Jul 242014

In a previous post I wrote about the Ontario Regiment Museum in Oshawa and posted a number of photos of tanks and other armoured vehicles on static display.  Since then, I have been awaiting for a “Tank Saturday” where they roll by a number of restored and operational tanks and other armoured vehicles.  I am a bit of a military geek, so this was a real treat.

I truly admire the volunteers at the Ontario Regiment Museum, not only are they keeping these historic machines running, they have done a terrific job of preserving our local military history and honouring those brave souls who have fought for Canada.  This place is one of Durham County’s best kept secrets and I highly recommend a visit.

M4 A2 E8 Medium Battle Tank - Sherman

M4 A2 E8 Medium Battle Tank – Sherman

I really enjoyed seeing these lumbering machines roll by and fun was had by volunteers and spectators alike.  The summer is not over and I am looking forward to the next Tank Saturday.

I made a video of the event using my Pentax K-3.  This was actually the first time I used the K-3 to shoot video and it seems to to a decent job.  I also attached a cheap stereo boom microphone I got from Ebay since the K-3’s built in mono microphone is mediocre.

The footage was cobbled together with freeware editing software (kdenlive) for Linux.  I decided to add royalty free military music to the video.  The sound of the tanks was really cool, but it was offset by incomprehensible and distorted commentary spewing forth from a dysfunctional megaphone.  Hence the decision to smother it with music.  It was so garbled, it reminded me of that great comic scene in Jacques Tati’s classic film, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, where passengers at a train station are trying to decipher directions from an equally muddled public address system and it causes them to run randomly from platform to platform.

The footage was shot handheld with a heavy DA* 16-50 f2.8 lens, so expect some wobbly cam.   If anything, this first effort shows I’m still a green vidiot when it comes to video.  Make sure to watch the 720P version.  By default the wordpress youtube player shows the lo-res version.

As usual, please peruse the image gallery 🙂

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Jul 232014

Over the weekend of July 5th I booked a day off on Monday so I could do three fun things:

  1. Ride my Harley out to London, Ontario
  2. Visit my brother and his family
  3. Venture out with my brother to Long Point, Ontario and take photos.

Although I have done my fair share of motorcycle riding around the shores of Lake Erie, this was my first visit out to Long Point Provincial Park.  It is a sand spit and medium size hamlet on the north shore of lake Erie in Norfolk County and it is also one of the southern most points in Canada.

Long Point is about 40 kilometres long and is about a kilometre across at its widest point. Lake Erie lies to the south of Long Point, and Long Point Bay lies on the north side comprise. The bay is subdivided into the Inner Bay and Outer Bay by a line that runs between Turkey Point to the north and Pottahawk Point to the south.

In addition to many sandy beaches, Long Point also features a number of protected marshlands and a bird sanctuary.  For my brother and I, it was the nature and birds that drew us there.  We packed up his van with a bunch of photo gear and ventured out for the day.

The Beaches of Long Point.

The Beaches of Long Point.

The sand spit requires a day pass and it caters to beach goers and campers.  As such, all we could expect to see are long stretches of beaches, campers and sunbathers.  Rather than wasting our time there, we decided to eschew the sand spits in favour of the conservation areas.

Marshland at Long Point

Marshland at Long Point

Being mid-summer and mid-day, the prospects for seeing animals and indigenous birds was quite limited.  However, that did not detract from a good walk and seeing the lay of the land.  After hiking through the marshlands, we went to the bird conservatory and saw only a limited number of birds.  Most were hiding in the trees and those we saw in the open were mainly common sparrows, grackles, seagulls, ducks and turkey vultures.  No doubt, a morning or sunset visit would have resulted in a much better birding session.  Despite the absence of wildlife, the walk around the area was quite pleasant, the terrain peaceful and bereft of crowds.

The real surprise of the day was an impromptu visit to Port Burwell, where unbeknownst to us we found the HMCS Ojibwa (S72) on display.  The Ojibwa entered service with the Canadian Forces Maritime Command in 1965 and was decommissioned in 1998.  In 2010, the Ojibwa was awaiting disposal, however, the Elgin Military Museum planned to preserve her as a museum vessel.

