Saturday, August 29, 2015

Summer in the North, Part 2

(See previous post for Part 1: the Finger Lakes and Ottawa)

Our next stop was Montreal. Befitting its big-city status, it offered traffic jams, construction and detours. Once settled, though, we enjoyed ourselves.

The Nikon D750 performed well. The low-light performance, aided by noise reduction in Lightroom, is very good. The altar of the spectacular Notre-Dame Basilica was shot hand-held at ISO 12,800, 1/30 sec. at f/8. I'm happy with the results.

Notre-Dame altar, Montreal
The vibration control seems to work well on the Tamron 24-70mm lens. The pulpit was shot at 1/6 sec. handheld. The wood ornamentation in the basilica is jaw-dropping.

Notre-Dame pulpit
Montreal has a botanical garden of 185 acres, including both greenhouse and outdoor areas. It is beautiful and, at latitude 45.5 degrees North, astonishing to someone from Maryland. We spent a lovely morning there. The bonsai exhibit, courtesy of China (so it's actually penzai) was a highlight but the entire place is worth seeing.

Orange Jasmine penzai

East to Quebec. Many told us "you'll think you're in Europe" and old Quebec City does have an Old World feel: narrow, curving streets, old stone buildings, and window boxes side-by-side with monumental architecture.

Old Quebec City street
Quebec Seminary

I especially like the way the D750 preserves shadow detail. I used the highlight-weighted metering mode a lot. The resulting images have underexposed areas that really come back to life when you adjust the exposure and reduce the highlights in Lightroom. This Quebec skyline shows the Chateau Frontenac (left), once a grand residence for British governors and now a hotel. I shot directly into the sun. Here are the before and after results. Look how much detail I could retrieve from the shadows without blowing out the sky.

Quebec Skyline (as shot)
Quebec Skyline (post-processing)
As in past trips, we found Canada beautiful, friendly, and rich in culture and history. If you have a chance to go, take it!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer in the North, Part 1

We traveled north this summer, visiting the Finger Lakes, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. The weather was simply wonderful: sunny days with moderate temperatures and low humidity. Even the bugs seemed inclined to relax, rather than annoy us. 

We tasted wine, of course (see earlier post). Wineries are prolific in the region. Our first overnight was at the beautiful, relaxing Driftwood Inn on the shore of Lake Cayuga. Our hosts and the other guests (a friendly group from Buffalo) made the stay enjoyable. And the region is very lovely this summer. Field and forest were green and lush. It appeared they were having a bumper season for hay.

Pier at Cayuga Lake

Hay Wagons, Ovid NY

We drove to Ottawa to stay with friends we met while traveling in Vietnam. They have an amazing home in the middle of the city, from which they showed us Ottawa's highlights. We walked almost everywhere--I can see the attraction of city living, especially when the weather is so fine. And Ottawa is a great city, compact, clean and studded with interesting sights. Parliament, naturally, but also the Rideau Canal, opened in 1832 to connect the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario. The first several locks are stacked together downtown. The canal is still in use, mostly for recreational boats. To the right of the canal in the photo is the grand early 20th century Chateau Laurier hotel. The National Gallery of Canada is housed in a beautiful glass and granite building; we enjoyed exhibits of works by Alex Coville and Mary Pratt. Opposite the Gallery, and framed here by the legs of its enormous arachnid sculpture, is the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.

Parliament Centre Block, Ottawa
Rideau Canal Locks, Ottawa
Ceiling, National Gallery of Canada
Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa
This post is getting rather long, so I'll end it here and write another about Montreal and Quebec City.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Another iPhone 5s shot

I've written before about the iPhone 5s and its camera: see this post which described how it worked out for me in Italy.

The 5s continues to be the best camera-that-you-have-with-you, at least for me. I'm never out of the house without it. True, it works best in daylight, it only produces JPEGs, and the controls are limited. There are apps that add useful features (I like Camera+ but haven't tried others) but in the end it's pretty much a point-and-shoot.

We traveled to the Finger Lakes region of New York recently. There are wineries EVERYWHERE! We stopped at one, Sheldrake Point on Lake Cayuga in Ovid, NY. There were two folks playing guitar and banjo on the lawn, kids romping on the grass, and a food truck. And wine. What more could you ask for on a beautiful summer afternoon?

You could ask for a camera. Or you could put down your wine, pull out your iPhone and get a nice shot of the late day sun across the lawn and vineyard.

Sheldrake Winery, Ovid NY