One of my flaws is that when I am visiting a place, whether it is somewhere that I have been many times before or a new location that I have yet to explore, I feel the need to see everything and push my camera’s memory card to its limit. One of my photographic resolutions that I’m finding difficult to stick to is focusing on one or two locations, sitting for a while with camera in hand, and really attempting to capture a clear sense of place. So on a trip to Montreal with my wife and some friends this past weekend, one of my most favorite cities in the world and place where I have been many times before, I decided to visit a building that would stand out in any urban landscape: The Palais des congrès de Montréal.
I’ve been wanting to photograph this building ever since I first drove by it on my way out of the city probably 12 years ago. It’s located in the downtown area (aka Centre Ville) and was built right above a Metro stop in 1983. I imagine I’m not the only person who has been intrigued by the multi-colored windows, and a search on Flickr definitely supports that theory. Regardless of its photographic popularity, I was determined to shoot something unique. The secret is arriving at the right moment of the day, just as the sun is beginning its descent. I took all of these shots over the course of an hour starting at around 4:30pm. I expected it to be much busier, but it was actually very quiet.
I always feel a bit creepy snapping pics of people on the street, but I just couldn’t resist doing it while sitting on the floor of the Palais. I tried to be sly about it by not putting the camera up to my face. Meanwhile, the sound of the shutter likely gave me away. Oh well. The above photos were actually shot with the camera at knee level. Sometimes things work out the way they are supposed to.
If you enjoy playing with light in your photos, this is the place to be. I imagine it’s pretty boring at night, though. Also, fun with reflections!
If you happen to find yourself in Montreal with camera in hand (or not), get off at the Place d’Armes Metro stop, hop on the escalator, and follow the colorful light. Sit for a while and see what happens. I think you’ll be happy you did.