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5 September 2014

It's a secret. You don't have to go anywhere or buy special equipment to enjoy the great if unappreciated sport of urban hiking. All you need is a sidewalk, a pair of shoes and, for emergencies, bus fare. But bring your camera because no one will believe what you tell them you saw.

The Lighthouse. About 300 steps down in 45-mph gusts.

These shots are from one little excursion in 2011. We just walked down the hill and wandered around around for half an hour with our eyes open. We discovered all sorts of lovely and amusing things minding their own business.

At the time, we had a Canon PowerShot SX1 IS with us and had no higher ambition than to shoot JPEGs. Auto ISO jumped all over the place from 80 to 160 but mainly 125 on this sunny day. And our aperture stayed open, usually around f3.5.

Obviously, we didn't worry much about exposure, just composition. Almost as if we were carrying a sketch book instead of a camera. That's the fun of it.

Once again, we polished these up in Lightroom, mainly increasing the contrast this time. Clarity never hurts. And we did have to bump up saturation on some of the shadier shots. But we were just fiddling around. The JPEGs straight out of the camera weren't bad.

We made just the tiniest tweaks to the crops. Straightening, mostly. But one or two looked better with a different aspect ratio, too.

We lingered over them, partly wondering what about the screne had caught our attention. It wasn't immediately obvious for a few of them. But lingering is one of the more advanced techniques of the urban hiker.

As is the careful consumption of refreshments, which are plentiful in the urban landscape. Or the engagement of considered conversation with less mobile members of the species pruning their roses or pushing baby strollers or walking dogs.

Urban hiking is an art in itself. But don't tell anyone. It's a secret -- a secret pleasure.

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