Thursday, March 19, 2020

Center Street - March 19, 2020

Yesterday, I went out after dinner thinking that there would be a sunset. I had been fiddling with a photography app on my phone (photopills) using it to determine where the sun would set and what the best position to be in would be. I knew as soon as got outside I knew it was all for not.. there was heavy cloud in the west and the sun hidden. I quickly lost interest in the plan but drove around anyway. I couldn't really find the motivation to stop anywhere and with all the flat light so eventually I just drove back home. Today, after dropping Conor off in the Northwest I thought I'd make my way downtown to see about taking some photos. The light still wasn't great and it was pretty cloudy but I wanted to go anyway, possibly to make up for last night.

On the way, I needed gas and stopped at a station on 16th ave over by the Foothills hospital. As I was filling up I noticed the group of workers gathered across the street. It looked kind of interesting (to me) so I parked the car, changed lenses and tried to frame up a photo. For some reason I felt very self conscious about the whole thing. Because I was across the intersection I needed to wait until there wasn't any traffic between me and the scene so I'd end up standing there out in the open waiting to take a photo. Some workers were making their way across the intersection and buying snacks at the gas station or coffee at the Tim Hortons behind me.. As they came close I'd put the camera down and sit in my car and for them to move out of the way. It got a little silly because I'm sure I was in and out of the car about four times before being able to grab a couple shots and then decide that I was going to move on.

On break

Pulling out of the gas station parking lot I could only turn right and I needed to go left so I ended up driving down the street a ways looking for a place to turn around.  While doing so I noticed this view of the church steeple with it geometric shapes and with the trees in front.  After turning around in a very convoluted way I parked and got out of the car to see about capturing a photo.

After mucking about a bit, I ended up shooting from the same spot that I was in when I noticed the view from my car. Which was interesting because I've mentioned before about how the view from the car never really looks like the view you get when walking around. In this case it was reverse, the view from the car was the one that I wanted. I guess nothing is really absolute. What's fun about this photo is there is an owl in it.. (not a real one though) can you spot it?

Got back to the car and drove down Crowchild trail towards Memorial drive, left on Memorial and decided to drive under the Center street bridge.. I'd been thinking about bridges after seeing an Instagram post a couple days ago that I may try to copy. As I drove under the bridge I decided that I'd try shooting here and save the Instagram idea for another day with different light.

It's mid afternoon on a weekday and there is no free parking downtown, the nearest place I could think of was the 3 hour parking zone at Rotary park so after driving under the bridge I circled around and drove on top of it and parked the car.  Temperature was about -8 degC with light winds, so not too cold. I made my way back underneath the bridge and started taking some photos.

With the virus keeping (almost) everyone indoors and away from work, traffic was very light and I was able to capture scenes without any cars on the road. I was a little discouraged because I didn't have my super wide angle zoom with me and being in cramped quarters meant that I'd have to work for the composition.

Another challenge was that the light outside of the bridge was really bright compared to the light under the bridge and the camera doesn't have enough dynamic range to be able to capture both at the same time. The trick is to take multiple photos at different shutter speeds (faster speeds make the photo darker, slower makes lighter photos)  then combine the photos together after in the computer.  Of course, doing this means that you shouldn't move the camera around between photos and it should really be on a tripod and if anything is moving at the time, it'll move between the different photos that you're trying to combine.. like this runner guy above.. It took a little bit of photoshop magic to clean that up.. I'm not great at photoshop but am able to do little things like remove all the extra runners from my frame. I like including figures in my photos to help set scale and sometimes context.


I made a few shots before moving over to the others side of the bridge.

Mouse hole

The leading lines on the ceiling caught my eye so I backed up and made them the primary part of the composition. The challenge here was waiting for traffic to clear out.. maybe it was getting later in the afternoon or something but there seemed to a lot of traffic. It took a while for me to get this shot. Again I bracket'd photos for the highlights and shadows.

My other reason for coming to this side of the bridge had to do with a scene that I'd glimpsed when I was driving to the parking spot. There were some icicles in an alcove between some buildings that I saw and thought it might make an interesting subject.

I searched around the alleyway for a composition and made a few photos in this tight space but my favorite is posted above.

When I compose photos I really try hard to be context inclusive.. in that, I worry about the edges and whats being cut off and what's in the frame.. In this scene, I couldn't really back up or zoom out so I have to live with the top of the frame cutting off that top wire. It still works though.. (right?)

After hitting my spots I decided to head home.  I took a bunch of photos today and not all of them are featured here but over time I like to process and post photos on my smugmug site. If you like, feel free to click here to see the above shots and any other photos from today's adventure.

Thanks for looking.

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