Bird photography : the Pileated Woodpecker in Quebec.

Pileated Woodpecker (female) at work on a silver maple in 2020.
Pileated Woodpecker (female) at work on a silver maple in 2020.




Last week, a Pileated Woodpecker female landed on our silver maple. When it digs a hole in a tree to find food, the bird hits the trunk harder and at a much slower rate than the Hairy Woodpecker. This is what caught our attention.

This Woodpecker is impressive, especially when it is the first time that we have the chance to observe it at work. The Pileated Woodpecker measures between 40 and 49 cm and is found in Canada and the United States. When its work is completed, it leaves a hole of about 10 x 7 cm in the tree.

Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020.

US President Donald Trump is preparing for his Fall 2020 re-election by practicing a recipe used by the Chicago Daley machine. Father and son Daley ruled Chicago for decades using police repression.

Policeman Derek Chauvin, who killed African-American George Floyd, offers the President of the United States an opportunity to use this recipe. The murder being followed by protests and looting, Trump complained about the weakness of the leaders and suggested not only that law enforcement officials dominate the street, but that use of the military may be required against the population.

Here is a short excerpt from a summary of the book “Chicago“:

The exploitation of racial fears was quite successful. Daley was defending his policies by saying that “ most people are more worried about a black uproar than of a mayor that orders the use of lethal force to put an end to it and they recognized themselves far less in pacific protesters than in policemen that hit them with truncheons” (p.319).”

Cover of the book "Histoire de Chicago" by Andrew Diamond and Pap Ndiaye
Cover of the book “Histoire de Chicago” by Andrew Diamond and Pap Ndiaye

The high social tensions and unnecessary violence that follow the police repression generate ever more fear, and it is this fear that some politicians take advantage of.

The most conservative politicians have long understood that installing fear in the population pays off politically. It is an easy and expeditious method. The government is responsible for “dominating” real and more often fictitious enemies and, in doing so, reassures the population while diminishing the rights and freedom of the American population so that it can act as it pleases later on other matters.

Even the usually silent American generals have made public appearances in an attempt to save American values. According to several observers, there is a gradual shift towards a seriously worrisome  authoritarian political control.

Respect for the African-American population was the main factor at stake in the American Civil War, which lasted four years, between 1861 and 1865 and killed 750,000 people. It also cost President Lincoln his life. The problem of respect for African-Americans is still an issue.

All these people seen in protest at the death of George Floyd represent the non-racist side of the United States. It should not be forgotten that there is a large part of the American population who still dreams of retaining traditional white power: a population that cannot accept that the United States is changing and whose wealth comes from the mix of cultures and races. The solid base of American voters who support Donald Trump, this pathological liar who can say everything and its opposite in a single sentence, is not ready to give up on him.

Other non-negligible factors favor Trump during the American presidential elections in the fall of 2020: 1) a well-stocked election fund (pressure groups such as the NRA are big donors and influencers, 2) candidates from the Republican Party who approve of the Trump method or choose silence when they do not agree, 3) a hesitant Joe Biden who will not be able to stand up for confrontation during televised political debates, 4) an economy which will recover quickly with unemployment which has already started to decline, just in time for the election campaign. The right-wing media will ignore the appalling initial mismanagement of COVID-19 until the elections are over.

If I am wrong with my prediction, I will never have been so happy with my mistake!

The Hôtel Le Concorde and the Coronavirus.

In Quebec City, a few floors of the Hôtel Le Concorde receive patients recovering from the coronavirus.

Hôtel Le Concorde and the rooms reserved for patients who had to deal with the coronavirus.
Hôtel Le Concorde and the rooms reserved for patients who had to deal with the coronavirus.

Within seconds of taking this photo of the hotel, a Corona delivery truck appeared in front of the hotel. It was just a coincidence. But somebody was in need of the Mexican serum!

Hôtel Le Concorde and the Corona delivery truck.
Hôtel Le Concorde and the Corona delivery truck.

