Blakeney Rapids in winter

January 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Parliament buildings in winter

January 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Changing seasons, changing perspectives

January 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the things I especially like about the Ottawa area is the changing seasons. They offer lots of opportunities to photograph the same subject with sharply different seasonal moods.

I admit though that Ottawa has far too much winter, and not enough of the other seasons. Spring is short, and the tulips bloom for a week or two, and then you’re into the hot, humid summer. Autumn colours are spectacular, but they disappear as quickly as they appear, leaving the trees bare. And then there are months on end of cold, bleak, snowy winter.

This year there was little snow in November and December, and as I write this on January 2, the snow is almost gone after a bit of a warm spell. Still, there are several more months of winter, and if history is any guide, there will be lots of snow before it’s over. Ottawa never lacks humidity.

This year was a challenge for shooting winter scenes. I wanted to refresh my Christmas card shots of the Parliament buildings, but had to leave it until a couple weeks before Christmas for lack of snow. Even then, the snow was light.

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One of my favourite local places to shoot the changing seasons is the rapids at Blakeney, just west of Ottawa. Here the Mississippi River (no, not that Mississippi) tumbles over rocks and twists through forests. Setting my camera on a tripod, and using a slow shutter speed creates a smooth effect with the flowing water. Coloured autumn leaves, or ice on the shores create very different seasonal moods.

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Autumn

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Winter

It’s good to revisit the same locations and see how they change with the seasons. As I curse the seemingly endless Ottawa winters, I try to appreciate the variety of perspectives that our changing seasons bring.

Model shoot for SPCA Outaouais

November 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Model shoot for SPCA de l'Outaouais

Model shoot for SPCA Outaouais

November 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Model shoot for SPCA de l'Outaouais

My very brief career as a glamour photographer

November 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s a lot to be said for shaking things up and photographing new kinds of subjects. So when one of my Flickr contacts announced that in late September there would be a model shoot in Gatineau, I decided to show up. The event was a fundraiser for the local SPCA, and was billed as a chance for local photographers to meet local models and shoot pictures on a boat.

I’ve had very little experience with this kind of photography. Many years ago I shot a couple rolls of film of a co-worker who had aspirations of being a model, but we did it outdoors entirely with available light. This time I wanted to get some practice shooting human subjects with my Nikon SB-900 flash unit and a diffuser.

It was a fairly informal event, and people were friendly. I chatted with a few of the models. One girl told me she tried to sign on with an agency, but they rejected her because of a cheek piercing. I was a bit surprised that in this day of Photoshop and many different fashion tastes that it would be an issue, but I guess the fashion business is pretty competitive and ruthless. All in all, there were about eight or nine models and a few more photographers — some who seemed to be fairly experienced.

Sometimes several photographers shot the same model or models at once, taking turns shooting, and announcing by counting down so that the models knew where to look. The models all seemed to be experienced, and were adept at changing their poses.

It’s definitely tougher than landscape photography, where you can take a lot of time to set up the shot. Here you have to work quickly, paying attention at the same time to the camera and its settings and also to directing or responding to the model. And the added dimension of flash complicated it more.

After taking a number of shots on the boat and outside it, we headed over to a nearby gym just as it was starting to rain. Here, it was even more challenging because of the tight indoor space and the presence of gym equipment and mirrors everywhere. The mirrors made for some interesting reflections, but it was a challenge to keep photographers and flashes out of the shots.

Together with another photographer, Graeme, we worked with two different models, Isabelle and then Jessica as they used the gym equipment. Sometimes male model, Yan, also posed with them. Graeme was great at coming up with posing ideas, and several times he loaned me his SB-800 so that I could get a few shots using multiple lights, which he helped me set up.

I don’t know that I’m ready to become a glamour photographer, but it was lots of fun and I learned a lot.

Model shoot for SPCA de l'Outaouais

Model shoot for SPCA de l'Outaouais

Model shoot for SPCA de l'Outaouais

Model shoot for SPCA de l'Outaouais

Blacksmith’s shop, Upper Canada Village

October 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Blacksmith's shop, Upper Canada Village (4)

Making cheddar cheese, Upper Canada Village

October 11, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Making cheddar cheese, Upper Canada Village

In the general store, Upper Canada Village

October 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In the general store, Upper Canada Village

Journey back in time

October 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

After the American War of Independence ended in 1783, many who remained loyal to the British crown fled to Canada, settling in Nova Scotia, Quebec’s Eastern Townships, and what is now southeastern Ontario. The northern shores of the St. Lawrence River, within sight of the United States, in particular attracted many United Empire Loyalist settlers.

Throughout the early 19th century, the population of what then became Upper Canada expanded rapidly with settlement from the British Isles. (Present-day Quebec was then known as Lower Canada). Many settled in small villages, some prospering with the rural technology of the time — water-powered mills, and other such machinery. Attractive communities were built with logs, sawed planks, stone and brick. And many of these buildings survived well into the 20th century.

Fast forward to the 1950s, when the St. Lawrence Seaway was constructed and opened, allowing larger ships to pass from the ocean to the Great Lakes. One of the challenges in the Seaway’s construction was at set of rapids at Long Sault. To allow ships to pass, an artificial lake called Lake St. Lawrence was created, and the water levels were raised in 1958, submerging six villages and three hamlets. These became known as the Lost Villages. A number of historic buildings from these villages were relocated to a site near Morrisburg, which opened in 1961 as Upper Canada Village.

Since then, other historic buildings have been relocated there, so that now there are more than 40 buildings from the area. And for nearly 50 years, Upper Canada Village has operated as a heritage park, depicting life in a small Upper Canada community of 1866, the year before Canadian Confederation. The grist mill operates producing flour, that the baker still makes into bread using traditional methods. The sawmill produces lumber. A cheese factory produces cheddar cheese, making only a few minor concessions to satisfy modern food inspectors, such as using a steel-lined vat and tools. And a blacksmith still shoes horses and crafts implements using mid-19th century technology.

I first visited Upper Canada Village as a teenager in 1969, and have been back once or twice over the years. I returned recently on a gorgeous sunny September day, armed with a camera and several lenses. The enactors were pretty good about allowing themselves to be photographed as they carried out traditional crafts from nearly 150 years ago.

Reflection through the rails, Upper Canada Village

Reflection through the rails, Upper Canada Village

Spinning yarn, Upper Canada Village

Spinning yarn, Upper Canada Village

Making cheddar cheese, Upper Canada Village

Making cheddar cheese, Upper Canada Village

Stroll by the river, Upper Canada Village

Stroll by the river, Upper Canada Village

In the general store, Upper Canada Village

In the general store, Upper Canada Village

Blacksmith's shop, Upper Canada Village (4)

Blacksmith’s shop, Upper Canada Village

See other photos of Upper Canada Village as a slideshow in my Flickr set.

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