Street views in San Francisco


We walked around San Francisco and climbed quite a few streets as the ubiquitous T-shirts indicate, starting from Union Square, through Chinatown, to Ghirardelli Square for the obligatory dessert, through the piers, up the Filbert Steps to the Coit Tower which was closed for renovation, back down, through the Red Light District and finally the Financial District. Here is a gallery of  some of the shots from that beautiful day.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, RAW conversion using Adobe Lightroom 4.1

Weekly Photo Challenge: ”Threshold”

Solitary confinement at the Alcatraz penitentiary

Solitary confinement at the Alcatraz penitentiary

Classical Serenade: 25th anniversary concert of the ensemble




The Montreal-based string ensemble Sérénade celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special concert. The orchestra was conducted by its current maestro for most pieces except the last which was conducted by the ensemble’s first conductor. Past members also joined the fun. Most musicians wore some purple to highlight the color that was originally worn by the orchestra to set itself apart as told by the original conductor.

I went to the afternoon concert in a church in St-Lambert, on Montreal’s South Shore. The white interior reflected nicely the natural light streaming in through the windows. The overall lighting was nice and diffuse as opposed to most concert halls which tend to feature harsh and non-uniform light.

The selection of pieces is from English composers. The exception is Fratres from Pärt, an Estonian, but it means brothers and was composed for Britten who Pärt considered his brother.

Simple symphony, Benjamin Britten
Fratres, Arvo Pärt
Introduction & Allegro, Edward Elgar
Suite St-Paul, Holst
Scarborough Fair, traditional English song

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L, Sigma EX 50mm f/1.4 lens, Sigma EX 85mm f/1.4 lens, Canon EF 135mm f/2L lens, Sigma EX 120-300mm f/2.8 OS lens

Weekly Photo Challenge: ”Street Life”

Fashion for a good cause

I shot the Synesthasia annual charity fashion show organized by McGill University students. This year’s theme was Dynasties with all scenes names after Imperial China dynasties such as Tang or Ming. The benefits of the show goes towards Habitat for Humanity – Philippines for the rebuilding of homes in Zamboanga City, an area affected by the conflict between the Moro National Liberation Front and governmental forces. The show combines dance numbers with runway walks with apparel provided by sponsors from the fashion industry.

The Synesthasia website can be found at:

I attended the dry run to assess the lighting environment and take some test shots. I must admit that I was unprepared for a fashion show. It combines the most challenging aspects for photographic equipment: low light and movement. I was planning to shoot the event like a concert, that is without flash so I brought an array of fast primes. It quickly became apparent that the very low luminosity combined with the fast movement made it impossible to get decent shots even at very high ISO and full open. I had to use a portable flash to get enough speed to freeze motion (around 1/400s). This solved another challenge, that of white balancing as the lighting was heavily colored and would have been difficult to sort out colorwise. So I went home and settle on a 24-105mm zoom as the only lens for the shoot as there is not enough time for lens changes. I hadn’t used a portable flash in a while so unfortunately  it took me a few scenes before I could get shots that I liked. It was fun though and I’ll try to find other charity events to offer my services.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, RAW conversion using Adobe Lightroom 4.1

Coastal views from Big Sur

Big Sur

Big Sur

17-mile drive

17-mile drive

Landscapes are not my favorite subjects but I feel obligated to shoot a few when on a trip. We drove down from Mountain View where we were staying at a friend’s place (thanx Alex!) to Monterrey for the 17-mile drive. After we drove Big Sur to San Simeon. Here is a gallery with some of the coastal views along this fantastic strip of land between the hills and the ocean in the chronological order they were taken. We were driving from North to South, so on the ocean side that obviously offers the best views.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, RAW conversion using Adobe Lightroom 4.1

The other San Francisco bridge




Upon a friend’s suggestion, we went to shoot the other San Francisco bridge, the Bay Bridge, at night as we were told that it is nicely illuminated with LED lighting. So we did and I think it is well worth the detour.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, RAW conversion using Adobe Lightroom 4.1