Aerial photos of the Ottawa River on display at the offices of Ottawa Riverkeeper

I have recently been invited to display 5 photographs in the entranceway to the offices of the Ottawa Riverkeeper – ottawariverkeeper.ca
These are kite aerial phographs of the Ottawa River. This exhibit will be on display for a six month period, to the end of May.

The offices are above Trailhead on the third floor. So the next time you drop by the Trailhead store, go through the office entrance at the left and up to the third floor to room 301.
Nov 20, 2012 to approx. May 31, 2013
Ottawa Riverkeeper
301-1960 Scott Street
Ottawa, ON
K1Z 8L8

Here are the 5 images on display (captions courtesy of Alexandra Brett of the Ottawa Riverkeeper):

Chaudiere Falls aerial panorama including the former E.B. Eddy property, the city of Gatineau across the Ottawa River and the Parliament Buildings in the distance at the top right.

The view across the Ottawa River at the former E.B. Eddy paper mill shows the once-thundering Chaudière Falls tamed by dams and diversions. Over 60 m wide, and with a drop of 15 m, the falls powered the growth of Hull (seen across the river) and the City of Ottawa from 1800 onward. Two hydro stations still operate on Chaudière Falls.
April 25, 2010.
18” x 36” Framed Print

Aerial panorama photograph of Lemieux Island and the Prince of Wales Railroad Bridge, Ottawa River.

The City of Ottawa draws its drinking water from the Ottawa River. The Lemieux Island Plant, seen here, is one of two water-treatment facilities run by the City. Ottawa’s drinking water is rated as some of the safest in the world, but damage to the river caused by sewage, pollution, dams and shoreline destruction put our drinking water at risk.
April 25, 2010.
18” x 36” Framed Print

Rugged shoreline in winter at Deschenes Rapids near Aylmer, Quebec. This is the Ottawa River, near Ottawa, Ontario. This picture was taken from a camera rig suspended below a kite (Kite Aerial Photography - KAP).

Over 90% of a river’s life depends on the first few metres next to the shore, the area most likely to be damaged by riverside development. Maintaining natural shorelines with trees and shrubs – as seen here at Deschênes Rapids – helps stabilize banks and protect the river from pollutants and sediment in storm water.
March 23, 2008.
16” x 20” Framed Print

Sailboats at Rest - Aerial view of sailboats at Nepean Sailing Club at Dick Bell Park in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Cropped from a larger image.  This picture was taken from a camera rig suspended below a kite (Kite Aerial Photography - KAP).

The Ottawa River hosts 10 yacht clubs in the Ottawa-Gatineau region alone. Canoes, kayaks, power boats – even Olympic-class rowing shells – also ply the river’s many reaches and bays. Here, sailboats at Nepean Sailing Club in Ottawa’s west end quietly await their next regatta.
May 24, 2008.
16” x 20” Framed Print

'Round the Point - Aerial photograph of a sailboat passing Pinhey's Point Heritage Property and Public Park on the Ottawa River.

A sailboat on the Ottawa River passes Pinhey’s Point, part of Pinhey’s Point Historical Site. The estate, built in 1820 by Hamnett Kirkes Pinhey, has been preserved as a museum. The Ottawa River is home to 8 national historic sites and numerous pioneer villages, interpretive centres, community museums and historic houses.
November 9, 2011
24″ x 36″ Framed Canvas Print

aerial art / aerial photos / aerial greeting cards

aerial landscape art / aerial landscape photos / aerial landscape greeting cards

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Downtown Ottawa, Ottawa River Parkway – Kite Aerial Photography (KAP)

New in my Getty Images portfolio:

The approach to Ottawa from the Ottawa River Parkway which runs into Wellington Street. The Portage Bridge is out of the picture on the left hand side.

This picture was taken from a camera rig suspended below a kite (Kite Aerial Photography – KAP).

Downtown Ottawa - Kite Aerial Photography (KAP)

Click on image to go to the same image in my Getty Images portfolio.

RobHuntley.ca

Aerial view of power lines in winter

New in my Getty Images portfolio:
These power lines cross the Ottawa River from Gatineau Quebec to the Chaudiere Falls in the middle of the Ottawa River. This image was taken using a camera suspended below a kite line – Kite Aerial Photography (KAP).

These power lines cross the Ottawa River from Gatineau Quebec to the Chaudiere Falls in the middle of the Ottawa River.

Click on image to go to the same image in my Getty Images portfolio.
RobHuntley.ca

How to Make Tiny Town Miniatures!

This post demonstrates a process known as “Fake Tilt-Shift” carried out in PhotoShop or other image editing software.

