Closer to Home: a postcard view of Edmonton (with pro tips)

Editor’s note: once a week for the next bit here at Transforming Edmonton we’re sharing some of our favourite places in the city. The pandemic has shortened the travel horizon for many. And that’s okay, because there are plenty of gems in different parts of our city that are worth a visit. Each week a City of Edmonton team member gives you a story about a fave spot closer to home. This is Glenn Kubish’s view.

It’s certainly not the only postcard view of the Edmonton skyline. There’s the view from Forest Heights, from the Lauderdale dog park, from the 142 Street bridge over the MacKinnon Ravine, from Kinnaird Park, from the Capilano Bridge, and from many other parts of the city, too.

But the view of downtown Edmonton and the river valley from the Laurence Decore Lookout on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River is one of the most dramatic.

The Laurence Decore Lookout by day

The lookout is named after Laurence Decore, who was twice (1983, 1986) elected Mayor of Edmonton and who also served in provincial politics as Leader of the Opposition. Decore died in 1999 at age 59.

I have visited the lookout twice recently. On a night in June I had it to myself. There’s a lot to take in. The lights on the buildings, the lights on the High Level Bridge, the water, the old Rossdale plant. That night, the colours of the sunset sky were like a worn jawbreaker.

The night in June I had the lookout to myself

The new Walterdale Bridge steals the show. The white arches, but also the elegantly curved shared-use path curved path on its east side.

I was back during the day at the end of July, arriving on bike along the Shared Street lane on Saskatchewan Drive.

Laurence Decore Lookout, July 31, 2020

The lookout has benches and small gardens. A plaque tells the story of Decore. That day, two people on a bench in the shade of a tree were enjoying a conversation. Another person was composing a photograph of the gorgeous view.

The lookout leads down via a paved path to ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park. That’s so worth a visit, too.

From the Laurence Decore Lookout, a paved path takes you to ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park

? Take home advice

I asked my colleague Alex Scuccato for some advice about taking a good pic at the lookout. As a professional photographer, Alex sees things differently.

“It’s the postcard view,” Alex said.

Don’t try to get it all

He shared a couple of tips. The first: don’t try to get it all.

“If you’re using a phone, take the time to zoom in a bit—first with your feet,” he told me.

“It’s tempting to try and get everything in your frame, especially for landscapes. But to make your photo stand out, try something different by focusing on one area instead. If you have a camera, use a telephoto lens. It’s like when you’re shooting pics of wildlife or sports action and you need to zoom in on something in the distance, using different lenses to capture unique perspectives that you otherwise wouldn’t if you were just going for the standard wide-angle.”

Make use of your environment

The second tip: make use of your environment.

“The tree, the fence. Whatever is also in your environment can help frame your subject and draw the viewer’s eyes towards a focal point,” Alex said.

When I’m at the Laurence Decore Lookout I feel that other people who I have never met have taken great care to create a view that’s worthy of a postcard and my attempt at a pic.

The Laurence Decore Lookout is on Saskatchewan Drive near 106 Street.

Of course there are other views of the skyline. As a boy born and raised in Edmonton’s north end, I remain partial to the skyline view from Lauderdale, gotta say:

Alex got a better pic. Of course. ?

Edmonton skyline from Lauderdale dog park. Courtesy: Alex Scuccato