(Historic) home away from home.

If you find yourself in Hamilton, Ontario, with nothing but a backpack and a few bucks, consider an overnight visit to the Hamilton Guest House, a historic residence now functioning as a hostel.

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We visited the building while on our Doors Open Hamilton excursion. If you’ve been following along, this was the fateful event during which I fell in love with The Cotton Factory.

Any place we visited after that had a lot to live up to.

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The owners of HGH greeted us warmly and gave us a little history of the building, which you can read more about here and here.

The home was built in 1855 for the Pring family. William Pring was a customs surveyor who moved to Port Colborne only a few years later. The building changed hands and purposes several times in the years since, which meant it didn’t always receive the care it deserved. In 2006, a new owner made strides to repair and rejuvenate the building. The current owners bought the house in 2012 and have operated the hostel there since.

It’s charming but not overly fancy. Some paint is peeling and the common rooms we visited were cluttered, but everything has a comfortable, relaxed feel. It looks clean but lived-in, rather than stuffy and pretentious. There are some unique features, such as a narrow, spiral staircase, and a set of curved doors that reminded me, for some reason, of something out of Alice in Wonderland.

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We didn’t visit the guestrooms, but there were interesting nooks and crannies scattered through the common areas. I’m a fan of any room with a camouflaged door.

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And since there are others who like doors just as much as I do, I’ll link up this post to Norm Frampton’s weekly feature, Thursday Doors.

While The Cotton Factory still holds my heart, the HGH provided another small, satisfying glimpse into the city’s architectural past.

Many thanks, as always, for stopping by 😊

 

Not exactly glamorous.

You recall yesterday’s excitement about my new neutral density filter, so I don’t imagine you’re surprised to find another photo of blurred water.

Here, surface runoff turns into silver silk with motion blur and a monochrome treatment.

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Most people like to use this long exposure technique to make photos of babbling brooks and graceful waterfalls.

I wasn’t in the vicinity of either, so I had to settle for a storm sewer drainage pipe.

Use what you’ve got, right?

Good things. Small packages.

A tiny package came for me in the mail the other day: a filter. A small, round, neutral density camera filter.

This girl – who usually collects only bills and realtor brochures from the mailbox – hasn’t been so excited to pick up the mail in a long, long time.

A neutral density filter is mounted on the end of a camera’s lens with the purpose of reducing the amount of light going in. This allows for longer exposures in bright conditions, which can result in interesting photographic effects like motion blur.

With my new toy in hand, I scampered to a source of moving water with no time to waste. I wanted to try making a smooth, milky effect with the movement of the creek. It took some fiddling with the settings, but here are the results of my first time out:

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Okay. This is WAY more fun than bills and real estate (no offense, realtors).

From the bottom up.

Here are two tips I’ve come across frequently from people who know photography:

  1. Practice. A lot.
  2. Change your perspective when composing your shot.

With tip number one in mind, I lug my camera bag wherever I go. If it’s with me, I’m more inclined to use it. It’s become such a habit that I’m positively certain the one time I forget it will be the time I come across a rainbow, a flying pig, Viggo Mortensen, or some other ultra-photograph-able scene that will end up captured solely by my eyeballs.

My purse broke the other day, so I’ve re-purposed one of my old totes to carry my purse-y type items (I’m a mom, so these consist mostly of things like bandages, tissues, and wet wipes. Also Chapstick for when I want to get fancy). This tote is a size appropriate not only for a miniature dog of the variety carried around by Paris Hilton, but for perhaps one or two additional doggie-friends. Any more bags and I will begin to get strange looks from people on the street. Or perhaps people on the street are already looking at me strangely. It’s hard to tell because I can barely see past my bags.

As for photography tip number two, the easiest way to change perspective when shooting, so I’ve heard, is to move your body, starting with your feet. Move up or move down. How would the scene look from above, or below, or anyplace else other than how most of the world sees things, i.e., eye level? Climb a tree. Lie down in the grass. Composing this way is more likely to result in an interesting shot. You may look strange to others, but if they’re already looking at you strangely because of all the bags you’re carrying, who cares?

So, today I strapped my camera over my shoulder and rode my bike to the park with my children. I laid on my back in the wood chips beneath the play structure. It was, I’m surprised to say, strangely comfortable. From here, my view was drastically different than it had been on the sidelines. I had a nagging fear that one of my kids would fall on top of me and I’d end up with a broken camera and a mouth full of wood chips, in addition to a scraped-up child (not to worry, I carry bandages for that).

Happily, no blood was spilled, I did not eat wood, and my camera is still functioning. Not all my shots were very interesting, but I took a liking to this one.

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To summarize, here are two easy ways to improve your photography:

  1. Become a bag lady.
  2. Lie on the ground more often.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by ☺

School’s in.

This week, we’ll peek at the made-over version of a grand old beauty for Norm’s Thursday Doors.

This 3-storey cut-stone building held memories for many folks in the small town of Fergus, Ontario.

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In 1927, Fergus High School was built on a hill overlooking a provincial highway. It served the small town and surrounding community for nearly 80 years. The stately design and quality craftsmanship is indicative of the value placed on education by the community at the time.

Fergus High School Circa 1930

Fergus High School, ca. 1930. Photo courtesy Wellington County Museum and Archives. 

 

In the years since the school closed in 2004, ivy spread unchecked, its spidery tendrils enveloping the front doors. You get the idea from the photo below, found on the township’s website, but I couldn’t find one that captured the building’s pre-restoration vibe of abandonment. I didn’t pass through Fergus often, but when I did, I was always both enamored and unsettled by the imposing facade.

Fergus High School Ivy

Photo courtesy www.centrewellington.ca. Date unknown.

 

Fortunately, the former school was protected by a heritage designation in 2006. The site was purchased by Reid’s Heritage Homes, a residential builder. Two condominiums were built behind the school, but Reid’s made the decision to sever the property and put the building up for sale in 2012, with an asking price of nearly $1 million.

The structure was purchased in 2014, and after the necessary renovations and rejuvenation, it became home to Emmanuel Christian High School.

Below are some shots I made of the school as it stands today. As you can see, it’s had a significant ‘haircut.’ Now, we can see its beautiful face. 🙂

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Thanks, as always, for visiting.

P.S.
I learned about this building herehere, and here.