Let’s face it, most of us love going into places that we aren’t supposed to go. Maybe it’s the thrill of getting caught, or perhaps it’s simply the need to see what’s on the other side of that closed door that drives our curiosity. Thankfully we have Doors Open to give us a perfectly legal way to achieve this…
Doors Open Toronto
Doors Open Toronto is an annual event that has given thousands of people rare access to hundreds of architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city, all while making it easy, fun and best of all, completely legal to do so. From an urban photographer’s perspective, it’s like being given the keys to the city and told to go out and shoot to our hearts content.
With a 155 buildings on the list it’s a lot to try to get through in two days, and if you’re a seasoned Doors Open pro, you might want to think about skipping the regulars, and instead, move straight towards the 55 new buildings that available this year. Or, if you’re looking for a more educational experience, Doors Open is also offering free guided walking tours that will delve deeper into the stories, histories and architecture of a wide variety of neighbourhoods.
Best Gear to Use
Given that most of what you will be shooting will be indoors, without a lot of natural light, and probably while standing in the middle of a gigantic crowd, you’re going to want to think carefully about what gear you’re going to bring with you. Thankfully, you have us to guide you!
Trust us, the less gear you have to lug around with you the better. So skip the long lens, and instead, reach into your camera bag and grab your trusty “nifty fifty”.
- One of the beautiful things about a 50mm lens is the ability to stop down as low as f/1.2, f/1.4 or f/1.8 (depending on the lens) which allows for faster shutter speeds. This is especially useful when shooting indoors in low light conditions.
Skip the DSLR and go with a compact mirrorless camera…
- The retro looking Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a great option for shooting indoors. With it’s ultra-sensitive 5-axis VCM (voice coil motor) system, you can skip the tripod, and shoot hand-held. Even in low light conditions, capturing sharp images or silky smooth video is a breeze, and with a variety of available lenses, your shooting options are almost limitless.
If you are going to take your DSLR…
- Consider taking a lens that gives you both a slightly wider angle and a zoom such as a 24-70mm F/2.8 or 28-135mm f/3.5 or similar.
Things to keep in mind when exploring Doors Open…
- Most but not all locations are photography friendly. It’s always a good idea to confirm on the Doors Open website before heading out.
- Same goes if you’re planning on taking a tripod or monopod with you.
- Confirm the day and times that the building you want to see is open for viewing. Some are only for one of the two days and the hours can vary depending on the location.
- Lastly, this is a very popular event. Don’t be surprised if you arrive at a location only to find a line that stretches around the block. This is pretty typical at a lot of the more well known locations such as the R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant.
Good luck and happy exploring!
Also published on Medium.