Grand Falls on the Mississippi River in Almonte Ontario

Grand Falls along the Mississippi River in Almonte, Ontario, Canada.

grand falls on the mississippi river in almonte ontario

Grand Falls on the Mississippi River in Almonte, Ontario (Purchase)

The town of Almonte, Ontario is located southwest of Ottawa and has some interesting locations to photograph. Unlike much of British Columbia, the cities in Ontario have a long history, and those such as Almonte seem to have done a better job of preserving historic buildings and locations. I had never heard of Almonte before visiting last fall, but it had been in the news recently as Dr. James Naismith (inventor of Basketball) was born there, and the Ontario based Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship. Much like Hogs Back Falls in Ottawa, Grand Falls along the Mississippi River in Almonte is right in the city. The first photograph here shows Grand Falls from the Almonte Street Bridge next to the old Almonte Electric Plant (1925) building which is currently home to the Mississippi River Power Corporation. The “waterfall” on the left is actually water that has gone through the power station.

mississippi river in almonte ontario fall leaves

Fall Foliage and the Mississippi River in Almonte (Purchase)

This second photograph shows the Mississippi River below Grand Falls and just downstream from the Almonte Street Bridge. While I find it is more difficult to make a pleasing image when facing downstream in most cases, here I liked the mix of the low water flow, colours, and fall foliage along the river.

mississippi river at almonte electric plant in ontario

Mississippi River in Almonte, Ontario (Purchase)

This is the view just above the old power station building and shows the Mississippi River and Grand Falls from the side. I would think this is likely a much lower water flow than one would see in spring. I’ve seen other photographs of the falls with a lot higher water levels. In many ways, I find waterfalls are better photographed with lower flows – they often show more character.

fall foliage and waterfall in almonte ontario

Waterfall along the Mississippi River (below Grand Falls) in Almonte (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

I photographed this small waterfall from across the Mississippi River. The waterfall is actually just downstream from the second river photo above. The red maple tree on the right hand side of the top photo is the same one as you see on the right of the waterfall above.

For more photographs of Ontario you can visit my Ontario Gallery.

A Tale of Two Great Egrets (Ardea alba)

A Great Egret (Ardea alba) catching a small fish in a marsh along St. Lawrence Lake in Ontario, Canada.

great egret ardea alba fishing in lake st. lawrence

Great Egret Hunting at Lake St. Lawrence in South Eastern Ontario (Purchase)

When I visited Ontario in October of last year I photographed this Great Egret (Ardea alba) searching for fish in a shallow area of Lake St. Lawrence. This area had a large number of Great Egrets foraging along the shores. They are very easy to spot in comparison to the other Heron species I am familiar with in British Columbia – the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). Great Egrets mainly eat fish, but will also ingest amphibians, small birds, small mammals, invertebrates, and insects. The Lake St. Lawrence area appears to be a migratory location for the Egrets – they do not commonly breed in that area.

This particular Great Egret has a small fish in its bill which is hard to see in the image above. I photographed this with a fairly fast shutter speed, and made a burst of photographs just as the Egret appeared to be about to strike at something in the water. The image above was the result, but I also pieced together a “video” of the sequence of images that you can find on Vimeo: A Great Egret (Ardea alba) Catching Fish.

great egret ardea alba hunting for earthworms in the fraser valley of british columbia

Great Egret Hunting for Earthworms in a Fraser Valley Field (Purchase)

The second photograph here also shows a Great Egret – but in a location far from Ontario. This is a field in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. The birding community was excited about this particular Egret. While not unheard of in this area, it is not a usual migration route or breeding area (especially in January). I drove by after buying some groceries to see what kind of circus it might be. Nobody was there, and the Egret was hunting in the field fairly close to the road. I stopped to take a look, and it was unbothered by my presence. So I drove home, got the camera and my longest lens and returned. Luckily the Egret was still there after coming back – how often does that happen?

A few people stopped to take a look at this Egret, but 2/3 stopped to ask me why myself and a lot of other people they’d seen (a bit of a circus on the weekend, apparently) were stopping. I’m not a birder really, and I tend to avoid the rare birds that people, uhm, flock to view. I avoided another species of rare bird in Abbotsford at around the same time to avoid adding to the stress it might potentially face with a lot of visitors in an area where it had little food available. This Egret was eating a lot of large earthworms in this field, in contrast, and so I suspect it was in a fairly good situation. It certainly seemed unbothered that I was photographing it only 16 meters (52 feet) away.

