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Summer Staycation 2021 Two weeks away from work but near to home

Table of Contents

CoVid-19 - The Final Season

It’s the second summer of CoVid-19 here in Ontario. But there is good news on the horizon. Vaccinations are way up (just over 60% of Ontarians are double-vaxxed, including me and my wife Karen, as of this writing) and finally, restrictions are starting to loosen up. I have even been able to book my first haircut in more than a year! This will be another highlight of my summer vacation. LOL Here’s hoping that CoVid has a lackluster season finale this summer/fall and that it’s so poorly attended, it never comes back - even for a reunion special.

Living the (Cottage Life) Dream

I wrangled my vacation time to dovetail with an awesome benefit here at Adobe; the annual summer shutdown. So, I effectively have two weeks off! Most of my time will be spent at the cottage (AKA #fortressofmoderatesolitude on Instagram) and both me and my wife are really looking forward to it.

Actually, it’s more like we’re already living it, having arrived at the cottage Saturday afternoon. We will have to make a couple of trips back into the city (long-awaited dental appointments is one reason), but things like the aforementioned haircut - that’s happening in Peterborough, near the cottage.

Let the Photo Opps Begin!

Panoramic image captured on my iPhone, showing the two cascades at the lower falls

Cordova Falls

On Monday, we visited Cordova Falls, part of the Crowe River, outside of Havelock, Ontario. It was a hot a sticky day, but it was still good to get out for a short drive.

Access to the lower falls is easy enough - IF you can find parking. And there is not a lot of it, believe me. But it is a beautiful spot, with two decent cascades as part of the lower falls.

There are actually three sets of cascades, the most impressive - apparently - is the one directly below the dam at Cordova Lake. We didn’t get there (however we DID find ample parking at the lake itself). I was honestly so mesmerized by the lower falls, I could have spent the entire day just in that location. As it was - and because I technically was not legally parked - we only spent about 45 minutes there. I’m still happy with the images I came away with, and plan to revisit the falls again, perhaps much earlier in the day and with plenty of bug spray

My favorite shots from Cordova Falls

The sun peeked in and out many times during my shooting, and as a result, I was rewarded with very different images of often the same or similar composition.

I knew within moments that I needed to capture my images with long shutter speeds, to create the silky flow as water rushed down the river and over the rocks. I used my ND256 filter, and ISO 64 and 200 (200 is native ISO for my Olympus EM5 MarkIII), and experimented with speeds anywhere from 1.5 seconds to 10 seconds. My favorite images ranged anywhere from 1.5 - 6 seconds. Beyond 6 seconds, the constant movement of the water actually blew out the brightest highlights beyond recovery, even though I was shooting in raw format. It’s a little mind-bender, to realize that the accumulated movement of fast moving water can actually over-expose parts of the scene.

Note: ND is short for Neutral Density and is a filter used to reduce the amount of light coming through to the sensor. Think of it like sunglasses for your camera, without any color tinting. An ND256 filter is pretty dense, blocking 8 f/stops of light and as a result, forcing longer exposures, even in broad daylight.

Pretty much anything I photograph is processed using some flavor of Lightroom. In this case it was a combination of Lightroom Desktop (formerly LR CC) and Lightroom Mobile. You can do a surprising amount of rather complicated processing using LR Mobile, thanks to the local adjustment tools. Although, there are times I do truly miss the Range Masking options in Lightroom Classic.

Note: You might wonder why I’m just not using LR Classic for these edits. It’s because my external drive and main catalog for Classic are at home, not at the cottage. So, I use a hybrid workflow where I ingest assets through LR Desktop or Mobile. This pushes the high res originals to the cloud and when I get home and boot up LR Classic, the original files get sucked down, added to my catalog and I then move them to my external drives manually.

Sundown on Rice Lake

Serenity on the Lake

Returning back to the cottage after our dental appointments, the heatwave had dissipated enough that we opened the windows to air out the cottage. That evening we were treated to a beautiful sunset by the lake. I had not brought my camera with me, but I did have my iPhone 11 Pro.

Well, the best camera, as they say....

The light changes so quickly at sunset. Take a photo, look somewhere else, look back, and the scene can be entirely different. As the sun highlights different parts of the clouds, this is reflected (literally) in the water.

The boulders at the shoreline are a favorite study of mine, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Canada Day

Canadian native flag (Standing together in Support of Each Other), designed by indigenous artist Curtis Wilson. Image courtesy of the City of Campbell River.

In the wake of all the recent horrific news of residential school unmarked graves of indigenous children, I’m struggling to celebrate Canada Day. If anything, I’m reflecting on the pain and suffering borne by those native people whose families were torn apart in the name of “civilization” and Christianity. These conscious acts and the subsequent deaths of so many young children should be remembered and honored, more so than the “birth of a nation”. I love being Canadian, but I am not proud of some of the events sponsored by our nation’s governments. And let’s not fool ourselves that this is the ancient history of a time long past; the last residental school closed in 1996!

1996. Think about that for a moment.

If you want to learn more, visit the Canadian Encyclopedia (or - right now - tune into any Canadian news network).

