Sunday, January 08, 2012

A visit to Bala

Bala is a small town in Muskoka cottage country North of Toronto. Here's a picture I took yesterday in the centre of town.

Bala is known for its cranberries. It's also significant for me because one of the best motorcycling roads in Ontario ends there, Muskoka Road 13. I haven't been there in about 5 years, though. I was there yesterday to visit a yellow lab that was rescued from the Sudbury pound a few days before her scheduled demise and I'm considering adopting her. I probably will.

The Bala River runs through the town and is criss-crossed by bridges. I'm not sure what this building is, but I'll find out next time I'm there. Winter is the only time, I think, that you can get this shot because of the trees. It's fast water, and judging by the lawn signs that abound, Hydro is looking at building a power station, something many residents don't seem to favour.

The Ontario Historical Society has put a few plaques in Bala. One describes the Pre-Cambrian Rock geology of the area. There's also the Lucy Maud Montgomery museum in Bala. Apparently she visited the town in 1922 and wrote a book called "The Blue Castle" based on that visit. It's a bit of a stretch, it seems to me, to have a museum for LMM there, since she's best known for her book "Anne of Green Gables" and is PEI born and bred. She did live in Ontario, but nowhere near Bala: in Leaksdale which is some 200km away over in Uxbridge township.

Enough history lesson? I think I'm going to do more of this background research, telling the story behind some of my pictures.

A couple of technical notes (I know, I'm running on at the keyboard!): 5-shot HDR processed in Photomatix with saturation turned completely off and the shadow saturation turned up. Interesting effect. I wanted to emphasize the building so I used lens distortion (horizontal) in LR to change the perspective and I cropped and straightened it a bit before syncing the 5 images and exporting to Photomatix. I used Nik Sharpener on the building and grounds and Dfine to reduce noise in the sky. I turned off de-ghosting in Photomatix to retain the detail of the river. I used the Vignette preset in Nik Color Efex Pro to focus the scene a bit more. I think this would make a good watercolor subject if I ever get around to picking up a paintbrush.

PS: here's a shot of Miss Dixie, the dog I'm considering adopting:

Her name is "Dixie" and the foster parents have dubbed her "Miss Dixie". She's a "she" despite the blue collar (that's all the foster home had). Apparently she was picked up wandering in Sudbury and they traced some history. She's about 6 years old and she was used for breeding in a puppy mill. The number tattooed in her ear implies she's a pure lab. She has a great disposition and really needs a new "forever home".

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