Tuesday, April 16, 2013

McKinnon Road bridge redux

In anticipation of spring I've been looking back at old spring opening wanders and one that I came across that stood out was the hike along McKinnon Road alongside the Nottawasaga River in May four years ago. The intent of that hike was to see the old abandoned bridge at one of the north bends there, and it turned out to be a stunning silver truss bridge in extremely good condition, despite being over 80 years old.

Some time ago, I was made aware of McMaster University's set of 1954-1955 aerial plates of southern Ontario online. They're a real gold mine of information from 60 years ago. Last week, it finally occurred to me to have a look at the site of the bridge in question to see just what it was on the other side it provided access to.

I still don't know.

Here's the view from circa 1954. You can click on it to enlarge it.

The bridge is the little white line in the middle of the long diagonal black line that, I think, designated a municipal boundary. The squiggly black line is the river. P-Doug and I came up the closed road on the left side of the river in this view.

I still can't see what they built this bridge for. There's nothing on the far side. There's no road that connects to anything north, no buildings to speak of... nothing. All I can think of is that they built it in anticipation of something and nothing happened, and eventually the road and bridge dropped off the road grid.

But the really interesting thing is that on the near side of the bridge, huddled into the elbow of land on its northeast corner, is some kind of impressive set of buildings. I don't know what they were but I can tell you there was nothing to indicate they'd ever been there by the time we were there in 2009. In fact, at this point, that site is nearly completely forested over.

Here's a view of the site from the bridge.

There doesn't seem to have been any reason to build the bridge but to open up the east side to development that, apparently, never came. But now I'm kind of keyed up to go back there and check out that site on the near side of the bridge.

But I don't think I want to go to the far north end down Richardson Road again. I think I'm happy enough to leave that to the mosquitoes and the razor grass. :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bird sniper

Today I was out with a friend I haven't seen in a while. She's on the verge of becoming a professional photographer. She's come a long way in the last three years. Recently she acquired a used Canon 7D and was given... GIVEN... a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens. Retail, the pair would set you back $3600 before taxes, with 2/3 of that being the price of the lens. Today she wanted to wander out to the Scarborough Bluffs to try them out.

She also brought with her her Canon T1i, sort of the great-grandchild of the eight-year-old Canon XT I still have, along with a much less expensive 70-300 lens. She graciously allowed me to borrow and use the T1i which she tried to work out the 7D, and when we returned to her place, she downloaded my shots to one of my thumb drives. I took three hundred-some-odd shots over about 15 minutes, and of the bunch, about two dozen or so struck me as keepers.

It's been a long time since I've really done anything with my own DSLR. It's no hell these days; 8 megapixel, three generations back in sensor processor technology, and I don't think any of my lenses is worth more than about $500 new. Nevertheless I got that old thrill out of piloting the T1i today, and even discovered a new technique: keep your left eye open to follow the birds while you're sighting the lens at 300mm with the right. That's where most of the decent shots came in. I have a 300mm lens of my own. I should really make more use of my Rebel XT this spring and summer.

Here are my shots from today. All but one of them are cropped for better effect, but otherwise, they're pretty much all the way they came out of the camera.