28 photos for 28 hours in Toronto

by DaniGirl on March 31, 2012 · 3 comments

in Photography

I flew off to Toronto for a conference this week. It was a one-day conference and I pondered flying in and out on the same day, but even flying Porter into Centre Island that seemed a little too rushed (and frankly, the idea of waking at 4 am is unpalatable even to an early bird like me!) so I took advantage of my day off on Wednesday and flew out the day before.

My professional goal was to attend what promised to be a pretty interesting conference (using social media for emergency management and crisis communication) but my personal goal was a little photo safari. I thought maybe some airport pictures might be of interest to Getty Images (cuz, yanno, I’m sure nobody ever did THAT before) and I personally wanted some pictures of the CN Tower.

I’m fascinated by the CN Tower. I grew up in London, in the shadow of Toronto, and can just barely remember when it was completed in 1976. We took lots of trips into Toronto when I was a kid, and I still remember the giddy “we’re almost there” feeling when we finally managed to pick the tower out on the horizon. To this day, I can’t help myself. I know when to start watching for it from several different routes into the city, and I’ve infected the boys with my enthusiasm.

For some reason, though, I’ve never actually been up the tower. I had the chance once, when a gaggle of us teenagers made a weekend of staying at the Royal York to see U2’s Joshua Tree tour. We made it as far as the base of the tower, but never went up. I’ve been thinking that the boys are of an age to enjoy the experience, but we usually zoom through Toronto instead of actually going downtown. I picked my seat on the flight thinking about how the plane would approach the airport and showcase the Toronto skyline, and was rewarded with this shot, taken just a few bumpy seconds before we hit the runway.


Not even wheels down, and I had what I came for. Damn I’m good! 🙂 (Aside: I will never get used to the abruptness of the landing at the Centre Island airport. I feel like we’re going to overshoot and end up in the drink every. single. time I land there.)

I got a few more shots of the tower from the ferry, and realized as I stepped off the ferry that I had four to six hours until nightfall and no real plan. Happy as a clam, I was! Without really thinking about why, and with thoughts of the tower and Front Street still in my mind, I hopped the free shuttle to the Royal York hotel. I was still toying with the idea of going up the tower, but the skies were flat and low and grey, and I think the tower is best experienced on a brilliant blue day, don’t you?

I know a few landmarks in Toronto well, like Union Station and the Eaton Centre and the south part of Yonge Street. I’d thought about heading over to Union Station to take some pictures, but I decided instead to wander up University Avenue toward my hotel, the Park Hyatt on the other side of the University of Toronto campus on Bloor Street. I’ve never really been through that part of town. Wow, what a gorgeous walk! It took me about an hour to wander the 4 km or so, stopping here and there to admire various landmarks I knew (Queens Park) and try to puzzle out quite a few more.

The hotel was lovely, far too posh for the likes of me. I’d asked for a room with a scenic view, but had no idea how scenic it would be:

the view from my hotel room

I’d just snapped this photo when Beloved called. “Do you have your keys?” he asked. Um, yes, of course I do. I drove myself to the airport. (Tip: it’s way cheaper to leave your car in parking overnight than to take a taxi to and from the airport.) Beloved had locked his keys in his car at school pickup. We seem to have problems with keys and travelling. Remember when my mother had to overnight ship the keys to our cargo pod when we drove to Nova Scotia? Sigh. Anyway, now we have a membership to CAA for Beloved’s aging station wagon, which is probably not a bad thing in the long run.

I still had a couple of hours of daylight, so on the recommendation of my clever friend Kev I wandered off to find some interesting pictures around Kensington Market. Wow! How exactly have I never been here before? Colour, chaos, vintage junk — it’s visual heaven! The day was still flat and grey, though, and the light was uninspiring, so of all the pictures I took I like the high contrast and colour saturation of the hipstamatic pictures on my iPhone the best. They seem pretty well suited to the subject matter, don’t you think?

My creation

By the time I limped back to my hotel (more than 10 km of walking and a couple of very angry blisters later) it was nearly dark. I’d entertained vague ideas of checking out the opening hours of the ROM, literally across the street from my hotel, but I was done.

I couldn’t resist setting up my camera to take advantage of the incredible views of the city all lit up at night, though.

Toronto at night

And because I can’t resist heaping cliché upon cliché like filters on a lens, I kinda like these ones, too. Night shots taken with the creative aperture kit (star aperture) with my Lensbaby. The shaped aperture is what turns all the out-of-focus lights into stars.

Lensbaby Toronto skyline (I of 2)

Lensbaby Toronto skyline (2 of 2)

And speaking of camera tricks, this may be one of my favourite shots from the trip. Porter uses little Dash-8 turbo-prop planes for the Ottawa to Toronto jaunt, and on the way down I had a great seat just in front of the prop. To be honest, I’m not sure what about the iPhone camera optics caused the effect that makes the spinning prop look like it’s coming apart, but you can see it even on the screen. It occurs to me as I type that I should have / could have actually captured a quick video to show you how cool the effect was, but my brain steadfastly refuses to think beyond still photography! Anyway, I love how this picture came out.

Prop in motion

As you can see from the picture below, there are only six blades in the prop, so we should only be able to see three at a time, but we’re seeing all six on the same side in the picture above – plus a few fragments more.

Cleared for takeoff

All this to say that this clearly proves something I’ve suspected for a long time: photography really is magical!

I had that pesky conference all day the next day, which was actually quite interesting, so I didn’t take too many pictures. We were in Hart House on the U of T campus. Have you ever been in there? OMG, I don’t know what was more entrancing, the neo-gothic early 1900s architecture (lots of stone, lancet arches and stained glass, truly breathtaking) or the crazy-beautiful light coming in through the leaded windows. Does this not look like a place you’d like to sit and read a book forever?

peaceful spot to gather

And then I jumped in a taxi (another new experience, just sticking out my arm and flagging one down near Queens Park. I felt like something out of a movie!) and I sat in the Porter lounge and watched the Twitter feed of the federal budget before skipping back up the lake and home again.

28 photos for 28 hours in Toronto:
28 tiles for 28 hours in Toronto

All business trips should be this quick, this photogenic and this much fun!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sara March 31, 2012 at 8:42 am

As always your photos are spectacular. I hope you had fun.

2 Mary @ Parenthood April 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Indeed! I’ve always loved going up the tower, but then again heights don’t bother me. Looking forward to seeing your photos from the top someday 🙂

3 Sharyn Flett June 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm


I would like to purchase a poster
Do you know where I can find this ?
Sharyn Flett

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