Blog 2012

Rideau Canal – Ontario, Canada

This project is a bit of an oddball thing, but also something that I’ve wanted to dig into for a while. I thought a tour of ‘The Canal’ would be interesting for two reasons. The first is to show off this cool little waterway for its amazing historic and architectural significance and secondly I thought the standard photos I’d seen never really portrayed the locations properly. So a 360˚ photo-tour might be the best way to really show the locks in their surroundings.

This waterway is a big part of life here in Ottawa and plays a huge role in our city’s fabric. That being said most of us have no idea what it looks like or where it goes once it leaves the city. The Rideau Canal – a monumental construction project – was built in the 1820s, it is over 200 km long with 49 sets of locks, connecting Lake Ontario and the city of Ottawa.

Originally built in the early 19th century to help defend Upper Canada against an expansionist United States, it has been in operation ever since. The Canal was one of the great engineering feats of its time and is a UNESCO World Heritage site today.

But beyond the history is the natural beauty of the place. It has become a tourist destination for modern day explorers and pleasure boaters on the Ottawa – Montreal – Kingston route.

This was a last minute project thrown together over the final weekend of the Canal’s 2014 season and shot over three, often cloudy, but thankfully rain-free days. However, because of the clouds and being the final weekend it was nearly deserted allowing me to see it in a new way.

I found that wondering all alone through the old, mountainous constructions under dark skies, thinning trees, fallen leaves and cool weather was an oddly wonderful exprience. Throughout the summer months these lock stations bustle with activity, this time they were empty and I felt like Indiana Jones exploring some long-lost collection of ruins.

There is something very peaceful about this waterway and I’ve always found it to be very different from other National Parks in Canada – perfect and subtle blend of architecture and nature. A beautiful creation in a beautiful part of the world.

As for navigating the photos, it can be a little tricky. But the simplest advice I can offer is if you are going from Kingston to Ottawa just keep the compass pointed to the norther half of the compass. Going from Ottawa to Kingston keep the dial in the souther half of the compass. Or just take your time and work your way through it and get lost a few times.

Thanks for looking,

Dan. (Nov. 2014)

Canadian War Memorial – Ottawa

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With all the craziness that happened here in Ottawa and Canada over the past week. I thought I’d post a quick shot of how things look now that they are calmed down a little. Far too much ink has been spilt on this emotionally-charged event over the past few days, so I won’t say more.


Dan (Oct. 2014)

Glorious – The Making of…

The summer of 2014 was undoubtedly a tough one.  War, ebola, plane crashes, terrorism, Robin William’s death were all downers.  Sadly, too much negativity often blinds us to all the wonders around us.  A simple reminder of some of that good stuff was the goal when I put this project together.

As soon as I returned to Canada in 2010 I had access to a space where I could set up a small studio and immediately began shooting my first flower time lapses.  Originally, I thought I’d put a few together, post them and move on.

It took me far longer than I expected to ‘put a few together’ and I’m glad I stuck it out because four years later the project turned into something much better than I ever expected.

Over the years I focusing on potted plants, local flowers and oddballs that that you might not always see in a typical flower time lapse production.  I shot around three hundred flowers and while I failed to get anything decent from most of the them a few worked out.

Through modifying the studio and my techniques, learning how to shoot different flowers in different ways, I slowly improved my odds and found my appreciation of flowers turn into a near obsession.

The final project has about 50 and I’m very proud of it.

The music was written and performed by me and I wanted to write music that would try to match the joy of the flowers.  What I came up with was a Chilli Peppers/James Brown funk-type thing that I think works with the visuals.

If you like it you can buy a copy here…

Thanks for stopping by,

Dan. (September 2014)

Project Rooftop 2013 – Montreal


After I completing Rooftops Ottawa in March I knew I’d accomplished something cool – I’d thoroughly photographed my hometown and done it in a way that allowed visitors to ‘explore’ the city as they pleased.  What I didn’t quite expect was the popularity of it.

The project received press coverage, it was linked up to dozens of other sites, my monthly website traffic shot into the thousands – crashing my site – and my inbox had a regular stream of emails telling me that people liked what they saw.  So I did what any industrious photographer would do…a sequel.

Going into Rooftop 2.0 I really wanted to understand a little more about how this kind of photography can be applied to larger scale projects and I hoped to work through a few things that I didn’t like about the first one.  So I basically wanted four things – a bigger city, taller buildings, more buildings and to have a little fun.  After a lot of work I got all of them.

Montreal just happens to be ‘down the street’ from Ottawa and is one of North America’s finest metropolises – a true architectural goldmine – so I knew it would be the place to go. I focused on the zone within Atwater, Sherbrooke, Berri and the St. Laurence River and I began the slow, laborious process of researching locations and contacting people.  Slowly the yeses came in and by early June I had enough to commit myself to the project.

Having never organized much more than a birthday party, this project was an enormous undertaking. I had a lot to do on a very tight schedule and an even tighter budget.  I arrived in Montreal in mid-July and left six weeks later after having taken the architectural tour of a lifetime.  Aside from a few minor hiccups the project went off without any major problems.

The final tour has 60 buildings – many of which had never allowed anyone on their roofs before – and I believe that a collection of images like this can be both a rich resource for academics and the general public to look back on the city in 2013 decades from now.  Much of my motivation was the idea that future generations somewhere are rooting me on.

All that being said a project this big and crazy doesn’t happen without a great deal of help and support from others.  At the top of the list, as always, are my executive producers Walter and Ineke and after them are the many companies and individuals who graciously offered me a little time on their buildings.

Thanks for looking and welcome to Montreal.

Dan. (February 2014)

On My Way – The Making Of…

During the summer of 2013 while working on Rooftops in Montreal I decided to also head out and get some of my own work done.

On My Way is the result.

Montreal is Ottawa’s closest ‘big city’ and is a place oozing with an energy and passion. Far less ‘British’ and far more ‘European’ than the rest of the Canada, I’ve always felt it to be our country’s cultural heart.

But Montreal is also one of North America’s most beautiful cities. As one of North America’s oldest European-settled cities, it was and remains one of Canada’s most important shipping centres and its architecture ranges from the 17th century stone buildings to cutting-edge glass condo towers.

I spent a fair amount of time there in the late 90s, so it was nice to get back for a while and see how things look today.

As for the music, On My Way was written and performed by me.  I wanted to write a ‘road song’, but what I ended up with was more ‘one man’s journey through life’ than ‘one man’s journey to a cool place’. I didn’t want to make it anything to deep, but I thought the vibe worked, so it stuck.

If you like it it is available on iTunes…

Any support is deeply appreciated. All money raised will go into more ambitious future photo projects.

Thanks for looking,

Dan. (January 2014)

Winterlude – Ottawa, Canada


Aside from Canada Day, Winterlude is the biggest annual party in Ottawa.  About million people visit every winter for concerts, snow sculptures and sporting events, but mostly to hang out and skate along the Rideau Canal.

Since 1970 Ottawa has turned its main downtown waterway into a 7.8 km winter playground where anyone can skate for free 24 hours-a-day. The Guinness Book of World Records has titled it ‘the world’s longest naturally-frozen skating rink.’

For people who grew up in Ottawa ‘The Canal’ is a big part of our consciousness.  Many of my own memories involve skating down this very same ice rink and going back after years away it is amazing how almost nothing about the exprience has changed over years.

There are are no shortage of Winterlude pictures out there, so I thought I’d try something different.  I shot it all on a Sunday afternoon in February and once I put it together it turned out to be kind of a fun tour.  It may also give some insight as to why we Canadians are such a hockey crazy nation.

The navigation might be a little funny, but follow the sun or use the map (bottom right button) if you have trouble getting through it.

Thanks for stopping in,

Dan. (September 2013)

Taj Mahal – Agra, India


I’ve been to the Taj Mahal three times times and still I want to go back.  It is the most beautiful man-made structure I have seen.   It was built in the mid 1600s by an Indian emperor as a tomb for a wife who passed away.  While the tomb gets all the ink, my fascination with the Taj also is in that it is located in a very nondescript Indian city and that it is part of a quite beautiful complex.

While parts of this tour photographically speaking are obviously flawed – shot in 2009 during what were still early days on my panoramic journey – I’ve posted it because I decided that if I didn’t get it up it will just sit in a hard drive doing nothing, and because there is still a great deal of value and learning people can do through the images.  So I present you the Taj in all its glory I hope it inspires you as much as it inspires me.

Thanks for looking,

Dan. (July 2013)

The Northern Alps – Nagano, Japan


After going through my photo library while putting Hey Hey together, I dug up some old panos shot on a hike above Hakuba. So just for fun I thought I’d put them together to see what I had.

Having learned much about photography since then I would love a reshoot.  However, since I’m unlikely to be back soon, since I’d already put them together, since it is cool and since I thought that some ‘Haks’ locals might get a kick out of it I gave the project the official Dan Neutel ‘Good Enough’ seal of approval and here it is.

What you are seeing is a part of Japan’s Northern Alps chain.  To the north-west is The Sea of Japan and to the south-east is the village of Hakuba. There are eight panos and they form a loop from the valley floor to the summit. Hotspot placements and names are very much approximations, but the intention was only to give the general idea of what things are like.

The hike was done during the first week of September 2009 and the weather was outstanding throughout.

Thanks for looking and enjoy this often missed slice of Japan,

Dan. (July 2013)

Hey Hey – The Making Of…

For seven years I lived in Japan.  While there were many wonderful experiences the country offered me, the best was that it was the first time I lived side by side with 3000m mountains.

From my earliest days in the country I fell into a pattern of spending weekdays in the city and weekends in the mountains.  Summers were hikes and climbs while winters were skiing. The city would feed my bank account while mountains would feed my soul.  Getting away would relax me and allow me to place things in perspective after getting all twisted up in the crazy city of Tokyo.

At the same time my earliest attempts at time lapse photography began in 2009 from the balcony on the 13th floor of my apartment in Kawaguchi, Saitama. With nothing but concrete stretched out as far as I could see, the huge sky filled with clouds was my nature and a great location to experiment in.  Over the winter of 2009-10 I brought my camera with me to Hakuba – a resort town in Nagano – as I skied and I continued shooting time lapses.

While I had amassed quite a bit of footage it was all quite similar and never really intended for public viewing.  However, finding myself with some free time I cobbled something together and I think that the final cut works and gives a little insight into the two sides of my Japan…perhaps the Yin and Yang of the country.

The music was written and performed by me and if you like the song, if you like the vid, if you like the site or if you just want to get tons of good Karma download your own version Hey Hey.

You can find it on iTunes here…

Thanks for watching,

Dan. (June 2013)

Project Rooftop 2012 – Ottawa


(a.k.a. The Batman tour of Ottawa.)

I’ve always dreamt big, often too big, but every so often the planets align and one of my crazy ideas becomes reality. The summer of 2012 was one of those times.

After a decade of climbing mountains around the world, seeing strange new places and learning a little about photography I found myself back in Ottawa.  Partially out of curiosity, partially because of the challenge it presented to me, partially out of a newfound respect for my hometown and partially out of circumstance, I spent the summer of 2012 in Ottawa shooting panoramas from the rooftops of any building I could talk my way onto.

Project Rooftop is the result.

Today Ottawa remains very similar to the city that I grew up in, but intensification, the introduction of light rail and steady population growth are slowly changing it into a new and different 21st century city.  As someone who spends much time looking at historical photos, I decided that I would document my city as best as I could before 2012’s Ottawa disappears into something else.

I focused on the downtown core – any structure over 5 stories within the Queensway, Bronson, Ottawa River and Rideau Canal area was fair game – and, going in, I assumed that it would be a fairly straight forward project.

I was wrong.  The process became a months long, full-time job that saw me emailing, calling and ultimately knocking on the doors of hundreds of buildings before wrapping-up the project with 35 individual images taken from 32 buildings.

The shooting ran between April and September 2012 and post-production took place in early months of 2013. Aside from those along the western edge of the zone (Bronson Ave.), I took pains to shoot each rooftop at approximately the same time (10 a.m.) to keep light as consistent as possible.

While getting access to roofs was difficult, the weather co-operated nicely.  Ottawa experienced a warm, dry summer with nearly no rain and little haze.  This allowed a nice constancy in the images and I rarely had to inconvenience my hosts with rescheduling.

I don’t think that anyone has done anything like this before, certainly not on this scale, and I did my best to cover the entire city as best as I could.  For me Project Rooftop are the photos that I wish someone had taken of Manhattan, London, Tokyo or any other great modern city 100 years ago. Nothing would make me happier than to know that decades from now people look back at these pictures in the same way that today I look at photos of other bygone eras.

This project would not have happened without the kindness and cooperation of those who graciously offered me access to their roofs. I send my deepest thanks to my executive producers -Walter and Ineke – and to all those people and organizations who took a risk and supported an unknown local guy with a whacky idea by allowing me to run around on their roofs for a short while in the summer of 2012.

Thanks for looking and welcome to Ottawa.

Dan. (March 2013)

Seasons – Ottawa


Through my travels I’ve spent years telling people that Ottawa is a beautiful city because we are fortunate enough to have four distinct seasons.  Skating at local outdoor rinks or down the Rideau Canal is how we spend the long winter evenings while canoeing through the city and Canada Day celebrations define our summers.

Although individual images of any of Ottawa’s season look beautiful, I felt that putting them together would add far more impact and deeper context to each scene.

But how best to photograph it?

A panoramic photo is made by stitching multiple images together to reveal a more complete picture. So why not take this idea a step farther by stitching an entire year together in the same way?