Speaking of coronavirus (COVID-19), I was recently at Costco and was wearing a protective mask. I heard some people near me say: “I don’t see why he’s wearing a mask, it doesn’t even protect him!” I tried to explain to them that I was wearing the mask to protect the people around me, but that did not convince anyone. It seems that taking selfless action to protect others is inconceivable. The purpose of wearing a mask is to protect the neighbors. And if the neighbors wear one too, they protect me. The more we wear the mask, the more we protect each other. We help each other. However, it seems to be a surprisingly difficult concept to grasp!

At the entrance of a huge garden store, a lady refused to rub her hands with gel. She said to the clerk: “No way am I putting liquid germicide on my hands, it’s not good for my health.”  The clerk was very nice and replied: “Okay, so come in with me and wash your hands inside with soap and water.” She had no choice because she would not have been allowed to shop. This is another example of a human behavior that is hard to understand. If she was so interested in her health, taking care of her weight situation would have been more sensible than to focus on a bit of liquid germicide.

Covid-19 : The Antonov 225 lands in Mirabel, Québec.

On Friday May 1st 2020, Quebec received a shipment of medical equipment destined to the people fighting COVID-19. An Antonov 225 was carrying the goods. The flight was organized thanks to a joint collaboration between Nolinor, Momentum Solutions and Antonov Airlines.

Departing from Tianjin, China, the plane made a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska, before continuing its flight over Canada towards the province of Quebec.

The Antonov 225 carrying medical supplies for Canada makes a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Antonov 225 carrying medical supplies for Canada makes a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska.

The arrival of the Antonov 225 in Anchorage was announced in advance by the media, which allowed a large crowd to stand near the airport and monitor the approach of the aircraft. The following link allows you to view the approach and arrival: KTUU Video Antonov 225

At 5:35 on the KTUU video, we can see a Fedex MD-11F. It is worth mentioning, because this was a very impressive plane at the time of its conception, but companies are progressively getting rid of it due to the age and fuel costs associated with its operation.  Today, the aircraft is only used for the transport of goods. The production of aircrafts of this size, with three engines, was stopped years ago. There is a good chance that the Antonov 225 will continue to fly long after the MD-11F has made its last flight.

After taking off from Anchorage in the morning of May 1st, the Antonov 225 arrived in Mirabel, Quebec, in the evening of the same day at around 8:22 p.m. The aircraft’s flight path (ADB3381) could be followed on Flightradar24 at the time of its approach for Mirabel (CYMX).

The Antonov 225 ADB3381 on final for Mirabel airport in Canada on May 1st 2020.
The Antonov 225 ADB3381 on final for Mirabel airport in Canada on May 1st 2020.

We can see on the Flightradar24 screen capture that a helicopter (C-GSTV) is positioned to film the arrival of the world’s biggest aircraft. It is an AS 350 BA from TVA, a French-language news media in Quebec.

The Québec TVA news helicopter C-GSTV.
The Québec TVA news helicopter C-GSTV.

Source : FlightAware.

The Antonov 225 arrives in Mirabel from Anchorage on May 1st 2020.
The Antonov 225 arrives in Mirabel from Anchorage on May 1st 2020.

Photo taken by Martin Chevalier

YQBspotting has posted a very interesting video of the Antonov 225 arriving with its cargo of medical equipment in Mirabel, Quebec.

Andy St-André, from TVA, posted a video of the unloading of medical equipment on his Twitter account. 

The photo below shows the unloading operation. The employees wore protective equipment against the coronavirus.

Unloading the Antonov 225 at Mirabel airport in Québec during the COVID-19 crisis.
Unloading the Antonov 225 at Mirabel airport in Québec during the COVID-19 crisis.

Photo : Joël Lemay/Agence QMI.

Several challenges were encountered for this flight to be a success: the language barrier, the verification of equipment quality (contaminated material is not of a big help), the airport operation’s requirements from China, customs limited hours of operation, maximum daily time in service for the Antonov 225 crew, international competition for slot times and orders, initiatives from some countries to acquire shipments not intended for them, etc. But finally, after hard work, Quebec finally received the precious cargo.

