landscape

Powerful sunshine and solar panels

We had our first real snowfall of 2021, and winter really. Its a testament to climate change that here in Ottawa we can get to mid-January before any significant snow and still not be very cold. When I moved here 30 years ago, it was snowing and on the ground in November and stayed until late March/early April; the temperatures were easily -20 celcius or colder throughout January. Here we are January 18, and its the first really cold day at -6 celcius, and the lowest it’ll go is -8.

I don’t mind as much, as the older I get, the less I like the cold.

So after a snowfall of officially 21cm, the sun came out for a spell. As it went down, I was surprised to see the solar lights come on. It was cloudy most of the day, and a good layer of snow covered the solar panels that charge the batteries. Good panels!

The charge only lasted about a half hour though, but it gave me a chance to snap a few light beams from the lamp projected onto the snow.

Fall photos

What is it about autumn, trees and the need to take pictures of the leaves?

The event happens every year without fail, yet people continually take and post photos of the leaves. I do too. Or at least, I thought I did. Looking through the archives here, I had to go back five years to find some pictures. Although I do look at the trees and think, I gotta get a picture of that, then never do.

It must be just the colours. We go from brown and grey of winter to lush green for the summer. The fall burst of oranges, reds and yellows, especially against a crisp blue sky, is just so inviting and fun.

So, here are my obligatory fall photos…so far….

Night Shots

On the weekend we went to a skate path. Basically, it’s a trail through the woods and fields in an area, made of ice. You skate on the paths rather than walk it. We were going at night, and as such, needed to bring along a flashlight to see the path. Actually, after a while, we got used to the lack of light and the snow made for enough illumination to see.

I decided to bring along a camera and a monopod. I thought there might be some opportunity for some neat night shots and maybe some long exposures. I chose to go with my Fuji X100T. Its a lightweight camera, and I hadn’t been on skates for a few years. I figure the weight wouldn’t be a problem and if I did crash (I didn’t) there are less components on that particular camera. That is, its a little more expendable.

I ended up with a few shots, and we used the flashlight to try some light painting as well. It was a relatively warm night and no wind. I used the large amount of snow to plant the monopod to do the long exposures. Again, with the X100T being small, there was no worry of it tipping over the monopod and falling into the snow.

Long exposure of about 2.5 seconds. The camera is resting on a picnic bench
What happens when the timer is on and you accidentally press the shutter button. I did a pan during the exposure time. Neat effect.
A two second exposure. The camera is on the monopod jammed into the snow while the machinery is painted with a flashlight.
The entrance to the skate path. Camera on a two second exposure while on the monopod jammed into the snow.

Getting back out there

I want to get back to holding a camera and making some images. January and it’s cold Canadian winter does not make it as easy to get out there. But I did anyway. I decided to break out the Fuji X-T1

There is a walking path nearby that the city deemed this year to keep clear, which made it easier to get out for a walk. The side streets are terribly dangerous to walk on, given recent thaws, rain and subsequent freezing, so the cleared walkway is welcome.

Afternoon walk.

A light snow was falling, giving the appearance of a fog. It made for a nice effect on the distant trees.

Not foggy; snowy.

It felt good to get out and make some images.

Bright start to 2019

I’ve been away for some time it seems. Other activities have taken me away from photography and this blog. I hope in 2019 to move back to this creative aspect a little more frequently.

2018 ended with a bang with freezing rain and snow mixed together. I was out for a part of the night as a stage hand for a local non-alcohol/family-friendly event. I was home by 10pm and avoided most of the bad weather. This first day of 2019 sees a bright sunny day, and the sun makes the ice-covered trees shine.

 

Happy New Year!

Not the Tardis

While visiting my old train watching haunt, I walked up a path and saw an old, abandoned signal box.

Normally, in the summer months I wouldn’t have seen this as it would have been obscured by foliage. But it stood out now. I ventured over to check it out. On approach, it looked kind of like Dr. Who’s Tardis; but of course it wasn’t. It had been well taken over by graffiti and rust. I took a few shots of it to add to my graffiti collection.

Shot with my Fuji X-Pro1.

On the hill

A Christmas tradition of sorts is going to visit family in my home town of Dundas, Ontario a week or so before Christmas. This is a way to visit, do the Christmas thing and avoid the typical bad weather (or try to) that hits around the end of December.

