I never saw the old one, but this is the new Path Station at the World Trade Center. I used to ride the Path train every day from Jersey City to Penn Station. That was years ago when I worked in midtown. On a recent trip I walked by this station after visiting One World Observatory. The new station is amazing to look at under the massive ribs of Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus.
Santiago is a Spanish architect and you should check out his work. I first became aware of him through a building in Lakeland Florida that I’ve driven by many times. I stopped by once to take a few images of that as well. Then, several years ago when I saw the construction of the Oculus I knew it must be the same architect. By the way, I added the red color in post-production just because I liked the effect, in reality it’s white.
This station is connected to a mall with high-end shops. There’s a nice bistro where I had a coffee before checking out the two-level Apple store. If there are two things New York has no shortages of, it’s coffee and Apple stores; and I mean that in a good way. My first Mac was purchased from the flagship store on 5th Avenue. There’s something fun about getting a Mac from one of these big stores. However these days I just order it online because it seems like less hassle.
The mall is impressive whether you shop or just walk around and take pictures. I came here on one of the hottest days of the year so just having an air-conditioned place to hangout was a bonus. I’m due for a new Mac soon so maybe I’ll use that as an excuse to come back up here and go to the Apple store. Not that I really need an excuse but it sounds like a fun idea.
When I have the time, I go out late at night and take pictures of places in big cities. This is Columbus Circle at midnight, also known as central park south in Manhattan. It was late and I had just finished touring the park on a bike and taking all kinds of cool photos. Once you’re in the zone you don’t want to stop and time is the last thing on your mind.
While I was taking these, a gentleman came up and asked about what I was doing. He was visiting from DC and we stuck up a conversation. He suggested that I needed to go to the nation’s capital to take pictures of all the monuments. That’s on my list now.
For me I like going to places where I can go out walking with my camera and tripod late into the night. I’m drawn by architecture, leading lines and light. That’s essentially what this photo is all about. It’s doesn’t have to be anything in particular, just something that combines those elements.
European cities are great for this type of photography. And in general, Europeans stay out late into the evening so what seems late by American standards is quite normal there. Anyway, it’s all about having the time. And once I make the time then I get in the zone and suddenly, time is not an issue, if you know what I mean.
So often when travelling we find ourselves in places where there are a lot of tourists. There’s nothing wrong with that and quite often I am one of them. However from a photography perspective it presents a challenge. For me the challenge is either how to incorporate crowds into an image or avoid them altogether. In this case I sat on a bench watching the people at One World Observatory and noticed the reflections creating this scene. I took several photos and this is my favorite.
This is also a good example of post processing. Because right out of camera the people looked more like silhouettes, you couldn’t see too much detail. I was able to bring that out in post processing, and primarily because I used a Sony camera with a great sensor. That sensor captures much more shadow detail something like an iPhone. So this is closer to what the scene actually looked like because of course our eyes are able to capture a wider range of light. I used post processing to bring the detail back from the shadows.
Getting back to the challenge of crowds, the other approach would be to avoid them altogether. To do that you need to get to places early or stay late. I don’t know about you but for me that’s easier said than done. Sometimes it can be difficult to get up and out early. I still try and sometimes I make it and I’m usually rewarded with softer light and scenes without a lot of people.
But these are just common sense tips. What makes an interesting photo is entirely in your head. With photography we can take the most common and mundane of scenes and express something transformative. That’s true for any art form, so whether you decide to include crowds or avoid them is just a technique, the thing that’s really important is what you see.
I’ve seen this guy playing the saxophone in Central Park several times before; he’s what I’d consider a permanent fixture. I stopped to take his picture and then left a few dollars in his case. When I was here about five years ago I saw another guy playing the guitar. I was at a train station in another city and someone was some guy playing a didgeridoo. No far beyond were other musicians waiting their turn.
That got me thinking about how they stake out these popular spots. I imagine it’s first come first serve. For prime locations like this in Central Park you probably show up early and once you start playing you don’t stop until you’re done, then the next guy takes over. It’s a dog eat dog world for buskers.
Recently I was walking along a street and there was a lone piano chained to a lamppost. When I walk back later a lady was playing a sonata as only an accomplished musician can do, it was stunning and several of us were stopped in our tracks listening to a recital.
Subways and tunnels are the perfect location because they concentrate people in confined spaces and you have a captive audience. Quite frankly it’s where I’ve heard some of the most talented musicians. What better way to practice than to perform in a public space? If I could play music I’d be out there too, but I take photos so I’ll just stick to what I know.
My last night in Manhattan I spent exploring Central Park and taking a lot of photos. The park is well lit with street lamps along the paths and people milling about just as they do during the day. This is in a section known as Central Park South, which is bordered by the towers of midtown to form a surreal backdrop.
This is thirty-second exposure and it appears a little brighter than it actually was. As a result I didn’t notice the people to the right until about halfway through the exposure. I think they had the perfect setting for an evening picnic.
I rented a bike so I could cover more ground and even at midnight on a Sunday there were people riding bikes alongside me. Maybe I’m naïve but the park seemed safe. Historically the park has had a bad reputation after dark, but it seems to have shed some of that that over the years. There are lights everywhere and paths filled with people enjoying the setting, not to mention an abundance of security.
If the park didn’t close at one in the morning I could have stayed all night. There are endless compositions for photography. But alas I had a plane to catch in the morning so it was just as well. But now I know that the next time I come back I can plan on getting very little sleep, at least at night.
