190919 Walking After Midnight - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

The biggest problem with night photography is that it happens at inconvenient times. As a result I have to look for opportunities where I can find them, such as at 3am in suburban Ottawa. I had taken the bus in for a visit over the long weekend, and the walk to my niece's home was a perfect chance to get out with a camera and enjoy some Me Time.

If this was Toronto I would know the name of the bridge, the roads nearby, and the story behind the birds. All I knew at the time was this bridge was where I turned from the road that took me across the river from the bus station on to the road that would take me past the airport.

(Bronson avenue, crossing Riverside drive and the Rideau canal; concrete Falcon public artwork by Christopher Griffin.) 

The weather forecast was for scattered showers, and to the forecasters' credit, that is how it started. I don't usually mind a little rain, but didn't want to make the long walk while damp, so this bridge is where I took shelter from the intermittent rain that was starting to accumulate on the front of the 23/2.

I have gradually had to accept that 23mm – 35mm equivalent in legacy 135 film format – is my preferred focal length.

I was packing as lightly as possible, at least by my standards. These are all from my little XT30 and Gitzo Mini Traveler, using my phone as a wireless shutter release. I just needed to remember to turn off my VPN when I wanted to connect to the camera with wifi.

Each of these photos is a stack of many individual exposures – traffic was sparse this early on a Friday morning – which is a solid performance from such light gear. But maybe I should have picked a weather-sealed camera for the trip, even if it was a little heavier. 

I needed to cover some ground after spending too much time hiding from the rain at the bridge, so I didn't stop to take photos for a while. I can barely manage one kilometre and hour with a camera in hand, but will walk about six per hour when I want to. Happily that meant that I was near a convenient shelter when the major thunderstorm rolled in. 

It was not included in the weather forecast.

At this point I had only covered about a quarter of the distance I wanted to, but by the time this storm was clearing, it had taken almost all of the time I had hoped to spend. Deciding that expediency was the best choice, I found a taxi that took me the rest of the way – but with luck I'll  get to try this walk again and cover the whole distance properly.