Morning Reward

On the Hunt

I went to bed early the night before, planning to wake up early on Canada Day and go out with my camera. I fell asleep quickly, but woke up, around midnight and couldn’t drift back to sleep for a frustrating two hours. Too many things on my mind. I eventually opened my iPad to edit more of the sunset photos from Wednesday evening. That helped relax me and I was able to get some more rest.

6am came too early, but I forced myself out of bed to see if I could make anything of the early morning, photographically. Driving around, I saw some interesting patches of fog in some of the low valleys around the area, but I couldn’t find a suitable vantage point. With nothing new on the sensor, I decided to try one more spot before heading back to the cottage for a much-needed coffee.

That spot was Centennial Park at the Corner of County Road 2 and Asphodel Line 3. The Ouse river runs slowly past the little park and to my glee, a Great Blue Heron was fishing from a small cascade. I parked the car and loaded my 100-400mm lens onto my camera and started shooting; first from the car and then I gradually made my way across the Line 3 bridge, continuing to capture this elegant waterfowl.

I’ve not had much luck with herons; they have keen eyesight and are pretty skittish, so usually, by the time I’m close enough for a decent photo, the bird has taken to the air. This fellow however, was far more interested in catching breakfast than my presence. I was able to get fairly close - within a few yards - and shoot from a variety of angles.

I was so happy to get a single good shot, but ecstatic that the heron stayed in place as long as I was there.

Right outside the deck, I have a sweet and sour harvest in the process of ripening. Another week or two and I'll have fresh raspberries for pancakes - assuming the birds don't get to them first.

Very soon, my pretties….

The weather has been …temperamental… these past couple days. Friday brought multiple thunderstorms with torrential downpours - even some hail. But all that climatic turbulence also brought with it cooler temperatures and a reduction in humidity, Overall, it was worth it.

Exciting News!

I received some great news on Friday. - one of my images has been chosen by a Canadian puzzle company to be one of their newest jigsaw puzzles! PuzzQuest focuses on fine art photography from contemporary artists and offers a pretty good marketing and compensation package for contributors. I have to sign off on the paperwork, but I’m very excited to see this project move forward and hope that additional images become part of their inventory.

The selected image for PuzzQuest

Another Day, Another Sunset

Another evening stroll to the lake to watch the sunset. Or more accurately, to watch how the sunset affects the scene over the lake. The sun is actually setting behind and off to the left of us on the north shore of Rice Lake. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t drama in the sky, especially when there are some interesting clouds. I captured these four images from my chair - THIS TIME with my Olympus camera. The water was rougher, compared to our last visit, but that can add texture and visual interest and a way to pull the eye back from just looking at the clouds. The topmost image was captured at 1/20 second to smooth out the wave action a little bit, the rocks in the foreground acting as a visual anchor to pull you back and forth throughout the photo. I also took the time to remove the buoy line from that image.

Sunset on Hole Four

Friday evening, after a goodly amount of rain earlier in the day, I decided to visit the pond on the fourth hole of the golf course. It’s a beautiful spot and as there was no one else around, also very peaceful. Just me, the frogs and the birds. I’ve photographed this pond many times as one of the views faces directly into the sunset. I get some amazing reflections shots here as well.

This night, though, a lot of the drama was happening opposite to the actual sunset. So for the most part, I change my location to shoot back towards the resort. I climbed a low rise which put me higher above the pond than my tripod would normally allow and afforded me some great reflections in the pond itself.

As I prepared to leave the pond, my eye was caught by the textures and range of blue, purple and green in the rough around the course. Islands of nature amid the civilized, manicured greens. By now the sun was quite low and the color temperature of the light was cool. I composed a couple frames, thinking this would make a good wallpaper for my screen, or back ground texture.

I processed this image a little differently than usual. Normally, I tend to run things a little saturated - realistic, but color rich. However, I have always appreciated these more muted treatments from other photographers; I just rarely apply them myself. I tend to go from saturated to greyscale.

I worked with one of the profiles in Lightroom to create this cool, muted vintage look.
Local Colour

Daylilies for Days

The night before, while I was heading up to the fourth hole for the sunset, I also noticed a large patch of orange Daylilies. The light wasn't right at that time but I promised myself I would return the following day.

Daylilies are in fact, NOT part of the lily family.

The next day was very hot and sunny, so mid-afternoon I headed back to that spot to capture the blooms. As their name indicates, Daylily blossoms do not last long. They are such a vibrant orange that at first glance, you don't often notice all the spent blooms, hanging somewhat limply and whithered, very near flowers in all their glory. This makes finding aesthetically pleasing compositions - other than tight close-ups - a bit of a challenge. Also in the same area were some colourful thistles and some pretty, but fairly toxic, Cow Parsnip.

We took a short drive Sunday and ended up around the Hope Mill (which is reopening for small group tours this first full week of July). While I didn’t photograph the mill this time, you can see my older story on the building here. This time, I just captured a few images outside the fence, sticking with my orange theme from earlier.

Across the road from Hope Mill, a beautiful visit of the Kawartha countryside.

Muted Dawn

The last weekend of vacation came up too fast, as they always do, it seems. It was going to be a big weekend; a visit with my mom, sister and my niece! I haven't seen my mom or sister since Christmas of 2020 and my niece for more than a year.

