Confessions of a Ballerunner

Essays on Sports, Arts, Culture, and Life

A Vintage Victoria Day Long Weekend in Ottawa

What a beautiful long Victoria Day weekend it was here in Ottawa. Sunny and hot, the outdoors just beckoned. And so, I grabbed my borrowed Nikon digitial SLR camera and headed out on my bike, eager to see what sort of vignettes I might be able to capture.

Since I am a scientist-type, who is also mechanically-challenged, I ended up taking a ton of photos in a bid to experiment with various angles and distances thanks to my new friend, the 50-70mm range of my lens. 😉 That said, I neglected to notice that I hadn’t reset the ISO to 200 from the previous evening’s 800. Of course, by the time I was able to mentally connect my unusually pale blue-white sky (despite playing with the aperture and shutter speed settings) with the faulty ISO setting (i.e., ‘faulty’ for bright sunlight conditions), I had completed 3/4 of my bike route. With the hot, bright noon day sun beating down overhead, it was time to seek shade and hydration. So, no re-shooting of these scenes; rather, post-production editing in Photoshop would be the prescription for treating the problematic lighting.

In the process of playing around in Photoshop (which is so much fun, even though I have only the most rudimentary knowledge of this complex program at present), I decided that it would be cool to try creating a nostalgic or vintage feel — as some of the photos lent themselves well to this — and so transformed the images into a sepia monochrome. It kind of reminds me of those old family heirloom photos of simpler summertimes spent lounging at the cottage and/or by the seashore… (Sigh)

[Above: The storied Rideau Canoe Club overlooking Mooney’s Bay. This is THE place to be for all things paddling and especially recreational dragon-boating & the hugely popular Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival.]

[Above: Buoys dotting Mooney’s Bay like a pearl string necklace.]

[Above: Dock along the Rideau River in Old Ottawa South]

[Above: My photography teacher was right: If you wait long enough for something to happen, you’ll probably get an interesting shot. This kayaker appeared out of nowhere while I was engrossed in photographing the various angles of this dock. He was paddling quite fast so I only managed to grab three frames of him. There were a lot of paddlers out this day along the river, canal, and bay. I was envious.]

[Above: Again, another example of ‘good things coming to those who wait’ — or maybe it’s ‘patience is a virtue’. In any case, I was busily following the Canada geese around when this seagull swooped into the scene like a light plane coming in for a landing.]

[Above: One of my favourite little laneways by the Ottawa River in Old Ottawa South. The house on the corner with all the windows is charming. Exactly like what I’d picture a lake house to look like with its big veranda (not visible) in the front and stone pillars — and of course, lovely tree canopy and stunning views of, and access to, the river. Very Canadiana indeed!]

[Above: Playing with my friend, 50-70mm lens range, to shoot this row of verandas. Now this is really getting to know your neighbors!]

[Above: An interesting little Zen garden along a canal-facing laneway in the Glebe. I thought the juxtaposition of the large, imposing head sculpture and Buddha figure (slightly obscured in the opposite corner) with the birdbath was unusual. The garden is quite unique compared to the more traditional English ones lining the rest of the laneway.]

[Above and Below: Pretoria Bridge from the Colonel By side.]

[Above: Traveling under the busy Pretoria Bridge on the Colonel By side. Lots of runners, walkers, in-line skaters, and cyclists travel along the canal path through the short tunnel every day as part of their daily commute or exercise or leisure routine. Pretoria Bridge is also a busy thoroughfare above for vehicles crossing the canal between Coloney By and Queen Elizabeth Drive. When boating season opens, you can expect to see the occasional large boat stopping traffic on the bridge as it navigates through the narrow waterway below.]

[Above: This was actually shot a couple of weekends ago. Each spring, an old school fair sets up shop across from Dow’s Lake to coincide with the Tulip Festival and the Victoria Day long weekend. It is definitely a throwback to simpler times. Didn’t spot any ‘carnies’ though.]

[Above: I knew I had to go and shoot this carousel after seeing the wonderful series of teaching photos my photography teacher had shot at night to illustrate the cool blur effects from varying the shutter speed. I went during the day, around noon, so it was very bright out. I can still hear that nostalgic, old school, tinny keyboard music playing that serves as the requisite, happy soundtrack for the young horseback riders on the merry-go-round. The magic of the carousel also makes me think of Adam Gopnik’s delightful, must-read book (Paris to the Moon) on living and raising a young family in Paris, in which he would take his young son to the Luxembourg Gardens — which has a much beloved carousel — to play.]

[Above: The Canal Ritz on a Saturday morning before its terrasse becomes packed to capacity with lunchtime diners or people looking to enjoy an ice-cold drink under a parasol. Definitely a popular summer spot during the day and at night with unbeatable views of the canal and all the pleasure boats, kayaks, and canoes plying the canal waters.]

[Above: Bit of a grainy image shot in the Courtyard of the Byward Market at dusk. The Market is another summer hot spot.]

[Below: What better way to end a long weekend than take in a fabulous fireworks display. The light show took place over Dow’s Lake and marked the official end to the Tulip Festival. It was about 15-20 minutes long, but worth it. So great to see so many people and families out enjoying a simple pleasure. Some people had even set up lawn chairs or blankets in the grass; others sat or leaned up against their bikes while some little kids took in the show from the comfort of their Fisher Price wagon. It was a bit challenging to shoot, however, as I haven’t quite figured out the technique and logic to shooting night shots. Hopefully, I’ll learn since I am particularly drawn to atmospheric night scenes and black & white photography.]

P.S. Good luck to all the runners in town this weekend for Ottawa Race Weekend! I hear the weather is supposed to be good. 🙂


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2 thoughts on “A Vintage Victoria Day Long Weekend in Ottawa

  1. I was a gorgeous long weekend in Montreal as well.

    That shot of the Pretoria bridge tunnel reminds me of how many times I was almost run over by cyclists who were trying to unsafely pass while going under the bridge. Eek!

    • I hear what you’re saying. When I was injured from running, I took up cycling regularly along the canal paths, and it’s interesting how your perspective changes. I can empathize with both sides now – the frustrations felt by a runner vs cyclists (and other people on wheels) and a cyclist vs runners (and walkers). At least most of the really fast cyclists stick to the roads and parkways (they’d be braking all the time along the canal paths otherwise). However, what can really be dangerous for everyone are cyclists who do not properly outfit their bikes with head and backlights and a bell (to signal your approach). I’ve had several near misses with poorly visible cyclists traveling along the canal paths at night. As an interesting aside, I’ve also noticed an increasing number of runners this past winter/early spring sporting headlamps. Seems like a new running trend, previously reserved from running the trails in the Gats… BTW, good luck with Race Weekend if you’re planning to run in it! 🙂

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