Friday, April 29, 2011

Elgin Promenade

Parallel to Elgin Street, just a few metres East, there's a wide pathway that connects Laurier to Lisgar, going past the Universal Declaration of Human Rights memorial, City Hall's Heritage Building (the former Ottawa Normal School), and the Ontario Courthouse.

It's great in concept, except I don't think it really works. The sidewalk along Elgin there is as narrow as it can be to make this walkway as wide as possible, and as a result there's not enough room for people to stand as they wait for the bus.

Not that there would be a pedestrian crossing so close to the intersection, but even if there were the promenade couldn't continue north of Laurier or south of Lisgar: to the north is Confederation Park, whose layout isn't really compatible with this vista; and to the south is Knox Presbyterian Church's third location. It's previous location, further up Elgin Street, "was expropriated for the widening of Elgin approach to the proposed Confederation Square. Granted a new lot at Elgin and Lisgar in compensation, the church is in possession of a letter from Prime Minister WL Mackenzie King promising that they would never be moved again." (from URBSite).

Even though it's not along the path of a pedestrian going along Elgin, it's still a reassuring example of space reserved for pedestrians instead of being swallowed up by parking and turning lanes.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ottawa-Centre all-candidates meeting April 28 and other Spring 2011 CCCA Events

The following message was sent to the e-mail list of the Centretown Citizens Community Association early this morning. Join the CCCA and get on the e-mail list to receive 2-3 updates per month from the CCCA. Note that Images of Centretown is my personal blog and not a blog of the CCCA.

Dear CCCA members/followers,

We have a lot of exciting news about upcoming events and opportunities for you to get involved in the future of our neighbourhood. I know you'll be itching for things to do once the election is over!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My first HDR!

Okay, the short version is that I'd expected to spend much of the weekend preparing a supply of posts for the coming weeks, but instead got caught up with other things.

However, I did get a couple nighttime shots of the stained glass windows backlit at the Peace Tower Church on Bronson and MacLaren (formerly Erskine Presbyterian). As I normally do with nighttime shots, I took a few different exposures (since the camera's LCD screen doesn't reliably tell you if it came out right). But this time, I did something different from my previous nighttime posts...

This time I compiled a couple shots into an HDR (high dynamic range) photo! While I understand the concept—that you combine the dim parts of bright photos and the bright parts of dim photos to get a photo that isn't too over- or under-exposed—I thought you had to have a fancy camera.

Then a couple weeks ago Justin Van Leeuwen posted an awesomely vivid HDR shot of Bonkers Sports Bar in Hintonburg. The key is that he says in the description he did it with his point-and-shoot. So tonight as I was looking through the various exposures of this photo, I figured I'd try it out. Googling brought up this instructable on composing HDR photos with the GIMP. As a result, I don't have to choose between the shot where the stone is too dark or the one where the windows are overexposed. Now I wish I hadn't deleted the extra nighttime exposures from the canal this year!

While I prefer a minimalist approach to postprocessing (most photos I don't do anything to before posting them), only making adjustments to make things look more like they do with the eye, others like Chinatown's Robin Kelsey like to play around to show things in a way the eye can't, making frequent use of HDR, various light filters, and lately his fisheye lens.

As for why the single post instead of the promised longer one, I ended up taking about 400 photos this long weekend. Mostly of things around town--including many parts of Centretown not yet in my photo collection--and of the new Longfields station out in Barrhaven on my way back this afternoon from a family Easter brunch. I would have taken even more if I'd gotten to the Ottawa Congress Centre open house on Saturday, though it was pretty rainy most of the day anyway.

In essence, I spent most of the weekend taking photos and a bit of time sorting them, when I had planned to spend a lot of time assembling my sorted photos into posts to ensure a good supply for the coming weeks. As much as I'd like to do that today, the weather forecast is too good to be spending Easter Monday indoors! Out with the camera!

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Too close

Saw this broken glass on Arlington a few weeks ago. It looks like someone's side mirror got smashed.

Regular posts resume next week.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Crossing the Driveway on Somerset West

[Oops! Looks like I scheduled this to go up on Tuesday instead of Monday. There might not be a Wednesday post this week.]

Here's a photo of Queen Elizabeth Drive and Somerset Street West back in 2006, when the yet-to-be-named Corktown Footbridge was still under construction. While the top layer of asphalt is scraped off anyway, there weren't any crosswalks painted at the intersection, nor were there stop signs. The traffic patterns at the intersection before the bridge was built didn't warrant it (at least in the NCC's eyes).