The last video from YQBspotting shows the Antonov 225’s departure

Winter photography 2020 near Old Quebec (5)

As I process these photos taken in February 2020, we are in full confinement because of COVID-19. It’s strange how life has changed in such a short time. Just a few weeks ago, I was freezing in Old Quebec and in the surrounding area while doing winter photography. There were lots of residents and tourists all around, and I could warm up in the cafes of my choice. There was no question of social distancing, masks, closed restaurants and daily press conferences of the federal and provincial governments!

Un chien attend son maître dehors durant une tempête hivernale en 2020.
Un chien attend son maître dehors durant une tempête hivernale en 2020.

The photo above was taken on rue St-Jean, around supper time. Citizens went out to have a bite in one of the many restaurants and cafes on this popular street, while others quickly went to specialty stores to get missing ingredients for the supper to be prepared. Dogs are not allowed inside the shops, so they have to wait a few minutes outside in the snowstorm for their owners.

Multicolored buildings near Old Quebec winter 2020
Multicolored buildings near Old Quebec winter 2020

I enjoyed the digital processing of these multicolored dwellings. Indeed, although they are interesting, the original colors of the buildings were still less vivid than what I wanted to obtain for this winter scenery near Old Quebec. The saturation was therefore slightly increased to obtain the desired effect.

Crossing the Honoré-Mercier avenue in Quebec City winter 2020
Crossing the Honoré-Mercier avenue in Quebec City winter 2020

Traffic time on Honoré-Mercier avenue. Pedestrians have just enough time to cross this very busy avenue before the numerous buses and cars block the passage again. The icy and sloping roadway, the wind and the snow make it more difficult than usual, but the time allowed to cross remains the same. Hurry up!

For this photography project, I used a Canon 5DSr full-frame camera with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens.

List of the Orbx freeware and payware airports. March 27th 2020 edition.

I have reviewed and edited my list of the Orbx freeware and payware airports, with runway description and airport elevation. It includes most airports that were created as of March 27th, 2020.

I have added many airports based on what Orbx has released since last year on its “OrbxDirect Release Announcements” section. I have also corrected some mistakes that I noted on my list. Every new virtual airport for X-Plane, P3DV4, AFS2 and FSX has been added to this list.

Payware airports often come with secondary, smaller virtual airports included in their package. I reviewed several payware airports and added those smaller airports with their runway description and elevation.

I use the list to plan my virtual flights and find possible challenging situations. The list might not be perfect but it is certainly good enough to be enjoyed by most flight simulation enthusiasts.

You have access to a free download PDF file on my website. Just click on the following secured link:

Have fun!

An old street in Quebec City after a snowstorm.

A street of Quebec City in February 2020.
A street of Quebec City in February 2020.

Winter photography holds great surprises during snowstorms. The picture above was taken on February 27, 2020, a day when Quebec City received between 30 and 35 centimeters of snow.

This little street in Quebec City still has its old wooden posts from which hang many electric wires. In several new neighborhoods, the wires are now buried and the lampposts are no longer made of wood.

The photographic composition did not require much effort, because everything attracted me to this traditional winter scene: the people, the diffused light at the end of the day, the horizon obscured by snow, the steeples in the background, the traditional architecture of buildings pressed against each other and the cars buried under the snow.

As for people, there was only the person shoveling her entrance when I took my first photo. Then a man walking his dog appeared in the distance. I took the photo when he was well in view but not in the foreground.

The scene was captured with a Canon 5DSr full-frame DSLR camera. Image processing software was then used to refine the final result.

Winter photography 2020 in Old Quebec (4)

February 7th 2020 snowstorm at Place d'Youville in Quebe City.
February 7th 2020 snowstorm at Place d’Youville in Quebe City.

The photo above shows Place d’Youville, in Quebec City, during the February 7, 2020 snowstorm.

The original color photo practically showed only a general white veil. The processing in black and white photo helps to accentuate the effects of blowing snow in this winter scene. Transformation into black and white is a very useful photography technique when it comes to highlighting elements that are difficult to detect.

The subsequent enhancement using an image processing software also helped to highlight otherwise secondary elements.

Between the snow bank in the foreground and the buildings on the right, the cars are moving slowly along what is still visible of this entrance to Old Quebec.

