Montreal spring, by day

2010-04-06

in Daily updates, Photo essays, Photography, Travel

Montreal has always been a city which I have appreciated. As an undergraduate, I was lucky enough to spend most of a summer there, participating in the Summer Language Bursary Program. The city is a layered and culturally engaging one. I was happy to visit my brother there for the Easter weekend.

The Montreal metro probably has the most character of any in Canada – largely owing to how the design of each station differs substantially. Vancouver probably has the nicest views from overhead track, but Montreal almost certainly has the most to offer underground.

While they are far from flattering, portraits taken on wide-angle zoom lenses can have an interesting quality. This one of my brother was taken in a diner where we were having a late breakfast.

One definite advantage of wide-angle lenses is that they allow you to incorporate people into images in such a way that they assume themselves to be quite outside the frame.

As with Paris, Montreal is notable for having excellent graffiti in places – though it is regrettable that vandals with no skill frequently decide to emblazon their insignificant aliases on the works of far better artists.

Heading up Rue Mont Royal, I encountered a very friendly bus driver who was eating her lunch. She encouraged me to explore the bus storage and maintenance depot around us, despite many ominous signs warning of grim consequences for outsiders who did do.

A firefighter I encountered was equally welcoming. Their approach contrasted substantially with a security guard at the Journal de Montreal building, at the foot of the road, who gruffly informed me that I had no right to be in their parking lot. Their building was boring, anyhow.

The Plateau area, where my brother is living presently, has a wide variety of attractive and interesting buildings. It’s remarkable how they serve as variations on a theme, yet still express such architectural scope.

Even with a rented Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens, I could not resist making some use of the superb Canon 70-200mm f/4 L telephoto zoom. Of all the lenses I have owned or used, it may well have the best optical properties.

At the head of Rue Mont Royal, up against the mountain of the same name, there is a park with a stately monument. It is often a nexus for social gatherings, such as the ‘Tam Tam Jams’ which often permeate Sunday evenings with the sound of drum music, for many blocks around.

The same statue, seen from a wider perspective, gives some sense of how it looks in aggregate.

Among the many other spiral staircases of Montreal, this particular one led down from the balcony of a flat inhabited by a friend of my brother to a yard that has become a favourite hangout for cats. We saw at least a dozen lounging there at once, that afternoon.

This insignia adorns a fence somewhere in the slightly ambiguous zone between the park with the monument and the beginning of the McGill University campus.

While not the most attractive of photos, this one amuses me on account of how the car and building blend in a shape like a large clown shoe.

This angelic statue sits beside the largest contained green space at McGill, near the entrance to one of the libraries.

Fountain statue, McGill University

One of three bearers of a fountain within a fountain is shown here.

Here again is the park with the monument. During the Easter weekend, it was an incredibly active place, well populated with many locals taking advantage of the time off and very fine spring weather.

One odd feature of being a semi-regular visitor to Montreal is that I become familiar with bits of graffiti, only to see them subsequently altered, erased, or overwritten.

Tomorrow, I will put up some photos of Montreal by night.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

oleh April 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm

These are incredible photos and short snippets of Montreal. I will go back to and savour them with I more time this evening as I think I should take them one a time.

Milan April 6, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Perhaps it will be of use to some readers to know that most of these (all except the dog and green statue head) were shot using a Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 EF-S lens on a Rebel XS body.

For those wanting to take wide-angle shots on a crop sensor body, this lens is probably your best option. That said, I do wish it was a bit faster. I used it almost exclusively at either 10mm or 22mm. A couple of primes at f/2.8 or faster would have had even better low light characteristics.

Alena April 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Very interesting effect of the new lens, but where is the portrait of Sasha?

S2 April 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm

They are all good, but I particularly like the Porsche shot. :)

For the last few years I’ve been mostly using telephoto lenses (good for timid wildlife) on my old Pentax plus an 18-55mm lens on my Nikon 40d for general stuff.

Maybe I’ll treat myself to a wider angle lens if I do as well in my next exam as I hope to do.

S2

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