It is always difficult to find new ways of taking pictures of such a popular touristic attraction as the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario. This tower, with its 553,33 meters in height, is one of the most elevated free standing structure in the world.
Here are six photos that present the CN tower under a different perspective. It was necessary to take those pictures at different times of the day (including dusk and night) in order to obtain more diversified and original pictures. I used a Canon 5D MKII camera for all the photos. I hope you like the shots!
For more articles in the category « Photos of Canada », click on the following link : Photos of Canada
December 2013. Time for retirement had come. On my last working shift as a flight service specialist (FSS), I was able to share good memories of the past experiences as a Transport Canada and later Nav Canada employee. A shift supervisor had bought an excellent chocolate cake which was rapidly taken care of by the employees.
The next year, during an official retirement party including two other retirees, the Nav Canada flight information center (FIC) employees in Quebec City (CYQB) presented us with several gifts. I used the gift certificates to book a helicopter ride.
The pilot headed towards the Quebec Bridge then followed the St-Lawrence Seaway to Old Quebec. He then flew towards the Davie shipyard, Île d’Orléans, the Montmorency falls and then returned to the Quebec Jean-Lesage international airport. During the flight, we were able to witness the arrival of the Queen Mary II cruise ship in Old Quebec. Here are some pictures that I took during the flight:
I hope you liked the real life stories as pilot, flight instructor, Transport Canada student and flight service specialist in Inukjuak, Rouyn-Noranda, Iqaluit and Quebec City, as well as FSS for Nav Canada at the flight information center in Quebec City. I have included all the stories and photos on my web site www.francoisouellet.ca , in the following “real life stories” sections:
The lady on the wall seems to be annoyed by the smell coming out of those garbage cans that have been placed right under her nose. It would have been better if somebody had at least thought of closing the lid…
A safe bike…or maybe not
There are two versions for this street photography taken in Toronto, Ontario in 2016. The first one, that is the positive side of the story, shows that people are locking their bike piece by piece. It takes more time, but at least the bike is safe…
The second version, less positive, represents what is left of a bike that was locked by the front wheel only…
For other street photography pictures posted on my site, click on the following link:
Summer 2012. A very active cold front had been sweeping across the province and was about to hit the Québec Jean-Lesage international airport (CYQB). Considering the winds and the temperature spread, as well as the weather radar, it was obvious that it would be a very interesting show.
The Nav Canada control tower and flight information center (FIC) being collocated, the common stairway surrounding the tower became a privileged spot from where to take pictures. As a flight service specialist (FSS) on a short morning break, I grabbed my camera and headed outside on the stairway, just in time to see a line of roll arcus clouds arrive over the mountains to the north-west.
The first showers started, quickly followed by strong gusty winds and hail. In order to protect myself from the severe weather, I just had to slightly change position on the stairway and use the tower as a shield. Satisfied with my shots, I abandoned my observation post and let Mother Nature express herself.
Here is some information aimed at helping tourists visiting Toronto, who like photography and aviation, and would think of booking one day during their visit to head to the Toronto Lester B. Pearson international airport (CYYZ) for a plane spottingphoto session.
If you can, get a scanner or download an app on your cell phone to get real time information on air traffic around the airport: you will then know in advance the type and nationality of inbound or departing aircrafts.
Have a look at different plane spotting websites for the Toronto airport: there are many precious advices from experienced plane spotters that will prove useful in heading to the best spots and avoiding common mistakes. I used the two links below:
Print two or three maps of secondary routes around the airport so that you can orient yourself when there is a change in runway use due to different winds or if you use a taxi ride to move around the airport: the driver will always ask you details on how to get there since those secondary routes are not a common destination for him (and chances are that he will not know where to go if you ask him to head to threshold of runway 05. Basically, he needs road names, not runway numbers).
Before leaving your Toronto hotel
Before you leave the hotel, look at the Torontoweather forecast, among them the TAF, to know the wind pattern for the day. The Nav Canada site has everything you need to know and there is a possibility to choose between coded or plain aviation language.
Don’t forget to bring many snacks as well as a bottle of water since you will possibly be at a good distance from a restaurant for many hours, depending on which runway is in use. The same goes for additional batteries and memory cards for the camera.
Don’t forget the scanner, the cell phone (to call a taxi driver or get access to the arrivals and departures information) and all the photo equipment needed, as well as an abnormally high number of clothing layers necessary in case of winter photography: eight hours almost immobile outside in February calls for an appropriate preparation if you want to appreciate your experience. If you economize on clothing, it is certain that you will have to shorten your photography session.
I chose February for its very interesting light and not for its temperature! Most of the shots in this article were taken in only one day at the Toronto airport, between 10h30am and 18h30.
From the hotel to the airport
If you chose to stay at a downtown hotel in Toronto, the best way to get to the Toronto international airport is to use the UP Express train, from the Union Station on Front Street. Its use is very simple and departures are made every fifteen minutes. In February 2016, the cost was CDN $44.00 for a return trip to the airport, while a taxi ride cost $130.00.
The UP Express ride only takes 25 minutes and the train stops at Terminal 1.
It is preferable to avoid using your car around the Toronto international airport since some secondary roads are private and no stopping is allowed. You will take more time to look for police than to enjoy your plane spotting photography session.
Once you are at Terminal 1
Once you exit the UP Express at Terminal 1, get your scanner and monitor the ATIS frequency (120.825) to get the latest information on the runways in use for take offs and landings. For my photo session, the ATIS announced that runway 05 and 06L were in use, both for arrivals and departures. I took a taxi, showed the map with secondary roads to the driver and within few minutes I was where I needed to be and started the photo session.
