I have lived in the Toronto area all but five years of my life, but I can’t remember the last time I had gone to Centre Island. For some reason, when you live in a city, you take for granted the very things to which tourists flock.
So when I was participating in a volleyball tournament on Centre Island, I decided to take along my camera gear and stay into the evening hours to do something that I have wanted to do for some time, but haven’t because, well, I live here—take pictures of the beautiful cityscape of Toronto at night.
I knew there would be a lot of waiting, but I hoped good things would come of it.
With the tournament all but over, I had some time to kill until the sun would set. I used the time to scout out a good location from which to take pictures, one that gave a relatively straight-on view of the city, with little more than water in the foreground. After walking along the north edge of the island, I found a perfect spot, a rock outcropping, just north west of the Centre Island Ferry Terminal.
I set up my tripod on the rock outcropping and retreated to a nearby picnic bench, good book in hand and began to read. It’s not like this spot is a well kept secret. By the time I was ready to shoot, there were four other tripods set up behind where mine was located. I knew I still had a couple of hours until the sun set, so I alternated between reading my book and watching people taking pictures come and go.
The sun had just set, but was still still illuminating the upper half of some buildings. The sky was still much too bright compared to the buildings and the water in the foreground.
This photo was taken 45 minutes after the sun had set. Normally, when taking pictures soon after the sun sets, I would use a graduated filter to hold back the brightness of the sky. But in this situation it wouldn’t work all that well because it would also make the buildings dark and take away the brightness of their lights. So without the use of a graduated filter, as you can see, the sky is still too bright and the buildings too dark. I needed the sky to be darker yet. So wait longer, I did.
The following pictures were taken over an hour after the sun had set, and 10 minutes before the end of nautical twilight. The lighting was perfect. Ten minutes later, the sky would lose it’s bluish tinge, and plunge into a blackish grey light.
After seeing the picture above and knowing I had captured what I had envisioned, I reframed the picture to contain less of the entire cityscape, and more of what’s in the centre of the frame, not unlike the cropped version above. I took several more pictures but with the darkened sky, some interest and depth is lost.
I soon realized I would not be getting a better shot than the one at 10:13, so I called it a (long) day, packed up my gear and caught the 10:45 ferry back to the “mainland”.
As I drove home from the downtown core to my home in Markham, winding up the Don Valley Parkway, I reflected on the day..the volleyball to start the day, the waiting in between games, the waiting for the sun to go down, the waiting for the light to be just right, the waiting for the water taxi, party boat, or airplane to clear the shot, the waiting for the exposure time to be completed, and then waiting some more for the in-camera noise reduction to do it’s thing…it was a long day with a lot of waiting.
But looking at the picture that I got, the picture I was hoping to get, I’d have to say it was worth it, because sometimes good things come to those who wait.
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