NHL Alumni Game
Hello and welcome back.
First, I gotta tell you that I think this might very well be one of my very best pano projects to date. Both because I love the subject (one of my very favourite places in the world hosting a really cool, once-in-a-lifetime event) and I love how well it turned out.
On December 15, 2017 Parliament Hill, Canada150, the NHL and the Ottawa Senators hosted the NHL 100 Classic Senators Alumni Game. It was an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ottawa Senators, the 100th anniversary of the NHL, the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup and the 150th anniversary of Canada (as a political entity). The game was played by two teams made up of Ottawa Senators players of the past 25 years. But there was more than just the game, the Stanley Cup was on display, screens were set up for crowds to watch, an NHL specific light show was projected onto Parliament Hill’s Centre Block and the brand new Centennial Flame was with its added side commemorating the creation of Nunavut.
Since I’ve returned to Ottawa, I’ve always wanted to do a nighttime photo tour of Parliament Hill. After dark the Hill is moody, full of great buildings and feels like it is from another time and place. But with the near constant construction, off limit sections and buildings covered in tarps is hasn’t always been very pretty, so it never really seemed worth my while.
But the worst of the construction wrapped up before Canada150 celebrations and these days the Hill looks close to normal. It was a cold night of shooting, -25˚ with intermittent snow. And while my finger were frozen by the end of it, as far as the photography goes it conditions couldn’t have been better. The snow on the ground and the spotlights flooded the grounds in light. The snow in the air caught in the projector’s light making for cool effects.
I don’t discuss the technical specifications of these things too much, but to give you an idea of the work involved in putting this together I took about 2000 images (there’s no such thing as too many) over an hour and a half in -25˚ weather. I then spent a few weeks (off and on) putting it all together to create a grand total of nine 360˚ panoramas. For this one my new ‘tall’ tripod came in really handy and allowed me to peek over crowds that I never could have before and helped get some of the great angles I have.
Anyways, this was the last of the big Canada2015 events the rink was open to the public between early December and late Feb. The whole rink thing was not without a great deal of controversy because when all was said and done it cost about 10 million dollars to have built and run for 3 months. But on this night a few thousand people had a lot of fun and I got the photoshoot of a lifetime. So I guess it was worth it.
Thanks for looking and see you next time,
Dan (Feb. 2018).
H.O.P.E. Beach Volleyball
Here we are in the middle of winter, drowning in cold weather, with our annual winter festival fast approaching. So I thought I’d use this post warm your hearts and remind you of better days.
The H.O.P.E. Beach Volleyball Tournament is one of the world’s largest (by number of participants, I guess) volleyball tournaments and it is held right here in little old Ottawa. Originally started in 1989 as a way to help out a few charities it has grown into a major Ottawa event.
There are two reasons I like this project. The first is that the tournament is held at Mooney’s Bay and that is my beach. It is part of the Rideau Canal system, (a UNESCO World Heritage site), go through it every day on my way downtown and I grew up down just the street from it and I have a ton of fond memories tied up here.
The second reason I like this one is that I used to participate in this event and I always had a lot of fun. Hope Beach is a staple of life in Ottawa and shows that we’re not always such a stuffy place.
Since I’ve come back to Ottawa, I’ve wanted to get something like this done, but I’m always out of town the weekend they hold it. In 2017, the stars aligned and I was here, the sun was out…although it had poured up until the start time, so I walked down and knocked this off in a few hours. It was fun talking to the players and just soaking in the beach vibe in a non-beach city.
As for the images…the process became much faster on this one. For the first time I did almost no complex photoshopping to the images. They are mostly out of camera with a few small universal tweaks to the whole image rather than going through them all and fixing every little problem. It really speeds up the process and I think that will be that way I go from now on. While it bugs me a little it likely makes little difference to most others.
I’ll leave it at that. Thanks for looking, and see you next time,
Dan (Jan. 2018).
Four Seasons 2017
Happy New Year everyone!
With the new year come the inevitable ‘year in review’ and ‘a look back’ recaps. For me that happens in pictures. So for the first time in five years I’ve thrown together another batch of four seasons 360˚ panos. The first batch was fun, but a ton of work, so I needed a good reason to do another round. The motivation to do them this years was the Canada 150 celebrations happening.
Weather-wise, the year 2017 started out with a bang as we had the third largest snowfall in recorded history. That was quickly followed by an unending deluge of rain through April. Combined with the huge amount of snowmelt it created a disaster for many people in the Eastern Canada and flooding was epidemic many homes were lost. The rain and cool spring extended well into July (remember Canada Day) and we didn’t have much summer weather until August with the really hot weather finally arriving in September. Autumn colours were slow to arrive in late October and didn’t stay for long and we then got slammed with the deep freeze in mid December.
As for the photos there isn’t too much else to say. The images turned out pretty good, although I’m not super happy with the camera I used for this batch…I kinda like the colours on the old camera I used in 2012 better. Putting it all together is a big, slow and laborious process, almost more work than doing a big multi-pano tour because it is really important that all of these line up. But what is also interesting about doing funny projects like these is that they get you photographing different things and different locations than you every normally would and that becomes the fun part of it all. New is always good and keeps the fire alive. I’m already thinking of locations for this year’s batch.
Have a great 2018 and thanks for looking.
Dan (Jan. 2018).
PS. Just a quick warning I don’t think these things look as good on HTML based machines as on Flash based machines. If these (specifically the four season panos) don’t look clear try them on another platform…preferably a desktop. It has something to do with the software I use it doesn’t process theses long skinny panos like it should.
Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Just to change things up a little I thought I’d get you something different this festive season. I like to think I’m a multitalented guy and for the past six months I thought I’d maybe start incorporating a little more video into the mix. The photography will continue, but I want new mountains to climb.
I have a photo studio and in looking for a subject matter I realized that going back to my musical roots and recording some of my ‘other’ talent would be cool. Besides, the way my guitar playing goes these days is I kind of noodle around for a two months then (right when I’m getting my chops back) I put it back in its case for six months again. So doing a little recording or of myself when my fingers are limbered up seemed like a smart thing to do.
