Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
One of the great joys of photography is being able to capture vivid colours, but to me one of the supreme challenges is to be able to use a camera in unfavourable light conditions. A couple of years ago, I was using a film-based Canon EOS 3000 in Quebec City and I got some great, stark shots of a grey dawn as the rain came angling down over the St Lawrence River.
Later that morning, I explored the Terrasse Dufferin and the Promenade des Gouverneurs, shooting as I walked. I had already photographed the statue of Samuel de Champlain, the founder of the beautiful city, the previous evening, but now I spied an unusual challenge. Could I work the angles so as to include the Champlain statue in the same frame as the Chateau Frontenac?
As you’ll see from my 2006 post Beyond A Chateau Of Doubt it was a fair task, but it resulted in an unusual angle that made decent use of the overcast conditions. It's interesting to note, in retrospect, that the most efficient way I could shoot the scene was actually from behind and under the statue!
Then I was about to walk away and explore the Lower Town when I noticed the remnants of repair or restoration work on the Champlain statue. So of course I had to shoot the scene (below) to capture the evidence of the painstakingly-placed woodwork propping up the incredibly heavy marble and bronze.
And that was pretty much when I decided to use the heraldic angels just below the plinth to form an unusual image. Under a clear blue sky, this would have been an easy object to photograph. But with the formless overcast, I had to rely completely on composition to present the strength of the image.
Because of the weather, it looks like a black-and-white image - and that, in turn, gives me an appreciation of how hard photographers in the pre-colour technology era had to work to interpret the sights that caught their attention.