If I can, I like to find time to go up the “hill” to where the main line of the CN Dundas sub runs. When I was younger, on Saturdays I would ride my bike up to this location to watch trains in the morning, returning around noon. There used to be a station there, which by then was a whistle stop, but it has a washroom (if one could call it that) and a place to hide out from the weather if needed. That station is long gone, burned down by vandals in the mid 90s.

Access to the area is now by foot only. A bit of a walk, but no big deal. The line up to Copetown is uphill, so the trains are struggling to make the grade, and you can hear them coming. There is also signal lights to help know if there is something coming. On the opposite direction, you can see the headlights long before the train passes.

So I went up. I stayed for about an hour, and nothing came, even though there was a green light. Still, I wandered and took a few photos with my X-Pro1.

The escarpment is a popular area to hike to, with a great vantage point from up there.

 

Dieppe at 75

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid by the Canadian army. Very controversial, as to what was achieved, it is none the less, a key point in history.

The Canadians were tasked with storming the Dieppe beach, obtaining information, and getting out. It didn’t go so well, and was considered a disaster by many historians. Others consider this raid as a testing bed for what eventually became D-Day. No matter what the opinion, it was a key attack.

This year, I was able to visit Dieppe on our tour of Belgium and northern France.

On our visit, the day we were to arrive at the August 19th 1942 Memorial, we were running very late. The day before, we went back to Vimy to see the tunnels and trenches that were not open due to the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy ridge. And we had to drop some other travellers of our group in Arras. So we were there over two hours late. From what I could gather, the people at this memorial were waiting especially for us! The woman was very upset at our tardiness, and my girlfriend spoke to her in French and explained our situation. It seemed to mollify her. Her husband, one of the owners of the memorial, was still very welcoming. We soon learned why.

Turns out, his mother was in occupied Dieppe. The day of the raid by the Canadians, leaflets were dropped, saying “stay in your homes, be safe. This is not a raid. We are the Canadian army. We will be back”. The French held to that hope. He said, “and then in 1944, you fulfilled your promise…you came back”. As such, he holds the Canadians in very high esteem, because we came back and liberated Dieppe. Very powerful. The museum/memorial, which is an old theatre, is full of memorabilia, photos, portraits of Canadian infantry. While the old theatre held its own appeal (being a theatre type, and he allowed us to go on the stage and such), I felt both very honoured to be Canadian, and unworthy. I had no connection to the raid or liberation. Its amazing how much this man held Canadian citizens in such high esteem.

We kept our promise. We came back.

That still sticks in my memory. Photos were not permitted of the artifacts (see the link above for more information), but the man allowed me photos of the theatre itself. Maybe on a later post. We went down to the beach. These photos are of our trip down. Its no wonder the soldiers had a tough time on the rocky beach. Just walking normally was difficult; never mind having to run up it with an enemy firing at you!

And what sticks the most with this, is that the men who participated in this raid were volunteers; not professional soldiers. They gave up their lives to fight for freedom.

All photos taken with the Fuji X100T.

On the beach. Rocky, and difficult to walk on.

A soldiers view. How can anyone manage this?

Birds-eye view of the beach.

Reflected bridge

After the fireworks, and everyone left, I took the opportunity to grab this photo of the Alexandria bridge with its lights reflecting in the water of the Ottawa river.

I placed my X-Pro1 on the stone wall and made the long-ish exposure.

Beaumont Hamel

While in Belgium, we visited the site/memorial of Beaumont Hamel.

The Newfoundland regiments signed up to fight for King and Country in a time when they were their own dominion, not yet a part of Canada (not until 1949). They sent a contingent over to fight, and on July 1, 1916, at the beginning of the battle of the Somme, they attacked. The Battle of the Somme was the regiment’s first major engagement, and during an assault that lasted approximately 30 minutes the regiment was all but wiped out.

Newfoundland purchased the land and preserved it and it stays to this day untouched. Shell holes and trenches remain. Although not a part of Canada yet, this is truly a Canadian place. The walking paths encircle the battlefield area and one can tour around from the Newfoundland side to the German side. From the German side, you can see a clear view of the Newfoundland position and can see how they had easy sight lines to mow down the opposition. Its terrible.

One of the cemeteries included a number of tombstones next (very close) to each other. I wondered why. I later learned that those this close together indicate comrades who died in close proximity or in the same battle together.

This is a very powerful site to visit.

The calling Caribou – iconic monument

Died in 30 minutes, brothers in arms.