Project 52

Calling, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

My brothers and I have been out almost every weekend taking pictures as part of our Project 52 (one new picture each week, see earlier posts). You might suppose that by week 16, since we’ve limited ourselves to the National Capital Region, we would begin to run out of new places to visit. Trust me, some weeks it feels like that.

It’s usually Tuesday or Wednesday that one of us will send out an email asking where to next. At the end of April, Scott was out of town on a business trip to Vegas (the poor thing) leaving Dave and me to fend for ourselves. By chance I had been visiting with an old friend and she mentioned how she’d enjoyed the park behind the old city hall. Dave and I had not been there before so our destination was set.

Saturday morning was clear. We headed downtown around 6:30 and were on site well before 7:00. You might imagine that we’d missed the golden hour. Not so, the park is surrounded by trees, homes and buildings, the sun was just cresting that horizon by the time we arrived.

What a treat this place turned out to be. Calm waters with reflections, Canada Geese drifting by, ducks and not a breath of wind. We spent an hour there before the light became too harsh. I’ll certainly be going back again as I limited my pictures to just a relatively small section of the park.

Our next stop is another park along the river, this one near some embassies. I hope that we don’t attract too much attention with all our camera gear.

Strength, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Dave and I broke with our usual practice on the weekend and headed out to take our Project 52 pictures late in the morning. The original plan was to go to a museum with his son, the forecast called for rain so this seemed like a “dryer” option. On the day, Aaron was not well enough to go and the weather had improved significantly. Instead of the war museum, we headed to Hog’s Back Falls.

The view was really nice with rushing water, green grass, white foam and interesting rocks. The two of us busied ourselves quickly and got down t the job of taking pictures. I used a variety of lenses to pick up detail and patterns, and filters to slow things down. For the most part I avoided the sky as it was too bright and lacking interest.

The end results though were not that great. Looking at many shots on the computer I wondered why I took the picture in the first place – not a good sign. Expansive vistas looked flat, and colours were muddy looking. I could blame it on the lens or the lighting but really it came down to my choices of subject. The shot I like the most is all about texture and contrast (rock and tree, organic and inorganic) and here the harsh lighting worked to bring out the patterns. I’ll have to try this place again at dawn or dusk to see if things improve. The sunrise is around 5:15 these days….I think I’ll try dusk first.

Wind over Gatineau, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Thursday my brothers and I spent a little time at the National Gallery and an exhibit of 19th century French photographers. It was interesting to see pictures taken 150 to 160 years ago with basic equipment and skills we don’t see too often today. Also interesting was seeing how composition changed over the years. We took a few shots inside the public areas. Once again the three of us were thinking the same thing and took some very similar pictures.

Later we walked across the street to a look out that we had been to a few weeks ago. This time it was brighter and there were a few more people about. Scott is the master at light trails on a bridge. Happily, Dave solved some of his sharpness issues. I captured a couple of nice shots. The one on this post has detail and motion in the clouds that I quite like. Next weekend is the landscape workshop. That should be very interesting.

The gate, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

My brothers and I have made it a habit to go out on a Sunday or Saturday to take pictures for our Project 52 (see earlier posts). Since the beginning of January we have gone out perhaps 7 or 8 times. We have a good laugh, learn from each other and enjoy the challenge of creating something unique from the same scene. We’re using very much the same equipment, essentially the same lighting and a similar way of taking pictures. This time we found a waterfall, here’s Dave’s take on it followed by Scott’s:


Waterfall at the Old Mill

My own shot was very much like these and I wanted something different so in Lightroom 2 I converted it to Black & White and cropped it to emphasize the patterns. I like all three but it never ceases to amaze me how the three of us can come away from the same scene with different shots and really that seems to have become the goal in our 52 week project, come up with something different and better than the last week’s shot.

Samuel de Champlain, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

For our project 52 outing this week my brothers and I went to downtown. We arrived behind the national gallery around 8:30, this was the first of three stops. After shooting bridges and parliament from centre point lookout, we headed along Sussex near the Champlain bridge for river and more skyline shots. The last stop was parliament hill.

At some point I commented that there was a different kind of rush being downtown at night compared to the usual out on a bog at dawn. Instead of wild animals and the risk of falling on ice, we had to contend with crack addicts, drunks, and prostitutes.

I had a very successful night with my pictures with 16 keepers, much more than usual. I’m pleased with the sharpness and composition on most. And I’m getting better with the exposures.

