Rideau Canal, Parliament and the Peace Tower

Rideau Canal, Parliament and the Peace Tower

This is the second post in a series. Jenna and I went to Ottawa for a weekend in the middle of October, finally–neither of us had yet been there, even after several years in Canada, and considering that Ottawa isn’t really that far away from Niagara. Jenna wanted to go to a conference on global health so it was a good excuse to go.

This picture shows the Rideau Canal (somewhat low on water ahead of winter) and the Houses of Parliament in the background, with the Peace Tower proudly flying the maple leaf. I took a lovely little walk from there along the canal.

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal

Jenna and I went to Ottawa for a weekend in the middle of October, finally–neither of us had yet been there, even after several years in Canada, and considering that Ottawa isn’t really that far away from Niagara. Jenna wanted to go to a conference on global health so it was a good excuse to go.

We had tremendous luck  with the weather and with the choice of weekend; fall colours were at peak. Well, I was lucky: only the Sunday was nice; the Saturday was gray, dull, cold, wet and foggy, and that was the only day Jenna had for sightseeing.

Ottawa is a really nice city, with its location of the city over the Ottawa River and with the Rideau Canal running through it. In the picture, you can see the Rideau Canal going through a number of locks down to the Ottawa River. Parliament is on the bluff to the left, overlooking the river and the canal (a spectacular location for a spectacular set of buildings, if you ask me).

No place worth fighting for…

I read old Calvin & Hobbes comics every day — I still love this series, it is timeless.

I hope it will never come to this, however:

No place on the planet worth fighting for

I’m taking my chances posting this image, while pointing you to the source, on gocomics.com, where you can read more C&H, and strongly encouraging you to buy the complete C&H box set on Amazon… and if you’re buying it, maybe you could get me a copy too… as a gift… I really want this set… Calvin is my hero.

**Update** Jenna got me the C&H box set for christmsas :)

American Motocross #2

American Motocross #2

We went to Kalamazoo for Canadian Thanksgiving (as usual), and Ray, Jenna’s dad, had press passes to a motocross event as a part of a class in sports photography he is taking. So I got to go see and take pictures of something I would otherwise never have seen. This is the second of two posts.

This is the first time I’ve actually the first time I’ve successfully panned a subject, which means moving the camera with the subject in order to create a blurred background (with motion streaks), which captures the effect of movement. These motorcyclists are definitively not standing still, as a high shutter speed might make you think. The shutter speed here was 1/160th of a second. Lower shutter speeds are possible but it’s harder to make the subject sharp.

American Motocross

American Motocross

We went to Kalamazoo for Canadian Thanksgiving (as usual), and Ray, Jenna’s dad, had press passes to a motocross event as a part of a class in sports photography he is taking. So I got to go see and take pictures of something I would otherwise never have seen.

I’m not normally a fan of motor sports — I have too many other things to do and be concerned about. And it’s not the most sustainable sport out there, to put it mildly, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Plus, seeing people do crazy stunts on motorcycles is undeniably cool… The acrobatics and level of physical control human beings are capable of never ceases to amaze me. And it makes great pictures and great fun taking them.

I don’t really have the equipment for this kind of photography, though. Sports photography is typically very fast-paced, and my zoom lens is anything but fast. It’s a bargain basement Nikon 300mm f/4-5.6. Under bright conditions (like the day I took this picture) it keeps up — barely. But a faster lens — say a fixed f/2.8 — is sure to give you sharper pictures even under conditions where my f/4-5.6 can cope. That said, I’m very happy with the results of my 300mm, which far exceeded expectations. Maybe it’s not all in the equipment. My biggest gripe is probably the horribly slow auto-focus, driven by a motor in the camera body. But considering the $200 I paid for it, however, it’s doing very well.

Geoengineering and the Arctic

desperate_times_desperate_measures

Desperate times, desperate measures: Advancing the geoengineering debate at the Arctic Council

I’m pleased to announce that the result of my internship at IISD this summer has been published; my first (real) publication! I worked on it for about a month and a half, and I’m quite pleased with it (if I may say so). It was co-written with Henry David (Hank) Venema, with me as lead author. I owe a lot to Hank, however, who helped me out, jogged my brain circuits, gave me the idea for the paper, and wrote a few crucial paragraphs I was struggling with.

Read the paper:

Abstract and download-page at IISD.org

Abstract:

The Arctic is like the canary in the coalmine, warning us about the increasing impact of climate change, which is felt first there. In 2007, the Arctic ice cap shrunk to its smallest size ever recorded, 37 per cent below the recorded average. Its abrupt decline, which deviates widely from the largely linear and predictable trend observed over the past few decades, has alarmed the scientific community and suggests we may be closer to a dangerous “tipping point” than previously anticipated. At the same time, economic globalization is coming to this marginalized region at last through increased resource exploitation, leading in turn to further emissions of greenhouse gases and further climate change.

As unsavoury as it may be, this paper will argue that we must investigate geoengineering as an emergency option in case the mitigation regime fails. Given the dramatic consequences of climate change in the Arctic and the role of this region in the global climate, the Arctic countries have a special responsibility to lead this investigation and the debate surrounding it. As the only circumpolar governance forum on environmental issues, the Arctic Council is an obvious venue for this process. The paper explores the state of global geoengineering governance and how it should be constructed, and how the Arctic Council can contribute.

Read more »

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

I finally got to take a close-up of a dragonfly. A bunch of them were swarming in the garden all evening, and one obliged to sit on a flower for a while so I could take pictures. I used the 50mm with one +4 close-up filter (magnification filter) and one +2 filter. I was extremely pleased by the outcome. This picture is actually true macro, meaning the dragonfly depicted is greater than 1:1.


Icelandic Days (Islendigadagurinn)

Icelandic Days (Islendigadagurinn)

Manitoba has a fair amount of Icelandic influence, owing to a bunch of settlers that came over in the 19th century and founded a town called Gimli. Naturally, Gimli has to have an Icelandic festival every year, the highlight of which is a viking camp put together by various “living history” groups.I went there with a couple of colleagues form work; it was really cool, very well done. Sadly, we missed the highlight — the fighting demos. But we did get to try archery, that was fun.

Manitoba Legislature

Manitoba Legislature

The Manitoba Legislature, home of the provincial parliament, is a pretty impressive building, and a monument to the ambitions this city had in the early days of the 2oth cewntury. Winnipeggers owe a lot to the people of that day, whose entrepreneurship ensured that the city now has a lot of historical buildings with lots of character, and not just urban sprawl and blight.

We got a free tour of the building, but strangely enough, among all the trivia our tourguide had to offer (fossils in the walls — that’s pretty cool), she didn’t mention it was heavily influenced by freemasons who may have intended it to be a replica of King Solomon’s temple… The CBC produced a very interesting documentary about this, see it on youtube (quality isn’t very good).

The prairie

The prairie

I had to have a memory also of the incredible flatness and vastness of the prairie. Of course, there was fairly much vegetation in the corner of it that we saw. And we truly only saw a corner! The prairie stretchess thousands of kilometres to the south, all the way to Texas if I’m not mistaken more or less without stop, through the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. In short, tornado alley. But it was a pretty corner we saw, with all the rapeseed fields.

Photographer

Photographer

Jenna took this picture of me :P I have to admit it’s a good representation of me–always with a camera!

The picture was taken at Winnipeg Beach–not in Winnipeg–with Lake Winnipeg in the background.