Views of the 6ix—Toronto Skyline from the Island

Toronto Islands

Going to the Toronto Islands is always a treat. With lots to do and see and with no cars allowed it makes you feel like you are in a different world. Take the kids to Centreville for some rides, head over to the beach, or maybe just a day of exploring. And with no cars allowed on the island, it makes you feel like you are in a different world.

But my favourite part of Islands is the view it affords of the city of Toronto. So when there, I always make sure I get lots of pictures of the city.

The Toronto Cityscape

I have to say, I am a big fan of cityscapes. When they are across water, they look even more special. So it goes without saying, I love the skyline of Toronto. The CN tower is the most distinguishable and identifiable shape in the sky with the needle tower extending far above the surrounding skyscrapers and lets you everyone know, without a doubt, that this is Toronto.

A snap shot of the distinctive skyline of Toronto is a must for all island visitors.
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There are lots of spots on the island that give a good view of Toronto. Usually I don’t include foreground in the shot but when a swan floats into view, I decided to get two birds with one shot.

A swan frolicks on the beach at centre island.
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Night Shots from Centre Island

One of the most breathtaking shots of Toronto is slightly after dark. Again there are some different spots from where to do this. The most popular spot is the one just west of the centre island ferry terminal. This spot offers a dead on shot of the sweeping landscape. The best time to get a night shot of the cityscape is during the blue hour, just before civil twilight.

A panoramic view of Toronto from Centre Island.
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Same image as above, just cropped in.
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You can read about that shoot and see more pictures here: Toronto Nightscape—Good Things Comes to Those Who Wait. One thing that is glaringly obvious, especially in the pano, is the natural gradient of light appearing from the left of the frame and darkening to the right, due to the location of the setting sun to the left of the city.

A Different View

So this time, I decided to take pictures from a different spot on Ward Island. What you lose in the view of the “Rogers Centre,” the dome at the foot of the CN Tower in the previous shots, you gain with the location of the sunset and the resulting light after it sets.

I always use the TPE app when planning my photography shots and here’s what it told me. The orange line is the line of the setting sun. I marked the CN tower with an blue star.

As you can see, the sun sets directly behind the main portion of the downtown core, just to the right of the CN Tower, which can make for some dramatic sunsets and also makes the light more even after the sun has set.

Sunset from Ward Island

So I set up shop on the beach just East of the Ward Island Ferry Terminal and waited for sun to dip behind the skyline of Toronto.

The sun just begins to dip behind the buildings, creating a brief sun burst.
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Lights Out, Night’s Out

After the sun has set, there is a moment, well actually about half an hour, after the sun has set before the lights in the building have been turned on which gives a completely different feel to the picture.

The Unique moment just have sunset before the lights of the city are on and the distinctive skyline is silhouetted by the sky behind it. The two minute exposure turns the water to milk adding another layer of interest.
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Perhaps a unique moment was slightly exaggerated as 30 minutes later, the city still basks in natural light.
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The Twinkling Lights of the Downtown Core

When the lights are on, it’s a magical setting for some awesome shots of the twinkling lights of the downtown core.

This shot is taken 30 minutes after the previous image but is brighter because it is a 90 second exposure (instead of 1 second).
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The Blue Hour is a great time to get some more shots of the skyline and some deep, rich blue hues in the sky.

Settled in nicely and nearing the end of the blue hour. This one is taken yet another 30 minutes after the previous one, and the exposure time is now doubled to 180 seconds.

The Perfect End

The Toronto Islands offer so many different activities and entertainment, perfect for a day out. But as the day winds down and the light begins to fade, it’s the ideal time to get some really great shots of the beautiful skyline of Toronto. And I can’t think of a better way to end the day.

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