The driver


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It’s finally happened. She decided it was time to practice for her driving test.

Almost two years of cajoling to get to this stage. I thought it would never come.

Now I get to shoot from the passenger’s seat.

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Retread

Just about everything associated with cars is messy, dirty, polluting, toxic, and usually pretty ugly.

Unless the light is right.

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All shot with the Fujifilm X-T2, the superlative Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 and sprinkled with some Acros pixie dust in Capture One

Light Therapy

During the long, cold winters in Ottawa, it’s always nice to get out to the National Gallery of Canada, if anything just to take in the natural light of a crisp day without having to wear more than a t-shirt.

Many have criticized the Moshe Safdie-designed building as being too cold and severe, but I disagree: it’s flooded with natural light, both in the atria as well as the inner galleries which are lit with skylights and mirrored shafts.

Just what the doctor ordered when the days are short and the temperatures low.

Colour


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Black and White

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The Peanut in Acros

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We have this great peanut-shaped lamp in our living room; a study in minimalism, it has clean lines and gives off a nice, diffuse glow.

I’ve always wanted to shoot it, but there are only so many ways it can be shot with visual interest. Then it hit me: what about a double exposure?

These are all in-camera Acros double exposures on my X-T2, straight out of camera.

(Click on an image to see it in a lightbox)

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A natural capital

As soon as you leave the ceremonial areas of Ottawa (think: Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court etc.) and get away from the other obvious touristy areas (ByWard Market, The Canadian Museum of *.*, etc.) it’s VERY easy to forget you’re in the national capital of a G7 country.

Ottawa is easily one of the most modest capital cities you’ll ever come across, and it’s one that’s very much in touch with nature and outdoor living. We are the second-coldest capital city in the world, which means when summer comes, we enjoy it. We do everything we can to extract the most out of summer, and depending where you look, it can be easy to forget you’re smack in the center of a city!

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Another world

 

Only 15km away from where I live, across the Ottawa river, is Masson-Angers, QC, an old mill town that could be best described as past its prime.

It’s so close, yet so far away.

I like to hop on my bike and take the ferry across the river (only $2!) and go for rides over there when time permits.

See, I live in generic, cookie-cutter suburbia on the relatively more prosperous Ontario side of the river. Masson-Angers, and neighbouring Buckingham, on the other hand, are hardscrabble mill towns that are as far removed from modern subdivision living as you can get. There’s something about these places that makes them so visually interesting to me. I think it’s simply because they’re so different from what I see every day in my generic suburbia.

There’s an old train station, the paper mill, the hydroelectric plant, and the old dilapidated rue Principale that has been supplanted by big-box generic stores only a few km away.

This is clearly the kind of place that was built on old-school industry and really hasn’t kept up with the times.

I’m going to come back over the course of this year and document what I see. Here’s a quick taste of what I captured on a quick bike ride last Sunday morning.

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On the left, the Brookfield hydroelectric plant. On the right, the now-closed hunting and fishing outfitters shop.On the left, the Brookfield hydroelectric plant. On the right, the now-closed hunting and fishing outfitters shop.

On the left, the Brookfield hydroelectric plant. On the right, the now-closed hunting and fishing outfitters shop.

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Progress.

Up the hill from Masson-Angers is Buckingham, a larger, more prosperous town further up the Lièvre River. Since Buckingham is about 60m higher in elevation, the river has been tamed with a number of dams that provide hydroelectric power for both the residences and industry in the area. However, the region was built around logging and which remains an extremely vital source of revenue and employment.

As the river was the traditional highway for transporting logs, something needed to be built to accommodate the logs as they encountered dams on their trips downstream. Near one of the dams in Buckingham, a 3km long log chute was built to allow the logs to gracefully descend the river without getting caught up in the dams or crashing into splinters at the bottom of the falls. The log chute is now a combination bike path/walking path!

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An Ottawa walkabout in mono

Today I decided to take a little walk around downtown Ottawa today and limit myself to black & white and see where the light took me.

These walks are as much an exercise intended to work off my lunch as they are for my mind’s eye.

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The tenacious rule-of-thirds tree

Don’t give up
’cause you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up
I know you can make it good
– Peter Gabriel

There’s this tree a few km from my house on a country road that caught my eye a few times last year when I was on a bike ride. The first time I noticed it was on April 30, 2016 after a particularly tough winter; nothing was growing nor turning green, especially this tree. Six months later on October 30 I was a little surprised to see it still there. Needless to say, it’s condition hadn’t changed much.

No hope | 121/366I was right | 304/366

Here it is again, after another nasty winter. More or less unchanged… still dead, and still hanging on. I’ll have to visit it again in October…

 

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TenaciousTenacious

Photo Essay #7: The Aftermath

After a big weather event, there’s always a Day After. In my previous post, I gave you a glimpse of what Winter’s last gasp looked like, when 40cm of snow got dumped on Montréal in a day.

This is about the aftermath.

Wednesday morning – the morning after – snow was still gently falling. Snowplows had made a quick pass, but it was obvious that it was going to be a rough day.

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Barely a soul aroundBarely a soul around

Barely a soul around

Everything was quiet, as all the elementary and high schools, CÉGEPs, universities declared a snow day and stayed shut. The mayor of Montréal recommended that citizens not go out and stay off the roads, and by all accounts, most people did.

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Watch your stepWatch your step

Watch your step

Of course, there were those that chose to go about their business anyhow.

Old Montréal is an interesting place; most of the buildings are between 150-200 years old, with some up to 300 (decidedly ancient by Canadian standards) and it’s a mix of businesses, residences, hotels and restaurants catering to both those residents and tourists alike.

Architects 100+ years ago weren’t very forward thinking and didn’t build underground parking garages for the future residents of their buildings. So those cars have to go somewhere – but obviously the owners of these cars heeded the Mayor’s recommendation to stay put for the day. This is the night after.

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Anyone got a shovel?Anyone got a shovel?

Anyone got a shovel?

24 hours later on Thursday night, it’s clear that Montréal’s crack snow-removal teams still had a TON of work ahead of them.

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There's a sidewalk under there somewhereThere's a sidewalk under there somewhere

There’s a sidewalk under there somewhere

By Friday, the clouds parted and the sun appeared, warming things somewhat and lending a natural hand to the snow removal crews. Some people still haven’t bothered trying to dig themselves out.

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The Aftermath 5/5The Aftermath 5/5

Here are a few out-takes. For all you Aussies who think this is exotic and would like a taste, please contact me if you’re interested in a house-swap next March.

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