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Shooting Cherry Blossoms and Spring Flowers around Toronto (Spot and Photo Tips)

Feature image at Robarts Library, University of Toronto, by Mike Simpson aka @tdot_mike. Mike leads our Tdot Shots photo walks.

So you’ve decided to check out some of the special spots around the city for spring photography, including flowers and cherry blossoms. It’s a beautiful time of the year indeed, so let’s get to it and look at some of the spots and photo tips and techniques.

There are many incredible image-making spots around Toronto. Here we present a quick guide to some favourites, among the popular and more underground locations. We also offer tips for shooting and editing. Spring and cherry blossom time is an excellent opportunity to grow your photography skills and have an adventure in the city. Let’s go!

Spots around Toronto (Popular and Underground / Off the Beaten Path)

Most famous locations include:

  • High Park
  • Trinity Bellwoods
  • Robarts Library

While we love each of these it’s worth pointing out that the crowds can get thick. You need to go early in the day or on a weekday to avoid tons of people getting in your shot. however if you are looking to get a portrait or candid, so you are intentionally shooting people, this might not matter. Overall, well worth visiting but be warned they are busy at sunset.

Underground spots:

  • Exhibition Place
  • Woodbine Park
  • Toronto Island

The good thing about these underground spots is that crowds will be less severe and if you are not downtown you can find spots like Exhibition Place in the west, Woodbine Park in the east. While Toronto island is not always convenient, in spring few people venture over on the ferry so crowds will not be an issue.

Alternate Locations

According to the City of Toronto Cherry Blossom page, there are at least 15 sites to view cherry blossoms in Toronto. Some are in Etobicoke and East York, and a good number are found in Scarborough and North York. Consult the city’s map at their site.

Photography Techniques

We love to see people having a ball and shooting selfies or portraits and also getting creative with framing, depth of field, and other techniques.

One thing we advise is to avoid colouring your entire image with a pink filter – it just looks cheesy! See below for our specific tips and suggestions.

For editing and shooting inspiration let’s look at some shots via Tdot Shots. These images are by Scott Heaney aka @skoat. Click or swipe to view the whole set. They are masterful examples of composition and depth, and demonstrate editing restraint.

Get creative with depth of field and framing

Whether using a smartphone, DSLR, or mirrorless camera, almost all cameras can get decent depth of field, and make the background areas of your image nice and blurry. Experiment with this, you may also be able to capture birds in the blossoms and play with getting interesting depth by using a telephoto to zoom past the trees and branches.

Framing is a key. Take your time and get a good composition where the leaves or trunk of the tree provide a natural frame. Be patient and wait until your subject walks (or flies!) into the frame, and then pop that shutter. It may be tempting to put the CN Tower or your friend right in the middle for a symmetrical look, but try an off-axis, asymmetrical approach as this may give your image a fresh take.

Don’t colour your entire image with a filter

Some beginner photographers and those without advanced editing skills may be tempted to apply a pink or purple filter or tint across their images. This is often spurred by the fact that many blossoms are actually white rather than the stereotypical pink, so creators feel compelled to maniuplate the colour. Don’t submit to this impulse. Do not just push the tint of your image toward magenta. The effect is fake and your image will lack subtlety.

The best editing approach is to use the HSL or hue, saturation and luminance sliders to gently push colours, or dial some back. Example: find the HSL sliders in the “Color” tab of your editor and “Mix” panel, and see if you can push the whites toward pink and pinks toward magenta. Tweak the reds, oranges and yellows, the blues and aquas, and take a moment to really contemplate the greens. So many people oversaturate the green that the grass and leaves can look a bit gross. HSL panel is your best friend as you can use the color mix tabs to lower the intensity of the green and make spot colours like pink pop out more. All the while, you avoid colouring the sky pink and otherwise ruining your awesome shot.

Here’s another set of images from one of our favourite local photographers, Kevin Braganza aka @kevin.braganza. Give the photographer a follow. First image is the famous Trinity Bellwoods in TO and second image is Kariya Park in Mississauga.

Photo Edit Examples (what not to do)

In the first or top image the edit is perfectly balanced. The colours of the water, blossoms and women’s sari outfits are equal and with the framing, the women are clearly the subject. To edit this, the adjustments were made in HSL sliders to different colours. Some were de-emphasized while others were emphasized. But no excess saturation or tint was applied.

In the second image, we pushed the tiny, to give you an example of what an over-edited image looks like. It’s just a wash of purple across the frame. Yes it enhances the overall effect and you might even argue it looks “graded” but it runs the subtleties of the original image. If a value of 10-15% had been used rather than 50% there might have been a better result.

More Sample Photos from our friends on IG

Here is a final set we posted recently on Tdot Shots. They are by @toby_lam.frame

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Thank You / Please Join Us

We are grateful to you for stopping by and reading through this article. We hope you appreciated the tips on spots and techniques. If you enjoyed the content please give us a follow on Instagram @tdot_shots and explore the rest of the site.

We host events like photo walks and other meetups for creatives in Toronto. Browse our event listings and sign up for a free or paid event at our site tdot.com/events.

Feature image by Mike Simpson aka @tdot_mike. Mike is the curator of Tdot Shots and leads the photo walk meetups.

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