This is a view of two bridges to Brooklyn I took from the One World Observatory. I thought it was called the Freedom Tower but I guess the name was changed a while back. Nevertheless it’s a great place to visit when you’re in town. And if you’re a photographer, the sky is the limit, literally. It probably took me an hour and a half to walk around the main observation deck. I stopped every few feet to take photos of some different angle on the city. I can’t help it; I get carried away.
I used a lens skirt to block the reflections you normally get when taking pictures through windows. I mentioned this a few days ago on another post. It takes a little extra time to get it all setup but it’s worth the effort.
I’ve been on the other side of those bridges shooting back at the tower, but this was my first experience shooting towards Brooklyn.
With shots like this there is so much detail packed into the image. When I’m there I’m concentrating on focus and composition. Only later when processing the image do I really get a chance to take it all in. Thanks to the high resolution of the Sony sensor I can zoom in and examine all kinds of interesting details.
I was shooting in the middle of the day so I had no need for a tripod. However I’d like to come back in the evening for images with city lights. Hopefully I’ll be allowed to bring a tripod then. My fingers are definitely crossed on that one.
Here is an interesting shot down West 54th Street. It’s actually two photos of the same scene blended together. One was taken around midnight and the other around dawn. I setup my camera on a tripod and took a long exposure before falling asleep. I left the camera in place on the tripod and when I woke up several hours later I took another. Later I used the lighten blend mode in Photoshop to combine the two.
I also used a lens skirt, which cuts out the reflections; it’s indispensable when taking photos through windows. In fact, while on the same trip, I took it to the observation deck of the One World Observatory; it worked wonders with the floor to ceiling windows.
We were lucky with the hotel; it has excellent views of this section of the city. When I’m traveling I never know what I’m going to see. So with respect to photography, and life in general, I try to be flexible and go with the flow. It’s a constant theme and sometimes struggle to let go and become aware of things around you. Sometimes I recognize cool images and other times I walk right past them.
It seems we covet high floors in the buildings of large cities, certainly I do. As a photographer I’m looking for the perspectives above the fray. More and more that can be achieved with a drone, but good old fashion brick and mortar buildings are the best if you can gain access. A drone can fly for only so long and is usually restricted in busy cities.
This is a shot that I had a lot of fun making. I went walking down Broadway late at night in the pouring rain. Shooting street scenes in the city is fun enough, but add the lights reflecting on rain slicked streets and it takes it to a whole new level. And of course, being New York, there are always people out walking regardless of the weather.
I was a block from Times Square and there were lights everywhere. The colors of this scene were so vivid it almost looked unreal. At the time it seemed normal, but that’s what happens when you’re in the middle of the city, wild lights everywhere start to seem normal.
I had my camera covered with plastic and I was wearing a rain poncho. I must have been quite the site, but then maybe not. What could look more normal than someone with a camera in Times Square? I wasn’t the only one; I saw one or two others looking for cool shots as well. Rain seems to bring out the photographers, at least the ones that are visiting.
I was out for a couple of hours and people kept emptying out of bars and walking around looking for places to eat. That was me back in my twenties. Now I’m content just to take pictures of people doing what I used to do. In a way I think that’s kind of funny.
It’s been so long since I was here last that I had forgotten where everything was. So it was a nice surprise when I “found” the Jackie Kennedy Onassis reservoir late at night on a bike. This is from the north side facing back towards midtown. This night scene with the clouds reminds me of Gotham City.
I rented the bike for the evening as a way to get around Central Park. I got a basket so I could carry my tripod, as I’d need it for long exposures. The park is open until one in the morning and it was a nice surprise to find so many people out at such a late hour. For me, nighttime is the best time to take pictures here because of the overall moodiness. I stopped so often to set up my tripod that I could have easily been here all night. It was very quiet and I was in the zone.
This panorama consists of four vertical long exposure images, each thirty-seconds long. The clouds were heavy which added to the drama of the scene. They are especially illuminated above mid-town, as you would expect. My guess is that the light given off by Times Square is easily visible from space.
It still amazes me that Manhattan has such a big park in the middle of the city. It’s a vital organ of the city; I think the lungs. Whether you are running, cycling or just sitting on a bench, this is where you come to breathe in, breath out and reconnect.
The “Get The Job You Deserve” sign over Times Square is a mammoth structure. I hesitate to call it a billboard; it’s way bigger than that. I took this shortly after checking to a hotel in New York City. Coming from a small town in Florida to the heart of Manhattan is one heck of a jolt, just the kind I needed.
I have a tip if you’re into photography and thinking of going to New York City. Book a room at the Courtyard Marriot on West 54th and Broadway. On one side of the building the rooms overlook Broadway and Times Square. This is the view from a corner room on the 28th floor. The location is about four blocks from Times Square and Central Park in the other direction.
I used to live here many moons ago. The city continues to change yet many things remain the same. It feels like there are improvements yet so much is familiar. Something I noticed is that cabs seem easier to find. My theory is that because so many people are using Uber, cabs are more available. I could be wrong; it’s just a theory.
For all intents and purposes New York City may as well be a nation; boroughs are like provinces or states. You could live in one section of the city and speak a different dialect than in another.
The city has it’s own gravitational field and laws of attraction. If you like the city you are drawn in, if not you are repulsed, there seems to be no grey area; it’s an all or nothing proposition. As for me, I am a monster fan.