After a mere two weeks of playing with the creation of these miniatures, I don’t imagine I’ve become an expert yet. However, I took the opportunity to share what I’d learned with my camera club, the Camera Club of Ottawa, and since I had done the work to prepare the slides I’m posting them here for anyone’s benefit. What follows are a few examples of the results of applying the technique and then subsequent to that I’ve included a short demo of how to create a miniature using PhotoShop CS.

I also have a separate photo gallery where I am adding my own creations over time. Please see TinyTown – (Fake Tilt-Shift Images).

This process has nothing to do with tilting or shifting anything. The name is derived from the fact that there is an in-camera technique that has been around for awhile for creating similar effects using a lens called a tilt-shift lens. We are using PhotoShop to create fakes; hence the name Fake Tilt-Shift.

Basically we are reducing the depth of field to create an illusion that the photograph was taken on a tabletop using model railroad miniatures or similar objects. The process tends to work better on scenes where there is a downward angle on the subject. It is through my Kite Aerial Photography that networking colleagues made me aware of this technique, pointing out that certain of my images might make a good “fake tilt-shift” image. However, the techinique is not limited to aerial shots, and not necessarily to shots where there is a downward view. The example I’ve chosen to demonstrate with, the train lines next to Vancouver harbour, is a compromise. It is not an aerial shot, but it is taken from the raised elevation of the adjacent promenade.

If you would prefer to view a version of this presentation where you can enlarge the images, please go to the How to Make Tiny Town Miniatures! gallery on my website.

Fisherman's Cove in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The low level aerial photograph of the line of shops is ideally suited for a Fake Tilt-Shift Miniature. The houses take on the appearance of Parker Bros. Monopoly figures and even the people look artificial. The background has been thrown out of focus plus the colour saturation has been greatly boosted to give the objects a plastic-like, toy-like appearance.
The title slide is of Fisherman’s Cove in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The low level aerial photograph of the line of shops is ideally suited for a Fake Tilt-Shift Miniature. The houses take on the appearance of Parker Bros. Monopoly figures and even the people look artificial. The background has been thrown out of focus plus the colour saturation has been greatly boosted to give the objects a plastic-like, toy-like appearance.
View the original aerial photograph.

Again, a low level aerial photograph proves ideal for making a miniature of the Atlantic Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Again, a low level aerial photograph proves ideal for making a miniature of the Atlantic Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. In this example, both the foreground and background are thrown out of focus and the colour saturation enhanced to give the toy house appearance to the museum.
View the original aerial photograph.

The original image for this example was shot from the roadside in a very slightly elevated position. The rising hills in the background may add to the affect by eliminating the horizon.
The original image for this example was shot from the roadside in a very slightly elevated position. The rising hills in the background may add to the effect by eliminating the horizon.

This red car is in a roundabout or traffic circle in Conwy, Wales. The shot was taken from the wall of Conwy Castle adjacent to the road.
This red car is in a roundabout (traffic circle) in Conwy, Wales. The shot was taken from the wall of Conwy Castle adjacent to the road.
View the original photograph.

This is a fake tilt-shift of the Champlain Bridge over the Ottawa River between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. This is a unique angle of the bridge, obtained through Kite Aerial Photography.
This is a fake tilt-shift of the Champlain Bridge over the Ottawa River between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. This is a unique angle of the bridge, obtained through Kite Aerial Photography (KAP). Note how just a few cars and the surrounding bridge and lamp posts are kept in focus while the foreground and background are out of focus.
View the original aerial photograph.

This is a fake tilt-shift of the former EB Eddy mill on the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario. Again, the original low level aerial picture was obtained from a remote-controlled camera suspended below a kite.
This is a fake tilt-shift of the former EB Eddy mill on the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario. Again, the original low level aerial picture was obtained from a remote-controlled camera suspended below a kite. The orientation of the wall face of the mill being roughly the same distance from the camera makes it an ideal subject for retaining the focus of the whole building while throwing the rest of the picture out of focus.
View the original aerial photograph.

This is a Tiny Town version of the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, Ontario. It is a heritage building also known as the Cattle Castle as a consequence of livestock fairs being held there.
This is a “Tiny Town” version of the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, Ontario. It is a heritage building also known as the “Cattle Castle” as a consequence of livestock fairs being held there.
View the original aerial photograph.

This covered bridge is found on Chemin Cross Loop south of Wakefield, Québec. It is not to be confused with the larger covered bridge just to the north of Wakefield. Again, the foreground and background have been blurred to shorten the apparent depth of field and the red colour of the bridge has been saturated to the point of synthetic toy look-alike.
This covered bridge is found on Chemin Cross Loop south of Wakefield, Québec. It is not to be confused with the larger covered bridge just to the north of Wakefield. Again, the foreground and background have been blurred to shorten the apparent depth of field and the red colour of the bridge has been saturated to the point of synthetic toy look-alike.
View the original aerial photograph.

