St. Hilaire Parish, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, QC

We went to do a little apple picking today and along our way to the orchard, we stopped by St. Hilaire Parish, in Mont-Saint-Hilaire.

It’s a beautiful little town, with narrow streets that keep you hoping that no one comes in the opposite direction.

We arrived at the church just as the Sunday morning service was ending.

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It’s a beautiful church inside.  As big as it seems to be inside, i had a tough time with the 35mm inside this church.

The church itself is not very “deep”; meaning, from front to back, it’s not very long.  I found myself almost underneath the balcony that holds the organ in order to take the above photo.

If i went any further back, i would have had the underside of the balcony in the photo.  The 27mm would have definitely come in handy today.

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I shot all of these in RAW and converted them in-camera.  The staff working at the church were ever so patient with me, they actually waited for me to finish taking photos before closing the front doors.

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You can tell that this is a very small town where everyone knows each other.  We had to use the washroom and were able to just walk into the back of the church from the outside in order to do so.  A number of people walked by us and you did not feel that they were questioning your presence there.  Everything was open and accessible, not something we experience here in the big city.

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The trees around the church had not completely turned, but i can just imagine what it must look like in the middle of fall.  Adding to the beauty of this church, is the Richelieu River that runs in front of it.

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It was a great Sunday drive, with great scenery, beautiful weather, my beautiful family and to top it all off, some delicious apples.

Thanks for looking.

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A Touch Of Greyscale

As i mentioned in my last post, i shot some photos in RAW today.  I don’t do it very often because i really don’t like sitting down in front of the computer for that long.

However, with the X-Pro1, you don’t have to sit in front of the computer.  You can convert your RAW files in-camera.

As a matter of fact, many people have said that nothing beats the RAW converter that is inside the Fuji X cameras.

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Obviously, you would not want to convert hundreds of files in-camera.  But, if you only have a handful of files to work on, it is very convenient to convert them in-camera.

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With the in-camera RAW converter, you are able to adjust pretty much everything in the file: sharpness, color, film simulation, exposure, color space, noise, you can push/pull, dynamic range, white balance, white balance shift, highlight tone and shadow tone.

Needless to say, you have a lot of options at your disposal to adjust the photo to your personal taste.

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With these photos, i changed the film simulation to black & white (red filter) and added some sharpness before converting them to JPEGs.

I will never use Photoshop again to convert to greyscale.  It left some really weird “artifacts” in the final JPEG.

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I do prefer to have the aircraft in the air for greyscale.  Having the sky as a background, especially with some clouds, gives the photograph a dramatic backdrop.  Today i was out of luck because everyone was taking off from 24R, not 24L where i was.

Thanks for looking.

Early Fall Plane Spotting

Is it really fall??  It certainly does not feel like it.  Twenty six degrees Celsius and not a cloud in the sky.  The only indication that it is fall, is the fact that the leafs have started to turn.

Seeing that it was such beautiful weather outside today, i decided to take advantage of this last taste of summer and go do some plane spotting.

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It was very warm under the sun.  It was above and behind my left shoulder for the whole time i was out shooting.

I thought i was going to have a quiet afternoon by myself, but i think someone put out a bulletin that i was at the plane spotting park and people started to come in twos & threes.  Even the wasps did not take the afternoon off.

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I used my 50-230mm for these photos.  I set it at f/8 and i was able to obtain a consistent shutter speed of 1/1000 and over.

I shot most of my photos in JPEG, but i decided to take a few in RAW and convert them in-camera.

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A couple of people at the park decided to go right up to the fence, which is a no no.  Airport security likes you to stay back at least 4-6 feet.

I was going to say something as a friendly bit of advice, but they did not seem to pose any threat.  I do have Airport Security on speed dial in my phone just in case i do see something out of the ordinary.

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Air Canada Express

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I am not sure what this Air France Boeing 777 was doing here, but it seems he was going to be parked there for a while.

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Porter Airlines

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Air Canada Jazz

Here is a Boeing 767-300 from Air Canada (C-FXCA).  It has been a busy day for this aircraft today.  It took off from Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU), landed at Pearson (YYZ), came to Montreal (YUL) and then went back to Pearson (YYZ).

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Westjet

This Air France Boeing 747-400 did not have a gate to go to.  Therefore, they got the “people movers” out to get the passengers and brought them to the terminal.

If you ever took a flight from Mirabel, you will recognize the “people movers” as the vehicles that took you out to your flight from the terminal.  I can’t believe they are still being used till this day.

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Here is the Boeing 767-300 that is pictured above, with it’s thrust reverser’s engaged.

Air Canada

Air Canada Jazz

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It was a great afternoon with plenty of sunshine.  Fall really is my favorite season and i look forward to a bit of a drop in the temperature and for the colors to come out.

Thanks for looking.

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Island Line Trail, Burlington, VT

When in Burlington, VT, we made our way down to the Island Line Trail.  Actually, it is more of a paved path then a “trail”.

The “trail” runs alongside Burlington Bay, which goes out into Lake Champlain.  It gives you a great vantage point over the bay and the lake.  However, I think it’s about time the city trims the tops of trees a bit.

This is looking down the Island Line Trail from a lookout point.

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Here is a view of Lake Champlain.  The land mass way off in the distance, is New York State.

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It was a pretty hazy day, so the NY is a bit obscured off in the distance.  You can see the break water just above the top of the trees.

