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Daredevil Shoots A Frozen City From Above | Images by Ronnie Yip

By Kishore Sawh on January 9th 2014

Boredom. In some way, boredom can be thought of as a gift; that your life is so untroubled at the moment that you literally don’t know what to do. No pressing deadlines, no tasks on the horizon that can be done right now, and no troubles that need addressing surely is a good thing, no? I’m convinced that half of DIY projects are born out of boredom, and half of all colds and the flu. Frankly, anything from the common cold up to and including a broken arm is better than the interminable cancer that is boredom. It’s something to focus on.

Photographers go through the same thing. Sometimes, I’m tired of what seems to be the same palm tree, or the same face, from the same angle, in the same place. I generally am content getting low and using a dog’s eye view. But, I’m not Ronnie Yip. Ronnie, takes us up where the elements are less forgiving and the missteps even more so. (gear list below)

…the incredible towering views were well worth the effort. Everything on the top 3 or 4 floors was exposed to the elements. And, due to the ice storm our city suffered through several days ago, it seemed like every object on these floors was covered with a thick layer of ice.

Based out of Toronto, Yip brings us angles and vantages most don’t get to see. Scaling frozen skyscrapers and rooftops, Yip shoots Toronto from probably the least boring views possible. It’s quite majestic, and it’s breathtaking. Recently, Toronto has had a winter more frigid than even the norm. The city, for all intents and purposes, was frozen. Yip saw an opportunity to document the city and what he went through to get the shots was as awe worthy as the shots themselves. He had these words to say about the adventure:

“The problem didn’t lie in getting into the high rise construction site, but with how one properly dresses for a rigorous climb (all 60 flights of stairs) and be prepared to shoot atop the skyscraper at -20 degrees C with windy conditions,” notes Yip “We ended up overdressing for the occasion. The climb was tough – I thought I almost suffered a heat stroke, having to carry all that camera gear, and wearing a heavy parka, two layers of sweaters, and very tight long johns.

“We had to abandon our initial plan of climbing the scaffolding at the rooftop, which was too dangerously slippery. That hardly mattered, the views we experienced from inside the top floors were enough to make any grown man weep. The frigid air started pounding my body after several hours of shooting, and soon after, I recall telling myself that I really should have been more warmly dressed for this ungodly climate.”

[REWIND: Place-Hacking for Incredible Photos: Evade Security & Cross Lines]


Typical Gear List:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EOS 7D
EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye
EF 35mm f/1.4L
EF 50mm f/1.8 II
EF 135mm f/2.0L
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L
EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.0
EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8
EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6
Speedlite 580EX II

Fuji X-E1
XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0
XF 35mm f/1.4



Toronto was my home for many many years, and a city that’s always going to make up part of my DNA. From my days at Crescent School to today, I know it well and over the past few years, it was my surprising pleasure to have spent many days traversing the entire GTA again, many of which, camera in hand. This history made this project a bit close to heart, but it was brilliant because in the photos, the city looked almost alien. It was like seeing it as perhaps how a visitor would see it, as something new and shiny, as if someone had just peeled back a veil or opened a door I’d never seen behind. I strongly urge you to check out his site and Flickr to see this beautiful city, especially in this gelid wintery climate Yip so wonderfully captures.

CREDITS: All photographs shared by Ronnie Yip are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jared Stewart

    Beautiful images. Wish it was easier to get access to buildings of that height.

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  2. Dan Mason

    These images certainly convey a sense of height. But speaking from the other side of the world (New Zealand), I can’t say they give me any sense of the cold.

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  3. JamesJ35mm

    Love these pictures and great timing for me as I’m right in the middle of trying to plan a 2 day flying visit to Toronto as I stop over on my way to see some friends further north in Ontario.

    I heard the Sheraton downtown has some of the best views as far as a hotel goes, Toronto Islands for the classic skyline shots but from there I’m not too sure where to head.

    Any body have any pointers on either specific places or general areas to stay/go that have great views? Ideally without the risk of getting arrested ;) FYI, going in July.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi James, well the Sheraton does have some nice views of the city actually. Last time I stayed there was just under two years ago and was up around 35 floors. Great shots of Nathan Phillips Square right below for NYE. Of course you could go to the CN Tower to get phenomenal views of the city. But a hidden gem, is more locally known, is Panorama Lounge. I’m not sure what you’ll need to shoot there but it’s worth a look, and a drink there. Enjoy your trip, Toronto in the summer… well, there are few places I’d rather be. Cheers! -K

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  4. Tristan

    Shots look fantastic! Still got all digits I hope… Lol. How do you gain access to building tops like that or is it all ‘public access’ in Toronto? And how do you get your images the ‘extra sharp’ they appear? Keen to hear. Love your work!!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hey Tristan, Ronnie is a nice guy, I know he is very busy but you’d probably be better off contacting him directly through his site. His site and Flickr are worth a visit anyway. Cheers -K

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  5. Kevin

    I live about an hour outside of Toronto and I follow Ronnie’s work a fair amount. It’s always pretty amazing to see a city you think you know quite well in a new light or from a different perspective.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I agree entirely Tristan, I’d seen some of his work prior but hadn’t looked into it too much till now. Really gave me a different view of the city. And I loved it. Man I’m itching to be back in the right now. Thanks for stopping by, cheers. -K

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  6. Hanssie

    It looks cold. And scary. So glad I’m in 70 degree weather right now :)

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    • Kishore Sawh

      You know I could do with some cold weather. I like winter. The problem is I like it in small doses. 2-3 months I can deal with… but the 6 or 6 months it’s cold… not so much. So Miami is feeling pretty good right now -K

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  7. Nick

    I want to do this!

    (btw, not everyone is going to know what GTA refers to. for some, GTA means Grand Theft Auto. )

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  8. Luís Pereira

    WOW, that’s awesome. But must have been scary no? eheh not sure if I would go so high and close to the edge. Great work ;)

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Luis, it is pretty awesome, eh? And I’m pretty sure i.e. was scary. But Ronnie seems to manage just fine. Check out his other stuff that’s more extensive. Cheers

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