Fall Rhapsody at the Willson Carbide Mill

Mary Anne and I made our way to the Willson Carbide Mill in Gatineau Park the other day. Neither of us had ever been there before but we figured we both had our iPhones, GPS and our beloved mutts with us. So despite the bear warnings we set off via Trail number 36. It was a beautiful fall day. The colours just somewhat past their prime and a bit cool but not too cold. At the end of the trail we were rewarded with the Thomas Willson ruins from the late 19th century. Willson (1860-1915) no relation, was a paranoid inventor who learned how to produce Calcium Carbide and set up his own home and mill near Meech Lake around 1911. To make a long story short a fortune was made and lost, he irritated his neighbours by artificially raising and lowering the water of Meech Lake during his experiments and he eventually died of a heart attack in 1915 on a street in New York city while seeking to raise venture capital for his next project.

Anyway, just over 100 years later it has become a popular destination for tourists and photographers. For myself, I found it a great opportunity to put my IBIS Fujifilm XH1 body to the test under trying conditions: bright sunlight, waterfalls, no 10 stop filter etc. For the waterfall images I used ISO 100, F22 and 1/2.5 second handheld. I was quite impressed with the results.

All images photographed with Fujifilm XH1 and XF16-55F2.8 and processed in Capture One 11

Capital Pride Parade with the UK High Commission

It seems everyone was out on Sunday.  The UK High Commission had a float in the Capital Pride Parade and asked me to photograph the event for them.  I always love to tell a good story and even better when it serves a good cause.  Here are some favourites.  Enjoy. 

Love is GREAT Britain!

I was recently asked by a former client if I would cover a couple of events the UK High Commission had planned for the Capital Pride festival in Ottawa this past weekend.  More specifically they were hosting a Movie Night under the stars at Earnscliffe (the High Commissioner's residence) and would be marching in the Capital Pride parade on Sunday.

The movie Pride is a 2014 British LGBT-related historical comedy-drama film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus.  British High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque hosted a wonderful evening featuring Welsh Cheese, fruits and of course popcorn!  There was an impressive guest list of dignitaries and foreign diplomats all celebrating diversity and the freedom to be who you are and love who you want to love.  

Funds raised during the evening went to the Ten Oaks Project which brings together and supports children and youth from LGBTQ+ communities.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the movie night. 

Q and A with Kai Behrman and the Art of Creative Photography

As part of my interview for Kai Behrman's Podcast: The Art of Creative Photography, Kai asked me the following questions. 

1.) Favorite photograph – by whom and why?

My favourite photo at this moment is A Winter’s Night by me.  It is a photograph I took one night around 11 pm in mid-November.  The ice had just frozen over and people were beginning to walk on it.  I was unsure of whether or not I should venture out to capture the scene but I noticed a truck parked on the ice so it couldn’t be too bad.  I was alone with the exception of a fox that crossed my path.  I  love the darkness with a glimpse of light streaming through what seems to be an opening in the clouds, the storyline of traces of human life and community in barren and cold conditions.  And I especially love the stillness and mystery that it evokes. I currently have it hanging in my living room. 

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2.) Favourite inspirational quote about photography (or life in general)?

I have two favourite quotes:

“Work is love made visible” by Kahlil Gibran

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And

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”  Ralph Hattersly

3.) Favorite book – by whom and why?

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis.  I loved this book because it is a story about 15 dogs who received the gift of human consciousness from two gods on a bet.  The bet was that dogs would be even more unhappy than humans are if they were given human consciousness.  It was my favourite read because I love dogs of course and I like to think about these things i.e. what constitutes a good life and how one should achieve happiness and meaning in life.  Also, one of the key canine protagonists Majnoun reminds me of my 10-year-old Golden Doodle named Saydee. 

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4.) Favorite photographer – why?

Yousef Karsh - As you know, I have already mentioned how much I like the work of Annie Leibowitz however, I thought I should also mention a Canadian master portrait photographer who happens to be from my hometown in Ottawa, Canada.  His portrait of Winston Churchill is masterful.  I’ve seen an original print of it in the Speakers Chamber in the House of Commons and it is arresting.  He had an uncanny ability to know and connect with his subjects in a way that is congruent with their story.  He has photographed some of the great personalities of the 20th century:  Queen Elizabeth, Einstein, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Picasso and others. 

5.) One contemporary photographer, you’ve recently discovered?

David Burdeny… I love his colourful medium format aerial work.  He makes gorgeous very large prints. 

6.) Favorite photography gadget?

I love my Peak Design Slide strap.  It enables me to switch cameras effortlessly as well as distribute the weight around my shoulders.  

7.)  The favorite song when traveling / for the road? Why? —> 

The new rendition of Paul Simon’s classic:  The Sound of Silence by American rock band:  Disturbed. He sings it with such passion and the song’s lyrics really resonate with me.  Actually, it might be a good theme song for my favourite picture. 

8.) What’s in your camera bag?

I have both the Fujifilm XH1 and XT2, cameras along with several Fujifilm lenses:  XF16MM, XF23F2, XF35F2, XF56APD, XF10-24, XF16-55 and the XF50-140.  I also have a Fujifilm EF500 flash as well as a Godox V860II Flash.

The Tulip Festival with Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens

Recently I had the opportunity to test drive Fujifilm's new 80 mm macro lens.  The Tulip Festival was just getting underway here in Ottawa.  It is an annual celebration starting way back in 1945 when the Dutch Royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs as a gesture of thanks for having provided a safe haven for the future Queen and her family during the second world war.  

Every May there are millions of tulips blossoming throughout the capital and so Fujifilm Canada was kind enough to lend me their lens for the festival.

When the lens arrived it, I found it a bit larger and heavier than my other prime lenses but it was nothing unmanageable. I apologize for not having taken any pictures of it which seems to be the thing to do for a lens review, however, I am usually more excited about what a lens can do rather than what it looks like. It is quite the capable lens with a fast aperture of 2.8 rendering beautiful bokeh, image stabilization and weather sealed.  

I rushed outside as it had just rained and tulips look great with water glistening on them. This picture happens to be my favourite. 

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I had heard that there were a few complaints about a 'clunking' noise in the lens and to be honest I didn't really notice it until I thought about it.  It only happens when the camera is turned off and some of the glass elements shift in the barrel of the lens.  As soon as you turn on the camera it stops.  

I found that in good light the lens will focus rather quickly but it will hunt around a bit if the light isn't great or if there isn't much in the way of contrast. 

 A little street photography.

A little street photography.

I probably won't be investing in this lens because I just don't seem to do enough macro photography to justify it. 

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However, if you are into Macro photography then you won't go wrong with having this lens in your kit. 

And it would probably be an awesome lens for portrait photography.  

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Ice Storm

It is supposed to be spring.  I must admit the weather here in Ottawa is leaving a little bit to be desired.  It is going up and down like a yo-yo.  At the end of February it was positively balmy and now that it is mid April we have been getting snow and freezing rain.  In Yellowknife, it is predictably freezing cold for much of the year.  But with a good coat and a pair of mukluks, you are pretty well set for venturing outdoors.  

Today it was so crappy I could barely take Saydee for a walk.  Schools were closed, power lines and tree branches were down and many homes were without power.  I literally had to drop my poochie off at the park and waited by - no hung on to the car as the wind was gusting at about 60km hour.   I did, however, think it was beautiful.  The trees were all glistening with ice as were the roads.  A good day for a photo shoot then.  So off we went in search of beauty amidst the chaos.  

I probably could have used Fuji's new XH1 with in body image stabilization as I wasn't too sure on my feet. 

Here are some of my favourites.