Turing the camera on myself is kinda weird, but that’s what the kids are doing these days I suppose. So why not dive in. I think one of the things that I’m lacking, and intentionally so, is any of my personality on this site. Lots of nice pictures, and very clinical in the presentation, but not really framed in any personal/human way. Maybe this will change that.
I’m not much of a singer…but I’m good enough to do John Lennon, I only got the idea a few days ago, so I spent about three days learning the song and getting a workable recording of it. All of which was more complicated than I originally thought it would be. So the final production is a little rushed, but the sentiment is true.
It was actually really fun to do and I’m happy with how it turned out. I don’t expect to set the internet on fire with this, but I know that I will appreciate looking back on this stuff years from now. More will be coming up as time goes by.
Here it is Happy Xmas, by the great John Lennon. From me to you on this wonderful snowy Christmas Day in Ottawa, have a great festive season with friends and family and I hope Santa brought you everything you wanted. And I hope 2018 brings wonderful things.
Dan (Dec. 2017).
Today’s presentation is a teeny tiny one – more of a placeholder between the last large one and the next huge one that I’m working on. So today’s is just just three linked panos, but even though it is small, I think it is still kind of cool.
There are a bunch of reasons that I like it.
The first and most obvious are the poppies. Between October 27 and November 11, slowly falling poppies were projected onto the Centre Block at Parliament Hill. The program is called Virtual Poppy Drop 2017 and the concept behind it is that one poppy falls for every of the 117,000 Canadian soldiers who died in World War One. The display leads up to Remembrance Day when Canadians remember the soldiers who died in our past wars. This is the second year that this has been done. And it really is kind of a cool thing to see because it is both a beautiful and an extremely calming display.
The second cool thing this collection shows is the beginning of the Canada150 rink that was then still in the process of being constructed. The rink is now finished, fully functional and very cool. This is the first time anything this big or ambitious has been done on Parliament Hill – the 5 million dollar price tag might explain why.
The third cool thing this collection shows is that the base of the Centennial Flame – created to commemorate the provinces and territories entering into confederation – is in the process of being remade from 12 sides into 13 sides to add a Nunavut coat of arms. It is the thing in the box on this tour.
The fourth cool thing is just seeing The Hill at night. I love nighttime photography stuff. It is very mysterious and magical.
The fifth cool thing about this collection is that shows how well Parliament Hill is getting used these days. I obviously didn’t spend a ton of time down there as a kid, but it seems to me it was was more of an open air museum and rarely used for much beyond national and political events. These days everything from yoga to soccer to nightly light shows are held here.
The final reason this is cool is that this collection is connected to the previous Remembrance Day post and to a yet-to-come Canada150 Rink post that will go up later on.
So there you have it six cool things buried in three little panos. They said it couldn’t be done, but I managed to pull it off.
Anyways, I have tons of little collections like this one that I’ve been collecting over the years and I hope to get more smaller things up, but I my shooting seems to have gotten much more ambitious these days. It is funny because I started out doing just single 360s of places and ever since I learned how to link up bunches of them I can’t stop at one anymore.
That’s all for today six reasons why these three little panos are cool, thanks for looking and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Dan (Dec. 2017).
Remembrance Day 2017
Morning Folks, it is good to see all of you again.
I’m well and Ottawa seems to be grinding along the in the same slow sleepy ways as it always does. We’re still hoovering somewhere between, fall and winter. If anything it has been a downright pleasant November considering what we can get in these parts. However, my Christmas lights are up and I’m desperately trying to get a last little bit of ‘being good’ in before Santa comes to judge me.
This week’s photography submission is from our annual Remembrance Day Ceremony. We here in Canada (and the U.S.) take the day off every November 11th to remember our fallen soldiers. Ottawa is home to Canada’s National War Memorial and because it is one of our bigger annual events, so I thought I’d head out and document it.
I don’t think I’ve actually attended one since I’ve come back from Japan and there may be a few reasons for that. The first is that is it usually pretty cold (it was about -10˚c this year). The second is that when I was a kid it was a lot less closed off. More space to walk around and get closer to the centre of things. Everything these days seem to be geared towards TV audiences rather than the actual people in attendance. So those of us who actually go down get shoved way off to the side or behind a tree or something. The third I don’t go to these things so much is a little more complex.
I think when I was a kid I looked at Remembrance Day as a day of reflection. More importantly I saw it as a time to think of the lessons we’ve learned from our past wars. When I was young there were dozens of WW I and WW II vets around. Those men and the wars they fought were seen to be great glorious milestones in good overcoming evil…or something like that. These days, I’ve come to the realization that war is just one a long unending thing and a tool (or replacement) of foreign policy and that it will always be quietly hoovering around us. I generally don’t want to see anyone die and so with the inability of our leaders to learn anything from past wars, ceremonies like these seem emptier and emptier as we throw more and more poor, young kids into the meat grinder. So I guess that has turned me off a little.
Anyhoo…on to the photography component.
The first, and most important, thing to tell you is that I took this shoot to the next level…literally. This past summer I spent a lot of time photographing different things in huge crowds and it was tough. Normally I avoid crowds, but with the way things were here this summer, I just couldn’t. So unless I can get above them (somewhere over six feet) you don’t see too much. So this is my first time doing panos with something better suited. What I now use extends up to nine feet and I shot this collection at about seven feet. The results, as you will see, are actually really good and it is nice to have another new tool at my disposal to give me a few more possibilities when head out too take pictures.
The ceremony itself was only about 30 minutes and it is always fun having to get a bigish type project with new gear done in such a short time. Going into it, I had no idea about the layout and the many new restrictions they had on the spectators, so this was all done on the fly. I think it turned out pretty good and that tripod extra hight makes a huge difference both in camera’s view and creating a less intrusive interaction of the camera with the people. People seemed to understand that the event is the subject of the image and not them.
That being said, a little new gear certainly didn’t stop me from elbowing my way through crowds and firing off my camera like it was a machine gun during the most somber event of the year. People are still quite unimpressed by the but I really don’t care too much these days. All you do is miss great photo opportunities if you are too timid and one thing experience has taught me is that I’ve let too many thing slip through my fingers already. So I wasn’t going to miss anything on this one. Go big or go home, that’s my motto these days.
On that note, thanks for looking and see you next time,
Dan (Nov. 2017).