I started Friday morning super early. 5 am early, to be precise, making my way down to the lakeshore. It was a very overcast morning, but I thought this was a perfect chance to do some long exposures. Adding my ND256 filter further extended the long exposures up to 10 seconds, resulting in an almost transparent foreground water surface.

The morning was off to a rocky start…

The colour temperature was quite cool (blue) that early in the morning, thanks in part to the heavy overcast. I opted not to correct the colour balance in my final images - except for removing ALL colour by switching to black and white. The contrast was low that early in the morning (again, thanks also to the cloud cover) which opened up the shadows quite nicely and allowed me to show detail virtually everywhere in the compositions.

Another cause for celebration on Friday morning: my first official haircut since October of 2020! Moving from a barely controlled mop of grey to something I can pretend is stylish, with enough product in it.

Now I just need to shave....

We had a wonderful visit with mom and sis. It felt very good to catch up and see family face-to-face. And, as you will see, we had a great time with my niece over the weekend, too.

Trent River

What’s Around the Bend

Saturday morning we opted for a drive to Warkworth to visit some local shops. While the store I was hoping to visit had shut its doors (Metaphorhome is still open in Peterborough, I learned, later), it was still a nice drive in the countryside. We (I?) decided to head to the Ranney Gorge suspension bridge in Campbellford, before heading back to the cottage.

On the way from Warkworth to Campbellford, we found a great little view of this split section of the main Trent river, complete with fly fishermen. Had we not opted to head to Campbellford, I would never have known about this little spot. My Zuiko 100-400mm zoom came in quite handy for capturing the fishermen, without disturbing them.

New Work at Elmhirst's Resort

Returning from our little road trip, we headed to Elmhirst's Resort for a late lunch on the recently reopened patio at the Great Blue Yonder pub. This was also an opportunity for me to hang two new photos in a noticeably bare spot in the downstairs gallery lobby. These two images are very recent and I'm very proud of how well they turned out.

As always with my ongoing exhibit at Elmhirst, I balance quality work with reasonable prices, while still making some profit. My feeling is that no one visits a hotel or resort with the intention of buying art. I admittedly do not spend a lot on frames - I keep the framing and matting simple (you're not there to buy a frame). It is my hope that guests are inspired by the work enough that shedding a few extra dollars for a keepsake of their stay is worthwhile. And I'm yet to be proven wrong. I have sold more than 24 framed prints from the Elmhirst show over the past two years, with some guests making multiple purchases!

I'm so pleased with these images - and they would not have been possible without the newest addition to my camera inventory - the Olympus Zuiko 100-400mm lens.
My niece, Emily, had the presence of mind to snap a photo of our scrumptious shared desserts - a decadent chocolate brownie and delectable apple cider sorbet.

After a very filling late lunch, we headed back to the cottage and basically chilled for the rest of the day. It was a gorgeous day on Saturday and we just spent the rest of it enjoying the fine weather. That evening, I treated us to the Black Widow movie (which was awesome).

On the Last Day....

Sunday, the last day of vacation. Sigh. Don't get me wrong; I love working at Adobe, but it is sooo nice to disconnect for an extended time. We had a few hours before we had to pack and head home so I suggested we check out a local lavender farm, only minutes from the cottage. One final side trip before vacation was officially over.

Rocky Meadows Lavender Farm

Lavender Fields Forever

Well, maybe not forever, but Rocky Meadows has over 500 lavender plants and for the month of July have opened their field to visitors. For a small fee you are guided through the field, educated on the wide variety of lavender and then you're free to wander the field, inhaling the scents, commune with honey bees and of course, make photos.

I could have spent hours at this lavender farm. My niece and wife were quite patient with me, though, waiting for me to finally call it quits.

Getting down to earth with lavender. Photo courtesy of my niece, Emily.

The lavender field was so peaceful, you could literally hear the bees flying from blossom to blossom. Rocky Meadows staff were so friendly and knowledgeable.

When we arrived, there was a painting class in full swing by the field as well. As a photographer, I always find it fascinating to see how others view and translate reality based on their perceptions. The students in this intimate class were doing a stupendous job.

Led by Bracebridge artist, Janice Feist, I watched as the student's work evolved while Janice painted along with them, and guided them on their own illustrative journeys.

I am sure I will return to Rocky Meadows, and I anticipate at least one or two of these images making it into my photography exhibit at Elmhirst's Resort.

A couple of hours later, we were all packed up. Short of the return home, vacation was over. Our first stop was the train station to drop off my niece for her return to Ottawa, and then we too were homeward bound, looking forward to seeing our fur-babies.

Overall, we had a great time on my vacation. We love our little slice of paradise near Rice Lake. And we have a lovely home in the city. It felt good to relax, recharge and take the time to appreciate what we have.

I hope you enjoyed my Staycation journal. Next year I'll be taking my 10-year sabbatical, another awesome benefit from a fantastic employer. Hopefully by then, travel will be easier and the world will be healthier.

Until the next vacation, thank you for reading!

Created By
Jim Babbage
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