A preliminary internet search allowed to discover that heavies mostly arrive from Europe during the afternoon et that runway 05/23 is favored for Emirates AirlineAirbus A-380 arrival. I thus decided to position myself near runway 05 instead of 06L.
There are two or three quite isolated spots around the airport that provide interesting point of views for aircraft photos but that can present security problems for a photographer working alone with expensive equipment. Experienced plane spotters suggest that you should be accompanied by friends if you decide to opt for those spots (see the “plane spotting” internet sites suggested at the beginning of this article).
For precise photos of aircrafts in movement, I use the following parameters with my Canon 5D MKII camera:
1. Only the central AF Point of the auto focus system is selected and not the surrounding ones in order to avoid that the camera sets the focus on other objects than what I desire (trees, ILS structure, buildings).
2. The AI Servo setting is more efficient than the AI Focus or One Shot. The aircraft will be followed precisely.
3. If I want to include surrounding objects in the photo, I adjust the aperture to 7.1 or 8, instead of 11 or 13. I thus avoid increasing the ISO too much, which would affect the picture’s quality if it has to be enlarged with Photoshop.
4. To take pictures of an approaching propeller powered aircraft, a speed adjusted to 1/125 is generally adequate. You must pivot according to the aircraft movement so that it looks like it is immobile in your viewfinder. The picture is easier to take when the aircraft is farther away but becomes more of a challenge when it gets closer and flies by you since you must constantly change your pivoting speed.
5. A shutter speed that is too high will immobilize the propeller of an aircraft and make it look like the engine is not working, which will take away realism.
6. Throughout the day, position yourself so as to have the sun behind you (if there is any sun!), unless you are looking for special effects.
7. A very high quality lens, like the Canon 50mm 1.4, allows for beautiful pictures during the evening since there is no compromise on ISO, as the lens does not need much light. The grain size stays relatively small.
8. I use a very low ISO if the photo includes an interesting but far away aircraft, in order to be able to crop the picture with Photoshop. Since I cannot compromise on the speed to avoid a blurred picture, it becomes obvious that it is the aperture that pays the price.
9. If the situation allows it, add visual references other than clouds to get a bit more variety in your aircraft photo collection.
10. Try a black and white photo if the cloud formation is particularly interesting.
11. RAW+JPEG files allow for important adjustments when necessary. A JPEG only photo gives you little leeway when you want to correct mistakes or during problematic lighting conditions.
12. Variable sky conditions and constant direction winds are preferable for your photo session since the runway in use will not be changed in the afternoon and your pictures will benefit from different light intensity and cloud formations.
13. If you want to take the aircraft in relation to the ILS poles and you are looking for a symmetrical photo, just move few inches to the right or left while the aircraft is approaching or going away from you. You will also want to avoid that the horizontal poles of the ILS cut the plane and make it difficult to see.
14. Have fun experimenting, like taking a shot just above your head while including other objects for added interest.
15. Instead of always showing the whole aircraft, try a close-up view.
16. The close-up view might be such that even passengers of an aircraft on final will look at you while you immortalize them.
17. Chances are that you will meet other enthusiast plane spotters in the same area as yours since they also prepared themselves for a successful photo session.
18. Since you are in Toronto, head to Toronto Harbour when you are back downtown. You will witness the air traffic surrounding the Toronto Billy Bishop airport (CYTZ), formerly known as Toronto Island, and possibly take some original shots.
19. This is the photo equipment used for my Toronto airport plane spotting session: Canon 5D MKII camera and the following Canon lenses: EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. No polarizer was used that day since I wanted to increase my margin of manoeuver with fast moving aircrafts under the February low intensity light.
Aviation photography requires much planning for successful photos. But all your efforts will rapidly bear fruits once you are on site and you will not see time pass! Have a great plane spotting session and give me some news of your experience if you can!
« A hymn to beauty, this is what photography is for me »
Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk who spent over forty-five years in the Himalayas. Throughout the years, he has produced many photography books. He is a man of immense talent and what he produces is of a very high quality. His new book “An ode to beauty” is no exception.
For thirty years, he photographed with two Nikon FM2 cameras and then switched to a Canon EOS-1Ds and a Canon EOS-5D. The Canon lenses used for his pictures range from a 12-24mm zoom to 100-400 mm. Landscape photography requires that he adds graduated neutral density filters to his lenses in order to reduce the contrasts between sky and earth.
When Matthieu Ricard comes back from a trip, he says: “I work on the images so that I can recapture the feeling, the emotion, the colors and the light that I saw with my own eyes”.
Like many experienced photographers, the author studies the work of other photographers in order to always learn something new. About Matthieu Ricard’s images, Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote: “Matthieu’s camera and his spiritual life are one, and from this spring these images, fleeting and eternal”.
“An ode to beauty” is made of human situations, facial expressions and the changing lights of landscapes. The composition is well thought through.
Matthieu Ricard is clearly an expert: technically demanding photos are very well executed. There are, on his images, numerous magical moments, where the photographer had only a very short time to react. It is the case, for example, of a photo where the sun rays hit an ideal part of a mountain chain at the same time as a rainbow colors the dark clouds in the background.
It is a unique book, made of exceptional images reproduced with great care. Most images demand a lengthy contemplation. There is no “Photoshop” effect and saturated colors here: everything is perfectly balanced.
Thanks to this book, the reader can look at the planet Earth in a very different way.