Not much exciting and new to tell these days. We are well into the mid-November blues here – the nights are long, skies are greyish-blue, temperatures are dropping and there is now usually frost on the ground when I wake up. And saddest of all there isn’t much by way of Canada 150 celebrations happening anymore.
But because I don’t ever want this party to end this week we’re going to look back on one of the coolest events that we had here all summer. Held between July and October MOSAÏCANADA 150 was one of the most popular and uniquest events of the summer.
It was the largest horticultural event in Canada and it is an art form called Mosaiculture that started in China. Moasaiculture is a combination of three elements – sculpture, colours and flowers – to create a very cool dreamlike landscape. They are built on mesh structures with a variety of plants attached to them creating unique, textured, ‘living’ statutes.
MOSAÏCANADA’s concept was based on the idea of taking a train ride though Canada. The journey begins for the visitors entering the park through a life-sized train station where a train is waiting for them. Visitors then follow the 1km path through the exhibition. To help with the Canadian theme all the provinces contributed a sculpture depicting their region or culture. In total there were 33 displays taken from the history of Canada and its First Nations people. Because it was held in Jacques-Cartier Park, on the Gatineau side of the river, it also had Parliament Hill as a backdrop.
I think I was there six times over the summer and always enjoyed myself. Each time new and different flowers were out and things were always a little different. When the exhibition shut down over 1.3 million people wandered through the exhibitions, a far better number than organizers had hoped and locals want to make it a permeant display. The whole thing was positive, and an inspiring way to spend a few hours. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like it and best of all it was free.
Anyways, on one of my visits I brought my camera, gathered up 18 panos and slapped them together into this presentation. Kind of a tricky shoot because it was slightly hazy giving me a nearly blown out sky so you want to darken things up a little, but I was also trying to get detail into dark dark flowers. Tricker than one might think. But I overcame and this is what you get. As always technical details are less important than giving you guys a little feel for the place.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks for looking and see you next time,
Dan (Nov. 2017).
National Holocaust Memorial
Just a tiny one today.
The National Holocaust Memorial is the newest attraction to be found in our fair town. Until its unveiling in September 2017 Canada was the only one of the Allied powers who hadn’t erected some type of monument to the slaughter of 6 million Jews during World War Two.
The backstory is kind of neat. The entire project was the vision of a university student who fought for many years to get it done. She though we were overdue for a memorial, so she began a years long process of going through political channels and ultimately having an international competition for the design. The winner brought our town a little star power as Daniel Libeskind’s design won.
I can’t say that I was too excited with the design or watching the construction as it was going up – the last thing this town needs is more concrete – but now that it is completed I can say that it is a nicer piece than I had thought it might be. It looks nice and clean – while it is new – and I think the concrete plays into the coldness and starkness wanted in the design, but I still wish we’d find something nicer for monuments and notable structures in this city and country.
If nothing else the Monument has to be recognized for the fact that it is the largest monument built in Ottawa in the past 70 years. It is laid out in the shape of a Star of David. It is a quiet and contemplative place that you walk into cutting yourself off from the loud busy, city outside. For a few minutes you forget where you are and look into huge murals made by Edward Burtynsky and read brief descriptions of historical events.
We’ll see how the monument ages, is used and what goes up around it. Lebreton Flats will soon be a massive construction site with new condos, arenas and entertainment districts are going up nearby. So the Memorial will have to fight for attention a little harder then. But for now I think it is a
Anyhoo, thank for looking and see you soon,
Dan (Oct. 2017).
The magic hasn’t ended yet, but the crazy-hot September we’d been enjoying/enduring has subsided. Things are cooling and we’re edging into the fall season now. Since this is my favourite time of year I thought I’d just post something tiny this week, so I can keep enjoying it.
Today I give you Honest Ed’s. Ed’s was a downtown Toronto discount department store opened in 1948 and a Toronto landmark since then. That’s to the internet/Walmart the business became untenable, the property was sold for millions a few years back and condos will be going up shortly. The store was closed in January 2017 and somewhere this past week, I saw that all that remains is a deserted, graffiti-covered, signless shell of what it was. So I thought I’d throw this up to remember the good times.
This was shot in the summer of 2016 while I was hanging out in Toronto. I originally wanted to photograph it after dark when the signs were all lit up looking stylish and cool. I knew they turned them on and off at certain times every night. I went down just about every night, but the lights never seemed to have been turned on or they certainly didn’t look to be anywhere near as dramatic as they should have been.
When I finally asked about them I was told that they actually had been turned on every night. They just hadn’t bothered changing any of the bulbs since it had been sold and they were just burning out one, by one. So that left me to shoot the store on my last day in Toronto – a cloudy overcast afternoon. The moral of this story…always ask.
While not the work of art I’d hoped for I shot something and I’m happy I did. Looking back on it now I think I should have tried to do one or two inside…I just never really thought about it at the time. And in case you are wondering I did give that homeless kid a medium sized bill after I took his picture and had a chat with him for a while. I’m not really one of those photogs who goes around taking pictures the homeless and then calling it art.
And on that note, thanks for looking and see you next time,
Dan (Oct. 2017).
Canada Day 2012
Howdy everyone and welcome back. It’s always great to see you again.
Things are great here in the Great White North. The summer is drifting into memory, kids are back in school now, life is a little quieter on the streets and the fall season is rolling in, although it has been hot as @&%$ the last week or two. Some of the hottest weather that we’ve had all year. Kinda weird.
Since the last write-up was so long, I’ll try to make this one shorter. This post has a strong link to my last post, so there isn’t to much more to add anyways. Canada Day 2017 was the big blowout and in this one I wanted to show what a more ‘normal’ Canada Day was like. I knew I had some other Canada Day stuff around here someplace, so I trawled through the files and here it is.
The Party and the city were a little different back then; the crowds were smaller and mostly locals, Parliament Hill stage was tiny, the police were nonexistent, we still had a Sears, there was no train line construction anywhere and the National Arts Centre was still a concrete box.