The St. Louis street and the La Bûche restaurant in Old Quebec.
The St. Louis street and the La Bûche restaurant in Old Quebec.

The scene above shows St-Louis street partially obstructed by snow. On this Friday evening, the Quebec carnival has just started. However, not everyone is celebrating. The driver of the snow blower in the background is immobilized. The trucks in which he would normally blow snow have been delayed.

In the foreground, the restaurant La Bûche. I’ve been there a few times since it opened. Always the same excellent recipes, impeccable service and an extra kilo after the meal. A very good restaurant in Quebec, near the Chateau Frontenac. And for those interested, what is happening in the kitchen is visible to some of the customers. (No I am not paid for this advertisement!)

A cyclist in a snowstorm in Old Quebec on February 7th 2020.
A cyclist in a snowstorm in Old Quebec on February 7th 2020.

For the bravest, winter cycling is an alternative way to travel in extreme weather. The reduced visibility forces the cyclist above to use the sidewalk for his own protection. However, beware of walking down sidewalks at the corner of streets where ice sometimes accumulates. Having often been in Old Quebec to do night and day photography, I witnessed spectacular pirouettes that would make the elastic acrobats of Cirque du Soleil jealous.

The photos were taken with a Canon 5DSr full-frame camera.

Winter photography 2020 in Old Quebec (3)

Place d'Youville under moderate snow. Seen from the Porte St-Jean during Winter 2020.
Place d’Youville under moderate snow. Seen from the Porte St-Jean during Winter 2020.

The photography technique adopted above uses the arch offered by Porte St-Jean to frame the main photo showing Place d’Youville and its buildings at the time of heavy snowfall.


This winter night photograph represents several challenges, including the need to show the snowflakes falling in front of the headlights of moving cars while respecting the natural light of the buildings in the background.

The two pedestrians strolling on St-Jean Street add a human touch and depth to this scene.

The photo below shows part of Pub St-Patrick with some of its Christmas decorations during the snowstorm of February 7, 2020. Old Quebec is full of decorated buildings long after the holiday season is over.

A pedestrian in front of Pub St. Patrick in Old Quebec, Winter 2020
A pedestrian in front of Pub St. Patrick in Old Quebec, Winter 2020

The photo was taken just before nightfall because the light is particularly soft at that moment. I waited for a rare pedestrian to add a bit of humanity to this scene.

The photographic composition takes into account the two diagonal lines starting from the upper and lower left corners and meet on the right side of the photo, roughly in its center.

The diffuse light coming from a lamp post located on the right and outside the frame of the photo adds a little warmth to this winter scene.

The pictures above were taken with a Canon 5DSR full frame camera.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1119027-REG/canon_0582c002_eos_5ds_r_dslr.html

Winter photography 2020 in Old Quebec (2)

A narrow street in Old Quebec during a winter storm in 2020
A narrow street in Old Quebec during a winter storm in 2020

The few Christmas decorations still remaining in Old Quebec enhance the winter scenery during a snowstorm on February 7 2020. The presence of several interesting elements add to the photographic composition: the color of the lights in the fir tree and its reflection on the snow, the yellowish lights , the pedestrians walking in the snow covered alley, the smoke escaping from one side of the building and the « blue hour », a period that lasts a few minutes before  darkness when one can still see the color of the sky.

Winter storm in Quebec in 2020
Winter storm in Quebec in 2020

The black and white photo above has received infrared treatment. This way, the characters passing in front of the car’s headlights are clearly visible, while also making it possible to distinguish the surrounding objects. Night photography with moving characters and such dramatic light contrasts requires a higher ISO if you do not want to leave out objects that would be of interest in the photographic composition.

Despite an adjusted ISO, the car’s headlights made it harder for the camera’s sensor to correctly read the average brightness of the scene. Without digital image processing, the surrounding buildings would all be extremely dark. Using infrared solved part of the problem.

The photos were taken with a Canon 5DSr.

https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/products/details/cameras/eos-dslr-and-mirrorless-cameras/dslr/eos-5ds-r

Photography, aviation and flight simulation