuss that I am, I stayed in the house and placed the tripod in the snow outside. And thanks to the wi-fi on the camera and my iPhone, once I framed up the image, I shut the door and did all exposure adjustments from the warmth and comfort of the living room.

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The end result is great. A black and white treatment looks the best, compared to the odd blue cast of the LED.

Winter in Ice

Its that time of year – freezing cold, snow and ice, and…Winterlude! An annual festival to get people out of their warm houses and into the fresh air and take in the beauty of winter.

Over three weekends in February, events take place outdoors. Skating on the canal, snow slides, snow sculptures, various wintery demonstrations and the highlight, the ice sculpture competition. This is where teams from around the globe (yes even warm locales) come to Ottawa to create works of art in ice.

Being downtown, I was able to go check the ice sculptures at lunch time, and avoid the throngs of weekend crowds. Some highlights are below.

Ice is a difficult thing to photograph. A lot of detail is lost in its translucency, and really, each piece could garner a dozen shots each to show the detail. Night time is the best viewing, as LED lights add an extra dimension to the work.

All photos were taken with the Fuji X-T1 and the 10-24 f4 lens.

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Skate

Here in Ottawa, one thing in winter that everyone looks forward to it the opening of the Rideau canal for skating. Touted as the world’s longest skating rink (yeah, there are a few others, but not as practical), its eight kilometres (almost 5 miles) of skating on the canal. Its a prelude to Winterlude, the annual winter festival.

Cold temperatures arrived and were sustained, and finally, the canal was open. I endeavoured on Friday to skate the length of it. I did it, pitifully being out of shape and practice, in about 45 minutes. The ice was in fine shape, and kudos to those who make it usable (there is a team that floods and cleans off the snow).

During my efforts, I took a number of breaks. This one I took the time to take out my X-Pro1 and grab a shot of the Pretoria bridge. The lighting on it was fantastic.

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Icy Wonderland

This weekend saw a wintry blast of snow, followed by a few hours of freezing rain, followed by a flash freeze as the temperatures dropped to -15 Celsius overnight. Ottawa is in the grip of winter with the promise of an overnight temperature of -30 Celsius on Wednesday.

The snow is great, but the freezing rain followed by a deep freeze means tough going for cars and people as everything turns to ice, and salt not doing a good enough job of melting the ice away.

The upshot is the trees and everything else is coated with ice. On a sunny, but cold, day like today, I braved the -22 windchill to venture out and get a few photos with my X100, which held up well in the cold. I can’t say as much for my fingers and face.

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The good news is that with all this cold, the Rideau canal skateway will be on its way to opening soon. Now it just needs to warm up a wee bit, or at least drop the wind so lunchtime skating can begin.