Friday, June 24, 2011

Back to the Garden (Summer, 2007)

It's been a beautiful summer so far, following on the heels of an extended, and rather cold and damp, transition from winter through spring. To mark the recent solstice I thought I'd post some picture of the garden I helped to build in the backyard of an apartment where I lived a few years ago.

Above: leaves on a lily plant. I moved a load of lilies from other places (elsewhere in the garden, and also donations from other people's gardens) into one small flower bed by the back stairs. They started thriving pretty much right away.

Above: a lily caught in the late afternoon sunlight. I ended up with a lot of orange lilies and some very striking, blood-red ones as well with what looked like stripes of colour pouring forth from their centres.

Above: luscious green of a sage plant in afternoon sunlight. I love everything about sage--its scent, its texture, the shape of the leaves and its uniquely mossy, slightly muted colour.

Above: another lily leaf, with drops of rain from a summer showing still clinging.

Above: I loved taking pictures of the plants as they grew and changed over the course of the spring and summer. The blue-purple flower above wasn't what I expected; it looked like a little slipper, and the leaves grew low to the ground in curling tangles.

Above: A butterfly takes a break on the edge of a pot containing a rosemary plant.

Above: Lettuce-leaf basil. The basil grew rapidly and the leaves lived up to their name. This year I have about five different kinds (cinnamon, lemon, large-leaf, purple, sweet...), but none of them look as lush as these plants did.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Morning, City Haze (June 16, 2011)

I took this picture from the window of a GO train heading in to Toronto, last week. It was the only shot where I managed to capture the city skyline clearly in the background; I like how the CN Tower is parallel to all the poles next to the highway.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Scenes from The Ocean (May 29-30, 2011)

Last week I travelled to Fredericton, New Brunswick, to attend and present at the annual meeting of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (the meeting is known informally as "Congress"). Since the plane tickets were a bit pricey, I decided to take the train (the VIA Rail Ocean) as far as Miramichi, New Brunswick, and then hop on a bus to Fredericton, about 3 hours' drive away. I really love this train ride (in spite of the lack of sleep!), and I've shown various shots from the train in a number of earlier blog posts.

Above: On the train leaving Montréal, Québec, things are looking summer-hazy in the early evening as the train crosses a bridge leaving the Island of Montréal behind.
Below: "Red sky at night"--a sunset, somewhere in Québec, heralding the clear bright day that followed.

Below: Sunrise and we're still in Québec; May 30. Shot through the train window reflection of me with my little camera held close to the glass.

Below: Heading down the rivière Matapédia towards the Québec-New Brunswick border, at sunrise; dramatic fog on the river and in the trees was very beautiful yet also very difficult to capture in low light, through a window, on a moving train, with auto-focus. Of course I tried anyway, and was rewarded with a few eerie-looking shots that actually were in focus. There were some odd effects though, because I used the "spot focus" (picked a spot on the screen and had the camera focus there all the time), and sometimes that created strange blurs.

Below: Pulling in to the station at Matapédia. The sunrise reflecting off the mist makes the sun look like an exploding bomb, with light radiating from the intensity at its point of detonation. This is a regular stop for the Halifax-bound train and I've taken early-morning pictures here before.

Below: Poking my head out for a breather at Matapédia, I'm rewarded with honey-coloured light and honey-scented air as dawn breaks through the mist-borne scent of thousands of unseen wildflowers.

Below: A stunning scene--early morning canoeing by the Québec-New Brunswick border on the Restigouche River, which eventually opens out into Chaleur Bay and then the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a scattering of islands adorning its throat. Finally I caught a picture that wasn't blocked by the trees growing alongside the tracks; also caught, frozen now as eternal salutation, is a greeting waved out by one of the canoe's occupants.

Below: While there isn't a great deal of variation in the landscape in New Brunswick, I loved how the colours here were painted intensely in the bright sunlight.

Below: Possibly the work of beavers. I've always been amazed by the extent of these denuded forests, standing in water; I can't say I really have any idea how this happens, but I'd seen similar environments in Ontario and been told that beavers were involved. It's an intense effect on a landscape, whatever the cause.