Once the bridge opened, that was another story. The hordes of pedestrians and cyclists crossing made it clear that the NCC would have to relent and put in stop signs. This shot, like the one above, is from my old blog following the construction progress of the bridge, over at Note how the curb depression is partway in the crosswalk (for pedestrians) and partway in the intersection (for cyclists). The bridge design had a lot of input from the Ottawa Cycling Advisory Committee (which since merged into the current Roads and Cycling Advisory Committee)

Friday, April 15, 2011

120 University Crane Fog

Here's another photo from the University of Ottawa that I'll use to hurry out a post, since I've once again run out of time to prepare a full post on a Centretown topic. It's from last November, on a day when we had very thick fog. The lights are at the top of the tower crane for the 120 University building under construction, and you can just make out the shadow of the crane, and the hook and chain stowed very close to the cab on the jib.

I must say it took a number of tries to get the exposure to show just the right amount of detail!

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

University Centre - Jock Turcot building

As with the University of Ottawa's Montpetit building, the Jock Turcot building (or University Centre/Unicentre) is one of those buildings that looks great on paper in the renderings from a couple of angles, but when it's built looks like a big ugly concrete and glass behemoth 95 percent of the time. You have to go down (or up) a flight of shallow concrete stairs to enter the building, as though the architect were ashamed of letting people inside.

When I took this photo last July, it happened to be one of the rare times when you're looking at the building from the right angle, and the sun is in the right part of the sky, that it doesn't look ugly and dreary, but actually sort of--dare I say it--interesting.

Of course, on such a sunny day, these glass-enclosed meeting rooms that stick out to the south are stifling hot and the air conditioning just doesn't get it right.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Upcoming events in Centretown - April 2011

The following message was sent to the CCCA's e-mail announcement list early this morning, announcing upcoming events. Contact to be among the first to receive CCCA e-mail updates a couple times per month.

Dear CCCA members and followers, There's quite the variety of activities for all interests coming up, all of which are free! Without further ado...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Old tree, new tree

I took this photo back in 2009, during the Great Glebe Garage Sale. I was struck by the juxtaposition of the new tree planted in the mulchy hole where the old tree (now in pieces in the background) had been. I've been keeping this post as a backup in case I didn't get around to preparing a post on time; as Spring continues to gestate and evidence of winter gets further behind us, I'm less worried that it'll look out of place.

I wonder if the man walking past was thinking the same thing?

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

207 MacLaren

Just west of Elgin on the North side of the street, another February shot on a day with good lighting. I really liked the shadows cast by the balconies. I had a hard time choosing between this photo and one straight on from directly across the street. This angle won out because of the way it highlights how the concrete slabs of the balconies and canopies divide up the facade like a 5x5 grid.

It creates a captivating rhythm, and it just wouldn't look right if the top canopy wasn't there. But that rhythm is also in the sense of how a suburban subdivision's row upon row of near-identical houses has a captivating rhythm from a distance.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Monday, April 4, 2011

uOttawa - Montpetit building

I snapped this photo back in February when the sun was at just the right angle to light up the desks inside the offices of the Montpetit building at the University of Ottawa. With this lighting, you can almost imagine the architect's rendering of how the building would look when the slant-window office structure was proposed. Each window is a different office, and no two are alike!

It looks like a cross-section of a cubicle farm, or the office equivalent of a Japanese hotel. Most people have the backs of their desks facing the window, with computer cables dangling in the window. I don't think that was in the architect's drawings!

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Don't let Council scrap detailed minutes on April 5!

I received a communiqué today that the City of Ottawa's Finance and Economic Development Committee will consider eliminating detailed minutes for Council and Committee meetings at the City of Ottawa. The FEDCO agenda is here:

This idea was first floated a couple of years ago as a cost-saving measure during the perennial budget 'crisis' by then-councillor Rob Jellett--ironically a former journalist.

I sent the following comments to Council tonight, and I encourage you to also.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Street furniture breaking on Bank

I didn't recall seeing this last winter or the one before. The new street furniture on Bank Street has been suffering the winter conditions. Bike racks have been bumped, those giant advertisement stands are all askew, and worst of all, a lot of the garbage bins are damaged.

It looks like the legs are getting separated from the body of them. I think they've all come out of their holes mounted in the sidewalks.

This one's leg has simply snapped.

Hopefully they're still under warranty (as were the bike racks when they were taken back for repairs after rust started to appear) and maybe the legs can be properly welded to the bins so they won't come apart. Longer bolts on the feet, too, to keep them better planted in place.