180526 Sunset - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

This photo of the sun setting behind the CN Tower took me six different attempts over the course of an entire year. Previous efforts of getting the timing and placement right were thwarted by weather, tardiness, or both. But last night I had a few hours to spare, and the photographer's ephemeris told me that I just needed to be a little to the left of the Ward's Island ferry dock. So one short boat ride later I finally had it. The photo above is a gentle HDR combined from nine files taken at exactly the right time, which I can prove because I took a hundred more on either side of that moment just to be sure.

Was it worth the effort? Everyone will have their own answer to that, but for me, it's "probably not".

At least now I can stop thinking about it.

Here's the best single frame from that stack. I actually like it better, but I shot for exposure bracketing, so I figured I might as well run the HDR anyway.

My ideal image would have had the sun higher on the tower, transiting behind either at the main deck or upper deck levels. With careful planning and timing I could indeed make that happen, but honestly, I think I'm done with the idea. This is enough.

And taking this in a completely different direction, I also played around with the images from the bright end of the exposure bracket. Some detail remained even in ones that appeared completely blown out, which speaks well for the camera, but the effect on the partial skyline that remained was apocalyptic. There's no need to be posting those.

And as often happens, the photo that I didn't plan for is the one I like better. This was taken later with the XF16 and a ten-stop filter, making for a ten-second exposure at f/8. Keith changed my life when he told me that sunsets are backgrounds, not subjects, but I'm glad I did them anyway.

There are a few other potentially useful images from my quick evening trip to the islands, but they'll keep for another day.


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