Stormy Niagara – October 2010

This month’s image in my 12from2010 project was taken during my recent tour of Canada – Specifically Niagara, Tornoto in this shot.

A fall gallery of images from my trip can be found at this link www.westyphotography.com/travel/canada/

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I arranged my trip for September/October to ensure that I caught Canada in it’s ‘Fall’ colour scheme – I certainly got some lovely Landscape shots of the snow capped Rockies with Yellow, Brown and Green foliage in the foreground (earlier on in my trip in Alberta and B.C.) – The downside was that good weather was not guaranteed…

However, as a Photographer, bright blue skies are not always what you are after. This month’s shot of Niagara’s two falls (Canadian Horseshoe falls in the foreground, US falls in the distance) was taken 15 minutes or so before the heavens opened.

I set-up my D300 + 11-16 2.8 (thanks Dave!) on a small tripod, balanced on a wall, and took a total of 5 shots at different exposures to ensure that I had recorded all the detail in the dark sky, as well as the bright foreground.

As you can see from 3 of the 5 original shots below, this needed some work to get to the finished article I was after;

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Next step was to bring all 5 images into Photomatix Pro to combine the different exposures to produce a single tonemapped image.

I then exported this as a TIFF file, which I opened in Photoshop RAW and added contrast and colour boosts where I saw fit using PhotoTools 2.

It is a fair bit of work, but I think the finished image is worth the effort.

I know that this HDR process is not to everyone’s taste, but I think when it isn’t overdone the effect can be very striking – I hope you think it works here!

 

Around Jasper

This morning I started with a trip to Old Ford, taking in Lac Beauvert on the way… I was concerned about the overcast skies, but they seem to be clearing now (and if anything added to the scenery over the lake:

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The west side of the lake is flanked by a Golf course, with the 14th hole using it as a water hazard (would love to play a round here!)

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A couple if dozen steps later, and this is the view of the Athabasca River, taken from Old Ford Point.

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As usual, other than the flow of the river and calls from wildlife (the Elk’s screams as really loud this morning), it is perfectly silent here.

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Maligne Canyon

Now I am heading to Maligne (pronounced Ma-Leen) Lake – One of the most photographed lakes in Canada.

Stopping at the way for a coffee at the Maligne Canyon Inn and if course to look at the view over the Canyon itself.

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This is the Canyon’s highest falls – The sound here was deafening!

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Oh, and I highly recommend the Iced Macadamia Cappuccino at the tea house… Bargain at just $3!

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Looking for Whales

Saturday’s tour was a five hour Whale Spotting excursion.

I took the bus to Steveston near Richmond, to board one of two jet powered Whale Explorer boats.

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The boat trip took about 1.5 hours or so to get to the spotting area – The crew had microphones in the water to tell when they were close… The sounds coming from them over the boats speakers were amazing.

I must admit to showing my ignorance, as I was expecting (at best) to see a bump or something in the water in the distance – What I wasn’t ready for was a group of 15-20 Killer Whales within 100m of the boat.

Thank goodness I had bought my 70-200vr with me – The perfect lens for close quarters shots like these.

Killer Whales

The speed and grace of the animals was brilliant to see – I am sure we have all seen Dolphins (and possibly even Killer Whales) in tanks at Seaworld, but to see these huge creates playing in their natural habitat was very humbling.

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Although most of the hour we were there the Whales just swam up and down ,which was impressive enough as they came up for air (as above), I was fortunate enough to capture one of them ‘playing’ too:

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As you can imagine I took loads of photos – I will process the others when I get back home, and post a link.

Sealions

We also had a further treat on the way back to Steveston as the captain stopped at a small island to allow us to see a group of Sealions that were basking there:

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Quote of the day must surely go to the French couple on the boat: “I told you we should have bought the camera today” – Yes you should!

Yet another terrific day in Canada – Off to Toronto for a couple of days now. I want to get some photos of a certain well-known waterfall…

The Social Network

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Tonight was my first experience of an opening night of a movie: and I happened to be in Vancouver!

The cinema was packed out – and, take note UK, when the film has a 19:30 advertised time, that is when it starts!

