Shooting the Montreal underground art exposition

Montreal, my home town, is world renown for a number of things. I do plead guilty to being  somewhat chauvinist :-).

Of the many things that I can think of are its summer Jazz Festival, the Formula 1 race (for along time the only race in F1 North America) and its European flare.

But Montreal is also know for its underground city – no, not “underground” as “trendy and edgy”, but “underground” as “below the ground”. Actually 32 km of underground network.

For Montrealers, this network is part of our everyday lives; to my astonishment, for some tourists it is an attraction to visit.

To liven up our long northern winters, an event, actually an art expo, is being held for the past few years. The objective of Art Souterrain (Underground Art) expo is to transform the way the public interacts with the underground space. The circuit is filled with over 140 projects and runs for 7 kilometers long, through 15 sites.

As a conclusion to a workshop that I am taking with Linda Rutenberg, she has asked us to go crazy and shoot abstracts. This is how I came up with the idea of using this art exhibit: what better than some abstract art to shoot abstract photography.

Being easily accessible from my place of work, I did three outings to capture some 100 pictures. Of these, I would like to share nine with you.

I call the first one the “chair maelstrom”, although it is not its official name given by the artist. It is composed of chairs that would normally be used in the food court. Shooting a close up adds to the visual cacophony of the scene.

Cours photo Mars 2012-11.jpg

The second one might not be as good for its low contrast; I do however like its dynamics. Oh, and if you ask, it is a close-up of a weaving, or a loom without the machine (I had to look up for this word in English).

Cours photo Mars 2012-16.jpg

I post this third photograph because, among other things, I like it as a example of planes. the objects are floating (well, hanging) gigantic lamp shades (without the lamp). The camera focus is on the second shade, on the left, and I am using the transparency qualities of the material to let you discover that a third shade exists in the background … or in the foreground, depending on what first caught you eye.

For this picture, I used a technique that David duChemin writes about in Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: “Intention”. It is not so much a technical thing like using the brush or changing a specific adjustment; it is more about illustrating and emphasizing what as a photographer was your intention.

Here, clearly (or so I hope), I wanted to show the shades. I therefore had to use the exposure brush to drastically darken the distracting background of the shopping mall where the shades where hanging, particularly in the triangle area left of the picture.

Cours photo Mars 2012-50.jpg

The next picture is also taken with intention, but no post processing was required here.

In the first class I took with Linda, she had asked us to take pictures in our familiar surroundings with the following things to consider: horizontal and vertical lines, diagonals, curves, rectangles, triangles, squares, circles, patterns or textures. In this blog post, I ponder about what that meant for me.

So, when I saw this array of water bottles affixed to the escalator, I clearly recognized the potential for a diagonal. My wife liked it too and posted it on her company’s intranet site in support of the One Drop foundation.

Cours photo Mars 2012-56.jpg

The fifth pic is not abstract per se and, for that reason, was not as appreciated as others by my workshop colleagues. Fair enough. Although assuredly this picture has cropping potential.

I wanted to share this picture because of the 32 km of the Montreal underground, not all of it is “inhabited” by office space, commerce and shopping malls. There exists long corridors of no men’s land and I thought that this one was the perfect place to create the world’s longest Hopscotch – or so I claim 🙂

Art Souterrain Mars 2012-111.jpg

This next photo is also a good artistic use of long boring spaces. Here, the long bare wall of the next corridor. On that wall was what I can best describe as relief sculpture made of newspaper clippings that are shredded and fixed so as to give them volume.

This picture is such a close-up.

Art Souterrain Mars 2012-145.jpg

Close-ups make the best abstract pictures because the viewer is left guessing about the nature of the subject. Add to this the fact that modern artist are often abstract themselves.

This explains why this seventh shot is another close-up.

I like the red and yellow spots. I do not know if for you they “appeared” only after looking at the picture for a while you were trying to figure out what the object is. As for what it is, allow me to play a game with you by letting you post through comments what you think it is.

Art Souterrain Mars 2012-126.jpg

The two last ones are the favorite ones.

This one was voted best by my peers. Sure I like it and the colors are superb – that’s why I printed it and brought to the workshop. But it is not my personal favorite.

The artist crafted paper cones like those used by street workers to re-route road traffic.

Maybe the “success” of this pic is due the fact that the viewer is completely clueless of what is the subject.

Art Souterrain Mars 2012-103.jpg

The last picture is maybe my favorite one although – or because? – it is not part of the art exhibit. It is nevertheless somewhat abstract.

Like the first one, it is another maelstrom, a maelstrom of escalators, interior footbridges, glass and aluminum.

As I was walking back to my office, my attention went to this interior structure of an important government building. It is quite busy and I was lucky – and patient – enough to capture a moment where no one can be seen, thus adding to the abstract and cold nature of the subject.

Art Souterrain Mars 2012-169.jpg

Taking creative pictures takes time and dedication. But oh how rewarding it is.

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3 Responses to Shooting the Montreal underground art exposition

  1. Pingback: Book Review of Vision and Voice by David DuChemin |

  2. Pingback: March 2012 Photography Assignment - Bright Colour - Fine art photography forum

  3. Pingback: Best of 2012: March |

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