January Photo Challenge: Up Close and Far Away

January was my month to choose a theme, and I wanted to make sure it was something very broad that could be photographed indoors as well as out, since I find that in January I often don’t get outside with my camera because it’s too cold.  That being said, I did get out on the Rideau Canal one afternoon when it was just below zero and possible to take off my mittens long enough to snap a few shots.  The rest of my month’s work took place around our “Lego World” that is constantly in a state of construction and flux in the attic.  Much of the building is still completed by Mommy and Daddy and other adults who happen to be around, but it’s an activity that we all enjoy and Adrian loves to play with all of the machines and buildings that we create.  I also discovered that it’s very hard to get good close-ups of Lego, at least using the lens that I have.  I never quite got the lighting and the focus just right…  (and for the record, whoever says that modern Lego is not creative has not been to our house!)

What's going on in Lego World?  Let's take a closer look...

What’s going on in Lego World? Let’s take a closer look…

Looks like the paramendics are out for a date.

Looks like the paramedics are out for a date.

Santa? is that you?  What are you doing on the roof of the blacksmith's shop?

Santa? is that you? What are you doing on the roof of the blacksmith’s shop?  Oh, just chasing that bad guy?  Ok, go get him…

There was a disaster and an earthquake flattened the city.  But the people rebuilt... newer and better coffee shops, bigger hat shops and more spaceships.

There was a disaster and an earthquake flattened the city. But the people rebuilt… newer and better coffee shops, bigger hat shops and more spaceships.

Let's have a cup of tea.

Let’s have a cup of tea.

And now for something completely different: Here are my photos from the Canal. I was relatively pleased with these.

Close Up

Up close…

Close Up

…up close…

And Far Away

…and far away (the Bridge into Patterson Creek)

Close Up

Up close…

and far away

…and far away

close up

Up close (Looking at the Chateau, under the Somerset Bridge)…

and far away.

…and far away (Looking down the Canal at the Somerset Bridge and the Chateau)

And a little bit of HDR for the last few shots: It’s always fun to play around with HDR to try to make mediocre images a little bit exciting.

close up

Up close (University of Ottawa)…

and far away (University of Ottawa)

…and far away (University of Ottawa)

Close up (Bank Street Bridge)

Up close (Bank Street Bridge)…

and far away (Bank Street Bridge)

…and far away (Bank Street Bridge)

And two more, that I just remembered from the beginning of January, we had an ice storm to start off 2015.

Far away... (after the ice storm)

Far away… (after the ice storm)

...up close (after the ice storm)

…up close (after the ice storm)

Skating on the Canal.

Looking over to the Dow's Lake portion of the canal.

Looking over to the Dow’s Lake portion of the canal.

People have a lot to say about Ottawa, and it’s not always nice. Sometimes I say things about Ottawa that aren’t nice.  But in general, I like it here.  I’m pretty convinced that there are many worse places that I could live (I won’t list any by name… chances are you live there and then you’ll tell me that I’m wrong and your city is not so bad and mine is, and we’ll get in a big fight, and that’s NOT what I’m after).

One of the things I want to use this blog for, is to write about things I like about Ottawa.  And in my opinion, one of the very best things about Ottawa is the Rideau Canal Skateway – which is open during the winter for a couple months – weather permitting.  It’s 7.8 km long. That means that if you go all the way to one end and then all the way back you’ve skated for 15.6 km.  I wonder how many times you’d have to go around a hockey arena to skate that far?  The skateway is fleeting.  In order to take advantage of it you need to seize the moment and get outside, in winter, when it’s COLD (but of course, that’s the point)!  This year it was open for 38 days.  I skated 5 times – which I was pretty pleased with.  5 weekends in a row of skating.

It’s hard to describe why I love the canal so much.  I’m not a great skater (I can’t even stop).  I can count on one hand the number of times I went skating during the 10 years I lived in Vancouver (not that many – and always outdoors). It’s not something that I seek out for the sake of doing it (in an arena say).  But I find that there is an amazing feeling of freedom skating outside on the canal. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s easy to move and in general in winter it’s hard to move.  There’s snow in the way, sidewalks are slushy, the walk has to be shovelled before you can take the car out, pushing a stroller is a major workout… all of these obstacles are gone when you skate on the canal.  Some people here even skate to work,  just because they can!   Skating is like walking, but just a little bit faster, so there’s that feeling like you’re cheating somehow.  I think there’s also something about being on ice.  Most of the year, most of us only experience the canal (and most other bodies of water) from the sidelines.  We look down on it and walk beside it, but don’t go on it.  But in the winter we can see the city from an entirely different angle.  In places you can almost forget you’re in a city.

I love the feeling of being a part of the community in a greater sense than I get every day. According to the official skateway website there were 835 000 visits to the canal while it was open this year! I like the idea of this shared experience with so many people from my city.  But  I also love the canal because it’s unique. It’s an experience that’s only available in Ottawa – it can’t be franchised.  They can’t recreate it in Vancouver or St. John’s or Toronto.  If you want to do it, you have to come here.  And people do come (as the numbers above show).  Me,  I can walk out of my house and go for a skate for an hour in an afternoon.  It’s a privilege I get because I live here and I’d be silly not to take advantage of it.  

And finally  – there’s just something wonderful about getting outside in winter.  Winter in cold places is largely spent indoors.  Excuses to get outside need to be taken, especially when they highlight the unique and special aspects of winter and can, at least for a little while, help you to forget that it’s cold, dark and hard to get around.   When I’m skating on the canal I don’t want winter to end, I don’t mind the cold and I feel extremely lucky to live in Ottawa.

The boys and Dor (the lion) go for a skate.

The boys and Dor (the lion) out for a family skate.

Somerset West

Somerset West on a very busy Sunday

Looking towards downtown from the Corktown Bridge

Looking towards downtown from the Corktown Bridge

Doesn't this photo just LOOK cold.

Cold and Sunny!

I was out for a skate on the first weekend.  The ice was terrible - but it was nice to be outside on the canal.

I was out for a skate on the first weekend. The ice was terrible – but I didn’t care.

For more information about the canal – you can check out the “official” website.

http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/places-to-visit/rideau-canal-skateway