The film was ‘The Social Network’, based loosely on the book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’, which is turn is basically the story of how Facebook got started.

The film was excellent – You neither come away liking or disliking the main Mark Zuckerberg character, but rather see how quickly something can spiral almost to the level of being out of control;

It also shows how far people are prepared to go to get what they want – Strangely money doesn’t appear to have been the motivation.

If you have read the book (I had it as a audiobook from Audible) there is little here to surprise you – If, however, you know little of the story and are expecting a film about a geeky kid who made a fortune in his own back bedroom, I think you would be very pleasantly surprised by the the twists and turns.

The acting was excellent, as was the music (by Trent Reznor of NIN fame).

Definitely worth going to see when it opens on the UK – A really well produced and acted film, with a genuinely eye opening (but believable) story line.

I would be more than happy to see it again with Clare when I get home.

Crazy Fish Bistro


I have been eating at a variety of places during my time in Canada – Japanese, Mexican, Canadian (read Alberta PrimeRib) and Italian so far…

Last night in Harrison I decided to have a stroll about to see what I could find – and I stumbled across an absolute gem, Crazy Fish Bistro.

We have a Fish only restaurant at home in Bedford (Eat Fish) which Clare and I promised ourselves we would check out; Unfortunately it was really disappointing when we did, so our search for a really good fish restaurant continued… That search is now over!

The restaurant looks like a shack from outside, but it nicely decorated inside, a bit like a log cabin.

The staff are great, really chatty and helpful: and not at all pretentious or stuffy… It is a ‘cool restaurant’ rather than a ‘posh restaurant’.

And the food? Outstanding!

I had the Blackened Snapper, a 7-8oz. snapper fillet coated in cajun spices, topped with a lime and tequila salsa. It was served with rice and a huge amount of grilled vegetables.

The fish was excellent – The salsa sublime… And everything was grilled (how can food be this tasty AND healthy?!).

Fortunately I have another evening here tonight, so I am going back to have the chef’s recommend Sweet and Spicy fresh BC Salmon (a dish they explained they couldn’t do last season as they couldn’t get fresh Salmon locally, and refused to use frozen!)

I know it is unlikely, but if you are in ever in the BC area, it is well worth the trip.

Oh, and the view over Harrison Lake on the walk back to the hotel is stunning too.

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Miss Margaret’s

Maybe it is just me, but I always find that somewhere that offers ‘a vast array of pampering and spa treatments’ always sounds a little bit ‘dodgy’.

I am sure that this place is very much ‘above board’, but my suspicions where raised further when I found a voucher for 10% off ‘anything you fancy’ from ‘Miss Margaret’ as part of my welcome pack.

Imagine my surprise when I ordered a Cappuccino from the coffee shop this morning, only to be asked if I had my voucher!!

Miss Margaret’s is the name of the Starbucks wannabe in the hotel… They still don’t know what I am laughing at now!

Brilliant.

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Best of Both

I left the ski resort of Sun Peaks this morning, heading for Harrison Lake (my stop for the next two nights).

Following advice from some locals, I decided to take the 2 hour (!) detour enroute to visit the city of Kelowna, BC.

…and I am glad I did! Kelowna is a summer holiday location for a lot of British Columbians – Having a great mix of shops, bars, parks and watersports… And a cracking climate!

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It is known here at the ‘California of the North’, which suits it well. This is a really nice laid-back atmosphere to the place.

I left Sun Peaks this morning in jeans and a hoodie – It was chilly!; I should have put shorts and a t-shirt on instead for here:

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The weather is gorgeous, as is the view, as I sit here in the City Park overlooking the harbour with my Caramel Pecan waffle cone.

Canada continues to impress – Snow to Sun within a 4 hour drive.

Lovely.

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To finish off…

I ended today’s tour with a visit and ride on the Jasper Tramway, for a great view over Jasper (even with the clouds)

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They finally as short 30 minute stroll around Pyramid Island, near Pyramid Lake.

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A five hour drive into British Columbia in the morning, so won’t be a late one tonight.

Another cracking day.

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