Monday, April 27, 2009

A City of Sculptures

Cello Sculpture, National Arts Centre
Ottawa's downtown has been a place of many monuments and statues for a long time, and I've been noticing more sculptures in the heart of downtown lately.  Just a couple of weeks ago, I photographed a group of three angel sculptures between the Rideau Centre and the Government Conference Centre.  Last weekend I went downtown again, and found another scultpure I had never seen before -- a beautiful polished sculpture of a cello on a terrace of the National Arts Centre, only a stone's throw away from the three angels.

This is an incredible scultpure -- a polished reflective surface that almost disappears against the sky.

The shine of the surface, along with the lines of the sculpture itself produce some fascinating shapes and images.

This is a great addition to the NAC, and to the downtown.  I really hope that the NAC continues to contribute more accessible artwork (both physically and artistically) to the public.

. . . Rob Williams

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tentative signs of Spring

Morris Island Conservation Area, April 2009

Last weekend, I went out to the Morris Island Conservation Area, about 45 minutes west of Ottawa along the Ottawa River.  Although daytime temperatures have been steadily rising, it's still getting below freezing at night, so I wasn't too surprised to see that Spring seems to be quite tentative in the conservation area.  However, I was quite surprised to see the amount if ice still present along the river.

 Detail of the ice on the river, April 2009

The water levels on the river were very low -- I guess that the levels are controlled by the nearby hydro-electric dam.  This no doubt affects the remaining ice.  Without the high water levels to flush out the ice, it seems to sit around and melt more slowly with the sun and daytime temperatures.  You could hear the ice crack as the sun shone.

Despite the ice, just a few meters into the forest, you could see the very beginnings of spring growth -- just a hint of green starting to appear in the muck of the snow melt.

Forest meltwater, April 2009

As the sun gets warmer this week, the hint of green in the photograph should get much thicker, and the trees will begin to flower.  It's time for spring -- I can't wait!

. . . Rob Williams

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Angels over Ottawa's Downtown

Angels over Ottawa

The last time I was in the downtown, I noticed that there were three new angels overseeing the city.  I figured that the way our politicians behave, they need all the help they can get.

The new angels are grouped together at the intersection of (count 'em): Sussex, Rideau, Wellington, Elgin, MacKenzie and Colonel By Drive, beside the old Union Station (now a government Conference Center).  This area has been redesigned recently to make it easier for pedestrians to walk -- and I guess the angels are there to oversee everything.

At any rate, I quite enjoyed seeing them there, and I hope they keep a close eye over the shenanigans over at Parliament Hill.

. . . Rob Williams

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Finally, a use for that BKT button

For a long time, I have thought that Nikon had wasted valuable real-estate on the back of their camera bodies with the bracket button, labelled "BKT".   If I really feel the need to bracket my exposure, it's really not hard to do it manually.  In fact, I rarely bracket any more since it is very easy to tell whether the exposure is good -- the histogram is a feature that I use constantly to make sure that I capture the exposure properly.

Cedar Trees beside the Indian River

With slide film, I bracketed my exposures quite frequently, since it was very easy to lose highlights from overexposure.  Not only that, but there was no feedback for days on whether you got the right exposure.

Finally, in the last couple of weeks I have found a good use for bracketing.  Now that I have purchased Photomatix Pro for HDR photographs, I have a need to bracket exposures by 2 or 3 stops.  These exposures need to be done quite quickly, to avoid movement -- either in the foreground foliage, or in the background with clouds. 

The Indian River at the Mill of Kintail

The Bracket feature on my Nikon D200, combined with "continuous high speed" shooting mode (the D200 can capture up to 5 frames per second) proves to be a great solution to this problem.  The bracket mode is quite flexible.  It allows me to set the number of images, and the amount of exposure compensation between frames.  I can set up to 9 exposures in a sequence, with up to one stop between exposures.  Normally, I use 5 or 7 exposures with one stop increments.  This gives me + or - 2 or 3 stops of bracketing, in a one-second burst for 5 exposures, or about a two second burst for 7 exposures. 

Not bad for a previously useless button!

. . . Rob Williams