I have lived much of my life in Ottawa, and had many visits to Parliament Hill. The Gothic buildings show the influence from Europe, but the statues and carvings show a distinctive Canadian flavour.
I have photographed the Hill many times over the years, and know the area very well. Most of my photos are in colour. However, the last time I was in Ottawa, I wanted to photograph it differently. While photographing the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, I was given the opportunity to see the Parliament Buildings, and Ottawa, in a different light.
The weather was cloudy and overcast, and I was taking photos of the Museum with b&w with a high ISO (aka fast film), and it dawned on me to start photographing Ottawa in much the same way. Previously, my photos were taken on slower film - either colour slide film (Fuji Velvia) or b&w film (Ilford). The reason was Ottawa is a very beautiful city and I wanted to capture it’s details.
However, with the weather the way it was, it made me look at Ottawa in a much more rugged, textural and tactile way. Looking across the Ottawa River, the Parliament Buildings dominated the skyline with the clouds making the view moody.
I could have taken the photos with my digital camera, but the pixelated photos wouldn’t give the textured feel grainy film would. The images I wanted to take were ones where the viewer could feel them, and digital pixels don’t feel in the same way as film grain does.
The resulting photos give the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa river and riverbank a less pristine and more punchy feel and look. They pushed my view of how to photograph the Parliament Buildings, and Ottawa for that matter.
This marked the beginning of a shift in my photography. The shift was rediscovering b&w film photography, and moving to the more textural and tactile. I hadn’t realised it at the time, nor noticed the beginnings of this in my previous work, but my current work has consciously explored this much more.