More of my Bird photos can be found in my Bird Photos Gallery.

Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

The Parliament Buildings (Centre Block) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Centre Block contained the House of Commons, the Senate chambers, offices of some MP’s (Members of Parliament), and administration offices.

canadian parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Parliament Buildings – Centre Block (Purchase)

I first saw the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa when I was 18. In the Vancouver area we don’t really have as much in the way of impressive, historically significant buildings, so I still remember the first time I saw the Centre Block building. During my trip to Ottawa last fall I was happy to see these buildings again, and to have a chance to photograph them. I also found a historical architecture equivalent of a bad sunset or clouds hiding the mountain thats we get with landscapes sometimes: construction.

peace tower at canadian parliament buildings in ottawa canada

The Peace Tower at Parliament Hill (Purchase)

The first session of the Parliament of Canada was held on Parliament Hill in in November 6, 1867, before the buildings were completely finished construction (which had begun in 1859). Parliament Hill has 3 main buildings – East Block (opened in 1866), West Block (opened in 1906), and Centre Block (which held the “House of Commons” and Senate Chambers). Most of the Centre Block standing today is not the original, a fire in 1916 burned down the original building. Only the Library of Parliament survived the fire intact. It seems the library clerk at the time had the presence of mind to close the large iron main doors before the fire reached the library. It is also for this reason that there is a different architectural style in the newer Centre Block compared to the Library of Parliament or the East and West Block buildings.

flag on peace tower at parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Canadian Flag on the Peace Tower (Purchase)

Construction on the current Centre Block building began in 1917 after the fire, and was completed in 1927. The original buildings were constructed in a “Victorian High Gothic” style while the newer Centre Block is a “Modern Gothic Revival” style. The original Centre Block also had a large clock tower in the middle, though that tower was called the Victoria Tower. During the fire the original Victoria Tower Bell fell to the ground, and is still displayed on the Parliament Hill grounds. After the fire and reconstruction, the new tower was called the Peace Tower. The Peace Tower is 92.2m (302 ft) in height and flies a new Canadian flag each weekday. Canadians can request this flag but as this is quite a popular idea – the current waiting time is 99 years!

canadian flag on peace tower at parliament buildings in ottawa canada

Canadian Flag on the Peace Tower (Purchase)

If you look at the lower right corner of the Peace Tower (in the two photographs) you can see some scaffolding covered in similar coloured tarps. The Parliament Buildings are all undergoing rehabilitation. The West Block building had its repair begin in 2011 and recently finished – and now contains the interim House of Commons as the Centre Block is just beginning its 10 years of rehabilitation. The Senate chamber has been temporarily relocated to the Senate of Canada Building (formerly the Government Conference Centre) near Parliament Hill. So while my photograph above contains some construction equipment and scaffolding, I probably did actually come at a fairly good time as the place is going to be closed for the next 10 years. A previously overcast day giving way to blue sky helped a lot too!

For more photographs from the Ottawa area visit my Ottawa Gallery.

Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River

Hog’s Back Falls, the Rideau River and the Hog’s Back Bridge in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photographed from Hog’s Back Park.

hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Hogs Back Falls from Ottawa’s Hogs Back Park (Purchase)

During my trip to Ontario and Québec I visited a waterfall in Ottawa, along the Rideau River, called Hogs Back Falls (or Prince of Wales Falls, officially). Hogs Back Falls are not actually a natural waterfall, and are the result of construction of a waste water channel during the building of the Rideau Canal. Originally this section of the river was a 2000 meter long rapids, some of which is still visible below Hogs Back Falls.

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Hog’s Back Falls and Hog’s Back Bridge in Ottawa (Purchase)

The first two photographs here are from the first viewpoint we found in Hogs Back Park. It has a nice view up the Rideau River and looks directly towards Hogs Back Falls. I made this initial composition to try to portray what a visitor would see here. I often start with a “big picture” photograph of an area and then try to work on more detailed compositions of individual elements that make a scene interesting. At this viewpoint we noticed a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) hunting for prey next to a small waterfall below. Another photographer at that spot offered me the use of his 100-400 lens. I declined, but he insisted, so I put the lens on and made a few photographs which did not turn out. This lens was interesting to try, but I also knew this was the wrong angle to photograph the Heron and I could probably do pretty well at a better spot. The 100-400 is a nice lens, and there are times when I’d want to use one, but not enough to buy one. Rather expensive for the amount of use I would get out of it and also quite heavy and large for my already near capacity camera bag (and back). If I was a serious wildlife photographer I’d likely own one already, but until that happens I’ll stick with my 70-200 and the 1.4x extender that I usually have attached (since I moved to a full frame camera).