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Demo Slide 1
Demo Slide 1 (Larger images available with website version.)

To demonstrate the creation of a fake tilt-shift miniature I’m using an image that any photographer might have taken without the assistance of aerial photography. It was taken in Vancouver, British Columbia at the harbour port. Rail lines and trains are particularly good for this technique. Most of us have seen model railroads before and the result of miniaturizing this scene should give the sense that the shot was taken in the basement of a train-a-holic.

I have an older version of PhotoShop, PhotoShop CS. I hope you can convert these instructions to your software and version. After loading A COPY of the picture into PhotoShop, click on the “Quick Mask” indicated by the bottom green circle on the left-hand-side. Then click on the gradient tool, the middle circle. After clicking the gradient tool you will see 5 options for this tool presented at the top and you should select the 4th one which is “Reflective Gradient”.

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Demo Slide 2
Demo Slide 2 (Larger images available with website version.)

Imagine a horizontal zone in the picture where you would like to retain sharpness. I am selecting the foreground passenger trains to be the main subject in this demo, but you could have selected the freight trains in the distance.

The top green arrow indicates where I have initially placed the cursor on the roof of the red car. You can see a thin grey line which I have drawn to the bottom green arrow. This line indicates 1/2 of the height of the gradient zone (the bottom half), from the sharpest point at the top to the least sharp point at the bottom. The top half will simply be mirrored above the top green arrow so you will end up with a “reflective gradient” both upwards and downwards from the top green arrow.

If this is confusing, take note of where the top green arrow is on the roof of the red car, then take a peek at the next slide and note where the roof of the red car is, then come back. Reread this and hopefully you will better understand.

As soon as you release the mouse button after drawing this gradient line, you will get a red band of gradient mask as shown in the next slide.

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Demo Slide 3
Demo Slide 3 (Larger images available with website version.)

This red mask is the area which will be preserved in subsequent steps that we take to throw the background and foreground out of focus. The “gradient” ensures that the most central area of the band will be the most sharp, gradually losing focus towards the edges.

At this point select the standard editing tool indicated by the green circle on the left-hand-side.

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Demo Slide 4
Demo Slide 4 (Larger images available with website version.)

By selecting the standard editing tool, the red mask has disappeared to be replaced by two horizontal lines of “marching ants” indicating the selected area. The area above and below the lines will be put totally out of focus by our next steps. The area between the lines will have a focus gradient outwards from the centre.

From the top menu select “Filter” (green circle) and from the drop-down menu select “Blur”, then “Lens Blur”.

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Demo Slide 5
Demo Slide 5 (Larger images available with website version.)

This is the “Lens Blur” menu. You can play with the radius and probably select between 20 to 60. I have selected 40 in this example. The other variables I have not played with and I believe are the default settings.

Click OK.

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Demo Slide 6
Demo Slide 6 (Larger images available with website version.)

Here you see the basic result of your efforts. At this point if you are not happy with the selected area, you can go back and redraw your gradient line and then reapply the lens blurring.

If you are happy with the blurring, then select “Select” from the top menu and “Deselect” from the drop-down menu to remove the marching ants. Proceed to the next slide.

Aside: (You can skip this). In some cases you may find that something projects out of the sharp zone which you would expect to be in focus given the perceived distance from the lens and the narrow focal area. Imagine a crane in this picture with the arm reaching upwards, yet the same distance from the camera as the rest of the crane. Conversely, you may wish something was out of focus that is in the centre of the focused area. In this demo picture, the nearest lamp post is out of focus at the base and sharp at the top. Clearly this is not quite right but in this example it is hardly noticeable. In such scenarios, additional PhotoShop skills may be applied in the mask phase to either paint in some mask to retain focus, or paint out some mask to lose focus. This was necessary in the earlier shown picture of the Aberdeen Pavilion (Cattle Castle) where the dome of the building was outside of the focused area and had to have mask painted back in to preserve its sharpness.

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Demo Slide 7
Demo Slide 7 (Larger images available with website version.)

This is the same as the previous slide after the selected area has been deselected.

Now, in order to increase the toy-like appearance of your image, if desired, give it a blast of saturation. You can do this a couple of ways but most simply go up to the third item “Image” in the top menu and from the drop-down select “Adjustment” then “Hue/Saturation”.

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Demo Slide 8
Demo Slide 8 (Larger images available with website version.)

Applying +40 saturation seems to be a standard here but I suggest that you flavour to taste. Look back and forth between this slide and the previous slide to see the difference especially in the reds and yellows of the passenger cars.

