All photos:  (c) Elena Galey-Pride

Monday
May112015

« Black and white and red all over  »

Well, I'm certainly blushing and it's because of my black and white photography, so I think the old gag fits! I was surprised and happy to learn Saturday night that a series of my photos won the Grand Prize in the second annual Walk STC YOUR Downtown Photo Exhibit.

Walk STC is "a community-powered wayfinding project" that posts signage to tell pedestrians how many minutes by foot it is to walk to destinations in downtown St. Catharines. The photo exhibit specifically was created to bring attention to the rich character and characters of downtown St. Catharines. Photographers were invited to share how they see downtown’s architecture, its people and its hidden gems, with photos taken on smart phones or cameras. Initial entries were made via InstagramFacebook, and Twitter using the #WalkSTC hashtag. Then the selected photographers were invited to hang their framed/mounted photos at Mahtay Cafe and Lounge on St. Paul Street in St. Catharines.

I hung four, including one with three images framed together. All of my images were submitted in the "Nature & Parks" category and were taken in Montebello Park in February and April. 

Thinking about what I wanted to photograph in downtown St. Catharines, it didn't take me long to decide to focus on Montebello Park. The 2.49 hectare park has been a favourite destination since we first moved to St. Catharines 30 years ago. Back then, we lived within walking distance and our footsteps frequently led us that way, in ever season. Band concerts, Envirofest, Ribfest and many, many Niagara Wine Festivals racked up so many great Park memories. 

But the memory nearest and dearest to my heart was our wedding which took place in Montebello Park. It was an inspired decision to set our wedding ceremony in the bandshell. A remnant of a more genteel era (Frederick Law Olmstead - of Central Park fame - designed Montebello Park in 1887), the bandshell suited our quasi-Victorian-themed wedding perfectly. And the Rose Garden in June was a natural place for our wedding photos.

The roses weren't much in evidence however, when I trekked into the park in February 2015, just hours after a serious snowfall. I didn't get as far as the bandshell because the crazy curlique shadows cast by the park benches on the pristine snow captured my attention. In fresh powder halfway up my calves, I bent and stretched, and played with the angles of the crisp, contrasty shadows on the snow. It was clear from the beginning that the images would be displayed in black and white, because there was essentially no colour in them in the first place! 

A couple of months later, I was back in the park in the late afternoon of a stunning day. While spring still hadn't "sprung," the first sunshine after a ridiculously long winter saw the park full of walkers, talkers and gawkers. With less than an hour between meetings, I grabbed my camera from my car trunk and hustled into the park. The red roof shingles and white trim of the bandshell were a delightful contrast with the intense blue sky. Rather than going the conventional route and trying to capture the whole bandshell, I circled round and round it, looking at the voluptuous curves from all angles. Three of these shots are now framed together. 

And this last shot was my last shot. I was packed up and leaving the park when I remembered my father's photographic advice about looking over your shoulder for the shot you may have missed. I turned around to see the setting sun illuminating the face of the pavilion, and creating a striking silhouette effect on the magnificent tree beside. Too early in the spring for any green growth, the crisp detail of the tree branches were imbued with a life, a character, a voice of the tree that really spoke to me. It told me of all the people who have passed under its branches and all the quintessentially-St. Catharines stories that have played out around its roots.

 


 

For a wonderful cross-section of views of downtown St. Catharines, drop by Mahtay Café (241 St. Paul Street) any time during May and check out the Walk STC exhibit. Maybe you'll be inspired to add your vision to next year's competition. 

 

It was a fantastic turn out for the #WalkSTC YOUR Downtown Gallery Opening on Saturday. We've got a lot to be thankful for. Congratulations to our winners:  Grand Prize - Elena Galey-Pride; Second place - Elizabeth Krajewski; Third place - B Squared Photography: photo art of Barry Smith and winner of the Mayor's Pic - Matty Williams....

Posted by Walk STC on Monday, May 11, 2015

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