Local photogs explain the best places to get sunrise, sunset and landscape pictures for the gram
Toronto loves sunrise and sunset photos. That much is clear from the NOW Instagram account. We regularly share pictures from local photographers who grab eye-catching shots across the city. And in terms of likes, those sunset and sunrise pics get the most action. Those local photographers – pro and hobbyists – joined the NOW What podcast to point us to the places where we can get the best sunset pictures in Toronto.
Jonathan Gazze (@jgazze), Sean Frankey (seanfrankey), Peter Papadimitriou (@toronto_papi_), Alicia Edmunds (@a.l.i.c.i.a_e) and NOW’s staff photographer Samuel Engelking (@samuelengelking) discuss their favourite shooting styles, whether on a DSLR or an iPhone, and where they like to go to get those choice shots.
They also describe the Toronto photography scene on Instagram, a social community that found each other by liking and commenting on each other’s pics. They occasionally go on long walks to shoot together, clocking double-digit kilometres while filling up the camera rolls. And they explain how picking up photography as a hobby gave them a motivation to get out, get some exercise and see Toronto in a new light.
“When you walk and try to shoot the city, you really appreciate all the beauty that Toronto has to offer,” says Frankey.
Listen to the photographers discuss their adventures in the podcast below and check out 10 great places to go for a walk in Toronto here. Listen to the podcast at the end of this story.
Papadimitriou points us to the incredible view from the elevated parking garage in Kensington Market, where the city’s character is layered between low-rise brick walls and the CN Tower.
“You get these older buildings with graffiti in the forefront and then these modern skyscrapers in the background,” says Papadimitriou, appreciating the architectural diversity.
Frankey is a fan of the financial district in general, appreciating the often overlooked architectural details that pointing and shooting direct attention to. He also loves capturing reflections in puddles, and light trails and motion blur with the streetcars.
But, of course, there is that one spot that Frankey, Gazze and Papadimitriou all co-sign. At the northwest corner of King and Bay, near the streetcar stop, there is one position that gets you the money shot of the CN tower wedged through the sliver between the two TD Bank towers.
“We’re just talking about like a one-metre sliver,” says Papadimitriou. “You shift to the left, you don’t get the shot. You shift to the right, you don’t get the shot.”
Or you could just go right into the middle of the TD centre and grab a variation of the money shot.
Our photographers can’t get enough of the flatiron building in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, especially when there’s a puddle nearby serving up reflections. Flanked by the downtown skyscrapers in the background, the Gooderham building comes perfectly composed for amateur and pro photographers.
Gooderham isn’t the only action in the St. Lawrence Market area. Frankey points out that St. Lawrence Hall and other buildings are just as remarkable.
“People don’t capture [those] because they don’t stop and look up and see the art deco or the renaissance styling on the buildings,” says Frankey.
NOW photographer Samuel Engelking is all about portraiture. And for that purpose he loves setting up outdoor shoots at the R.C Harris Water Treatment Plant, the functional art deco structure that replaced the old Victoria Park – a waterfront amusement park.
“I love the architecture,” says Engelking. “I love using it as a backdrop, especially later in the day. You get a lot of shadows. I really love shadows.”
Nature’s answer to Green P Carpark 68 can be found on the shores on the city’s west end. Rocks protrude through the water in the foreground. The downtown skyline is in the background. The occasional fog cuts in between. And our photographers recommend checking it out for those Insta-friendly sunrise and sunset shots.
“The alignment with the city and the sunrise is perfect,” says Gazze.
On the opposite end of the city, Polson Pier is a great alternative.
Like taking shots of Manhattan from Brooklyn’s Dumbo district, the Toronto Islands offer the perfect outsider perspectives on the downtown skyline.
“You just get the city perfectly and a glow in the background,” says Gazze. He adds that there’s a variety of stunning compositions you can grab from Ward’s to Centre Island, and the scene can be especially painterly when the sun sets to the left.
“I love being by the water for my sunrise pictures,” says Alicia Edmunds. And she relishes the options Toronto has to offer. Both Engelking and Edmunds tend to flock to one of the city’s beaches, whether it Woodbine, Sugar or HTO Park, whether for landscapes or portraits or savouring the glimmers of light and reflections on the water.
“I just love how the light always looks different there on any given day,” says Engelking.
Anyone who flies eastbound on the Gardiner Expressway through the city knows this parking garage well. It sits a little too close to the Gardiner for comfort. But the views of the Gardiner, Rogers Centre, CN Tower and surrounding skyline are worth it.
“I’ve been to that parking garage,” says Edmunds. “The last time I went for a sunset the security guard kicked me out.”
These steep steps on Lower Simcoe lead up to the CN Tower. Lay low and behold.
Riverdale captures that Central Park vibe in Toronto, with a metropolis skyline towering behind a calm green space. Those views come with the variety of activities going on in the park.
“You go midwinter with a couple of hundred kids in their colourful snow jackets tobogganing down the hill,” says Papadimitriou. “Then you go back mid-summer golden hour, and people are lying on the hill, tanning or reading a book. You get different perspectives.”
Listen to Radheyan Simonpillai’s conversation with Alicia Edmunds, Samuel Engelking, Sean Frankey, Jonathan Gazze and Peter Papadimitriou on the latest episode of the NOW What podcast, available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or playable directly below:
NOW What is a twice-weekly podcast that explores the ways Torontonians are coping with life in the time of coronavirus. New episodes are available Tuesdays and Fridays.