Tommy Thompson Park
Felix Zai: “Tommy Thompson Park offers wildlife and a great view of the city skyline. For wildlife photography, I’d suggest going there early in the morning; that’s the most active time for wildlife like foxes, owls, birds, etc. (please respect their spaces, and give any wildlife a lot of distance to minimize disturbing them).
As for cityscapes, taking photos at any time of the day is amazing. You will also have a fantastic sunrise view if you look East towards the lake.”
Pro Tip: Since this is a huge park, bring your bicycle, or rent one, especially if you are taking public transit. (@steelcat on Instagram)
Ayman J: “As a street photographer, my favourite go-to spots for photos are always around the Financial District area & St. Lawrence Market with the view of CN Tower and Gooderham Building. I like to compose my images using a mixture of people’s movements, leading lines and architecture.
To do this, you must always be watching with your camera at the ready. Even after you take your shot, don’t pull it up to review—that moment is already gone, so just keep observing.” (@eagle.hawks.eyes on Instagram)
Jonathan Gazze: “Look up—way up! The South Core and Financial District have some amazing high rises, which create grandiose photo opportunities. Some popular spots are King and Bay, King and Simcoe, and Bay Street looking north towards old City Hall.
Shooting low and aiming high creates a fantastic shot of these mega-high rises. At night the streetcar routes make for beautiful slow shutter shots. During winter months, the streetcars make for amazing seasonal photos.” (@jgazze on Instagram)
Pro Tip: Use shadows and light to create compelling compositions. Look for interesting patterns, framing or leading lines created by beams of light or strong shadows.
Also, know your camera. Familiarity with all the camera settings and how they affect your photography is key. For instance, knowing how to pre-focus or autofocus your DSLR camera can make the difference between a blurry shot and a great shot.
Aiming up with wide-angle lenses can make the structures appear larger than life. Using the height of the buildings to make interesting perspectives will give your photos a unique look.
Kurt Wang: “There are so many hidden gems along Toronto’s beautiful shoreline. One of my favourite spots is Ireland Park. It has our iconic CN Tower in the background and outstanding waterfront views in the foreground. The park has amazing leaves in the fall and beautiful ice formations in winter. When the lake is calm, you can get incredible reflection photos too. An ideal location for photography.” (@kurt.wang on Instagram)
Pro Tip: Find interesting foregrounds to add depth and layers to your composition.
James Bombales: “Situated between the lakeshore and the Entertainment District, Downtown Toronto’s CityPlace neighbourhood is known for its towering condo buildings. It’s one of my favourite places to shoot as the area is dotted with public art, architectural gems and various vantage points that offer great views of the city.” (@james_bombales on Instagram)
Pro Tip: Use the surrounding structures like bridges, sculptures, railroad tracks and the condos themselves as subjects, leading lines or for framing.
Jonathan Gazze: “Centre Island is an easy trip from the Toronto Ferry Terminal along the Harbourfront. The islands have a bountiful supply of photo opportunities from the shorelines to more hidden views from some of the channels and bridges.
You can catch the skyline amidst many of the various island locations. Some of my favourite spots for sunset views can be found here.
Centre Island is an easily accessible location in the summer via the ferry. The spring is also great for capturing flowers in the foreground. Keep an eye out for various hidden gem views of the skyline while you explore the islands.” (@jgazze on Instagram)
Pro Tip: Some of my favourite photo ops are using silhouettes from the islands at sunset. You can also use the Muskoka chairs and natural framing to capture a truly memorable shot. Some channels and shielded water areas can create calm and highly reflective surfaces for photos!
Humber Bay Park
Jonathan Gazze: “Humber Bay Park East and West hold a great assortment of things to do and see, including walking paths, city views and wildlife watching. It’s a popular location for spotting various bird species and makes for amazing sunrise and nighttime views of the city.
It’s also a short walk or cycle to Humber Bay Bridge for a bonus location view! This spot has such dynamic potential for photos. The landscape holds a lot of interesting textures and subjects for foreground elements in your photos. Think park benches, wildlife, or people!
