Monday, February 20, 2012

It is winter isn't it?

It's winter, isn't it? And we're in Canada, right? Could have fooled me, I'm having a hard time finding winter pictures to take. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking, "uh-oh, what have I done? I've jinxed us and we're going to get nailed with a bitchin' snow storm". Let 'er rip! I just had my snowblower repaired, there are winter tires on my all-wheel-drive Subaru Forester, everything's in place except the snow!

We do have snow on the ground up here in the Highlands. A few inches, anyway. But I was in Toronto and there's hardly a sign of any white stuff. Last weekend Rosa and I were down in the traditional snowbelt and there was barely anything there. We did come across this little waterfall, though:

It wasn't that cold, but the wind was strong and it was damp and chilly. And you can't park legally within 500 miles of the Falls so I grabbed this shot by putting the camera on a stone pillar (no tripod). The Canadian Falls are bigger but I think the American side (here) is more photogenic.

I haven't been to Niagara Falls in years. The town is totally different! And not in a good way. Clifton Hill hasn't changed much, it's still as garish and kitch as it ever was, but the rest of the town is all hotels and casinos and restaurants and tattoo parlours.

A humungous ferris wheel dominates the night sky on Clifton Hill. I did sneak out the tripod for this 8 second exposure.
We got a great hotel deal, but food wasn't cheap. That said, every chain known to man was there and we really enjoyed a decadent IHOP breakfast. I didn't know there were any IHOPs in Canada. If I were ever going to be in the restaurant business, that's the one I'd emulate.

Anyway, we quickly got out of town, heading down the Niagara Parkway towards Niagara-on-the-Lake. I've been there before, on motorcycle, and it's a great little town. A lot of merchants going out of business there too (I guess because it's winter and there aren't a lot of customers). Pretty well everything is 50-80% off. The drive down the parkway is picturesque, even in the dead of snowless winter. As I said, it wasn't too cold (about -2°C) but it was damp and windy.

Rosa said she looked just like a Mongol on the steppes in Asia! 5-shot HDR in a vineyard along the way.
This is wine country. Pretty well all the Canadian wineries in Ontario are here. We stopped at Inniskillin for a tasting. Neither one of us is very impressed with Ontario wines: she finds them bitter and I find them too acidic — the staffer at the winery admitted it's because of the cold climate. Icewine is their specialty but it costs a fortune: even a sip for tasting was $7!

This was one of the Inniskillin vinyards, or at least it was directly across the road from their headquarters. Look, no snow!
just down the road. I have to come back in spring or summer to take more pictures.
The Parkway is lined with big old trees (I was going to say "oak" trees but what do I know? It is, right?). Looking South, the Niagara River is just out of sight and that's New York state in the distance.
I took some pictures in Niagara-on-the-Lake, none of them really excited me. This building and door was interesting: it's actually the Canadian Parks Commission Headquarters. I did some stuff with Topaz Adjust 5 and then Nik Color Efex Pro to this image. It's just a single handheld shot, I didn't feel like lugging my tripod around with me.
Parting Shot

This wasn't taken in Niagara, I took this shot last night after I got home. I noticed that it was a clear, cold night and I vowed not to be so lazy, so I set up the camera for a star trails time exposure. Usually I point it North or at least where there isn't any light pollution, but last night I decided to shoot Westward from behind my house. The lights from the Red Umbrella Inn are filtering through the trees and add an interesting dimension to the shot. It was a 90 minute exposure (f/4, ISO 100, 12mm) and I used an AC adapter to power the camera because the batteries would never have lasted long enough (for the shot and the noise reduction image). The contrast was enhanced by toning in Adjust 5.
See you next time! Click "comment" below if you have anything to say about any of the images.

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