Some of these shot have been posted elsewhere (in my 2012 four-seasons panos), but I thought that rereleasing them as a complete, self contained unit might be cool. One of the reasons I’ve held it back is because there is some sub-par photography here. Most notably the stuff right in front of Parliament Hill. It isn’t terrible, but it’s not quite as good as I would like it to be. However, at this point, I can justify posting it as a ‘filler’ project, so between bigger projects I’ll slide this one in.
I sometimes feel I have to remind you that these photo projects are all about documenting my little old town photographically and to the best of my/technology’s abilities. So technical perfection is secondary. What fascinates me most of all is how people live in and use their environments. That fascination doesn’t change with older pics, so throwing this one up or posting something from this year makes little difference to me.
Looking back on them five years later it is interesting to see how far I’ve actually come with this stuff. The 2017 version is much better work and there are a few reasons for this. I’ve certainly learned that Gordon Gekko was right when he said ‘greed is good’. And this certainly applies to photography. There is no such thing as too many pictures. These days I shoot more, I shoot at better locations and I’m far more ‘aggressive’ when I shoot. In 2017 I was far more tentative and shy that I am now. These days I am way more focused on doing things right and much more driven to make it happen.
These days I literally ‘take’ a picture. People no longer scare me like they used to. I don’t wait till they leave then shoot they are now something I want and I try fill my shots with them. Back then I differed to others, these days when I set up my tripod I own the street.
Back then larger projects of multiple panos it was still kind of a new thing. I kind of sheepishly tried to shoot a few panos and hope that everything would work out. So in the 2012 version there are horribly cloudy pictures, inconsistent shots and not enough. These days I get what I want. It is kind of nice to see that there has been development there. I can only imagine where I’ll be 5 years from now.
For now that’ll do, thanks for looking and have a great afternoon,
Dan (Sept. 2017).
Canada Day 2017
Hello folks and welcome back,
And welcome to a humdinger of a tour, possibly my best ever!
If you like Ottawa, people or the colour red then this is the tour for you. But, if you like lots of people, wearing red, in Ottawa then get really comfortable because you won’t be going anywhere for a long, long time. That’s because today I present Canada Day 2017.
First some background…
Ottawa is, for the most part, a sleepy little place where people don’t get to excited about anything. We’re a quiet, happy bunch who don’t need a lot of razzle and dazzle to feel good about ourselves. There is however one annual event that we take extremely seriously and that we view as our gift to the nation…maybe even world. Our Canada Day parties.
Every year on July 1st we lovingly polish up the city, restrict all traffic from the downtown core, get a few cool bands/celebs to show up, arrange for a huge fireworks display, call everyone we know to meet us downtown, dig out any and all clothing with maple leaves on them and just kinda just let the magic happen. And almost all of that magic happens on or around the lawns of Parliament Hill.
Now for all you adrenaline junkies out there, Canada Day isn’t Burning Man, The Running of the Bulls, Carnival, or Mardis Gras, but it is what we Canadians do when we let down our hair – a cool, chilled-out, family event that makes people happy.
That being said over my lifetime our Canada Days have been getting bigger and more spectacular and this was slated to be the biggest yet because 2017 is the 150th anniversary of the founding of Canada (ignoring that natives were here long before that). Hundreds of thousand of people were expected, a hugely complex stage set-up was designed, the whole thing would be on national TV and people like U2, Alessia Cara, Gordon Lightfoot, Prince Charles and Justin Trudeau were all going to be there.
It all sounds great, but unfortunately someone in charge heard the word ‘terrorism’, got hold of the controls, overreacted and steered the ship in a very different direction than normal, because Canada Day 2017 was a disaster.
The point of Canada Day is to communally celebrate our nation in a welcoming, peaceful, ‘Canadian’ way. What visitors got this year was a gated-off, locked-down, police-state type of place filled with roving packs of heavily armed cops, snipers on rooftops, 3-4 hour line ups with airport style security. Rather than an inviting and happy event everything was intended to keep the public away from our pretty little Parliament Hill and Canada’s symbol of our freedom and democracy.
I think I speak for many Canada Day veterans when I say Canada Day 2017 was a very surreal, confusing and profoundly unsatisfying event. Not the kind of vibe that makes people want to celebrate. I’ve calmed down a little since the event, but I do hope lessons were learned and we can get back to what we do best in this city and in this country…bland, boring, freedom.
Now to the photography…
It had poured for days before Canada Day and it poured on the day-of until about noon. Once the rain stopped I ran out and shot hard from one until about eight when it started raining again. Everything was soaked and it was as humid a day as you could imagine, and the sky was overcast and not great for shooting.
I didn’t really go downtown with any specific plan, but I did want to record something of the big day. I actually thought I’d shoot video because of the tough shooting conditions for panos. However, I still haven’t quite gotten into the video thing in the way that I should. I guess I just love still images too much, so I set up my tripod, the panos flowed and I rolled with it.
I started at Bank and Sparks and basically started working my way east. The panos piled up the project it just kept growing and before I knew it I had more than 30 of them and I’m really happy with the final results. The first reason I like it so much is just because it was a cool event to capture. The second reason is because I needed to get some kind of big project done again before I forgot how to do them. And the third reason is the biggest…it was a really tough technical shoot and I nailed it.
The first thing that you gotta know is that movement is the enemy of the 360˚ shooter. I don’t get to press one button and freeze the entire scene all at once. What I do is shoot a succession of images (all a few seconds apart) then I stitch them back together later on. So what you see is not actually one split second captured in time, but maybe a minute or two of consecutive events going on as I take a picture, turn the camera a few degrees and repeat till I’m back where I started.
I then take the collection of images and stitch them together in my computer. So for simplicity’s sake I want the things I photograph to remain as still as they can be till I’m done. Little bits of movement here and there are fine, but there always comes a point where it is too much and you can’t quite put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Canada Day 2017 was kind of a nightmare shoot because there was all kinds of movement. A largely static crowd watching something like fireworks or the groups waiting around at La Machine is tricky, but something you can work with. A massive throng of thousands wandering in all directions through downtown Ottawa is an entirely different thing and something I’ll always avoid.
But that wasn’t the only moving thing I had to contend with on Canada Day.
