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Montreal: My Home and Native Land!

Summer was quickly coming to an end so my friend Kally and I thought that a trip to Montreal for Labour Day weekend would be a stupendous idea. One of my best girlfriends had recently moved to Montreal and I have been missing living in Paris so I thought visiting an old friend and taking in some European culture would be the perfect weekend getaway.  Kally and I wanted to research the best places to take pictures in Montreal before we endured the five plus hour drive.  Especially since we both we are both extremely passionate about photography.

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Skyline seen from Old Montreal | 30 sec at f / 11, ISO 100 |

To our surprise there was a lot less to shoot than we expected.  We both surmised that since the architecture and culture differed considerably from Toronto, we wouldn’t be at a loss.  However, when we reached Montreal and began roaming the streets, we both actualized how small Montreal was in comparison to Toronto.

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Jacques-Cartier Bridge | Seen from Ile Sainte-Helene | 25 sec at f / 11, ISO 250 |

*Fun facts – Montreal metropolitan population 3,635,571  vs. Toronto Metropolitan population 5,583,064  (according to Statistics Canada 2011)

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Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal | 10 sec at f / 9, ISO 200 |

From the time we arrived, the weather was overcast and grey and according to the forecast, there was a possibility of rain almost everyday we were there.  The sky was very underwhelming during daytime hours and thus not the most favourable lighting conditions for shooting.

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Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal | 30 sec at f / 8, ISO 500 |

We went to the places that were recommended to us and where we had researched in hopes of getting some images worth sharing that conjured some emotion.  The first place we wanted to go to was the lookout point at Mont Royal (one of the city’s largest parks) to capture a view of the whole city from a top of the mountain.  We opted to wait to the last day due to the unfortunate weather conditions. As luck would have it, on our way out of the city, the morning grey sky turned a perfect shade of blue and slowly filled with cotton candy-like clouds.

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Mont Royal Lookout | 1/50 sec at f / 13, ISO 100 with polarized filter |

Upon arrival at the lookout the next challenge was attempting to get a shot with an interesting and somewhat original perspective.  Now finding that perspective is always the challenge I am contending with when standing in a place where countless people have stood before. Prior to going, I hadn’t looked at many shots taken by others from this location so I wouldn’t be influenced by what I saw. I did my best with the elements around me, crossed my fingers and hoped to achieve a somewhat interesting and original image.

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Mont Royal Cross| 4 sec at f / 16, ISO 100 | ND Filter 6 stops |

Luckily the heavens opened up and the sky cleared and big fluffy clouds rolled in.  Two of my favourite elements when shooting outside during the day.  I love the colour contrast!  A short walk from the lookout we decided to venture another short 1.3km to see the ginormous cross.  After the long walk uphill in the sweltering heat we reached the cross hoping for another view looking down on the city.  To our disappointment all that was at the destination was just a cross that was perched atop a mound surrounded by trees.

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Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal | 25 sec at f / 11, ISO 100 | ND Filter 6 stops |

*Fun fact – Only 30.1% of Canadians are able to speak French according to Statistics Canada.  (And we are a bilingual country.)

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Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal | 13 sec at f / 11, ISO 100 | ND Filter 6 stops |

Of all the pictures I saw taken in Montreal, Notre Dame Basilica was the one I saw most frequently.  The pictures I had seen prior barely did the gothic church justice.  The stained glass windows were grand and illuminated with sunlight with various colours of  gorgeous bluish hues.  Often my favourite tones to photograph.

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Palais des congrès de Montréal | 1/200 sec at f / 7.1, ISO 100 |

The nice thing about Montreal is that there is a vast mixture of both old and new architecture.  It gives a nice balance to the city and doesn’t leave one feeling bored when out exploring and especially when photographing.

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Saint Patrick’s Basilica | 13 sec at f / 11, ISO 100 | ND Filter 6 stops |

The best way for me to shoot a city and not be left disappointed is to just roam in hopes of finding places that inspire me.  This is after I have visited all the must-see’s on my list.  Usually I find that my optimum and favourite images are the images I don’t plan.  Something catches my eye, I shoot it with little thought or planning and hope for great results.

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Mont Royal Lookout | 1/80 sec at f / 13, ISO 100 |

To be honest, I haven’t traveled too much around Canada but in my experience Montreal is the only city that actually elicits the feeling as if you were in Europe.  It doesn’t feel like the Canada I know.  The culture is very different than anywhere in North America.  It has everything a large city can offer and at the same time is able to maintain a charming atmosphere.

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Mont Royal Lookout | 1/50 sec at f / 13, ISO 100 |

All in all, the little amount of time I have spent and the few places I have visited in this very large country makes me proud to be a Canadian and call this beautiful country my home.

Until next time,
Happy shooting!

Alyssa

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