Head to Humber Bay West for an epic and popular location that looks at the skyline while framed by the parklands.” (@jgazze on Instagram)
Pro Tip: Natural framing can help images stand out. In this case, the city framed around the land on each side of the water gives the photo great depth and accentuates the city. This spot is excellent for aligning the sun with the CN Tower. You can use various apps to check the sun’s path to make sure it lines up. Make sure to have a 70mm or higher zoom for a sunrise alignment.
East of Yonge
Jonathan Gazze: “Amazing architecture can be found all over Toronto. Old Town holds some gorgeous buildings, including the Gooderdam Building, a classic example of the flat iron style.
This location is great for capturing photos of St. Lawrence Market, the flatiron building, and views of the downtown skyline from the converging Wellington and Front Streets. I love the contrast of new and old architecture this area holds. The leading lines make for a fantastic photo from ground or air, and it’s perfect for henge photos.” (@jgazze on Instagram)
Pro Tip: One of the best spots for the henge (when the sun aligns perfectly with east/west streets). Check Old Town out at different times during the day for great picturesque views. This is another location which is excellent low to the ground to get some depth to your photos, or if a puddle is available, reflection photos are perfect here!
Jonathan Gazze: “Toronto’s Port Lands has many hidden gems. Heading to Polson Pier for sunset is a great spot to catch colourful skies behind our glorious skyline. The boardwalk makes for a great scene from summer to winter.
For a bonus, you can check out the new colourful bridges installed nearby, which make for great photo spots. You can also walk down to Cherry Beach for some outstanding sunrise spots! During the winter, the ice builds up along the shore to create epic scenes. For great sunset views, Polson Pier is also an epic location.” (@jgazze on Instagram)
Pro Tip: Shooting low makes for a great perspective from the pier. During the summer, use the boardwalk for leading lines and foreground elements. During the winter, try to bring in the icy elements from the frozen lake that splashes up on the boardwalk pier.
West of Yonge
Colonel Sam Smith Park
Taku Kumabe: “One of my favourite parks in the city is Colonel Sam Smith Park in the west end. There is no shortage of things to photograph, so it caters to various interests. From year-round urban wildlife in the wetlands to migrating birds in the spring to boats in the marina in the summer, you can’t go wrong with this park.
Want a beautiful view of the Toronto skyline? It has that too! There are kite boarders year-round and many friendly dog walkers—especially in the early morning. Come here at sunrise in the spring to enjoy Mother Nature with the birds singing in the trees. You’ll feel like you’re in a rainforest with all the birds singing.” (@smaku on Instagram)
Pro Tip: Come to the park with both a wide-angle lens for landscapes and a telephoto lens to get the city skyline or a glimpse of wildlife. Spend some quality time here during the early morning or evening hours when wildlife are most active, or simply enjoy Mother Nature throughout the day.
Nathan Phillips Square
Kevin Braganza: “The elevated walkway connecting Nathan Phillips Square and the Sheraton Centre Hotel (above Queen Street) is a great vantage point for street photography. It offers an impressive view of Toronto’s bustling Queen Street West alongside the old City Hall, with streetcars passing by every few minutes.” (@kevin.braganza on Instagram)
Pro Tip: Take your photography to a new level by finding bridges or viewing decks that offer an elevated view of the city. A tripod and DSLR/Mirrorless camera combined with a slow shutter speed (ideally 2–3 seconds) can make for beautiful trails with traffic lights.
Kevin Braganza: “High Park is one of Toronto’s finest parks and is beautiful throughout the year. While the park attracts scores of visitors during cherry blossom time in May, it is also gorgeous during the fall months (September through October).
High Park is not only great for its natural landscapes but also nature and bird photography during the spring/summer months.” (@kevin.braganza on Instagram)
Pro Tip:For nature/bird photography, carry a telephoto/zoom lens with an ideal focal length of (100 mm to 600 mm) or more. This gives you the flexibility to spot birds and wildlife and get candid images without disturbing the beautiful creatures.