After the melt

Now that the snow has (mostly) melted in our garden, we get to see what’s left behind.

Looks like we forgot to pick a Brussels sprout or two before winter.

Digging these SOOC JPGs from the X-Pro3. Classic Negative. Mmmm.

Toronto the wet

It’s always good to have a few hours to kill, camera in hand. Yesterday was one of those days… I had to drive my son to Toronto for a sports event (where parents were verboten) and that meant I had the day to myself. Met up with my good friend Bruce for lunch, and then ventured out on a cold, miserable, rainy photowalk in Cabbagetown (a funky neighbourhood east of downtown) and into downtown.

No agenda, no preconceptions, just a few hours, my weather resistant X-Pro3 and an umbrella.

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All images shot with the awesomely weather-resistant X-Pro3 and XF35mmF2 combo, processed with the new Classic Negative film sim in Capture One.

It was a dark & stormy night…

Oh, Canada. Here we are, almost 6 full weeks before the official start of winter and it’s already begun anew.

Delays.

De-icing.

Despicable.

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A Sunny Saturday in Ottawa, SOOC

Every Saturday this past October has just been spectacular. I don’t know who to thank for this (or who needs paying off) but WOW. Can we have some more, please?

On this particular Saturday—October 26, 2019, to be precise—I had about an hour to kill around midday, and I can’t think of a better way to kill time than to shoot it (with my camera, of course).

If you’re not a photgraphy geek, just skip the next bit and go straight to the pictures.

Normally, I always post-process my shots in Capture One, taking the RAW files and applying a variety of presets and settings to get to the look that I want. The awesome JPG files generated by my Fuji X-T2 go unused (but not unloved), because I find that I just have more latitude working from the RAW files.

This time around, i thought I’d try working JPG only. After having come across Ritchie Roesch’s awesome Fuji X Weekly blog and his incredible collection of vintage film simulation recipes, I settled on his Kodachrome II recipe and decided to shoot everything that Saturday using only this emulation.

Here’s some of what I saw around Lowertown and the ByWard Market on that lovely Saturday. All images are Straight Out of Camera (SOOC) and have only been straightened or cropped in Capture One. If I was less cockeyed, I could have bypassed Capture One altogether.

So why do I spend all this time post-processing my images? Great question…

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Sprout


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Autumn is upon us. The days shorten, the nights cool. Soon the Brussels sprouts will be ready to harvest.

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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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L’affaire est ketchup

Went back to Québec City for a family thing last weekend and had a few hours to kill in the St-Roch district on Sunday morning; I couldn’t help myself and snapped away like a kid in a candy store.

FYI, “l’affaire est ketchup” loosely translates as “it’s all good” or “everything’s cool” from québecois joual.

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The glamour


A hotel. A business park. An hour to kill in the morning.

Could be anywhere. Could be somewhere. Could be nowhere.

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But the camera follows.

Rhymes with nifty

So a little over two weeks ago, I hit one of those milestone ages (you can guess). When asked by my wife what I wanted for my birthday, I really couldn’t think of anything. I consider myself very lucky and blessed and certainly don’t need more “things.”. So I told her that I wanted an experience.

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“But what kind of experience?”

“I dunno. I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

Ever since we moved to Ottawa 11 years ago, I’ve always wanted to take one of those biplane tours offered out of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, but my wife never wanted to let me go.

“They’re not safe!”

“How old are those planes? They’re going to fall out of the sky…”

And on and on…

So on my birthday, I was quite chuffed to see that my experience gift was indeed just that: a biplane tour of Gatineau Park and the Ottawa River. Woo-hoo!

I guess that means i’ve fulfilled my usefulness and am now considered expendable… oh well.

Be sure to click on the image to view full screen in the lightbox.

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Le moins vieux Québec


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Old Québec City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason. It’s the only North American city to have preserved its fortifications and ramparts, and is second to none in terms of its architecture, historic charm and overall awesomeness. If you’ve never been, you must go.

However, there’s a whole lot of charm in Québec City outside the walls of the Old Town. The “haute ville” and the “basse ville,” particularly in the St-Jean-Baptiste, Montcalm, and St-Roch neighbourhoods (just to the west of the ramparts).

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The old buildings in these neighborhoods—not quite as old as Old Québec, but old enough—have generally been well-maintained and ooze charm. These areas are mostly residential with a dash of commercial here & there. Formerly working-class, they are gentrifying quickly and you can feel the tension between the traditional residents and the monied classes moving in. It shows in the grafitti, and it shows in the vary states of renovation.

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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

V is for Velvia

Fujifilm Velvia is one of those love-it-or-hate-it kind of films. Designed for nature and landscape photography, it’s characterized by deep saturation, redder-than-red reds and greener-than-green greens.

Of course, I don’t shoot film—I got into photography well into the digital era—but my trusty Fujifilm X-T2 digital camera has these wonderful film simulations baked in. This is where Fuji’s engineers have reverse-engineered the behaviours of some of their most popular and famous film emulsions (Provia, Astia, Acros and of course Velvia) and made them available as shooting modes directly in-camera.

Velvia 50 makes anything in sunlight look incredible. It makes warm colors warmer, while keeping everything else more vivid. It makes good dawn and afternoon light look even better than reality.

– Ken Rockwell

This afternoon I was walking around the garden, admiring my wife’s handiwork, where she had spent a part of the afternoon planting some seedlings. I hadn’t planned on taking any shots, but the light was just right, and I knew what I had to do.

