Toronto Subway Gritty Street Photography

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Toronto Street Photography

On a cold March day in Toronto, Canada, I went for a walk in the city core where Toronto’s main train and subway converge in Union Station. The train station has been undergoing a massive renovation for the last several years, which gravitated me to use these under construction sections of the building to do some street photography. The first part of the series features night images just at the height of commuter traffic. I wanted to capture the frantic hustle of people passing by – to ‘feel’ the people passing, each thinking and contemplating their own story. I was after unprompted expressions from the passerbys, but I still needed to be close enough to feel the human congestion.

Toronto Street Photography Union Station 1
Group of people leaving Union station on cold winter night © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved
Toronto Street Photography Union Station 2
People busily leaving the Union Train station in Toronto © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved

To achieve my goals, I put my Sony A7R III on a monopod, prefocused the lens, and stood still clicking the shutter whenever a well-composed scene developed. Even though I tried to not be a fixture in the path of the passerbys, I again attracted enough attention that I was able to catch the gaze toward the camera. I find that the images where the individual’s eyes are focused on me create a unique perspective on the subway photographic series.

Toronto Street Photography Union Station 3
A woman casually glances over to me on her journey home © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved
Toronto Street Photography Union Station 4
Open doors to Toronto Union train station of people continue their journey © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved

The images were all shot at night using a shutter speed that would freeze the action. The combination of high shutter speed and open aperture resulted in a relatively very high ISO (12,800), producing a grainy image. Although the Sony A7R III is excellent at high ISO and I could have reduced the noise considerably, I liked the grainy and gritty look. I was able to ‘previsualize’ a black and white grungy look to each of these images.

Toronto Street Photography Union Station 5
A man stares at the camera on his journey home at Toronto Union Station © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved
Toronto Street Photography Union Station 6
Cold and dark exit at Toronto Union as a woman reads her mobile phone © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved

For this, I made my initial adjustments in Adobe Lightroom and then exported to Adobe Photoshop. Within Photoshop, I launched the new Silver FX Pro2 plugin by DxO. I was after the Film Noir effects as a starting point. I made numerous tweaks to the pre-set black and white effect, most notable; I used the selective adjustments to lighted and darkened individuals in the images.

Toronto Street Photography Union Station 7
Man holding a small box stares at me as he enters the dark passage in Toronto’s Union Station © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved
Toronto Street Photography Union Station 8
A dark passage in Toronto’s Union Station as people journey oblivious of other passengers © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved
Toronto Street Photography Union Station 9
A man stares down at me while continuing his journey in Toronto’s train station © 2021 Dan Kosmayer., All Rights Reserved

The project was fun and straightforward. With the tools available to photographers today, making creative fine-art photographs such as this street photography scene can be easy. What takes practice is ‘previsualizing’ what you want the pictures to look like. Finding the tools to fulfill your objective is the easy part. You can view the large version of the fine-art photographic series and read my commentary of the images on the gallery pages.

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