This year there was also the weather. I had strong wind and clouds constantly whipping across the sky shifting things from clear to thick and dark within a few minutes. They created constantly changing light lighting conditions and never giving me much of quality to work with. I can’t shoot a natural looking pano with half of it being sunny and half of it being cloudy. Consistency within the image is vital and something that must always be considered when shooting so you start the shoot. So if you start photographing a 360˚ and conditions change, you, stop and you wait and hopefully things go back to how they were and you finish it. If they don’t go back then you reset the camera to the new conditions, start again and hope they don’t change again. You keep dong this until you have what you believe to be a usable collection.
Either one of these problems alone (crowds or clouds) are problematic, but both together is a ton to consider when shooting – so much that I normally wouldn’t even bother. Canada Day 2017 however, was one of those times where there were no tomorrows, there were future generations who might want to see this and I was the only one dumb enough to try and make it happen, so I had no choice. I dove in, shoot a ton of panos hoping enough would work out to put something together and you know what…through a little luck and a lot of skill almost all of them did.
Now that I’m done, and it is posted I can tell you I’m thrilled with the final product. I shot well over 30 panos in 7 hours, I nailed the photography and more importantly I nailed the post production and I even learned a few new things in the process. Putting this project together is also way trickier than you might think (on some of the panos I had to sort through 200 images stitching and restitching to get it right). It isn’t perfect and there are a few issues with sloppiness both in the photography and post-production – obviously the biggest problem of all is I have nothing to show you from Parliament Hill itself, but four hour line ups and no tripods allowed on the hill gave me no other choice.
But because of interesting subject, the complexity involved and the way it turned out this might be my very best work ever. I don’t want to use the word masterpiece, but it is my Sistine Chapel. There is much to see on this one (31 panos in total), so use the map to get around the city a little faster (button on bottom right of tour).
Anyhow, with this being the end of the summer I thought I’d share the ultimate in Canadian summer-time parties.
Thanks for looking and see you next time,
Dan (Aug. 2017).
Can you believe that it’s August Already? The year has progressed well beyond the halfway point. Where does all the time go? Relegated to the old memory banks as we hurtle into the unknown while trying to make some sense of the confusing lives we lead. Or something like that, but for me that’s where the photography comes in. It is a chance to capture a moment and actually absorb it a little after it is long gone.
Anyhow, it has actually been a somewhat transformative year for me. I’m actually bonding with my little city and really digging this place. One of the reasons is because the weather is perfect, the people are good and there is just so much going on here summer.
Now I’m not talking ‘so much going on’ on a New York or Tokyo level. Hell, Times Square on a Tuesday night in February likely has more going on than this town does in a year, throw in Madison Square Gardens and Central Park and sleepy little Ottawa doesn’t have a chance. So when I say ‘so much going on’ I’m talking on an Ottawa level, but for us here (on that B or C level of world-class city) we got a ton happening.
We’ve been slowly and quietly knocking off the planned events celebrating our country’s 150th sesquicentennial anniversary and the best so far was the arrival of La Machine. La Machine is a French (France not Quebec) theatre troop who use giant fantasy creatures. This year they came to Ottawa to make their North American premiere.
La Machine brought two marionettes – and they repeatedly reminded us that they are not robots because they are operated on site by people – a giant spider (Kumo) and a giant dragon (Long-Ma). They were basically given free run of the city for a weekend and and wandered as they please through the downtown core.
The creatures played out a drama where the dragon walked throughout the city looking for his/her stolen wings and fighting off attacks by the evil spider. After finding his/her wings the dragon was able to finally defeat the spider then return to his/her home. All this was done with a soundtrack played by a live band and amid huge crowds. It was a really unique event, certainly unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
The drama, size of the creatures, the facial features they could perform (the dragon breathed fire), the imagination they tapped into was amazing. It is kind of weird to say, but you quickly forgot they weren’t real. The creatures were so lifelike that half the kids in attendance were thrilled and other half were terrified. I find it inspirational that a person with a big crazy idea can make it happen and make people happy through it.
La Machine made great use of the city as a stage it was a really cool blending of fantasy and reality (and this is a political town we have a ton of that as it is) and was fun way to reimagine a place. It had a chilled out off-the-cuff largely because there were no clear publicized schedule for anything so as an audience we had to go downtown and find the creatures as they wandered. But best of all the happiness and excitement they gave Ottawa all blew me away and the love shown to the event by Ottawans was outstanding. The entire event was free, the weather was perfect, nearly a million people showed up, there was almost no policing and no terrorism. Police dealt with the event with politeness and smiles. And it worked!
I can’t say enough good things about this event and I think all of us here wanted something big after the Canada Day debacle (more on that in the next blog post). I really was terrified that we’d drunk the Kool-ade and gone headfirst down the anti-terrorism rabbit-hole. But it was great to know that common-sense won the day and has given us our freedom-loving happy city back…for now.
As for the pictures I went out to all three days of the event and shot a lot of pictures, but couldn’t get much by way of 360˚ stuff done. But I did get these four a little before the Friday afternoon action began. The crowds weren’t too big yet and the machines were ‘resting’. I think it does capture a little of the vibe that was going on throughout the event.
Sorry to ramble, thanks for looking and enjoy they pics.
See you next time,
Dan (Aug. 2017).
Hello folks I’m back and, as always, thrilled to be here.
I’ve been having a very nice summer, even though we are setting all kinds of records for cloudy days and rainfall – to got along with the record snowfall last winter too. Anyhow, despite the constant wetness, humidity, muddy fields and mosquitos I’ve been puttering around this great province of ours and thoroughly delighting in the sights and sounds it has to offer.
Ironically many of the places that I’m enjoying so much now are the same exact same places I loathed when my folks dragged me off to see them many years ago. Returning to them now, I can’t tell if they have improved immeasurably, if my entertainment standards are just abysmally low, or if the act of going there years ago has created a semi-nostalgia for a simpler time that makes me exprience many more things than just the attraction itself these days, but there seems to be a newfound happiness they give me.
Today’s photographic offering, the HMCS (Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship) Haida, is one of those roadside attractions. It is a WW II ship that seems to have done very well for itself in battle and now happily sits in harbour in Hamilton ‘The Hammer’ Ontario enjoying its retirement.
