Photo of the Week: Canadian Skate Scene

As my eyes eased on to the scene of a skating rink in downtown Toronto I was immediately brought back to my youth.  It was as if I was watching a movie of my childhood.  Sure, the skating rinks I used to play on were in a much smaller town, and there were much fewer people, but the sights and sounds were the same.  On the edges a father holds his rosy cheeked child’s skate between his knees as he tightens the laces. A mother holds the hands of her daughter who struggles to find her balance and confidence.  In the center of the ice a practiced young skater wearing a fluffy pink skirt carves the ice and spins on spot.  Beside her, a group of boys carrying hockey sticks laugh as one of them falls while trying to impress the girls.  An old couple circles the ice hand-in-hand as they occasionally spin a trick in an ice version of line dancing.

As a child, I would spend my days dreaming of the rink.  I would close my eyes and be brought to a place where I could hear the ice being carved; I could see myself slicing at its smooth layer creating a wave of snow as I push through it.  I could feel the cold air striking my skin like a playful slap to the face.  But most of all I remember being young and looking out the window to see the first snow of the year and thinking “the ice can’t be too far away.”  I hadn’t remembered that feeling for a long time.  This photo was taken at the very moment where I remembered exactly what it felt like to be kid in Canada.

Canadian Skate Scene

How I Got this Shot

It’s amazing how two photographers can go to the same location and shoot completely different photos.  My sister and I went out to take some pictures of Toronto one afternoon and during our shoot we got completely different shots.  Of the skating rink, most of my images were wide angle and showed the movement of the ice and skaters.  My sister’s images showed the individuals, the skates, and the ice.  Both were good, but it reminded me of how important the eye is in photography.  Not post-processing can ever change that.

Getting the “Canadian Skate Scene” shot was pretty simple.  I put a 0.9 neutral densifying filter on my 18-135mm lens.  I then stood up on a bench reached my hands up to the sky, set the camera to live mode, focused on the words skate and shot the image with a narrow aperture on AV mode.   The combination of the filter and the narrow aperture is what created the sense of movement in the image.  I shot the image on continuous shot since the shutter speed was so slow that getting a sharp image would be more likely. I then chose the sharpest of about 10 images I took.

This image was shot at 30mm, f/9 and 1/6 seconds.  The ISO was set to 100.  I used a simple post processing filter called “The Greenest Eyes” to give the photo a mood of “aged” to fit my memories.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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2 Comments

  1. Love this post & photo! I can definitely relate. I’m not Canadian, I didn’t grow up in Canada. But hockey is my first love & there’s no better feeling than being on the ice.

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  2. Hi Brendan,
    Really must compliment you on your photography, really great stuff 🙂
    I always find it a treat to visit your site.
    thanks for having such an awesome site

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