What's a landscape photographer to do in an urban jungle?
As a landscape photographer living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, my ventures to majestic mountains in lake reflections and seaside-sunsets of awe-inspiring landscape photography happen only with periodically planned expeditions far from home. So what do I do when travel isn't an option?... Urban photography!... then enter four of the best of them into the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) National Image Competition to see how they might fair amongst some of Canada's best photographers.
Toronto Blue Skyline eaned a Merit Award in the 2023 PPOC National Image Competition and a forever-home in the National Image Salon ~ @NikonCanada Z9 w/Z 70-200mm f/2.8 at 80mm, f/8, 0.6 sec, ISO 100, panorama
Toronto Blue Skyline (above) is one such local urban landscape panorama taken from Snake Island across the frozen Toronto Harbour. I'm proud to have it accepted by the PPOC Judges into the 2023 National Image Salon, and further honoured with a Merit Award.
To clarify the significance of this recognition, according to the PPOC National Image Competition website: "One of the cornerstones of the Professional Photographers of Canada is the PPOC Annual Image Salon. This juried exhibition showcases the best of the best. Within this Salon Exhibition, you will find the most creative, the newest and most cutting edge, and the finest technically executed images produced by our members.
From those submitted images deemed worthy of inclusion in the final Salon Exhibition, those which stand above the rest are awarded scores of Merit, and the small number which are deemed to be truly exceptional images are awarded the prestigious score of Excellence."
At first, I roamed Toronto during the lockdown periods of the COVID Pandemic to capture the iconic archecture of our amazing city as practice for when travel would open up again. But little did I realize how passionate I'd become for creating images of cityscapes I'd long-since taken for granted at home... and then journeyed to those I had only coveted from afar once travel restrictions were lifted.
Canadian Photographer in Paris
Louvre Before Dawn ~ Accepted into the 2023 National Image Salon as entered in the 2023 PPOC National Image Competition ~ @NikonCanada Z7 w/Z 24-70mm f/2.8 at 36mm, f/4, 1 .6sec, ISO 100
I'd waited years to photograph Paris and its myriad iconic architecture including the Louvre Museum near the top of my list. And what better time to self-assign this magnificent location than while celebrating the 20th Anniversary with my wife.
For this first entry into the 2023 PPOC National Image Competition (above), I arose at 5 AM on the morning of our anniversary day, being very careful not to wake my wife. I quietly snuck out of our hotel room, rented an eBike across the street, and rode the empty streets of Paris to arrive at the Louvre a 5:20 AM. This was the first moment I'd ever seen the Museum in person, and this photo is the first I took. I loved how the postlamps lit the courtyard, and how the moon glowed translucently in the deep blue sky. Then I got to work and began scouting for the hero composition.
There was an expansive line of crowd-control railings blocking the width of the courtyard except for one that had been left open toward the pyramid. I'm not certain if it was left in this position for staff to enter, or if someone simply forgot to close it, but being well-intended, I couldn't see the harm in leaving my eBike at the railing and walking myself to the centre of the yard with my Nikon Z7 and a tripod to get the frame I was hoping for. Unfortunately, I was unappologetically approached by a security guard emerging from the pyramid and asked to promptly leave. I did my best to assure him I was only wanting a photo of the Museum at sunrise, but he either didn't understand, didn't care, or likely both. So, I politely excused myself and made my way back behind the railings to rethink my shot from there. And I'm so glad I did...
Sunrise at the Louvre eaned an Excellence Award in the 2023 PPOC National Image Competition ~ @NikonCanada Z7 w/Z 24-70mm f/2.8 at 35mm, f/16, 1 sec, ISO 100, 3-stop bracket x 14 frames
... the angle I saw from beyond the gate at this point was so much more, and demanded I take more than a photo. This scene called for a series of 14 bracketed frames, 7 across the top and 7 across the bottom, for a total of 42 images to capture all the rich detail of the Louvre at sunrise in this 385 megapixel panoramic frame. Fortunately, this photo was granted an Excellence Award by the Judges. And in case you're wondering, I was able to pack up at the Louvre in time to arrive back at the hotel just as my wife was waking up to enjoy the rest of our anniversary day together.
Mont Saint Michel
Sunrise at Mont Saint Michel ~ Accepted into the 2023 Image Salon of the PPOC National Image Competition ~ @DJI Mavic3 Hasselblad L2D-20c 24.0 mm f/2.8 at 12.29mm, ƒ/2.8, 1/20s, ISO 100
To elevate our anniversary trip even further, we took a couple of days away from Paris, rented a car, and drove 4 hours to the Normandy coast to stay at the legendary Mont Saint Michel. I'd seen photos, videos, and aerial cinematography of this incredible 1300-year-old pilgramage destination for years, and knew I couldn't leave France without seeing it for myself. It didn't disappoint. In fact, so many of my best images of France were captured in this one place. But with only four entries called for in the National Competition, I chose this as my favorite, and was honoured to have it Accepted into the 2023 National Image Salon by the PPOC judges.
Toronto Photographer in Canmore, Alberta
With all four of these image entries accepted by the National Image Competition Judges into the 2023 PPOC Image Salon, "Sunrise at the Louvre" was further honoured as Best in Class finalist in the Pictorial category during the Gala Awards Presentation at the National Image Conference in Canmore, Alberta, and now featured in the PPOC Loan Collection as one of the top 40 images of 2023 queued for print in a special edition book.
To learn more about the Professional Photographers of Canada visit www.ppoc.ca
To learn more about the PPOC National Image Salon: https://canadianimaging.org/about-ppoc-image-salon/