“I Left My Sock in Montreal”

What do you do when you have a conference in Montreal the week following the May long weekend? Why, you travel early so you can spend the long weekend in belle Montreal, that’s what you do!

I feel like us west coasters have been a bit spoiled this spring with the fabulously warm weather, sunny skies, and beautiful blossoms. Imagine my delight when I discovered that we arrived in Montreal to fabulously warm weather, sunny skies, and beautiful blossoms!

It seems spring has sprung in Montreal, and it’s fantastique! We got to enjoy all the great aspects of spring twice this year, that’s going to be hard to top in years to come!

Spring in Montreal
There are churches and cathedrals everywhere. On our first walk from the hotel I figured I should get the “stone buildings and blossoms” shot out of my system.

We should take a minute to back up a week prior to the trip, when my camera developed an annoying dark spot on the sensor, and had to be shipped back to Nikon for service. Not cool. Fortunately a friend came to the rescue and loaned me a basic Fuji camera so that I would not be completely unarmed in Montreal (Thanks Ian!). The shot above was my first test of the Fuji, and it seemed to do a reasonable job with the bright day.

The bonus of the Fuji was it was light. This is important since over 4 days we walked about 60km around the city! In fact, we did so much walking, Thorsten thought he had blown out a sock, hence the theme “I left my sock in Montreal”.

For the first day we followed a suggested walking route around Old Montreal from the City Walks app. The first stop it recommended was the Montreal World Trade Centre.  The Trade Centre brings restored heritage buildings together under a rather striking glass atrium, and is the home to many artifacts, shops, and businesses.

Montreal World Trade Centre
The Amphitrite fountain & black granite reflecting pool are a main attraction when you enter the glass atrium. I loved the clarity of the reflection and the symmetry of the lamps.

As we wandered around the city, one of the things we were always on the lookout for were the fantastic murals that are everywhere, in residential areas, commercial areas, and everywhere in between. Many depict historical scenes, some are whimsical, others are downright weird, this one was sort of funny.

Rooster mural
“I crush your nissan, crush crush!”

On one of the days our walk took us up through the trails on Mont Royale. Despite it being a spectacular sunny day on a long weekend, the trails were remarkably clear of people. The main trail is more like a road, and is a serpentine up the Mont. The serpentines are dissected by a network of smaller trails through the trees, and that was the route we opted for.

Mont Royale1
This deserted stretch of trail was begging for a photo, so I asked Thorsten to do the honours. I think he has some untapped talent with a camera!

All in all, it was a great trip, and a very memorable May long weekend. We saw so many neighbourhoods, ate too much great food, took in the new Cirque show Luzia, and it was all over too fast! We definitely must go again, Montreal is a fantastic city!



The Little Dust Speck that Could

Last evening I went for a walk down by the river here in New West. I went for 2 reasons, first to move a little after being a lazy arse most of the day, and secondly to get a better idea of what was going on with my camera.

I achieved both goals, my fitbit was grateful, and with a little coaching from someone more knowledgeable than I, it is most likely that the dark spot that is appearing on some, but not all my photos, is dust on the sensor. The news of that is pretty disheartening, the Nikon P900 does not have interchangeable lenses, which means it should be pretty tough for dust to get inside. It also means it’s difficult to clean, which means it will have to go back to the manufacturer for service, just as I’m heading off to Montreal for a week.

Dark spot3
Here is an example of what comes out of the camera on some settings. This was taken Friday morning, and is unedited. Sometimes, depending on the setting, the spot is large and hazy, other times, smaller and darker, like it is here. On one hand, the editing practice is good for me, on the other hand, not cool!

A compelling case to have more than one camera is building…Now if only my photography mentor (read “enabler”)  Ian MacDonald wasn’t exposing me to expensive tastes, like this little Fuji number,  a second camera would be no big thing!

Anyway, that is a problem for another paycheque! Back to the walk along the river. If you have never been down to the New Westminster waterfront, it is surprisingly nice, considering it follows along a working river. In fact, Westminster Pier Park has won no less than 10 awards for it’s design, a little fact I had no idea of until yesterday.

The park begins down near the skytrain bridge and extends about 600m along the river toward the Tourist Centre. As you walk along the boardwalk, you pass by the beach volley ball courts, a range of cool lounges and hammocks in sandy beach like areas, a play ground, basketball court, and several interesting and historical art installations.

I accessed the area from the 4th St pedestrian overpass, which is still under a bit of renovation, and made my way down to the end of the park by the skytrain bridge.

Skytrain bridge
Looking up at the sky train bridge from the end of Westminster Pier Park. At f3.8 the dark spot is not visible in the image, apparently this was a clue. The same shot taken at f8.0 had the spot.

I played around for a while with various settings on the camera and consulted with folks smarter than I regarding with what settings the dark spot disappeared. This process is what led my consultant to the conclusion that there is dust on the sensor. Armed with that sad knowledge, I decided to complete the loop along the waterfront and back up the hill to home.

There is a wire fence along much of the boardwalk, and in a few places there are clusters of lovelocks. I have read in a few cities the weight of the locks are creating a safety issue on the various structures they are attached to. In the case of the waterfront, it seems they are being attached to an existing safety risk!

Quay Love Locks1
Although there is an area that seems to be the “main area” for the locks, there are a few other spots along the boardwalk where there is a concentration of them, like this spot, where they are secured all around a hole in the fence.

One of the things I enjoy about the waterfront in New West is the variety of ways people enjoy it. As I walked along I noticed a few guys practicing their skateboard tricks, numerous couples out for a stroll, a basketball game, a volleyball game, two elderly ladies having a picnic, joggers, people fishing, not to mention the folks enjoying the patio of the Paddlewheel Pub, and the shops at the Quay. It’s a busy place. Unfortunately, I was moping a bit, contemplating the idea of packing my camera up in a box and shipping it, rather than taking it with me on my trip next week. I kept to myself and half heartedly took photos of the flowers that line the boardwalk as you move past the market and into the residential area.

I played around with trying to photograph red flowers. I find it fascinating how the red seems to get blown out and a detail-less blob remains. I didn’t solve the riddle on this particular occasion, and this orange pansy was the best I could muster.

I finally put the camera away and dragged my mopey self up the hill. I decided to go to a “candlelit chill out” yoga class, so appropriately named for the occasion to end the day. It helped, until I got home to the email from Nikon confirming there is no local service for my camera, and it does indeed need to be shipped.

The case for a second camera cannot be dismissed, the evidence is in front of the court! 🙂