Calgary on Film | Skillshare Projects

Riley Joseph

A Photographer & Gentleman



Calgary on Film

I am born and raised in Calgary. After many years of taking photos in the downtown I had been very bored with it. I used the lose guidlines of this project to head back down there to shoot with different eyes.

I used my Rolleiflex medium format film camera for the bulk of the snaps and my Leica for the night shot.

1. Street Portrait

Before parking my car in the downtown I knew a location where I wanted to take a photo of someone walking by. Great brass doors into a historic buillding. When I got there I saw the front facade of the building was covered with scaffolding. I walked past this building a few times. When I walked on the opposite side of the street the windows drew me in. I have lived here all my life but couldn't recall seeing this beautiful building before. Where I was standing there was a car angle parked filling the bottom of the frame. I was using the waist level finder of my Rolleiflex so holding the camera above the roofline of the car was too difficult.

So this became a 'steak'-out.. see what I did there?

Eventually the car moved and I walked onto the street to frame the shot. There was symetry galore.. the windows, the entrance and even the dirty snow piles framing the entrance. I really liked the business man texting on the right. So I waited. I took a shot of this guy: 

I wasn't certain if I got the guy in the blue coat in the frame.. I hope I didn't.
I could see a girl approching while using her phone. I looked down into the finder and waited. Luckily she continued on her phone as she walked into frame. I wanted to get her in mid stride but pressed the shutter a little too soon. Motion blur courtesy of having to use a 1/30th of a second shutter speed. 

And this became my shot. Two very different people completely in their own worlds of technology while just a few meters away.

2. Motion Blur

I figured no one would try to do this with a train.... not really. I waited on a few main streets for some kind of interesting car to go by.. like I waiting for a while.. nothing. All Toyotas, Hondas and Fords. 

I eventually moved to the train platform. Currently Calgary has been upgrading their train fleet with more modern trains with a new red, white & grey colour scheme. But there is the odd old train left. Really boxy looking with blue & purple stripes. That is the train I wanted. I only had to wait for 2 trains and I could see the old style a few blocks down. I closed my aperture to f/8 and set the shutter at 1/15th of a second. I crowtched down and braced the camera with my knees. As the train approached I held my breath to be as still as I could. I hit the shutter as soon as the whole front of the train entered the finder.

3. Look-up

As I walk with my camera I typically am looking up anyways. It will always cause people to also look up to try and see what I am looking at.

I found a building that had some interesting angles to it. When I found this spot I realized how easy it was to do a look-up shot using a waist level finder. I can look straight forward while the camera looks straight up. As I was trying to frame a shot two birds were chasing each other off the top of the building. I watched as they flew across the street to another building.

In my experience if I waited a little bit the birds would likely come back to where I saw them. I framed, focused and waited. About 40 seconds later this bird sailed by and I hit the shutter.

4. Nightshot

My night shot is another look-up in the fog. I took two versions of this same shot. One in focus and this one out of focus. I cannot see focus because I was using a Leica so it wasn't until I developed the roll and scanned it did I see how they compared. 

I strongly prefer this one.. it isn't just a building in the fog. It is a hundred lights beep-booping up a fortress like shadow.

While my project is nothing ground breaking photographically going into a city that I was bored of, with a shot list gave me renewed vigor to go and explore and shoot. On both rolls I found buildings and scenes that I never remembered seeing before.

You can see more of my shots from these rolls on my Instagram and on my Tumblr. And you can hit me up on Twitter.


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