New York In HDR
In terms of being well traveled, I certainly could fare better off. I’ve never been to Europe, or even Canada for that matter. I’ve traveled around the US, both for business and personal reasons and have seen major cities such as Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas, Orlando and of course my hometown of Pittsburgh, to name a few. I have been to Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, those being the only times that I’ve left the US. But of all of the places that I’ve been, nowhere is quite like New York City.
There is just something that draws you into it. From the first time that I was there back in 2006, I just found myself in awe of my surroundings. See, you can walk from one side of downtown Pittsburgh to the other in about 15 minutes, but in that same time you might walk 10 blocks in New York, which is about 250 blocks shy of the length of Manhattan. In fact, my first time there, we didn’t even take the subway until the last day of our trip, we just walked everywhere. Sure, it took a little bit longer, but there was just so much to see! Since that trip, I’ve been back four times and with each time I gain a greater appreciation for all that New York has to offer. A photo shoot for the MLB Network was the reason for my latest trip in April, and it afforded me a week to explore the city and take in as much of it as I could.
On the top of my list of places to visit was the Top of the Rock, in Rockefeller Center. Simply put, you will be hard pressed to find a more striking skyline than from the Observation Deck 70 floors up. During a visit there last summer, I made the trip to the top late in the evening, after the sun had already gone down. My plan this time around was to actually take in a sunset. I bought my ticket for 6:30 pm, headed to Johnny Utah’s for a quick refreshment while I waited, then jumped in line to make the trip up 850 feet. Seeing as it was around dinner, I didn’t have that long of a wait; I breezed through security, past the in house photographer taking staged pictures and into the line for the elevator. Just about ten minutes later, I was standing on the roof with a perfect view of lower Manhattan. Since I still had about an hour and a half until sun down, I strolled around and captured a few images from various sides of the platform. The picture you see above was taken from a spot that I staked out right in the middle of the deck about five minutes before the sun set over New Jersey. A big, sweeping cloud made an appearance and added to the drama in the sky, though my favorite part of the scene is how all of the westward sides of the buildings have a beautiful golden glow to them.
Now, the Top of the Rock wasn’t the only view of the Manhattan skyline that I had in mind. On my first trip to NYC in 2006, we went to the top of one of the most iconic building in the United States, the Empire State Building. On that day, however, it was dreary, cloudy, and you couldn’t see more than a few blocks, which is certainly saying something from 86 floors up. On this particular day however, it was beautiful; it also helped that I was an extra 16 floors up, on the 102nd floor observation deck. The above image is a two image panorama, with the view spanning from Brooklyn on the left (with both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges visible) to lower Manhattan and all the way over to Jersey City and the New Jersey state line. To me, the thing that stands out most in this scene is the new World Trade Center, standing at exactly 100 floors, which is reached on the day that I took this image.
Far, far below where the two previous images were taken are the streets of Manhattan. Hustling and bustling with tourists, cabs, residents, Sponge Bobs (yes, that is plural) and pretty much anyone else you can think of, they are always alive with activity. The center of all of this is Times Square. Now, I know that many New Yorkers loathe the area, as it is a hotbed of tourists (like me!) taking pictures of everything and anything. Here’s why I just can’t get enough of it: there is nothing like it anywhere else. Sure, there are collections of restaurants, shops, stores, people, cars and music in many cities, but few, if any are as iconic as Times Square. I love this image because it captures everything I’ve just described in one frame. You have a hotel, a theater, a restaurant, the busy people walking right in front of the camera, the cars rushing by and even someone standing perfectly still, trying to capture the scene on their own camera.
There is so much to do in midtown Manhattan that it can be easy to run out of time to make it to the southern tip of the island. Also, being that it is an island, you would expect there to be bridges to come and go, and the most famous of these is located in lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge. Coming from a city that has the nickname ‘City of Bridges,’ I have a certain affinity towards them and the Brooklyn Bridge is certainly one to behold. While it may be oft photographed, that didn’t stop me from capturing it at the best time of day to do so, at night. With lights all up and down the supports, it certainly is a stunning scene at night as it connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. This night was a particularly hazy one, with big clouds and a bit of wind. I wanted to give this shot a bit of a glow, to take the edge off what sometimes can be a fairly industrial image.
There is something for everyone with every type of interest in New York City. There are fine restaurants for the foodies, theaters and playhouses for the well refined, concert halls and jazz clubs for the musically inclined, museums and libraries for the historians…and everything for the photographer. You can’t walk one block in the big city without seeing something that you can capture with your lens, make it your own, something that is so intriguing, you need to share it with everyone. From the touristy areas to off the beaten path, New York City is a photographer’s paradise. Well, at least it’s mine.