So why did I decide to present this ship to you today. Firstly, like everything I take pictures of, I just wanted to see what it looks like as a picture. Secondly, it is an interesting subject because it is equal parts history, coolness, uniqueness, complexity and fun. There was also the facts that national parks (and monuments) are free this year, that my sister lives right beside it and that it is located in a part of Hamilton that will undergo some pretty big changes in the next few years, so it might be neat to document it as a ‘before’.
But the real reason I wanted to give this thing a shot is because of my my love of the Matrix. Yes, the movie.
Walking through this boat (or almost any other military vehicle) make me feel like I’m walking through some 70s era movie spaceship, or in this case the Nebuchadnezzer from the Matrix. There is a certain vibe you get walking through a museum like this – the steel, the lack of any prettiness, the tight compact claustrophobic spaces, the open wiring, the tubes, the vents the dials and displays all make it an exotic unearthly place. That being said I’d never actually want to live on it.
One of the coolest things about the Haida is that it is nearly 100% open for people to wander and explore on their own. Although when I was there the lower sections were closed for a bachelor party. I don’t know if Morpheus ever had to rent out parts of his ship to offset the huge financial costs of maintaining his war against the Matrix, but apparently Parks Canada does in order to keep their lights on.
Anyhow, the ship itself is a Tribal Class destroyer and was in operation between 1943-63. In that time it steamed 688,534 nautical miles, it saw WW ii, the Korean War, and the Cold War, it was operated by a crew of 230 and it was named Canada’s “Fightingest Ship in the Royal Canadian Navy” because of the five battle honours it won in the 20 years it operated.
As for the pics, this tour was shot over two years. Exteriors were done in the summer 2016 and interiors a in May 2017. I needed the time because interiors were really important, but I could only do them after I got a new wider angle lens (that I picked up in November 2016).
I’m actually really happy with the final tour. The 360 thing works perfect for a subject like this, one that is so pact with details that no regular photo could do justice too. It is also a biggish tour (15 panos) and one of the cool things I happened to catch was the Hamilton Fire Department practicing with their water canons. The staff told me that they’d never seen them doing that before. So that is neat.
Finally, the map was a little interesting because there wasn’t much real estate available on a single ship from a single perspective, so I did a version from above and a side view to show the interior locations. I solved a problem, but made things a little confusing for the users. Just know that there isn’t one ship that is upright and another that is sinking. I just needed two of them.
On that note, thanks for looking and I’ll see you in a bit with a huge project I’m gonna start on as soon as I get this one up.
Dan (July 2017).
Nathan Phillips Square
Nathan Phillips Square is the geographic, political and social centre of Toronto and is home to two of the city’s most iconic buildings both city halls – one former and one current.
While it isn’t the most beautiful public square ever built, it is a fun place to hang out and a must see for any visitors to the city.
Constructed in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday it was the project that was going to turn the city into a modern sophisticated metropolis. The square is built around a modern semi-circular city hall building opening onto a large public square containing a small pool and a concert stage.
Because it isn’t quite as timeless and modern as its builders might have hoped, it received a major makeover in 2008 adding more plants and improved walking areas. Even so the concrete and heaviness of the place can be a little soulless, in no small part because one of the roles the square plays is as a cover for a huge underground parking garage.
While the style may be a little dated, Nathan Phillips Square is a fun place to go and on any day there will be some event happening and it does allow you to exprience the great collection of Toronto architecture surrounding it. From the beauty of Old City Hall to the east, to the uniqueness of new city hall to the north and the glass skyscrapers of the Financial District to the south there to the many people just visiting is a lot to take in.
As far as the photography goes, it gets tougher to figure what to shoot these days, but I can’t seem to stop. I think there will be more of this kind of thing to come. I call the ‘Day In The Life’ tours where I am just trying to capture a vibe from some random place on any random day. Maybe look for the essence of a place rather than the drama of a notable structure. What interests me has always been the people, the places and how those two elements interact and influence each other. The most fascinating thing is how those things change over time.
This mini tour was shot last month as I was kicking around the Toronto for a few days. It was also a chance to try out a newish wider angle lens. While the lens does ‘fit it all in’ I don’t know if I like the look as much particularly when panning back and forth. It seems that the increased distortion added by the lens also increases the distortion of the panning – one of the things that I really do hate about what happens to the images in this type of photography. It isn’t as smooth as it is in ‘real life’.
Anyhow, I’ll leave it with you to figure out if it is good or bad. Until next time thanks for looking and see you later,
Dan (June 2017).
So a few years ago (2011 to be exact) I used to save my all my files on single, cheap, external hard drives. I would then walk away assuming that these drives were as secure as Fort Knox and that those pictures would always be waiting for me till death do us part. Then one day I woke up and found out they weren’t.
At some point in 2011, I plugged in my ‘trusty’ hard drive and it was dead and all the files on it unavailable to me. I went to a few people specializing in data recovered and was quoted hundreds of dollars to get them back. Needless to say I immediately started buying high quality drives and double and triple backing stuff up. And I left my cheap, faulty drive sit on a shelf hoping that at some point the data on the disc could be retrieved and I’d get my precious pictures back.
Well, last week that day came.
I was watching some random techie type stuff on YouTube and up popped an external hard drive data retrieval video. For some reason I watched it through and a light came on in my head. I watched a few others, bought some tiny screw drivers, took my hard drive apart, messed around with it, put it back together and suddenly found a whole slew of new (old stock) photos waiting for me.
While there wasn’t too much great photography on it, I’m happy to have crossed it off that nagging long-term ‘to do’ list we all carry around with us and because there was stuff that I couldn’t go back and redo. Today’s post is one of those things.
It is a walk that I took across the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo way back in 2009 along with an extra pano that I took a few months later from Odaiba. Like the Tokyo nighttime collection I posted a few months back, this is one of those tours that, while not a masterpiece, is cool enough to post and reminds me of the ‘good old days’.
The Rainbow Bridge is a two level gigantic bridge that carries two separate highways and a train line. It is an important link taking people across Tokyo Bay. From an engineering standpoint it is a unique bridge because it had to be designed to high enough to allow seafaring ships underneath while being low enough to allow low-level airplane paths for nearby Haneda airport.
