Learning about art from his parents and taking photography classes in high school, James Peltzer has been taking photos for about 10 years. His key to taking a great photo? “Keep your camera ready and your eyes open all the time,” he said. Brought up by an artistic family – his mother is a painter – Peltzer added that as a child, he was always encouraged to keep an eye out and look at everything around him.
One of the aspects he loves most about Ottawa is all the access the city provides to the great outdoors. Peltzer noted that depending on the season, you can hop on one of Ottawa’s many scenic cycling pathways or go downhill or cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park. “It’s just an outdoorsy, friendly place,” he said.
But Peltzer’s favourite Ottawa spots to visit and take photos? The famous Rideau Canal and the city’s downtown core. “The places I tend to get drawn back to are along the Rideau Canal and in the downtown core. The Canal is always beautiful.” In terms of the Canal, which freezes over to become the world’s largest skating rink in the winter months, Peltzer noted that the views from the Bank Street Bridge and the Laurier Bridge towards the downtown core are particularly spectacular. “[Ottawa] does a really nice job of flood lighting some of the buildings like Parliament Hill, the Canadian Mint [and] the National Gallery,” he noted. Peltzer added that the lights along the Canal usually provide enough light to be able to see and take photos. “The [Rideau Canal] Skateway at night has a completely different character than you’ll get during the daytime on a weekend,” he said.
For Peltzer, you can never take enough photos of these great locations. For aspiring photographers, he recommends picking a few favourite locations in the city and visiting them several times in each season. “Not everyone remembers to do this and it gives you a new treat each time,” he said, adding that new aspects are revealed with each slight change of season or weather. Personally, Peltzer said his favourite seasons in Ottawa are summer and winter. “Once everything is dried out, you can get outside and enjoy yourself,” he said. “Then once everything is frozen and snow-covered, that’s when all of the winter activities come to life.”
In addition to the Canal and the downtown core, here are a few other Ottawa photography hot spots recommended by Peltzer:
- For nature, visit the pathways along the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau rivers. The stretch of pathway behind Parliament Hill and the Canadian Museum of History provide some of the best views in the city.
- For stars, heading into Gatineau Park at night is wonderful. Get a good head lamp and there’s no reason you can’t cross-country ski the Gatineau Parkways at night. One of my favourite after work trips is P10 (near Camp Fortune) to the Champlain Lookout.
A few of Peltzer’s favourite Ottawa photos are in the gallery above! To see more, visit Peltzer on Instagram or explore his website.