his blog will be about my adventures as a photographer which happen mainly in Montreal, the city I inhabit since 2010. I will share my experiences and motivations, and risk seeing my way of practicing photography evolve drastically under your eyes! Technical stuff is very well covered elsewhere on the web, what I will do is present the creative side and the context behind the images that I think are my best ones. Nevertheless, photography is very dependant on technology and in this article, I will explain my working process and share the origins of it.
I began to seriously research photography when I realised how magnificent the land was in Causapscal in the Gaspe area and how poorly the landscape was sometimes disfigured by new constructions and renovations. I saw photography as a mean of raising the awareness toward the preservation of that heritage. Today, we have access to every heterogeneous materials on earth and it does not really fit with the traditional vernacular architecture made with local wood mainly and time-honored craftmanship. Seeing that, I began to take photographs post card style but with a twist, I would introduce industrial or agricultural structures even deteriorated buildings that seen on a better light could reveal their interest and beauty. I often use the contrast between the old and new to show the effectiveness or not of the integration between the two.
My first challenge was to learn how to capture the very beautiful light and the emotion felt in front of the inhabited Monts Notre-Dame, their woods, the small villages and fields on film. After some reading and research, I came to the same conclusions as many landscape photographer did. I had to diminish the contrast between the light from the sky and the light from the earth in order to convey an image delivering something near the real experience as seen by the eye which record a very much higher contrast than a camera. We are able to see the details on earth and the sky blue which is not the case for a sensor or a transparency.
More concretely, the moment of the day had to be well-chosen in order for the final result to convey the lovely atmosphere and according to the desired angle. Filters are mandatory to avoid undesired reflections, to render the blue sky and to keep the too much light to wash out the sky. The white balance, sensibility and color gamut were defined by the chosen film in my first years. I often shoot Velvia ISO 50, and this is often the result given by that film that I am striving for in Lightroom and Photoshop. To use a positive was a better choice than a negative if you wanted to be near the feeling you wanted to carry. The developing process is less in the way of the intended result.
Since I moved to Montreal, I am photographing the urban landscape. My goal is the same, to raise the awareness toward the built environment and the heritage including the transformations that occur under all lights. The digital process offers more control over the finished image, a welcome progress. Nevertheless, I still use the neutral and polarizing filters. I prefer to keep the computer work to a minimum and to strive to obtain an image near the final product in the camera. Filters are irreplaceable to obtain certain effects that would be fastidious to replicate with the software. The sensor is the new film, to obtain the best negative with more information I use the RAW format, which let me interpret the capture as I see it rather than letting the camera software do what it wants. I tend to stay near the result a Velvia would have produced, but sometimes, I had a subtle touch pushing a color or changing a tone if it gives a better image in the end.
I waited a lot to begin to use the digital format. I wanted a camera that was durable an delivering a quality result. I changed when affordable full frame appeared. I could reuse my old lenses. I use the zooms less and fixed focal more, the image quality is often greater with the later. In winter as changing lens is less practical, I will go with the zoom.
The last, well-known trick of the trade, long exposures and the lowest ISO possible. A long exposure gives a smoothness to clouds, calmness to water wich gives the nicest reflections, trailing lights from cars and it makes them and sometimes people disappear. The low ISO is to avoid the noise. A solid tripod is almost always part of the equation.
This is the end of the article wich was exceptionally centered on technical aspects. Next articles would be about an image or place, and the ideas behind it. In the hope that the content would be more original and different that what you usually find on photography blogs.