And so Project Seasons was born.

The intent was to both explore the possibilities of panoramic photography and show others the way that Ottawans inhabit their city throughout an entire calendar year.

When I began shooting in January 2012 I chose 20 locations throughout the city that had one (but preferably all) of the following five prerequisites.  A site needed either; a dramatic view, a major seasonal event, as much foliage as possible, or was a major city landmark and I had to be able to get back to the exact same location even when it would be covered in two meters of snow.

Of the original 20 site I have posted the best 16.

While it started as a bit a of a lark and a project to keep me shooting, the final panos turned out better than I had expected.  There are a total of 64 complete 360˚ panoramas in this project stitched together into 16 four-season images.  The files are quite large to allow you to explore every nook and cranny, so please be a little patient as they load.

Perhaps it was global warming but the weather of 2012 was odd.  It was a warm dry year from the beginning to end.  Winterlude, Ottawa’s annual winter festival, was severely affected by unseasonably warm weather, spring came early and hard with 25˚C weather in March, we had one of the driest summers on record.  Because of it the fall colours came out unevenly between August and November.  It all kept me on my toes sometimes shooting and reshooting the same location many times to get the seasons at their peak.

For the past few years the city of Ottawa has been my laboratory and I’ve been been the mad scientist using a camera and photoshop to create my own little Frankensteins. I think Project Seasons is a unique concept and one that I certainly haven’t seen anywhere before.

Thank you very much for stopping by and I hope that you enjoy exploring Ottawa through it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Dan. (January 2013)

Home Again – The Making Of…

After a decade abroad I returned to Ottawa in 2010 to spend a couple of years back in school upgrading my skills and developing my creative side.

During the summer of 2011 I found myself at the midpoint of my college life.  I had time off and two choices – get a minimum wage job, or throw myself into a project that paid nothing, but that held the possibility of creative satisfaction, that would develop new photo skills and that would show off my hometown.

I opted for the latter and began shooting segments for a time lapse project.

I treated as if it was a ‘real’ job – going out everyday for eight-hour stretches.  Even after the setback of loosing my camera and best lens in the ‘Cheap Trick’ windstorm I managed to keep the project going.

I see today’s Ottawa as being in a time of huge transition.  Along with new subways lines we are starting to grow upwards as a city and locations for Home Again were generally chosen based on their being slated for some sort of upcoming change.  Thus I’ve included sites like the old Lansdowne Park, St. Andrew’s Church and the First Baptist Church lot.

When summer ended, so did the shooting phase – and production began.  I assumed I would work on it and complete it during the school year then post it as part of a larger website upon graduation.  However, school and life took much more of my time than I had expected and I didn’t get back to it until summer 2012.  After a long, slow learning process Home Again was born.

The best part about the project allowed me to combined my photography with my music.  It was something that I had never really imagined when I undertook it, but came to me slowly over the 11-12 school year.  The music gave me the opportunity really put my stamp on the whole project and to create a strong narrative with the visuals.

Home Again was both extremely challenging and very rewarding.  There were times when I assumed it would never see the light of day, but overcoming the many frustrations only made me happier with it. It was by far the most complex creative endeavor I’ve ever completed and while far from perfect, I am very proud of it.

For those who are interested ‘Home Again’ is available on iTunes and can be purchased here…

All support is appreciated and thanks for watching,

Dan. (November 2012)

A Day in the Life – The making of…

After years of photographing my skiing exploits and watching far too many ski videos for my own good, I decided that the 2007-08 ski season was to be the one that I put my own ski video together.  I wanted to show my non-skiing friends what I did on my weekends and show people a side of Japan they normally don’t see.

My season was spent in Hakuba, Japan and began over the Christmas holidays in late 2007. I brought my video camera everywhere I went and shot all I could….for one week.  My second week of skiing began with me tearing my MCL and sitting on the sidelines for two months.  While I had a substantial amount of footage my disappointment at my injury and at missing specific shots I wanted led me to shelve the project.

Years later, back in school and with some time on my hands, I was learning video editing software and I wanted a project to complete.  After combing through the archives I stumbled upon the unused ski footage and seeing it with fresh eyes realized that there was more than enough there to work with. The music was quickly thrown together – written in 45 minutes and recorded over the next few days- and construction of my first ‘documentary’ began.

My objective was to show what a typical day of backcountry skiing was like for us – loading up, heading to the hills, hiking up the mountain and getting back down.  While it is certainly has its technical flaws, it is fun and I’m happy with how it turned out.

I hope it is the first of many more and thanks for watching,

Dan. (January 2012)