I had a couple of hours to spare one day after work so I took to the streets of Toronto to find some Christmas spirit. Only, this time, I went underground to the Path.
The Path, for those of you who are new to Toronto, is an underground “maze” of shops and restaurants catering to the busy people of the downtown Toronto core. Stretching from Union Station all the way up North to the Atrium on Yonge and Dundas, it’s an adventure at every turn.
I didn’t know what I would find, so finding all that I did really took me by surprise. It also brought up the thought that so many of these Christmas trees and decorations go unnoticed because they are underground and only those who know about it, can ever appreciate it.
My little adventure in the Path really brought out the Christmas spirit of the city and I hope you will find this through my photos that I took and edited solely with my iPhone 6 Plus. I posted some of the square version of these photos on my Instagram account, so I present to you the iPhoneography uncropped versions here on my blog, along with some of my through process in taking and editing these photos.
My iPhoneography adventure started when I encountered this brightly lit area with decorations strung along the pillars. Very little was done with this photo except for a little bit of clarity, opening up the shadows and increasing the overall exposure in Instaflash Pro. I then processed it in VSCOcam with the LV01 preset for that slight golden glow and faded look that everybody seems to like now-a-days.
This tree inside the Bay-Wellington Centre was a pleasant surprise as I sort of “snuck up” beside this tree by coming through an alternative entrance to the building. Normally I find the security in this building quite strict in that they frown upon people taking photos inside their building, but I managed to sneak a shot of this beautiful tree peaking out at the end of the elevator hallway.
This beautiful tree shone brightly in the sparse white room with extra shiny floors. It was quite majestic seeing this for the first time. I increased exposure and brightness slightly, while giving the green in the tree a little boost, all within Instaflash Pro before finally processing it with the LV01 preset in VSCOcam for that faded look.
This tree was also quite grand, standing by itself, albeit the security desk was sitting right beside this one. I tried to capture the patterns on the floor to lead up to the tree in the backdrop (leading lines). The original white balance was quite yellow, so I had to turn down the yellow a bit while trying to keep the green of the tree. White and colour balance were done in Instaflash Pro with final processing in VSCOcam (K2 preset to add a little more richness to the colours).
I did on occasion step out of the Path to get some fresh air. In doing so, I had the liberty of wandering around in any direction, which eventually led me to this. Funny enough, that Christmas tree you see in the background is the same tree as the one shown before this photo. I had taken this shot quite a while afterwards, which only means I walked all around the area aboveground only to come back to where I was underground a while back! I loved the white glow that the trees gave on the bench and ground, in addition to the yellow-green glow coming from the building. My thought process in taking this photo was to have the white trees on the right lead the eye to the Christmas tree in the back.
This was a really fun tree to shoot. The surrounding area was quite dark, and there were couches lined up all around the tree. This made it difficult for me to shoot the tree in its entirety, especially when there were little kids resting and playing on their iPads. To avoid getting anybody in my frame, I focused my shots on the details of this tree, which is what made it so interesting in the first place. I loved the winding “ribbon” that wrapped the tree, along with the many balls and LED lights within it. I increased the overall saturation to bring out the golden yellow glow in addition to increasing the vibrancy as well. A little boost in sharpness and clarity to give focus to the intricacies of the tree allows you to get a sense of how busy this tree really is.
I can’t go on talking about how wonderful the details of the tree was, without actually taking a picture of the details, can I?! I stuck my hand within one of the cracks and captured the reflection of the lights above, shining brightly on the balls below. It’s not evident on first sight, but the placement of my iPhone is very important here. Shooting too low will only yield a view of the side of the balls, and shooting too high will barely get the balls into the frame. I placed my iPhone so that I could just get the tops of all the balls lined along the bottom of the tree, but still making sure to get the reflection in the frame as well.
In editing this photo, I brought out the orange glow by increasing saturation and vibrancy overall, and within just the yellow and orange colours, all within Instaflash Pro. The LV01 preset in VSCOcam was used so I could get a little bit of that muted look.
Brookfield Place in Toronto is a great place for iPhoneography. I’ve seen so many photos of the arches within it that I wanted to do something different. The fountain at the end of the building really makes its mark in this long exposure photography that I made with the Slow Shutter Cam app. The blue lights shining in the background really contrasts well with the orange and brown of the decorations hanging above the fountain. In editing this photo, keeping the chrome a neutral colour while showing the blue and orange was key. I also boosted the green a little so that it was not hiding in the shadows—all done in Instaflash Pro. The K2 preset in VSCOcam was used to give each colour a richer feeling, while providing a little faded goodness to the image.
For those that wanted to see the decorations in its entirety, I took this photo looking straight up from the base of the fountain. I loved how this angle gave this hanging decoration a completely different feel to it.
Stepping outside of Brookfield Place and looking back, I caught this view which I find quite striking. It’s a refreshing take on the building and with the festive lights lighting up the pillars, it really made the photo. If you’re wondering why I framed this photo (and some of the earlier ones above) with so much empty space on the bottom of the photo, there’s a good reason for this: 1) I knew I would be cropping this photo to a square format for Instagram, and 2) In order to keep my vertical lines vertical—which is important for architecture photography/iPhoneography—I had to raise my iPhone up high above my head to prevent distorting vertical lines. By doing this, I was able to minimize the perspective distortion that is often produced when people tilt their cameras up to fit entire buildings.
Finally, a visit to Brookfield Place wouldn’t be complete without appreciating the tree decorations outside of the building! This place is not new to me as I’ve taken photos here before, but I especially liked it with all the lights on that evening. The soft purple lighting the tree branches, mingling together with the dotted yellow lights in the surrounding darkness gave it somewhat of a surreal effect. This lone lamp sits in the middle of this enclosed area that surrounds this little pond. It all makes for an unusual getaway from the hustle and bustle of Brookfield Place. I composed this photo so I could get some of the pond at the bottom with the lights in the middle, and the darkness of the night on top.
Eaton Centre this year had these large reindeers running amok within the mall—three of them, to be exact. This one spanned multiple floors, making it a sight to see even from afar. In this photo, I moved around just so I could get the spotlights behind the reindeer to shine through and hit my iPhone to get that purple glow.
I can’t have an iPhoneography Christmas tree post without taking a photo of the Christmas tree at City Hall. This is one of those instances where I actually prefer the square cropped version over the original 2:3 that comes out of the iPhone 6 Plus. My original thought with this photo was to have a closeup of the tree decorations while viewing the blurred background of the golden arches over the skating rink, and the lights of the building on Queen Street. However, this was not possible because I couldn’t get close enough to the tree to get the nice bokeh that I was after. In another post I will go through the editing stages of this particular photo, but I will say a little editing goes a long way here!
I rarely include people in my photography and/or iPhoneography so when I do have someone in them, I make it a point to try and get a great shot out of it. Believe it or not, not a lot of editing was done to this photo. A quick white balance adjustment, sharpening, and K2 preset in VSCOcam is all I did to show this silhouetted couple in front of Toronto City Hall’s Christmas tree.
This pretty much sums up my iPhoneography adventure in Toronto featuring its many Christmas trees. In addition to giving you a glimpse of the Christmas spirit, I hope my added thoughts gave you some insight to how I take photographs and edit them on my iPhone 6 Plus.