On Saturday I watched the morning arrive on the shore of the Bow River. I was across the water from Calgary’s downtown and used the Center Street Bridge as a focal point between the sky and the buildings. I parked along Memorial Drive and checked the sky in a couple of test photographs. Traffic came by and made for a good start.
On the other side of the road, the rocks, snow and ice along the river bank presented an interesting foreground. It was a bit hectic teasing out compositions as the light was changing rapidly. But that’s pretty fun chaos by any measure.
The eastern sky had bundles of pink cotton candy for a few minutes. To the west the pink was a pastel that looked very pretty reflected in the Bow where it passed Prince’s Island Park.
Mallard ducks and Canada geese milled about flying up and down the river. The cackling and quacking across the water along with the occasional group of vehicles passing behind me on Memorial Drive joined the river to perform the morning’s soundtrack.
On my path towards the water for sunrise a couple of weeks ago, I passed under the 4th Avenue Flyover Bridge. Curtis Van Charles Sorensen’s mural of the leaping foxes is a street art favorite of mine. I liked how the curve of the bridge allowed me to connect it to the Calgary Tower.
Recently I was in Montréal and my first destination was the Palais des congrès. A stroll down Avenue Viger led me to this convention centre and the beautiful façade of colorful glass windows that drew me there. I crossed the street to frame the windows behind the fountain in the park there. La Joute is the name of the sculpture fountain and it breathes fire! I didn’t know that when I arrived though. Standing at the edge of the fountain’s pool, I overheard a boy ask his brother when the fire would start so I decided to wait and see what would come next.
A few minutes later, a thick haze started to roll over the water and soon covered the pool and rose up towards the bronze sculptures of animal and human figures. The presentation was impressive and had a gentle flow as it moved from water into fog.
A few people had gathered and were enthralled, as I was, when the first flickers of flame began to appear around the central statue. These flames connected into a complete ring of fire and rose a foot or two off of the water.
The backdrop of the Palais made for a lovely atmosphere and a great scene to photograph throughout the sequence.
It was a surprise, to me at least, that a snowstorm blew across Calgary this morning. I thought that weather wasn’t coming until Friday. I took a few photographs near City Hall as the snow fell. It cleared off quickly but provided a wintry reminder that spring has not taken hold quite yet.
Coach Hill, a rise in west Calgary, affords a great view of city’s downtown. I found a place there where vehicles traveling along Sarcee Trail pass in front of the knot of skyscrapers. The play of perspective, especially the relative size of the cars to the buildings, was very interesting to me.
A few photographs of downtown Calgary from the north side of the Centre Street Bridge last week during the latest cold snap.
On this last photograph, I entered the frame with the help of a timer in order to provide a contrasting element in the foreground.
A morning scene from the edge of the Olympic Plaza in Calgary’s downtown. It’s a small park with a million stories. This was a sunny morning earlier this week where the moment suggested the light and the dark sides of many of these stories.
I caught Star Wars: The Force Awakens yesterday and absolutely loved it. The continuation of the saga is a joyride I have been looking forward to enormously and the movie met my loftiest hopes 🙂
Earlier in the week, my kids and I went downtown for my birthday evening and we saw these Stormtroopers walking near The Bow. Great foreshadowing for us. There was a film crew with them so it was some form of promotional shoot. That didn’t stop the kids and I getting really excited daydreaming about walking into the middle of a real life Star Wars scene.
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/10th of a second at f/4.5 on ISO 640
Cars, motorcycles, buses and rickshaws swung by me one evening while I was in the heart of Cabo San Lucas. With the neon signs hanging above many of the shops and the sky still deep blue, I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to drag my shutter and play with what images I could create.
When practicing motion photography, I like to try different techniques. I switch between keeping the subject sharp by panning in sync with its movement and panning out of sync so that only a small part is sharp or the whole thing has a large or small amount of blur that pushes the image into an abstract shot.
For the better part of an hour, the traffic kept me happily occupied while I waited for my bus to arrive.
Last week I was downtown for the day and before leaving the urban cacophony spent a bit of time dragging my shutter among my fellow commuters. It had been quite a long time since I was downtown during the evening rush hour and I enjoyed panning with the C-trains, shooting in the middle of the cross walk and looking for ways to capture the movements of people and their conveyances.
The Plus 15 walkways which are ~5 metres above Calgary’s street level connect the majority of buildings downtown. This allows people to avoid going outside during cold winter days and provides a great vantage point for watching the bright, orderly retreat of workers from their offices to their homes.
Fuji X100s + 23mm lens: 1/4 of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 3200
I played around with longer exposures (wishing I had a way to counter the slight bounce in the skybridge due to my fellow Plus 15 pedestrians) and had a moment to appreciate a benefit of the early sunsets that come with the winter months and daylight savings time.
The sky to the east was beautiful this morning. I had a chance to photograph from a good elevation which let me see the horizon towards the east and the downtown cityscape in the other direction. I loved the explosion of color in the clouds preceding the sunrise and those added nice reflections in some of the glass facades of Calgary’s prominent buildings.
The morning’s are still dark when I’m downtown so the lights from the buildings and the vehicles create these illuminated pools. With a longer shutter speed, I sometimes play with stretching these pockets of lights while capturing the motion of vehicles driving around Calgary’s streets.
Thursday night I was downtown photographing night scenes. Hunched over my camera, concentrating on some abstract composition my attention was torn away by a blur of motion above me. Looking up, I saw a flash of red and then… nothing.
I climbed up a fire escape on a lovely old brick building and that’s when I had a good look at the cause of my distraction. He landed on the flight of stairs above and then leaped over the railing (as seen above).