The walk along the bridge is great. It has surprisingly few user (maybe because it 800m long and drops you in a bit of a dead-end), but offer great views of the city. It would be a great location to see the city after dark, but they close it at around dinner time every day. So this is the best I could have done for you.
Photographically the tour is okay. The second pier is slightly zoomed in distorting the perspective a little, but back then I didn’t really understand the idea of linking them up like I do today so consistency wasn’t much of a consideration.
Other than that enjoy the tour and thanks for looking,
Dan (May 2017).
Upper Canada Village
Welcome back, spring has arrived the snow has gone and hockey playoffs are filling my evenings. Even better for all of you who’ve ever wanted to know what life was like in Canada in the 1860s today just happens to be your lucky day.
That’s because in today’s post I’m going to take you to a place just down the road from here called Upper Canada Village (UCV).
Before I tell you what it is let’s break down the name a little. ‘Upper Canada’ is what Ontario was called before 1867 – when we had confederation and just started calling everything Canada. ‘Village’ is just a really small town. So Upper Canada Village roughly means a small Canadian town in pre-confederation times – the 1860s. Picture Little House on the Prairie, but more polite and with universal health care.
Dull you say? Not in the least. But I guess I should admit that I love this history thing and UCV serves up a sweet extra-large helping of it in a pretty cool way.
Laying along the St. Lawrence River (about an hour south of Ottawa) the museum is a result of the building of the St Lawrence Seaway and the necessary flooding of 10 communities back in 1958. To preserve some of the past, unique, historic buildings from these areas were saved and relocated to the site of the current park. Upper Canada Village was opened in 1961 and is one of the best open-air museums in Canada.
Today there are over 40 buildings open to the public and all functioning as they were in their original times. You can watch everything from shoes, to brooms, to newspapers to food being made as they were in the 1860s. Working mills, farms and schools are all filled with actors in period costume giving examples of how they lived and worked in a very different time.
As for the photography, there was little rhyme or reason to the creation of this project particularly because I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and when I went down last summer I had completely forgotten how big the place was. So I took a ton of pictures and this biggish tour is the end result. I might go down again this year to add some interior shots, but for now this will have to do. The weather was great, although the sky was filled with big, slow moving clouds and that caused a little inconsistency in a few of the images. But it was a nice and well worth the drive down.
Thanks for looking and see you next time,
Dan (Apr. 2017).
Welcome back and I’ll be honest with you, I just have a little post today. However, I do think it’s an exceptionally pretty little post, so I promise I’m not wasting your time. I was actually working on a bigger more complex one, but didn’t finish it in time, so I’ll give you this one now and get the other one up later.
As of today (April 3) winter seems to be officially over and my fair city of Ottawa is now a warm pile of thawing, stinky mud. For the most part it was a fairly average winter, although it wasn’t too cold and we had a short skate season, but 2016-17 was the third highest snowfall for Ottawa in recorded history.
For those of you who haven’t experienced it there is nothing more beautiful than walking late at night in the middle of a heavy snowfall. The whole world is clean, fresh and almost totally silent. And if you can put aside the headache of car accidents, shoveling and traffic jams that come with it, it really is a magical feeling. Sure it is cold, but there is just a remarkable peace and stillness to it all. Because of the huge amount of snow we got this winter, I ended up wandering around downtown at the strangest hours of the night with a camera enjoying it all.
Today’s post is one of those nights. It was mid-February we were at the tail end of about 30cm of snow and this is what it looks like on the canal…and Parliament Hill. I didn’t go out planning on shooting these locations, this number of panos or thinking thing out to far in advance. I wandered and this is what I came home with. The two sections are kind of independent of each other, but they work together and give a neat little snapshot of Ottawa going to bed after a huge snow day.
Thanks for looking and see you next time,
Dan (Apr. 2017).
I hope you are well. Today is the first day of spring and that is always a celebratory event up here in the Great White North. This past winter has been a weird one for us Ottawans with the third most snow in recorded history, but also some of the warmest weather I can ever remember. It seemed to me that it was either -30˚ or +10˚ without much in between.
That being said we here in Ottawa are in the early days of a year-long 150th birthday party and part of that is having a bunch of cool local, national and international events here. Today’s update is my documentation of one of the international ones.
Red Bull made a quick stop here a few weeks back and held the final leg of their Crashed Ice series right here in sleepy little Ottawa. If you don’t know what Crashed Ice is, I guess I would describe it as downhill skating crossed with rock concert.
The coolest thing about these events is they try to incorporate the host’s city’s landmark locations and here in Ottawa that meant the Chateau Laurier, Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal (a UNECSO listed site). They built a track, lit it up, filled the surrounding fields with 20,000 screaming kids on two of the coldest days of the year, sent skaters flying down it four at a time and shenanigans ensued.
For this collection I headed down the night before when they were testing everything – I knew it would be too full and too crazy to shoot any 360s on the day of – and thought I’d come home with just one or two panos, but there was no way to really capture the whole track without doing a bunch…so that’s what did. I got there at about 10:30 pm and spent nearly two hours taking pictures. It was a tricky shoot because it was real cold (-25˚), real dark (Ottawa is a surprisingly poorly lit city) and real windy (not good for keeping the camera steady with longer shutter speeds).
I knew the lights would be on on the Thursday but everything was really inconsistently lit. Spotlights were moving back and forth, sections of the track were being turned on and off, the Chateau Laurier’s floodlights getting turned on and off and changing colours, trying to balance a bright track with a black sky. It took a long time to get any consistency within the pictures and by the time it was all over my hands were frozen claws and I could barely work the camera anymore.
But it is one of those real unique events that don’t happen too often, so I think it was worth it.
Thanks for looking and see you soon,
Dan (Mar. 2017).
The ByTowne Cinema is something I’ve thought about photographing for a while now. As a guy who’s been wandering around this planet for many decades now, I’ve realized that few things stay the way you remember them and that overnight even historic institutions can shut down and disappear.
Because of this I’ve made a list of some of the off-the-beaten-track Ottawa places that I’ve wanted to document before I find out they’ve turned into condos. Few of them are the big dramatic landmark locations that we initially think of as important, rather they are the smaller, less spectacular and too often overlooked places. The ones that can often have even more meaning to us because we actually use and interact with them. The ByTowne Cinema is one of those places. One of the last movie houses from the ‘golden age’ of theatres here in Ottawa. And one that almost everyone living in this city has seen something in it.
