OTTAWA -- As Greg Scriver strolls along a path near his Orléans home, a camera slung from his neck, he’s on the lookout for light during a dark time.

“You know, with COVID, we need to get out, we need to exercise, we need to get fresh air. And this is one of the best ways to do it,” said Scriver.

Pink sunset Greg Scriver

By “this”, Scriver means photography. Before the pandemic, he admits to not getting out as much as he would have liked. The IT professional who works for the federal government rarely picked up his camera, even though he had always loved photography.

However, In the blur of the COVID-19 crisis, Scriver has rediscovered a way to bring his world back into focus.

“I just started seeing the natural beauty of everything that’s around me and I just started taking pictures,” he said.

For months, almost daily, Scriver’s been seeking sunsets; his images a welcome tonic for a pandemic-weary population.

“Since the beginning of March, I’ve actually taken over 14,000 different pictures,” he said.

“When there was still snow on the path, right up through to the heat of the summer, whether it rained, or whether it was a gorgeous sunny day, we were usually out each and every single day taking pictures.

“The Ottawa River lookout, which is just by Green’s Creek and the Ottawa River, I think has to be one of the most beautiful spots to take sunsets in the world. Every day is absolutely different.”

Scriver shares his photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; his intention, to cheer and uplift.

“I think it’s just one little thing I can do to brighten someone’s day and put a smile on someone’s face,” said Scriver.

A growing legion of fans revels in Scriver’s online posts. Often, locals show up in person to watch the photographer capture the golden hour, as the sun paints the sky over the Ottawa River lookout, or Petrie Island.

“It’s brought the community together. Neighbours gather—socially distanced, of course—to watch the sun go down. COVID's hit people really hard, and it’s caused people to stop and look at the little things in life and really enjoy what we actually have around us, Scriver said. “I’ve spoken to people who have lost their jobs, people who can’t get out, people who need a lift. They say ‘thank you very much for sharing your photos.’”

Ottawa river sunset Greg Scriver

“He gets some beautiful shots. It’s really exciting for us. We come out every night, pretty much, and really, really enjoy it,” said Dean Steele.

“Greg’s photographs are absolutely awesome. When we leave here, we go home and we’re always anxious to see what he’s come up with,” said Carol Steele.

“We can see nature and just kind of be at peace during this time when it’s just kind of uncertain. The sunsets, the double rainbows, the turkey vultures, the turtles, the ducks-- all of it is just absolutely beautiful.,” Steele said.

“That’s the big thing that happened with COVID,” said Scriver. “The wildlife that came alive, that’s around our neighbourhood. Perhaps we just noticed it more, but they seemed to come out because everyone was locked down.” 

Scriver hopes to fill a photo book with his images, as he did during Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017.

“A COVID-19 Sunset Photo book. Others have suggested doing a calendar,” he said.

For Scriver, the ultimate spectacle will be the sun setting on a year we’d rather forget. Until then, the modern-day light bearer will use his camera to eclipse the darkness.

“We’re into the ninth month already so it will continue. It may not be as much during the winter, but it certainly be almost each and every day to get out and capture the beauty that is Ottawa and the surrounding area.”