HMCS Ojibwa (S72)

HMCS Ojibwa (S72)

From Wikipedia: On May 26, 2012, the Ojibwa started her trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Hamilton, Ontario by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  She stayed in Hamilton the at Heddle Marine Dockyards being repainted and fitted with specialized transport cradles that would allow her to be moved across land.  In November 2012, Ojibwa made the final leg of her journey by way of the Welland Canal and then Lake Erie from Hamilton to Port Burwell, Ontario, where she is now open for visitors.

When my brother and I arrived, the last tour of the Ojibwa was already underway.  I think another visit to Port Burwell is in order, it would be quite the day to tour inside this retired cold war warrior.

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Jul 192014

With just one full day to spend in Quebec City, I needed to make the most of it.  That means lots of walking, exploration, cafes, pubs and some great local beers.  The weather was shaping up to be a perfect day and the evening just a pleasant.  I was also looking forward to speaking French with the locals and people watching tourists from around the world.

Expecting Quebec City to offer up some good good photos, I brought my Olympus OMD EM-5 kit (for the serious stuff), the teeny tiny Pentax Q10 (for the fun stuff) .

The Fun and Tiny Pentax Q10

The Tiny Pentax Q10 to the Rescue

The day’s walk around Quebec was great!  I just love soaking up the sites, history and architecture of North America’s oldest city.  Wherever you go, there’s something to indulge the senses, couple that with some great street buskers, what more can you ask for?  I walked all day until sundown.  If that was not enough, I discovered some tasty Quebec beers which can be purchased in Ontario.

By the end of the day, my shoulder was sore from hauling around a camera bag full of lenses for my Olympus OMD EM-5.  After dinner, I wanted to enjoy the evening and not be burdened with camera gear.  Again, the wee little Pentax Q10 came to the rescue.  After a few glasses of wine, I just wanted to have fun and play with the Q10’s built in art filters.  My mood was such that I did not care about technical perfection and I wanted shoot for the pleasure of it.  The end result was some interesting images, but more to the point, it was just spontaneous freedom taking them.

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Jul 172014

I took a brief trip to Quebec City from June 28th to 30th.  Instead of taking the boring highway, I drove along the beautiful Chemin du Roy, which is the old road from Montreal to Quebec.  There you will find a quiet, historic, meandering road that takes one through a number of small rural villages.  In and of itself, that old road deserves at least two days to explore.  The Chemin du Roy compels one to take it slow, stop, look and absorb the surroundings.  Time is the only bandit that can deprive one of its charms.

Unfortunately, time was not on my side.  I was able to drive through at least half of the chemin before getting back on the highway to make it to our hotel before all the restaurants closed.

After an incredible dinner at the Cafe de Paris in old town Quebec, I wondered the cobblestone streets until the bars closed.  This is truly a different world which harkens back to our trip in Northern France and makes one forget that we are in North America.  I feel lost in modern cities and detest the cold skyscrapers of Toronto with its ugly pragmatic and uninspired architecture that dominates a city designed by accountants.  On the other hand, Quebec seems like a city designed by people with a heart and soul, but who were astute enough build a city to withstand brutal winters and the centuries.  I am biased, but I think it is the most beautiful city in North America.

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Jul 142014

Some people can just lounge around on a Sunday and do nothing, I’m not really one of them.  I always need to have a little project or day trip to keep me amused.  This weekend I was sitting in my backyard, watching the birds and sipping a drink and thought, why not make one of those so-called mini-planets one sees on the internet.

So, I ran inside, grabbed my trusty Olympus OMD EM-5 and a tripod.  This was the first time doing a mini-planet and my first attempt was a failure.  Turns out I really needed an ultrawide lens to frame both the sky and the ground.  I changed my lens to the Panasonic 7-14mm ultrawide.  Next, I shot a 360 panorama of the backyard and got my first mini-planet.


The basic technique is to put one’s camera on a tripod and shoot several images, each time panning the camera around 30 degrees to create a 360 degree panorama.  Those images are stitched together in Photoshop, cleaned up a bit and the a polar distortion filter is applied.  There are tons of internet articles on this technique, so I won’t go into details here.

Later in the day, I tried to make another mini-planet of my street.  It didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked.  No matter, this was about having fun and learning something new.