Similarly you can apply some additional contrast to sometimes improve on the result (next slide). Contrast is also accessed through the top menu “Image” then from the drop-down select “Adjustment” then “Brightness/Contrast”.

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Demo Slide 9
Demo Slide 9 (Larger images available with website version.)

Here is the difference, though small, of applying +10 contrast.

Essentially that’s all there is to it, but I have decided that this particular image might look better as a cropped version. So go to the next slide.

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Demo Slide 10
Demo Slide 10 (Larger images available with website version.)

I used the crop tool, indicated by the green circle, to reduce the amount of sky in this image.

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Demo Slide 11
Demo Slide 11 (Larger images available with website version.)

This is my final version, still viewed in PhotoShop.

The next 3 images show the original in comparison with the final version and also with different option of selecting the distant freight cars as the subject.

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This is the original photo.
This is the original photo.

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This is the result of demo.
This is the result of demo.

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This is an alternate result if we had initially selected the freight trains in the distance instead of the passenger trains in the foreground.
This is an alternate result if we had initially selected the freight trains in the distance instead of the passenger trains in the foreground.

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There is a Flickr group called Tilt-shift Miniature Fakes devoted to these types of images and discussion by their creators. You might get additional ideas for your own Tiny Town images if you take a look through the group’s photostream.

There are other tutorials and articles around on this subject. Here are a few examples:

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Please visit my website.

KAP 2008-11: Chaudière Falls from Parc des Portageurs. February 27, 2008.

The objective of this KAP outing (Kite Aerial Photography) was to photograph the Chaudière Falls from the Québec side of the Ottawa River. The Chaudière Falls are in the middle of the river, and distanced from public access by the river itself as well as private industry, primarily E.B. Eddy. Besides the out-of-the-ordinary overhead perspective that Kite Aerial Photography provides, it is also an excellent means to get closer to distant subjects. This was also an opportunity to get a unique perspective on the city core. The kite and rig were launched from Parc des Portageurs in Gatineau (what is formerly Hull) which is at the corner or rue Montcalm and rue Laurier across from the office complex Les Terrasses de la Chaudière.

It is tricky getting the correct exposure in this type of winter situation (mix of very light and very dark areas depending on the orientation of the camera), particularly when you have to fix the camera settings before the camera leaves the ground. I exposed for snow in this session with an EV of +2/3. This gave good exposure when the white predominated in the picture. Some of these images are slightly overexposed in the white areas since the scene was already balanced between light and dark areas and the exposure compensation wasn’t required. Other shots which had predominantly dark areas (especially where there were large areas of exposed water) should have had -ve compensation and therefore the whites were grossly overexposed and I have not included any of these images. There are ways around this such as sending the camera up twice with different exposure settings, reshooting all the angles as best as possible. The other alternative would be to bracket the shots of each session and this is recently possible with cameras such as the Canon powershot A570IS with the application of CHDK technology and scripts for bracketing. The camera never stays still as it would on a tripod, so even when bracketing, the composition would likely be quite different within each bracketed series. This is one of the challenges of KAPing. Thank heavens for digital cameras.

There are powerlines shown in several pictures which, for safety reasons, I stayed well away from with the kite and rig. They were further away then my 500′ line anyway. When the wind is right, I’ll probably do the falls from the opposite side (Ontario side of the river) which may be a bit closer to the falls and there would be no powerlines to be concerned with.

Chaudière Falls:

Chaudière Falls from Parc des Portageurs

Ottawa and the Ottawa River. E.B. Eddy Bridge in the foreground, Portage Bridge further away, downtown core and the Parliament Buildings in the background:

Ottawa skyline.

The edge of the earth? Standing at the abyss with my KAP line. This is Parc des Portageurs in Hull and the water is very clear but looks very black at this time of year. I’ll have to come back in the summer to see if there’s an explanation of the boat hull and dog sculptures:

Parc des Portageurs

Ottawa and Hull (Gatineau) and the Ottawa River. Hull, Quebec on the left, Ottawa, Ontario on the right, downtown core and the Parliament Buildings in the background:

Ottawa and Hull.

These power lines look closer than they are. I was very conscious of the safety concerns of flying kites near power lines. If I had been flying the kite at right angles to the lines (which I wasn’t) you might conclude that the kite must be almost over them for the camera to be where it is. However, this pylon is well out in the river (surrounded by ice not land) and this is a shot looking almost backwards from the direction of the kite line. The top picture of the falls shows the next pylon standing at the edge of the falls. You can see there that I’m not even close with the equipment and the kite line was leftwards of that pylon too.

Powerlines on the Ottawa River near Chaudière Falls.

You can see additional pictures from my KAP 2008-11 outing in the Kite Aerial Photography Gallery on my website.