Watery abstract of the Mississippi River, Almonte, Ontario

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking.

I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

Joseph Campbell

Small town living…

These days I live about half an hour away from the capital of Canada, Ottawa, in a little town of 5,000. Small and picturesque, Almonte has a river running through it, two sets of waterfalls and miles of green space surrounding it.

For 30 years I lived, studied and worked in the centre of Ottawa, which has close to a million inhabitants and serves as the seat of the federal government. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle and all the culture and diversity that Ottawa had to offer — and before that thrived on the tempo of two other big Canadian cities — Toronto and Montreal. So I’ve always considered myself a big city kind of gal.

Today life in Almonte with its slow unhurried pace couldn’t be more of  a contrast. But there is much to appreciate in small town living.

I’m excited by how Almonte continues to develop into a small hub of creativity as artists and craftspeople open up shops and galleries. The beautiful stone buildings on our historic main street preserve our past as a textile mill town and have been converted into restaurants, galleries and unusual apartments.

The old Post Office was designed by the same architect who built the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and now houses a lovely marble floored restaurant and a new outdoor patio. The clock you can see throughout the town is the original one, which is maintained by a local volunteer. The falls on the river that powered the mills now create our electricity in a green manner.

I never tire of showing off my town to friends from the city and from other parts of the country and the world. This super short video (49 seconds) gives a flavour of one such recent visit.  I invite you to have a look. I hope to capture more of Almonte in future videos.

My little town…

almonte post office2

Almonte’s old post office, designed by the same architect as Canada’s Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

When I was away this winter living on our sailboat Windsong II, I thought about what kinds of photographs I wanted to make when I returned to Canada.

And it occurred to me that there was so much beauty right around me — in my little town of Almonte, Ontario — that I really didn’t need to go far to find delightful subject matter.

And so out I went recently with my friend Sona to show her my little town….

My friend enjoys the falls down at the foot of Mill Street

Here’s what she saw with her iPhone 6.

sona pano

And then I went out just this past weekend with my camera and came back with these…


I love the vines on this house in all seasons.


View from the Riverwalk as night falls

I love Almonte in colour, I love it in black and white, in the light of day, in the golden hour, in the blue hour. So many different moods and sides…I’m hoping to capture many more of them this summer!

August break, Day 10


Drink in the cool stillness and refresh your soul…

I have to say that I’m thrilled with some of the new features of Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CC.  Straightening lines and removing distortion has become so incredibly fast and easy. Problems in perspective and converging verticals used to plague me. I would stay away from photographing buildings and architecture because of that. But no more. 

Here’s a great little video about five features to love. Julieanne Kost, Adobe’s Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist, is one of my favorite teachers — direct, to-the-point and easy to follow. Whether you use PS or Lightroom, she knows all, and teaches all, so well.

You may already be familiar with Julieanne and her tutorials. But did you know that she is also a fabulous photographer? Because she travels so much for her work, she found herself taking lots of pictures out of airplane windows. This resulted in one of the most beautiful and astonishing collections of “window seat” images I’ve ever seen.   Why not take a trip with Julianne?


Still and All…

Happy Canada Day!

Canadians from coast to coast to coast today are celebrating being Canadian and living in one of the greatest countries of the world. In large cities and small, in rural areas, in large and small groups, we are expressing our affection and gratitude for this unique country of ours.

Fror many years we lived in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, and spent many Canada Days surrounded by hundreds of thousands of joyful people near the Parliament Buildings. And watching the amazing fireworks in person. It was loud, it was fun and it was a bit crazy.

This Canada Day, we’re going small and simple and spending time with our neighbours and friends in our small town of Almonte just outside of Ottawa — a town we have come to appreciate deeply.

almonte canada day

Here, it’s calm, it’s quieter and it’s just as much fun.

This morning our downtown main street was lined with vintage cars and turned into a pedestrian thoroughfare. People were in great spirits checking out the cars, eating ice cream, visiting the shops and chatting with friends.

girl and flag

Now I’ve never been a huge fan of cars as vehicles, but I do love old things, and especially old beautiful things with great lines that have been lovingly taken care of.

I gave myself a challenge to find a set of images I loved from among the huge collection of vehicles that graced our main street.

This afternoon features music and a feast in the park — unless it’s rained out of course (hope not) — and then fireworks. Hope I can catch those.

But for now, the cars…

It’s really the details that I love most and really say vintage to me.

almonte vintage

white walls

What is soft is strong…

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.

Lao Tzu

This month, I’m sharing this photo with Kat Sloma’s Photo Heart Connection. See why below.

I love water. I love living on it (literally). I love living near it. I love sitting by it and watching as it ebbs and flows…

I was born on an island, moved to another island as a child, grew to adulthood on island, lived near Lake Ontario when I attended university and beside a river in Toronto for a time as a young adult. For 17 years I lived with a canal at one end of my street and a river at the other — with all the bridges we had to cross regularly, it felt a bit like living on an island.

None of this was planned, and I only realized it recently, in fact. When we get to a certain age, we begin to see the patterns in our lives and perhaps start to understand them a bit.

These days I spend a good part of the year on a sailboat in southern waters. The rest of the time I don’t live quite as close to water as I used to, but we are fortunate to have a river running through our town and lots of waterfalls. Every time I go to our main street I stop to visit the waterfalls. These falls also provide the green power for our community.

It’s a challenge to photograph waterfalls, as you probably know if you’ve ever tried. Too short an exposure and the water freezes in a manner not characteristic of itself. The falls don’t look the way you experienced them. Longer exposures are the key to the soft, creaminess that appeals to so many of us. But long exposures can let too much light in, ruining the picture. Enter the Neutral Density Filter. It allows you to reduce the amount of light that can pass through the lens. So after adding a neutral density filter, you can use a slower shutter speed. In these photos I used an aperture of F16 and a shutter speed between 1/2 second to a second at 200 to 360 ISO.

I certainly need much more practice making photographs of waterfalls and rivers and lakes and oceans, but each time I learn a little more and am rewarded by the time spent near water.

I’d love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.

John O’Donohue

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.

Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad