So Cold. The temperature was well below freezing. I was well below freezing. I made this picture in Montreal in that dead of winter assignment I photographed mostly during the week between Christmas and New Year.
In New Orleans we have a Vieux Carre. You know it as The French Quarter. Vieux Carre really means old city, or, old town, or old quarter depending on whose French you use. Traveling to Montreal is as close to going to Paris without traveling to France. They have an old town. They call it — wait for it — Vieux Carre.
I went there during the day and the pictures were fine, but night time is when I was told it would come alive. Wrong. It was so cold that it stayed sleepy and frozen. I walked around and did what I could. I was warm enough because I was wearing surplus military cold weather gear, but that didn’t help my hands which were either bare or were covered by very thin shooting gloves.
I’d stop, take my mittens off, make a few pictures and put my mittens back on. This went on for about 45 minutes until I got to a very high end restaurant. I decided to go inside and make a few pictures in a warmer climate. I asked the head waiter if I could. Since they had two diners he said that it was no problem. Without asking he brought me an espresso. Heroes come in all sizes.
Thinking about it, I have to laugh. When I asked if I could pay for it, he said that it was on the restaurant. Then he laughed and said that they were going to lose so much money that night, what’s a coffee. That’s how I think. Sometimes you get in so deep what’s one more thing.
The situation was so bad and so dark and the picture was made on poorly exposed on Velvia. Film. No latitude. Developing it on modern editing software was a real challenge. I had to work small and uprez it when I was done. I used a filter called “Forest Glow” which hid most of the imperfections and huge amounts of noise. It still wasn’t enough so I did it again. The image turned too soft. So I sharpened it a bit. That worked. To a point.
If you look carefully at the picture what you think is dirt is frozen snow and ice on cobblestones. It was so treacherous that cars slid every which way. See the car on the right side of the picture? You can park at an angle on this street as evidenced by the cars on the left. But it is parked in the wrong direction. Apparently, the driver did the best they could do.
That’s all any of us can do.