54th Help Santa Toy Parade

I like to take in local public events near my apartment in Ottawa as much as I can. I’ve pretty much run out of static photos I can take around here, and I prefer to take pictures of things that are actually going on, whether it’s street photography or events like festivals, etc. 

There’s been a Christmas parade here as far back as I can remember when I was a kid, but for the past 54 years, not counting the COVID pandemic interruption, it’s been called the Help Santa Toy Parade, organized by the Ottawa Firefighters. I’ve either enjoyed it from my balcony or gone down to take pictures for the past twenty years, but in the past, I’ve always tended to take tight shots of it by isolating subjects with a medium wide to telephoto zoom lens. However, this year, I decided to do things differently with an ultra wide angle zoom lens and see what I could get with it.

I was specifically hoping to grab a very wide angle shot of Santa’s sleigh with a mix of older and modern buildings in the background, particularly taller buildings. Now, that was easier to think of than to actually do. I knew that would only be possible on one street along the route, and as it turned out, there was really only one spot that would provide a suitable background. The problem though, was that there were already a lot of people there, and I would have to deal with a Santa either in heavy shadow or harsh midday sun. I had a Speedlight with me, but I knew it would be of little use at parade spectator distances. You’re just too far away for the light to reach the subject with enough power to make a difference, and at the same time, you’re limiting yourself in terms of the shutter speed you can use.

So, I decided to look for a position where the subject would be in direct sunlight from somewhere behind me, and eventually managed to squeeze myself to the edge of the sidewalk where the subject would pass through sunlight coming through a break between two tall buildings. I don’t mind dark shadows if the main subject is lit.

I wasn’t able to freely position myself exactly where I wanted because of the crowd, but I took my chances with it, hoping Santa would be waving in my direction when he eventually passed through my light zone. There would only be one chance at the shot I wanted, otherwise I would have to run ahead of Santa for a shot further down the street… but it wouldn’t be the one I had visualized.

Anyway, I managed to get a reasonable Santa picture I could live with, and since Santa is always at the end of the parade, I took a few other pictures before he showed up just to keep my fingers warm. I only have one camera, so once I committed to that ultra wide angle lens for the one shot I wanted, I had to make do with it for all the other pictures.

Photos taken with a Nikon AF-P DX 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 G VR zoom lens on a Nikon D7500 DSLR.

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