Hi friends and photo lovers,
It gives me great pleasure to announce an upcoming exhibition of my photography called Illuminight. The exhibition will feature around 25 of my long exposure, cities at night photographs at Le Meridien Versailles-Montreal from October through December 2013. There is a launch party on Oct. 3 between 5:30–7:30 pm. All the visitors of this site or Photography.ca, people who have taken the Montreal Photo Tour or taken courses with me, my longtime friends and Facebook/Twitter/G+ friends (and their friends) are invited for some wine, cheese and photography. Hope to see many of you there!
The light was fading fast when I spotted this smile-producing mountain cloud scene driving in my car. When I got out of the car I was too low to get the scene at the right angle so I stood on the hood of the car to get the shot hand held. Shooting while standing on a car is something I have been doing for a while. Time and time again I’ll be driving and spot a gorgeous scene but when I get out of the car to make the image, I’m too low; my angle has changed. Standing on the hood often gets me the higher angle that intrigued me in the first place. You need to be steady on your feet and stand away from the center of the hood. Anyway, it works for me but obviously depending on your body type and what type of hood you have, it may or may not work for you and you may or may not cause damage or ‘dings’ to your hood. In my case it seems to me that I can wipe off the foot prints afterwards with no other consequences.
I wanted to assure sharpness in this image with a fairly fast shutter speed because I wasn’t 100% steady balancing on the car. The focal length was 170mm which required a shutter speed of at least 1/170 but due to not being so steady on a curved hood, I made SURE to go faster. At ISO 400, in aperture priority mode I chose an F-stop of F-14 (because I wanted good sharpness in the mountain and the clouds) and that gave me a shutter speed of 1/200. Due to not being on flat ground though which compromised steadiness, I deliberately danced with the ISO and made it 800. And the second I changed the ISO to 800, the camera changed the shutter speed to 1/400. I liked that speed and aperture combination and so I clicked the shutter release button and made this image.
Cloudy Mountain Day Yukon, Canada
Last week I went back to my roots.
I started re-doing something that I haven’t done in quite a while because it’s difficult and time consuming. It requires research, scouting, patience, a good game plan and did I mention patience?
For the first time in a while, I set up a conceptual scene to be photographed where I used professional performers. I’ve always been a huge fan of photographs that tell or suggest stories and when I want to make my story super-clear and the story involves people, once in a while I trade posing for prints or as in this case, I simply hire people. I have been doing this on and off for close to two decades with different subject matter and it gives me a huge thrill every time I do it. It gives you a lot more responsibility though and a lot more to focus on — and I get lost in it. In a good way.
This shoot was different than previous shoots though because I used intentional camera movement to achieve the painterly effect you see here. I directed the performers to move in a way that suited this technique at the Gesù Church/Theatre in Montreal. Each of these images was shot with a long shutter speed and very little post processing is done on these images. They are mostly captured this way in camera. Please feel free to let me know which of these three images you prefer and if these types of photographs ‘work’ for you.
Midnight Ballet in Montreal — Image I
Midnight Ballet in Montreal — Image II
Midnight Ballet in Montreal — Image III
The Notre Dame de Bonsecours Chapel is the oldest in Old Montreal. The original chapel that used to be there was built in the mid 1600’s. Only its foundation remains. The church was rebuilt in the 1770’s and has gone through many renovations and much remodelling since then. It’s an absolutely gorgeous church both inside and out and you can actually see the inside here. The front of the church faces St. Paul street and the back of the church faces the St. Lawrence River which is one of the reasons that the church is known as the Sailor’s Church.
The decorations on the outside of the church have enthralled Montrealers and tourists for a long while. The Virgin Mary Statue at the back of the church is enormous and incredibly impressive. Montreal poet/singer Leonard Cohen referred to this statue in his song Suzanne as ‘our lady of the harbour’ and I’ve taken the liberty of borrowing a portion of that lyric as titles for these images.
Camera movement allowed me to capture ‘Our lady’ as she blesses the sailors that she watches over. Here are 2 of my favourite images of her ‘blessings’. Which one do you prefer?
Our Lady of the Harbour
Our Lady of the Harbour ll
On Saturday February 26, 2012 I was lucky enough to be in Toronto, Ontario during the weekend when the Bloor-Yorkville Icefest was going on. The ice sculptures and surrounding decor were simply gorgeous, a fine art photographer’s wet dream I dare say. A friend of mine told me about the sculptures which were in a very popular part of town where parking spots are as rare as flawless diamonds. After looking for parking for 15 minutes, I got fed up and almost left to shoot elsewhere. But I got trapped in a bumper to bumper traffic jam (a huge pet peeve) and it seemed like my only way out was a parking garage with a 15 dollar charge. Well thankfully I just sighed and parked because it was by far the best 15 dollar investment of my weekend.
