Statue in the Snow, Montreal, 2004
Hi, everyone. It was another hot week here in New York and I spent a lot of time walking around outside, so after getting home from work I just wanted to chill out rather than work on another post. Now it’s finally time for a new one. This time it’s something a little different: a travel photo from outside the USA that wasn’t taken in Europe or Asia.
I made my first and (so far) only trip to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in February 2004. I went there because I had met a girl from Montreal the year before and when she saw my nude photos, she loved them so much that she said she’d kill herself if I didn’t photograph her. (Seriously.)
Of course, I didn’t really think she’d kill herself, but obviously she was someone who wanted to work with me. (If she was serious, why have that on my conscience, either?) I had also wanted to visit Montreal, so a trip up there seemed like a good idea. I chose to go in the winter for one simple reason: money. The winter rates at the hotel where I wanted to stay (an 18th century building with rough, exposed brick walls in the rooms), which doubled as my shooting location, were noticeably lower in the winter than in the rest of the year.
So, in the fall of 2003, I made plans to drive up on a Friday during the following February for a weekend trip. Little did I realize that the day of the drive would also be the day of an ice and snow storm. You know it’s going to be a tough day for a road trip when the first thing you have to do is crack a sheet of ice off of your windshield. All in all, it was probably the most harrowing day of driving in my life, driving at 40 mph in the 65 zone. Then my driver’s side windshield wiper was having problems, as it failed to clean properly and a large patch of ice and snow built up on the window – right in the spot that I had to look through! (I even had to recline the back of my seat to lower the point of the window which I looked through.) Then I couldn’t get the car into the hotel’s parking lot because the tires kept spinning in the snow – but eventually I did get settled in and I did have my photo shoot the next day.
This photo, however, was made that evening. I had told myself that after we’d had dinner, I would go out with my tripod to take photos at night in the Old Town of Montreal, which is where my hotel was located – but did I really? Why go back out into the freezing cold when I could stay in a nice, warm hotel room. I had the perfect excuse, too: I was pretty sure that I’d forgotten to bring with me the spot meter attachment for my light meter that I use for nighttime shots. So, over I went to my bag, eager to confirm that the attachment was still back home in Brooklyn – and there it was in the bag. My heart sank a little as my excuse to stay in had vaporized, so I put my boots back on, got dressed and out I went.
This photo was made on a plaza adjoining the Place Jacques Cartier, which is basically the main square of the Old Town. It’s where Montreal’s Hotel de Ville (City Hall) is located. I saw this scene of the statue with the two trees and the illuminated building behind it and it immediately caught my attention. The problem was that the snow drifts on that plaza came up to about mid/high thigh on me, so in I went, trudging through it until I got to my desired spot. I then opened up my tripod and drove it down firmly into the snow before setting up the camera and the shot. By this time my toes were absolutely freezing, but I did manage to to get a few good exposures of the scene before the cold made the battery in my Pentax 67 unstable.
Unfortunately, when I was done, I was unable to push back in one of the legs on that Gitzo tripod with the twist locks. There was no way I could fit it back into my suitcase, but luckily there were some renovations being done to the hotel and I was able to borrow a vise grip from one of the workmen which helped my loosen the lock and push the leg in. If worse had come to worse, I could have just put the tripod in the trunk or back of my car had I not gotten the lock loose. On the other hand, if that were to happen on a trip where I had to fly (as most of my trips are), I would be in serious trouble.
That’s why I went out and bought myself a Manfrotto tripod with flip locks instead of the Gitzo’s twist locks.