Greens Creek, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

This week’s Project 52 adventure took us to a conservation area just off Innes Road in Ottawa. We had a bit of a hike to get to this spot and if you don’t know, I’m not a small guy. Climbing up and down snow banks, through brush, falling only once, was the most physical effort I’ve put into my pictures in a very long time – like years.

The trip was worth it, I think. I got a few nice shots. Once again I find B&W suits most of the images the best. Scott got the best shots of the day and they were taken near the end of the visit. I’m going to step up my game, that’s for sure.

Squirrel 3, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

On both days this weekend my brothers and I went to the Stony Swamp Conservation area to take pictures at, or about, dawn. We all greeted the Sun on Saturday. My brothers were more energetic than me on Sunday and arrived around 6:30. I got there closer to 7:30. The lighting was not as good on Sunday so no landscapes. On the trail however there were lots of woodland critters.

After I took this shot I walked further along the path trying to be quiet in hopes of seeing more animals. After a time I got distracted by the trees, the shapes etc. Suddenly my brothers whispered from 15 feet behind me. There about 20 in front of me was a doe foraging for food. She probably walked much closer to me in clear view but I missed the opportunity.

This time I’ll have to settle for the squirrel and the birds.

Fruit and veggies, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Very early Saturday morning I headed out with my brothers to catch the sunrise at Stony Swamp in the South of Ottawa. It was one of those outings where things just didn’t go as planned. One of us overslept but recovered quickly enough. We drove for a long time on what we eventually was not Moodie Drive, but we still got to the swamp in time for the Sun. My own landscapes were not exposed properly but the shots of the birds turned out better than I expected. As one of us said, lessons were learned and we’ll know better next time. The shot with this post was the last one I took and I think is one of the better ones.

Sunrise on tractor, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

We’re three weeks into our Project 52 challenge, where by brothers and our cousin agree to post one new picture a week for 52 weeks. Three of us are in the same city and for two of the first three weeks we met early on Saturday morning at an agreed upon location. It was interesting to see how each of us came away with a slightly different perspective on the same location, and interesting to see which photo each would post for the challenge. Last week for example I chose not to post my favorite shot, a backlit tree featuring long shadows, thinking my brothers would post their backlit shots which I thought were better (based on the LCD viewing at Tim’s that morning). In the end, they posted macro shots of ice crystals.

This week we didn’t have plans to meet, I was expecting very different pictures. On Friday the moon was unusually large and bright. All three of us featured it in a shot. One a close shot with surface details. Another a timed exposure featuring a star-burst and trailing lights on the highway. Mine features heavy machinery in the foreground. Even when we’re working on our own we think along the same lines.

I didn’t post my moon shot for the the Project – in part because I had seen one brother’s picture on Flickr, but also because I another shot that I took from the same location, 15 hours later. On Saturday I returned the the construction site to see if the sun would rise in about the same location. It did, but maybe 15 degrees to the South. I went for a backlit shot creating a silhouette of the heavy machinery. Looking at my the work my brothers and especially the pictures from our cousin, I’ll have to dig much deeper to match them next Sunday.

Embrace, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Two Saturday mornings in a row my brothers and I have met at dawn at a pre determined place to capture what we hope will be good pictures of early mornings in Ottawa. We’re all participating in WDSP Project 52 (see my last post for details) so the motivation is to make sure we each have something to post before midnight on Sunday.

This week I suggested the Rideau River park near Billings Bridge Plaza. I also suggested meeting at 7:30 am. I drive bye this place each weekday morning and I’ve often thought it looked like a good spot to take pictures. I also noticed that the sun didn’t crest the horizon for about 45 mins after the dawn. So with that in mind, I suggested to by brothers that we meet at the park at 7:30

The morning was clear and brighter than I expected when I left my house at 7am on Saturday. Driving, parking and walking to the park took 30 mins so I arrived right on time. At first I didn’t see my brothers but then Dave came over from the right commenting that we’d missed the sunrise. I told him that wasn’t what I was looking for on that day. We walked around the park scoping out good spots. I took a few “grey” shots looking over my shoulder from time to time, watching the progress of the sun. Then as expected, the golden rays of light began to spill over the distant buildings down into the park. By now I’d selected my tree and location. My camera was set up on the tripod. I took a shot, checked the histogram, adjusted the EV, took another, and another until I had the composition and exposure that I wanted.

I’m very happy with the picture. I didn’t use it in the Project 52 competition though – later over coffee when we were sharing our captures, I saw that they had similar and maybe better backlit shots themselves so I opted instead to enter this B&W conversion taken as we were leaving for the morning.

My preferred shot is posted to my Flickr Photostream along with a couple others from that day. The lesson for me was that planning and waiting for the right moment is worth the effort.