Originally called the Nelson Theatre, it was opened in 1947 and despite Netflix, multiplexes and downloading somehow keeps going strong today. I manage to get out to a movie or two a year here and still appreciate the character and vibe. So here it is for you to appreciate. Ladies and Gentlemen I’m proud to present, in full Technicolor…the ByTowne!
Thanks for looking and see you soon,
Dan (Mar. 2017).
This week is just a mini upload. Over the years I’ve spent a great deal of time in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). I get down there at least five or six times a year because I have a ton of relatives who live in the area including brother and sister and their families.
What that means is I’ve also spent a ton of time over the years aimlessly wandering the streets with camera in hand. This batch of pics is the result of those misguided efforts. Some of them are still from the Rooftops Sessions and some of them are from the Time Machine Sessions and the rest are just from the days that I’ve spent down there wandering around. But I think all of them have been posted to my Instagram account at some point in the past six months, so this may be a rerun for you.
I’ll keep this update short and simple, I’ll let you at the pics and wish you all the best until next time.
Thanks for looking,
Dan (Feb. 2017).
The Distillery District
Hello and welcome back,
I hope everyone has survived the insanity of inauguration weekend. We have definitely entered a very new and very strange era in world history.
While I can’t entertain quite as much as the new American President does I can offer a quaint little photo project for you.
In recent years Toronto has exploded. The construction boom begun in the early 2000s
has drastically changed the face of the city. As a result nearly all of the dingy old industrial areas have, and are, being turned into shiny new glass condos.
The Distillery District is one of those dingy old industrial areas. It is the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial buildings in North America and as the name implies the location was the home of the Gooderham and Worts Ltd. distillery. Founded in 1832, by the 1860s was the largest distillery in the world and it remained in operation until 1990.
In 1988 the Distillery District was named a National Historic Site and discussion was begun on the best way to preserve and use such a unique location.
It is unique because; it is not a site of wealth (like Casa Loma) but shows us something different, it a complex (13 acres) rather than a single building, it presents us with a variety buildings (offices, factories and warehouses) of differing eras (built between 1859 to 1927) and it was in use up until it became a heritage site. Because of that it has a preservation level far better than many other similar sites.
The first phase of restoration work was completed in 2003 and it was opened to the public. Since then a number of additions have been made including three high-rise condos. Today it is an award winning mixed-use architectural site. Walking through it one will find a theatre, restaurants and cafes (none of which can be franchises) and artists studios. It is a popular location for movie shoot and over 800 have been filmed on the site over the years. So it is a different kind of place.
As far as the photography goes, I just kind of slapped something together on the fly. The Distillery District is a cool, historic place to walk around and grab a beer in, but it is a low-key location. Because of that I had no real plan going in. I thought that I’d just shoot one pano in the middle somewhere and go off to do other things. Instead (as is often the case with me), enjoying the beautiful summer day and having fun exploring the place, it grew into what you see before you. As there is substantially more development coming – maybe a little too much – to this little piece of land and so it was nice to have photographed it when did.
I’ll leave it there, thanks for looking and see you soon,
Dan (Jan. 2017).
Happy 2017 and welcome back and I hope your Christmas Holidays were as much fun and as fulfilling as mine were. Mine mostly involved family, junk food, boardgames and watching bad Christmas films.
But we’re beyond that and well into the new year and 2017 is a big year here in Canada. That’s because way back in 1867 a ragtag, underdog group of provinces banded together and created a country – largely due to a heavily armed and expansionist United States fresh off their civil war – and it was a Confederation that changed the world.
Okay we may not have changed the world, but here we are 150 years later still going hard. We’ve grown since then, welcoming a number of newer provinces into the circle, and for the most part it has been a fairly decent arrangement for all. We still don’t speak American, we live safe, quiet lives, we have health care, we are proud of our multiculturalism and higher education is accessible to all.
But maybe the best thing about Canada is all this damn land we have – much of which is exquisitely beautiful. One of the unique and cool things going on in 2017 is that all of our national parks (and there are a lot of them) are going to be open to the public free of charge. To kick the new year off and commemorate our birthday that I dug through the vaults and put today’s pano tour together of Banff and Sunshine Meadows in Alberta.
I won’t go into it too much, but Banff is Canada’s oldest National Park and a place every human being should visit before they die. Sunshine is a ski resort about 15km west of Banff that tops out at 2200m in a stunning high alpine meadow that is a one of the greatest day-hikes in Canada. On top you’ll find British Columbia and the Continental Divide to your west, to the east is a field of flowers, lakes and animals and all of it is surrounded by some of the biggest baddest mountains in the whole world.
The project was shot over three days way back in 2010 and, like all of the stuff I did back then, I saw each as single stand-alone pano without any idea that I’d one day I could link the whole mess together in one big, connected tour. Had I planned it out better I would have shot things a little differently…but not much. This is where the 360˚ concept really shines and something I’d thought I might have done much more of over the years, but I find myself locked into city life.
I’m actually really happy with it and I don’t really know why It took me so long to get to it and post it. I guess I thought I’d have gone back by now and been able to add to it, although I guess it will be one that gets more added as the years go by. However, despite the many years since I photographed this one, I think it immediately becomes one of my best projects.
In addition to the Banff Sunshine stuff, I’ve also posted a couple of one-off Calgary panos in the Canada section of my site.
For 2017 my resolution is to get more organized with things and try and post a group of panos every two weeks…starting today. So tune in regularly and tune in often I think I can entertain and educate you a little.
To help get the word out about when I do I’ve gotten a Facebook page up and running and while I’m not much of a fan these days (FB has morphed into a mind numbing collection of baby pics, animal videos and political rantings), in business you gotta go where the crowds are. Hopefully I can maintain interest in it and add something slightly more interesting to the mix. The link can be found at the bottom of any page on my site.
I’ll leave it there for now, I wish everyone the best in 2017 and with Ottawa being the centre of Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary there will be no shortage of stuff happening here to show you.
Thanks for looking and see you soon,
Dan (Jan. 2017).