At this point he was well positioned for an action pose and I managed to take one photo as he was staring at me. A second later and he was scaling another wall up towards the roof top. Keeping up to him without a jet pack, flying surfboard or some other speedy contraption was unlikely so I just stood and watched as he spun a web and swung out of sight.
I went back down the escape and walked around the corner keeping an eye out for the webbed one. I turned around intent on heading up the alley and saw him scaling a brick wall. After clearing the doorway our neighbourhood friend launched upwards into the darkness where I lost him again.
I didn’t see the masked vigilante for a little while and thought he might have gone. I was heading back to my car when I looked back over my shoulder and caught a sliver of his mask peering around a gate entrance. I carried on to my car in one of the city’s underground parkades and was still rather surprised when the man spider ran down a line of parked cars and vaulted over my car. I wish I had captured the whole sequence but I was only able to take one sharp shot.
At that point I was thinking that my chance encounter wasn’t chance. I know photography was one of this particular superhero’s interests but I can’t say whether he was watching me out of curiosity about just what I was photographing or if he thought I may be a villain up to no good. I should have asked, not that it was likely he would have responded. When I pulled out of the garage, I had one last good look at this mysterious fellow.
I wasn’t thinking about it in the moment but, looking at the pictures, I wonder why he wasn’t in full outfit – was he just exercising a little after the day job, the superhero’s equivalent of going out for a stroll? No idea, these and other questions are still puzzling around in my mind. The imagination wanders… it was a very interesting evening.
I’m often downtown in the morning before dawn and occasionally in the evening after the sun sets. I’m always intrigued with the mingling of buildings, vehicles, street lights and deep blue sky as graphic elements during these walks to and from work. Occasionally, I notice when they align and present me with an interesting scene. Here are a few of the photographs I have made from these moments.
I was in downtown Calgary the morning after our first winter storm on Thursday. It was our first real snowstorm in a few weeks and the moody overcast light inspired a couple of images as I made my way along Stephens Avenue.
These silhouettes of the other commuters created nice abstracts for a final image on the morning.
With the regular excitement leading up to Stampede amplified by the attendance of the young royals during their honeymoon tour across Canada, Calgary is in great spirits right now. The Stampede Parade this morning kicks off the crazy ten day party. Rick Hansen is the Parade Marshal which is an inspiring choice. Canada’s Man In Motion will no doubt add more fuel to the fire in the city.
As the Stampede gets closer, more people start to don their Western attire and businesses deck their store fronts (and walls, alleys, staff, windows, etc.) with fanciful cowboy characters, horses and chuckwagons (mostly artwork but there are living embodiments if you go to the right bar or corporate lobby). One of my favourite decorations is this cowboy that Canadian Pacific Railway perches on top of their black locomotive that is set along 9th Avenue in front of their offices in the Gulf Canada Square building on 4th street.
This year I have a few framed prints showcased at the Western Photo Gallery which is one of the five areas of the Western Art Show at the Stampede. I was there for an opening party on Wednesday night and the artwork on display was incredible. Some of the paintings and sculptures are truly incredible. If you visit the Western Showcase in Halls D and E in the BMO Centre at the Stampede Park you will have a great opportunity to see the work of some incredible artists – and a couple of nice photographs too!
I have been accredited to photograph the rodeo and the chuckwagon races for the second time this year. Thank you to Dwayne Zaba and Roy Anstey at Bragg About the Creek magazine for your sponsorship. I can’t wait to get on the rail to watch these events – I didn’t grow up competing but had a number of cousins who did so I appreciate the level that both the animals and the people perform at during the Stampede. I’m sure I will be posting a few images over the next couple of weeks.
If you are in Calgary and make it to the Stampede this year, I hope you have a great time. If you aren’t, try to visit sometime down the road, I don’t argue with their slogan, “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”.
Along 9th Avenue in downtown Calgary, Gulf Canada Square’s dark panes of glass often provide a large mirror that abstracts the traffic heading east on the one way road.
I watched traffic for a while, looking down from the 12th floor of Banker’s Hall, until this taxicab drove by distinctive and separated from the other vehicles in that moment. The slight curvatures of the glass did the real work to create this warp of a simple scene.
I was out on a windy hill east of Calgary’s downtown core on Monday night photographing the city center at sunset. There were some great clouds that soaked up the light to create some beautiful hues that reflected into the buildings. As the sun fell, stray light would find a clear patch through the clouds and then bounce around the glass on the buildings. A beautiful scene to photograph, here are a few from the evening.
Although it is no longer the tallest building along the skyline, the Calgary Tower is still an icon for the city. This is a different look at the building as dusk quickly advanced.
A view of the whole downtown as the sunlight waned.
I panned with this train as it slid through downtown Calgary, working to keep the front sharp. When I reviewed the photograph, I liked the driver’s wave to his counterpart on the just passed train. A detail I didn’t see in the moment.
I am enjoying the people I meet and see during my commutes into and out of downtown. The photographs of these two gentlemen drew my attention when I was looking through my recent pictures. The driver was a quick shot taken as my car passed by a bus – I didn’t realize that the bus driver was looking at me. It certainly makes the picture. The man waiting for the train had a stately, refined manner which stood out from the standard commuter. I am taking queues from this man’s sartorial tastes.
More to come from the commuting into Calgary’s core…
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The city was still fairly dark when I was downtown early on Wednesday. I dragged the shutter, using long exposures mixed with some panning to capture the motion of the commuter trains coming into and heading out of the core. Many of the trains were sparsely populated with passengers with the rush of people yet to start building. This afforded the opportunity pick out individual riders and follow them through the exposure to give the illusion of freezing the person while surrounding them with movement.
The station matched the trains at that hour – both were pretty quiet.
In this image