Tag Archives: Altona

“A Mix of Sun and Cloud” – Altona, Ontario

“A Mix of Sun and Cloud” - Altona, Ontario

“Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I feel I never have enough of in the autumn.”
― Leo Tolstoy

I’ve titled myself a ‘photo opportunist’ a few times. Really, it’s all about being prepared for any eventuality. This means knowing my gear, settings, and my surroundings. A lot has to do with experience, most bad to mediocre. The many images that ‘could have been’, but did not turn out because I was not properly prepared and inexperienced.

This was not the case today. I went for a brief drive through the countryside near my house. It made for a nice lunch break and cleared my mind.

The forecast was for a mix of sun and cloud and that is exactly what we got. A newscaster this morning asked where the line is between this forecast and mostly sunny or mostly cloudy. That seemed to depend on the time of day, as the cloud cover was very variable, but looking distinctly like autumn, with heavy clouds passing by quickly overhead, a cool breeze and the threat of intermittent showers at any time.

The trick, if you will, to photographing in these conditions is simply patience and choosing a subject and location. As I drove down the country lane, I noticed this cluster of maple trees lit up by a narrow sliver of sun, with the contrasting dark sky as a backdrop. Determined to capture this, I got closer, framed my shot and sat, waiting for another break in the cloud. I was not disappointed. Within minutes, the sun broke through the clouds, setting the trees ablaze with light, while leaving the foreground in shadow. The effect is stunning and I was able to accurately capture one of those great autumn moments to share here.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom
@ 122 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 400

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“Frozen Falls in Altona” – Altona, Ontario

Icicles in Frozen Fall near Altona Ontario

Many years ago, just north of Pickering, Ontario, was a flourishing hamlet called Altona. There was a school, a couple of churches, a hotel and many beautiful farms, as well as a mill. In the 70’s the lands were expropriated by the Canadian government to build an airport. Well, the airport seems to have become a distant memory and the lands sat, essentially abandoned. The mill, and several other historical buildings, along Altona Road, were demolished a few years ago, as they sat decaying and neglected. The mill pont silted over to become a weedy meadow, indistinguishable for the surrounding fields. However, Duffins creek, the source of the former pond, continues to flow through and beneath the remnants of the pond and eventually, spills out over a small waterfall at the the end of the man-made pond. It’s quite interesting to find a waterfall in the middle of nowhere.

These ‘small falls’ have offered me  many photo opportunities over the years. I happened to visit them in the winter a few years back and they had frozen almost solid, over a few particularly cold days. The resulting ice sculptures were beautiful and the cool winter light made for some interesting effects and colours.

Above is a view of a small section of the falls which had frozen into a multi-layered formation of icicles. The day I made the photo was particularly cold and the photo captures this feeling quite well.

It’s sad that all that is left of Altona is a few shells of buildings and hints of things that once were, but there is still some beauty left in this mostly abandoned space and I can see why early settlers were drawn to the area.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 185 mm
1/60 sec, f/5.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
or my website