Fujifilm X-T2, the magical XF56mmF1.2 R and Velvia film simulation

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Ten thousand hours

There’s something magical about watching a master at work. Masters make everything look easy. Fluid. Simple. Obvious. They leave you walking away thinking “I could do that!” only to leave you a quivering, whimpering, simpering mess after your first attempt.

Clearly there’s nothing easy about what they do. Ten thousand hours of practice—according to Malcolm Gladwell or whoever he cribbed that idea from—is just about when we’re supposed to start getting innately “good” at what we do.

That’s 5 years of full-time work, give or take.

Sounds about right… If you’re not good at what you’re doing after practicing it full-time for 5 years, perhaps it’s time to consider another vocation.

Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF50MM F2

Be sure to click on the images and see them full-size in the lightbox, ideally on a big screen.

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Indigo Thread

A hue’s progress.

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The Antidote


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It’s been one of those winters. Here in Ottawa, snow has been on the ground since November 12 and we haven’t seen the grass since. I have about 1m of snow in my backyard; in the front yard, the snowploughs and snow blowers and shovels have conspired to creat a 2-3m high mass. We can’t see the street from our living room.

Late winter is always gray and dreary. The pristine white of fresh snow yields to the greys and beiges of melting snow mixed with pollution.

To top it off, yesterday we got a freak storm that dropped about 10cm of wet, heavy snow in about an hour.

Sure, it’s pretty again, but really? Enough.

In protest of Mother Nature’s capriciousness I present to you an antidote to snow. Enjoy.

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33 RPM

What’s old is new again.

There’s something to be said about a recording medium that if you look close enough you can actually see the music. Little pits and valleys etched in the grooves of a 12-inch vinyl disc.

Sensitive to dust, dirt, vibrations and mishandling, LP records were inherently imperfect. They skipped, popped and hissed. They were inconvenient, big and bulky, prone to warping in the heat, shattering in the cold and they could hold no more than 26 minutes of music per side. The supposedly indestructible (nope!) CD, relatively tiny and portable, practically made LPs extinct by 1992. No “sides” to flip, up to 80 minutes of music, no hiss, no pops and “studio quality” sound… what more could you ask for?

But CDs didn’t have glorious 12-inch square paper and cardboard album covers, liner notes, fold-outs and all the other things that could make LPs magical. Sure, some CDs had plastic “jewel boxes” with little booklets of liner notes, mini photo albums and all that, but they were small. only 5¼ inches square.

27½ square inches vs 144 square inches. No contest. For album art, it was like looking at a photo album on an iPhone vs a 4K monitor.

Today in the era of Internet music streaming, CDs have faded into obscurity too. The appeal of an endless stream of any music at any time, no limits, no flipping sides just outweighs the tactile and visual pleasure of album art and soaking in music as a multimedia experience. Artists have websites for that now, right?

Young people are embracing vinyl again. I wonder if they won’t mind getting up every 20 minutes or so to flip the album.

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All images shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF35MM f1.4 lens.

Acros JPG with a little Capture One pixie dust.

Closed on Tuesdays

For some reason, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum is closed on Tuesdays. Of course, the day I decided to visit was a Tuesday.

That left me stuck outside on a very crisp, very cold, very sunny day with not much to do.

There’s always something to do.

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The new uniforms are in

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Modernism, capitalism and nobody around


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When New Year’s Day falls on a Tuesday, it’s incredible how many people take the whole week off. I guess it has something to do with the fact that just about all schools are closed that week. The financial district in downtown Toronto is usually bustling with activity, but this particular Thursday (around lunchtime) there was barely anyone to be seen.

That’s okay; less is almost always more.

Here are some scenes from the “largest Mies in the world,” the modernist Toronto-Dominion Centre, designed by the famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. I’m particularly drawn to the copper-tinted windows set against the simple, stark black buildings.

(Be sure to click on the images to view them full-size in the lightbox)

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Random acts of ornamenting

Just this past Sunday I went for a little walk in the woods near my house. To get some fresh air. To clear my head. To take a few pictures. To escape the ever-intensifying drumbeat of Christmas, Trump, Brexit and all the other calamities befalling us these days.

I didn’t know what kind of pictures I would take. It was a typical overcast, dreary Ottawa winter (well, late fall for the pedantic) day. The light was, for the lack of a better word, shitty. Flat. Lifeless. Not exactly inspirational.

Then I saw the balls.

Whimsical, lonely little Xmas ornaments on random trees here and there. They put a smile on my face.

They brightened up an otherwise dull day.

I’m sure there are more out there, so I’ll have to go back.

All images shot with Fujifilm X-T2, XF16MM F1.4 and processed in Capture One.

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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After the cold

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Winter has arrived early and aggressively this year in Ottawa. There’s been snow on the ground since just after Remembrance Day and it hasn’t let up, with record-cold temperatures for the past 10 days.

The cold has finally let up, and fog came in its wake.

This is gonna be a long one.

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Can you hear me now?

A little stroll down Duluth St.

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Duluth Street runs from the foot of Mount Royal park all the way to Parc Lafontaine. A narrow street, it’s dotted with boutiques, restaurants, bars and cafés intermingled with the apartments and old walk-ups. It’s a quintessential part of the “Plateau” that just shimmers in the low autumn sun.

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The Painted City

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The Plateau Mont-Royal arrondissement (district) has transformed radically over the years. Traditionally a haven for bohemians and artists, the Plateau has been gentrifying for what seems like forever now, but it hasn’t lost its unique flare.

One thing that stands out is the sheer quantity of murals everywhere. On the sides of commercial buildings, residential buildings, new buildings, old buildings, there’s barely a square meter of blank wall to be found.

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