Large Format Gathering & Photo Shoot

Saturday, October 13th, 2007
1:00 pm to whenever
Rain Date - Sunday, October 14th

Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada
North shore of Lake Eire
Meet right beside the King George V lift bridge, which is the core of this small hamlet. There is a very small park, and you will see the Great Lakes Fisherman’s Memorial, dedicated to all the men who have lost their lives fishing on the Great Lakes. If you have trouble finding the park, just ask for directions to the lift bridge, go to the bridge, and you’ll see the park right away. There is plenty of local parking, but it is about half a block away from the park.

To find Port Stanley, simply go to and do a search for (cut and paste if you want) “Port Stanley, Elgin, Ontario, Canada”. If you draw a straight line on a map between Detroit, Michigan and Toronto, Ontario, go to the middle of that line then go south to lake shore, you will find Port Stanley. This location is roughly 2.5 hours drive from either Detroit or Toronto. One flaw is Google and Mapquest do not show the harbour properly so just take my word it is there.

Who Is Invited:
Even though I am aiming this at large format photographers, I still have my two 35mm film Nikons and my 120 Mamyia, so who’s to complain if you show up with a smaller format?

Extremely informal. Show up, meet other LF shooters, eat some greasy fries on the beach, and enjoy yourself. I plan to let people know a general layout to the area - all within walking distance - at around 1:00 pm(ish). Ending time is when we all meet informally for a bite to eat around suppertime, but that can vary too.
Sunset here is around 6:45 p.m. local time, so if you want to stay late and shoot some low light or night shots of lights over the water/harbour, that opportunity might present itself too.
Port Stanley is also home to a small but thriving artists community, so from past experience I find the people there pretty tolerant of cameras & tripods. This is not to say you can forget your manners or common sense, but in 7-8 years of shooting in that area with my 4x5 & tripod, I have never been bothered in any way at all.

Who is Organizing:
My name is Joe O’Neil, and I live London, Ontario, which a 30 minute drive due north of Port Stanley. I have been shooting B&W film and developing in my own darkroom for 25 years now, the past 11 years has been mostly 4x5. I am also involved in a Heritage Advisory Committee and I’ve always tried to promote my local history for the tourism value, so you see, I have ulterior motives.
You are invited to contact me directly at I would be happy to point out sites of historic note to anyone who is interested of if there is something specific you are looking to shot, drop me a line, I can probably tell you what/where to go in that area.

Why this date:
This is the weekend right after Canadian Thanksgiving, and the weather is usually still good, but the leaves will be in the midst of turning colours, so both B&W and Colour shooters will enjoy the area. For a long time now, this time of year has become a personal favourite for me to shoot in and around Port Stanley and the north shore of Lake Erie, and I wanted to share this hidden gem with others.

I have not setup any formal notification of anyone in the area of this event, but between the local artists studio, tourists, and bird watchers from all over, the local population seems pretty used to people with cameras.

There are many, many spots on public land to shot, and if there is some spot on private property you wish to shoot, ask permission, but you may find people pretty amiable if you remember your manners. Also be aware however that the lakeshore is always a bit colder than inland, so bring an extra jacket or sweater than you think you need.

Why Port Stanley:
Two reasons - scenery and history. There are cliffs in town overlooking the lake, it has one of the few operational harbours that hosts the ever disappearing commercial fishery on the Great Lakes, and there you can see active fishing boats, oil tanks, the grain silos and more all beside the water. In addition there are a couple of very old churches dating pre 1850, an old railroad bridge, the King George V lift bridge that allows sailing craft to pass through (usually lifts once an hour at this time of year, on the hour), small private sailing yachts will still be in the water, the antique railroad cars on the old London-Port Stanley railroad, and just a lot of general picturesque scenery.

A lot of the history relating to the Underground Railroad, the War of 1812, the American Civil War, and more, is long gone, but some very small bits are still around - if you know where to look.

Hawk Cliff, which is about 3 miles to the east of Port Stanley is a favourite bird watching spot for birders from all over Ontario to photograph migrating birds, the site itself overs a wonderful panoramic view off a high cliff over Lake Erie, with a fair bit fo parking too. Inside Port Stanley itself are two public beaches, and several spots that rise well over 100 feet over the water for panoramic views.

For those of you looking into some “touristy” type of activites in the area, the small town of Sparta, Ontario, just 10 minutes north has retained much of it’s original architecture from over 150 years ago, and was a major centre for the Underground Railroad here in southern Ontario; Shaw’s Ice cream factory is just ten minutes drive north, and there are about 3 local wineries open on both Saturday and Sunday to the public. Fruit wines are the specialty in the area, but you will find a great variety of local house brands. There are restaurants in town, nothing that is “four star” by any means, but enough to satisfy most people looking from pizza to fish to sit down and dine in.

Good Luck