An Adventure in Portugal

OMG! Guys!! I am in Portugal. It was a mid summer suggestion from friends of mine to join them in their rental in Lisbon and now here I am! And all I can say is WOW. First its damn hot and second I AM IN LOVE. It’s so beautiful here and I’ve only explored a small section of the city.

Vine Wall In Alfama

Vine Wall In Alfama

During my first afternoon I wandered over to Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood. This section of Lisbon that was first settled by Romans and flourished under Moorish times. The narrow streets take you back through time as you walk along its meandering path. Here you will also find Castello de Såo Jorge sitting on the crown of the hill. I didn’t explore this today but I will definitely be paying a visit soon.

Number 32

Number 32

Old European cities are my favourite places to wander. There are so many things to photograph and Number 32 is a great example of the kinds of things I love to photograph. The old ornate wooden doors with their paint peeling tell a story of better days.

Lisbon Streetcar

Lisbon Streetcar

Wandering back into the bustle of the neighbourhood of Baixa and Avenida I started noticing these yellow trams. Tram number 28 is the traditional way to see Lisbon’s sights. The tram winds its way around the city, up its steep hills and through the narrow streets to give tourists an easy way to see the sights without all the leg work. On hot days like today I think I would rather walk the streets than be huddled together in this small tram.

The Hunt for the Milky Way

Another journey in experimenting with astrophotography takes my friend Nigel and me through Grey county up to the shores of Georgian Bay.

Abandoned Home

Abandoned Home

Of course, we can’t ignore the goodies we find along the way. Like this abandoned home crushed by a neighbouring tree with a beautiful sunset behind it. What more could a girl ask for?

Well, stars for one. The jewels of the sky. That’s what I’m looking for tonight.

Milky Way sky

Jewels in the Sky

We planted ourselves on shores Georgian Bay inside Craigleith Provincial Park in hopes of finding some great shots of the Milky Way. Alas, the clouds rolled in early and although they cleared a little we knew it wasn’t going to be a good night for practicing our astrophotography. 

As we drove home we kept our eyes peeled for any inspiration before we got back to the lights of big city. We were very lucky to spot this barn.

Barn and Milky Way

Barn and Milky Way

Although we still had to deal with the clouds I did come away with this photo that I like quite a bit. And now, we have a spot to come back to on another, preferably cloudless, night.

Clearing Skies

I was on my way to the Toronto Islands for an event at work when I noticed the following scene in front of me. 

Clearing Skies

Clearing Skies

Stormy looking days are alway epic in Toronto. I was lucky enough to catch this because soon after the clouds moved out and blue skies were the only thing to see for the rest of the day.

Backyard Views

I was sitting out on the patio this evening with my camera in hopes of catching something interesting. 

One-Legged Robin

One-Legged Robin

I got lucky when a robin decided to visit. She look a little rough land in this photo seem to be a one-legged robin. Okay, she wasn’t really one-legged but she kept sitting there staring at me with her foot up. It looked so odd. Eventually she had enough and flew away. After her brief visit I decided to explore the garden and work on some close-up photography.

Cherry Bark

Cherry Bark

This closeup is of a cherry tree that is over 40 years old and unfortunately will not be around much longer. The trunk has been split open for years and the main branches have broken in the past due to the weight of the cherries. Nowadays there are very little cherries to eat in the hot summer sun so its time for this tree to go and a new one to take its place.

Purple Plants

I did another walk around the neighbourhood to get some fresh air. While on my walk I noticed that the purple loosestrife flowers were just starting to bloom.

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

Purple and pink seemed to be the theme of the day as I finished my walk in the garden and found this pretty succulent called Ice Flower.

Ice Plant

Ice Flower

And so today’s neighbourhood and garden walk is over. What will I discover next time?

Stumbling in the Dark

One of the things about astrophotography is that it is weather dependant. You need clear skies and you definitely need to be away from all the light pollution in the city.  Luckily last night was the perfect night to get out to shoot some photos of the Milky Way. But where to go? Well, not too far away is a dark sky preserve called Torrance Barrens. It is one of the closer spots to the city for some really dark skies. My friend Nigel came along with me and after arriving we scouted out a few locations.  Once we selected our preferred spot we set up our gear and waited for night to fall.

View to the sky

View to the sky

When night finally fell and we started seeing the stars out in full force it was time to start shooting. I tried a little light painting in the photo above to get some light on the foreground. I had some technical difficulties with the light I brought so I ditched it and continued the rest of the night without it.

Enormity

Enormity

At one point I decided to take multiple shots of the Milky Way to create the panoramic image above. It ended up being 32 photos that had to be stitched together and straightened out. Whew! 

Checking out the views

Checking out the views

Before packing up and heading home we decided to have a little fun and add ourselves to the photos with our headlamps. We found it a little difficult to stay as still as possible but for our first attempt we did pretty good.

 

Eclipsed by Mazinaw Rock

On our last full day at the park we decided to get out in the kayaks and paddle over to Mazinaw Rock. Last year I brought my GoPro with me but this year I decided to bring along my Nikon D800 with me. I just prayed I wouldn’t tip the kayak over and lose the camera. (Spoiler: I didn’t flip. Whew!)

Feeling Small

Feeling Small

Paddling out the rock its hard not to feel small as Mazinaw towers over you. One of these days I”m going take the ferry over and hike the top of the rock. 

Getting up close with Mazinaw Rock

Getting up close with Mazinaw Rock

It’s an unforgettable experience to be out in the water and up close and personal with Mazinaw.

A Bon Echo Sunset

Sneaking away for a quick sunset shoot, I hiked over to a secluded beach with a direct view of Mazinaw Rock. Someone had left their red canoe on the beach which just screamed for me to take its photo, so I positioned the canoe to point towards the sunset as the sun lit up the clouds.

Red Canoe at Sunset

Red Canoe at Sunset

There were some other canoes left on the beach which also became my props for the photo below.

Canoes bathe in the last of the suns rays

Canoes bathe in the last of the suns rays

I decided to try using my ND filter (see more on ND filters here) to make a long exposure as the light began to fade into the blue hour. It smoothed out the surface of the lake and streaked the clouds in the sky for a painterly effect to the photo.

Last light of day

Last light of day

It was worth sneaking away to get these shots. I may have to print a couple out and see how they look on my walls.

The Night Sky in Bon Echo

It’s the annual family camping trip so even though I’ve brought my camera along I’m not focusing on photography this weekend. That said I‘m still sneaking away to get some shots. 

Milky Way above Mazinaw Rock

Milky Way above Mazinaw Rock

And I’m very glad I did. The Milky Way rose right over Mazinaw Rock and I think that green glow may be the northern lights. Or it could be wishful thinking?