The area was packed with people getting really close to the ice sculptures and packed with pissed off photographers who wanted to take unobstructed (people free) images of the ice-sculptures. As for myself, I was enthralled after the first frame. For me, the people added a level of abstraction to the photographs that made them much more interesting to my eye. They were unknowingly interacting with the ice sculptures for me. I shot there for about 30 minutes as different people entered and exited the scene and I tried different angles to get as much variety as I could.
I’d like to thank the city of Toronto as well as the event’s sponsors for putting on such a visually awesome event. Here are my 4 favourite photos from the shoot.
A couple of weeks ago we had a fabulous 10 day festival in Montreal called Montreal in Lights — Montréal en lumières and it was awesome!! What a great way to break up the darker winter months with some much needed light. As usual, the city of Montreal and the sponsors of the event did a fantastic job. Rue Jeanne Mance and the Area around Place Des Arts turned into a luminous zone that was fun for kids and adults alike. A well lit funky ferris wheel, a huge slide that pulsated with lights, performers wearing mirrored boxes on their heads, loads of fireplaces to warm up to, wonderful projections onto screens and buildings; these were some of the main attractions of the event. Everyone was smiling and having a blast at this FREE event. Thanks again Ville de Montréal and sponsors!
Given that I live 5 minutes from the event I was able to get there easily on a couple of separate occasions. It was a great scene to photograph and there were photographers everywhere. Here are a few of my favourite images from the event using intentional camera movement in order to get this painterly effect.
Montréal en lumières — Montreal in lights festival 2012 — Stairs and Ferris Wheel
Montréal en lumières — Montreal in lights festival 2012 — Slide
Montréal en lumières — Montreal in lights festival 2012 — Luminous Musical Wands
Montréal en lumières — Montreal in lights festival 2012 — Street Scene
A few weeks ago I went to have dinner with some friends at the Pommery ice restaurant in the brand new Snow Village in Montreal on Ile Sainte-Helene. The food was quite good but my butt was way cold even though I was wearing long underwear. I recommend thick snow pants if you want to check out the restaurant and have dinner. Be prepared to spend some cash because it’s not cheap, but it IS quite an experience though and I do recommend it.
It’s the first year they put this seasonal village together and it’s made completely of ice and snow. It includes a hotel, chapel, bar and restaurant all made out of ice and snow — way cool if you like the cold. The icy sculptural decor is a really nice touch and the overall combination of ice, snow and light is a wonderful sensory experience. Because I went with friends I couldn’t take as many pictures as I wanted but we did take a good look around and the village is stunning. I hope to go back before the village melts and take some more shots.
- Amarula Ice Bar Montreal — Le bar de glace Amarula — Montréal
This past weekend I went to Ottawa Ontario, Canada’s capital. I really enjoy visiting Ottawa as there’s always lots to see and the city is fairly easy to get around in. I went to visit some family and of course while I was there I was going to shoot the city at night. This weekend also happened to be Winterlude in Ottawa so there were lots of activities and lots of photographic opportunities.
As always, there’s way too much to shoot and never enough time to shoot it all. When this happens, I have to make tough choices and this time I decided to focus on a classic, and something new. The classic is the Rideau Canal which is the longest/largest skating rink on planet Earth. It cuts through the downtown core of Ottawa and is close to 8 kilometers in length. It’s one of my favorite places to hang out in the wintertime in Ottawa.
Here are two images that are similar — I’d be curious to know which one people prefer.
This is the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada with the parliament buildings in the background
This next image highlights the right side of the canal.
This angle highlights the right side of the canal with government buildings in the background
After I shot the canal I went to Confederation Park to Catch part of Winterlude but I was stopped dead in my tracks by the FABULOUS lights of the new Rink of Dreams right next to City Hall. Skating and Hockey are such a part of being Canadian and I just hung around the rink while parents and kids skated. I took some decent shots of people for a good 20 minutes when something magical happened. Everyone left the ice because the Zamboni (ice cleaning machine) had ice to clean.
As the Zamboni started cleaning the ice, the city’s reflection in the ice became more and more prominent. I thought it added a cool layer to the scene so even though I normally like people in my scenes — the empty rink really added something for me. I could imagine parents and kids dreaming about being skating stars or hockey stars. Ottawa Rocks!
This image was taken at about 6:15 pm. I really dig the rink’s colours, the city light reflections and of course, the Zamboni.