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) fishing in the Rideau River (Purchase)

After I changed locations to a spot closer to the bridge, I was able to view and photograph the heron much easier than at the first viewpoint. The photograph above is the result. A number of people have picked it as their favourite out of my “top 10” favourite images from 2018 post. I like Herons. Not only do they “pose” nicely and sit still quite often which makes a photograph easier, they seem to have an air of elegance or something about them. Except when they don’t. Years ago I photographed one strutting around near the Capilano Fish Hatchery in North Vancouver (Great Blue Heron at Capilano River). I still quite like that photograph, but I most remember that heron as appearing young and inexperience by trying to eat some discarded gills (from the hatchery) that were laying about. It seems gills are quite rough and hard to swallow, as the heron appeared to choke for about 10 minutes before expectorating the gills back up onto the rocks. I chalked this up to an inexperience Heron, but perhaps they just aren’t that bright?

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

A Great Blue Heron bites off more than it can chew

The Heron at Hogs Back Falls also had an embarrassing moment in public. At one point it snagged what looked like a Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and then tried to swallow it whole, as Herons do. It appears that no matter how willing the Heron, its esophagus was not up to the diameter required for the task, After several inelegant minutes attempting to choke down this Bass, it too was spit back onto the rocks, only to fall into the river. The Heron then returned to fishing for something a bit more manageable. After photographing the Heron we worked our way over the Hogs Back Bridge and photographed the Rideau River and many smaller water falls on the rocks below.

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Fall Foliage above the Rideau River and Hogs Back Falls in Ottawa (Purchase)

For more photographs from the Ottawa area visit my Ontario Gallery.

My Top 10 Photographs of 2018

Once again it is time to post my favourite images from the past year. Choosing these images is always a good mental exercise, and I get a bit of a head start when I design my yearly calendar sometime in late October. I like sharing these image every year, and viewing everyone else’s lists as well. I also make this post so I can participate in Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. His collection of these posts is a great place to find new photographers you may not have seen before.

If you click on a photo you’ll be taken to my Image Archive. I’ve also linked to corresponding blog posts that contain these images if you want more information about the location or to see other photos from that area. There are a few images here that will have blog posts for them soon, but they aren’t finished yet. These photos aren’t in any specific order though I think the first one of with fall foliage around the road in Québec is my favourite overall.

I hope you enjoy this years selections and am curious to hear if you have any particular favourites.

My Favourite Photos of 2018:

chemin cafferty in chelsea quebec
1. A closed road (Chemin Cafferty) disappears into the trees
(Chelsea, Québec)
Blog post: Meech Creek Valley in Gatineau Park

great blue heron at hogs back falls ottawa
2. Great Blue Heron at Hog’s Back Falls
(Ottawa, Ontario)
Blog post: Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River

fall maple foliage colour at beaver pond in gatineau park
3. Vine Maples Over Lower Falls Trail
(Maple Ridge, British Columbia)
Blog post: Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park

farmhouse and apple tree at ruckle provincial park
4. William Norman Ruckle Farmhouse and Orchard

(Salt Spring Island, British Columbia)

fall maple foliage colour in gatineau park
5. Fall Maples at Lac Bourgeois in Gatineau Park
(Gatineau Park, Québec)
Blog post: Fall Rhapsody in Gatineau Park

mute swan at fulford harbour salt spring island
6. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) in Fulford Harbour
(Salt Spring Island, British Columbia)
Blog post: Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island

dunlop falls in gatineau park
7. Dunlop Falls on Fortune Creek
(Gatineau Park, Québec)
Blog post: Dunlop Falls on Fortune Creek in Gatineau Park

almonte mississippi river ontario
8. Waterfall on the Mississippi River

(Almonte, Ontario)

lower falls on gold creek in golden ears park
9. Summer evening at Lower Falls on Gold Creek at Golden Ears Provincial Park
(Maple Ridge, British Columbia)
Blog post: Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park

pacific dogwood flower cornus nuttallii
10. Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) Flower

(Langley, British Columbia)

You can view my favourite photographs from 2017 here: My Top 10 Photos of 2017.