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It’s a very peaceful walk along the “trail”.  There a benches along the way as well, so you can give you feet a rest once in a while.

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Another view of Lake Champlain.  The water in the forefront would be considered Burlington Bay.  Again, you can see the break water.

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If you follow the Island Line Trail further south, you will end up on the Boardwalk, which will lead you to the Burlington Boathouse, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center and the Rubenstein Ecosystem Sci Center.

Thanks for looking.

Vespula Germanica (Wasp)

I found this wasp at the end of it’s life cycle.

When a wasp’s nest “matures”, it means the Queen has stopped laying eggs.  Without any grubs in the nest, the worker wasps end up without any food.  Therefore, they go off to find other sources of “sweet” liquids.

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Aside from what nature can provide in certain trees and plants, hungry wasps will also go after the sweet, sugary foods and drinks that us humans consume.  This is why they become such a nuisance when you are having a picnic late in the summer.

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This worker wasp has obviously not been able to find enough Coke cans to dive into.

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If you look closely to the wasp’s legs, you will see little hooks on them.

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With the cold weather as well as starvation, this wasp will most likely not make it through the evening.  Like most of the other workers and older queens, this wasp’s life cycle is over.

DSCF4752Thanks for looking.

Times Square, NYC

Times Square is a must see if you go to NYC.  When i went, i think every tourist in the world was there.  Many people did not seem to know where they were going or what they were going to do next.  Going inside one of the stores was even worse.

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I am not one for big crowds of people and Times Square really put me to the test.  On top of that, i had my daughter with me; therefore, i had to pay attention that she did not let go of me.

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I took these photos with my X10 because it was so much easier to handle with one hand then my X-Pro1 would have been.  With my daughter with me, i did not dare let go of her in order to take my time composing a perfect shot.

If memory serves me correctly, i either used the EXR mode for these shots or the super low light mode.  Either way, using an automatic mode for these shots gave me the ability to just “one hand it”.

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As you can see, the lights were a bit overpowering and there is clipping.  There is no way of fixing this afterwards, since all the detail is lost in those “clipped” areas.

I think using the auto mode was my downfall, but i did not have much of a choice.  Controlling the light from those illuminated billboards needed manual input from me.

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Overall, the photos are not that bad.  They are sharp, clean and full of color.  Besides, NYC is not going anywhere and i can always go back.

Thanks for looking

Childhood Destination: Stowe, VT

Before 9/11, you did not need a passport to cross the US/Canadian border.  The border guard simply asked where were you going, for how long, where are you from and then sent you on your merry way.

That is what it was like when i was a kid going down to Stowe, VT.

Times have changed and now you need a passport and border guards a little more vigilent.  However, as the old saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  This applies to Stowe.

Here is Shaw’s General Store.  I would say that this store is the main attraction on Stowe’s main street.  I remember going in here as a kid and it has not changed all that much as far as i can remember.

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As a kid, the family used to go down to Stowe for vacation.  It’s a familiar place to me and when i visited  with my wife and daughter, it was like going back in time.

This guy is sitting in front of Shaw’s.

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If you ever go to Stowe, keep in mind that it is one big tourist attraction.  If there were no tourists, i’m not sure how Stowe would survive.  As a matter of fact, i felt like i was back in NYC when i was shopping for some souvenirs.  It’s not cheap.

I am not sure you could call Stowe the quintessential New England town since it is extremely busy most seasons; though, it does represent New England architecture and hospitality very well.

An example of the hospitality we experienced:  we were about to cross the street and a car had accidentally stopped on the cross walk.  The driver actually rolled down her window and apologized to us for blocking the crosswalk.  In Montreal, people don’t even stop to allow you to use the crosswalk.

We saw a couple of these “pieces of art” for sale.  Mind you, you would think twice about buying it once you saw the price.  

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If you bring your family here, be sure that they do some kind of outdoor activity.  If they are not the “outdoors” type, you may want to re-think going to Stowe.

Aside from some of the well known attractions, such as the Cold Hollow Cider Mill and the Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream Factory, you have a plethora of outdoor activities you can participate in.  Some of the more popular ones would be biking, rollerblading (there is a bike bath), hiking, fishing and skiing.  I am sure there are others, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind.

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Another “piece of art” for sale.  I wonder if the tree comes with it?

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Here you can see a map of Mount Mansfield, the biggest ski resort in the East.  I have skied this mountain and highly recommend you do the same if you are an avid skier and get a chance to do so.

During the summer months, you can go to the very top of the mountain via the Gondola or the toll road.  If you want breathtaking view of lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, the top of Mt. Mansfield is where you need to go.

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behind Shaw’s, there is public parking.  It is free for 3 hours.  It’s plenty of time to explore the main street.

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We stopped here to have a little snack.  If you go here and order a brownie, be prepared.  They are not small.

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The street behind the restaurant we stopped at for a snack.

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As i mentioned before, there are two attractions that you should not miss if you are going to visit Stowe.  One of them is the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory.

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There are daily factory tours.  But, be warned: At the height of tourist season, the line to get in is quite long.  Furthermore, the smell inside is very “sweet“.

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Here is a view of the factory from the kids play area.

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In 2000, Ben & Jerry’s was sold to Unilever.  The founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, hold no board or managerial positions in the company anymore and make no decisions in the day-to-day operations.

This way for yummy ice cream.

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Stowe is only about a 2.5 hour drive from Montreal, which makes it a great destination for a day trip.

Thanks for looking.