Getting shots at Alberni’s Canada Day Parade

North Island College photography teacher Norman Silverstone recounts a day of taking pics at Alberni's Canada Day parade.

Navy League cadets wave from their float in the Canada Day Parade on July 1.

Navy League cadets wave from their float in the Canada Day Parade on July 1.

I have been in a photographic blue funk since November.

My best friend died in Mexico in November followed by my brother passing on a few months later.

They were both heavily into photography and we would talk photography on the phone until the cows came home. Occasionally we would work our third eye by going out and shooting everyday objects differently.

McLean Mill and Harbour Quay were two of our favourite stomping grounds. I have not really picked up a camera since Nov. 14 nor have I the inclination to create any photographs.

An exception to this was Canada Day and the Canada Day Parade.

Rain was in the forecast so it was very grey everywhere which means that the lighting would be the same all around me. No harsh shadows, no over-exposed whites.

I grabbed my Nikon and put on my trusty Nikon 70–210mm f4.0 lens. I usually shoot very close-up to things with a wide angle to slight telephoto zoom lens, but today I was going to shoot from the bleachers on 10th Avenue and take telephoto shots of faces around 300mm at f4.0 if necessary.

So I bumped up my ISO to 800, made sure that I was on RAW format, a clean 16 GB SD card, for a possible 800 photos. Taking an imaginary light reading at 800 ISO, I adjusted the camera  and lens to 1/300 of a second at f5.6.

I did not have a tripod with me so I had to have the shutter speed match the size of the lens, which would eliminate the movement of a human breathing. We sat on the top bleacher, I scouted out territory, making sure that there was nothing that would impede my photographic view.

Here they come, everybody starts cheering. I picked up my ’ol Nikon and started shooting.

Checked to make sure that I was on 1/300 of a second and the VR vibration reduction was on. I looked for facial expressions, light against dark, bright colour against a muted colour, children, animals, and anything that caught my eye. I took 37 photographs, most of them winners.

Any questions? E-mail me at


Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege.