Lower Midtown

Here is a cityscape of Manhattan that I took from One World Observatory. High-resolution cityscapes are a way for me to explore the details in the quiet of my own home. There is no way to take it all in when you are there taking the photo.

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Lower Midtown
A view of Manhattan from the One World Observatory

This frame is only a small section of the city and having so much crammed together is one thing that makes New York so compelling. You could live your whole life in one part and never see it all. But maybe that’s true for most places, we never really see everything. Perhaps a cab driver does, but most of us limit our movements.

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Whenever I’m up high like this, I like to take photos of the expanse. It’s a natural desire because scenes like this are so foreign to our earth-bound eyes. I make these photos with the knowledge that I’ll look more closely during post-processing. Post-processing can take an hour or more, and during that time I am emersed in the details, as though I was right back at the scene. It’s like Deja-vu all over again.

Manhattan Vignettes

Here is a series of shots I took last year when in NYC. I walked to Times Square late at night in the pouring rain. While that may not sound fun, it’s an excellent time to do street photography. The combination of lights, reflections, and umbrellas create scenes that are fun to watch, in a people-watching kind of way.

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Manhattan Vignettes 1
Crossing the street in a downpour
Manhattan Vignettes 2
Kissing in the rain
Manhattan Vignettes 3
Not enough umbrellas
Manhattan Vignettes 4
Odd man out
Manhattan Vignettes 5
A lot going on in this scene
Manhattan Vignettes 6
I wish you called a cab
Manhattan Vignettes 7
Where is our Uber?
Manhattan Vignettes 8
No words

Because of the rain and the late hour, there were far fewer people out than usual. If you’ve ever been to Times Square then you know that’s rare. It meant I was able to capture little vignettes without too many distractions. Each of these photos tells a different story from that evening. It is up to you the viewer to imagine what that story is.

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As the name of the series suggests, I’ve employed a vignette technique to each of these images to draw attention to the people. The setting, while electric, is only that, a setting. Each story is as different as the people that inhabit them.

So Many Stories

I’ve heard it said that eventually, everyone passes through Times Square. There’s no way to describe it unless you’ve been there; it’s electric.

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So Many Stories
The stories we tell with pictures are a form of virtual reality

Last week I was talking about telling stories with simple images at the beach, but this is an example of a subject that’s the polar opposite of serenity and sunsets. Regardless of the scene, success comes about by framing an image in a way that allows the viewer to enter it and muse about what is going on.

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If you want to tell stories with your photos, it doesn’t matter what the scene is. It could be a beach, a farm, a city or anything in-between. I find that having a sense of depth draws us into the scene. We start at items close up and then wander around establishing distance and placement. It happens so fast we don’t notice, but crafting scenes are what makes photography so enjoyable. It’s a subtle version of virtual reality based on immersion. If we are, even for an instant, immersed in a photo, then we’ve experienced a form of virtual reality. Stories when told by a picture or a book, have always been a way to experience a different reality.

Hot Summer Nights

Last year I was in New York City on the hottest three days of the year. It was unbelievably hot and the only thing to do at night was to walk around Times Square in the pouring rain.

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Hot Summer Nights
A hot and steamy night in the rain at Times Square

I should be used to the heat from Florida, but it was no easier. Nevertheless, the rain and lights created fantastic photo opportunities that are entirely different than those I get back home. A nice effect is how the rainwater creates a reflective sheen on the pavement.

more street photography from the gallery

Taking photos at night in a city is a matter of experimentation. With a camera, we have several choices to make. A wide aperture combined with a high ISO allows a type of street photography without a tripod. However, with a tripod, we can take longer exposures if we want to capture light trails. In this case, I just wanted to capture images of the scene without special effects. For me, the most exciting thing was watching people out having fun in the rain; which by the way, was what I was doing also.

Under the Oculus

This is the Westfield Mall under Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus. I was standing on a set of steps where path station and mall meet.

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Under the Oculus
This is a mall connected to the Path subway station in lower Manhattan

I don’t necessarily like going to the mall, but in this case, I can make an exception. I am convinced that Calatrava is one of the greatest architects of our time. That’s based on the feeling I get when inside his creations. There was also an exhibition of art from the Sistine Chapel. The juxtaposition of Michelangelo with the modern architecture was amazing.

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We had no intention of going to the mall, we simply wanted to know what was here after touring One World Observatory. Anyway, there is a bistro just on the left and I sat there with a coffee while my wife looked for a certain type of shoes. I was also in the market for shoes but deferred that to spend the rest of the time taking pictures. After I got all the pictures I wanted we headed to Macy’s where I finally got my own shoes.

Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus

I normally avoid malls. Not that I don’t like to buy things, I just find malls, well, kind of boring. However, if the mall looks like this then I’m all in. This is the Westfield Mall under Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus in New York City. If there is one mall you want to see, this is it.

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Santiago Calatrava's Oculus
Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus is perhaps the only mall in the world I love to visit

While visiting the city I walked in to see what it was and got totally blown away by the architecture. The feeling you get here is intoxicating, which is perhaps the intention as you lose your inhibitions and start buying really cool stuff.

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Also, it’s a perfect place to come and escape either the summer heat or winter cold. I was here on the hottest day in summer, so the cool air was a welcome break. While my wife looked for shoes I sat at a coffee shop and took it all in. Next time I’m back in the Big Apple, this place will be high on my list again.

Canyons of Glass

In New York City, the buildings on each side of the street are like canyons of glass. The last time I was there I booked a hotel in midtown and the first thing I did was open the curtains and look out; not surprisingly the view was another set of windows facing right back at me.

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Canyons of Glass
Canyons of glass in New York City

It was late at night and all the offices were empty despite the lights being on. I was intrigued by the checkerboard pattern and took several shots at various times of the day. This is one of a dozen or so and perhaps my favorite.

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When I look out across the high-rises of New York at night I get mesmerized by the three-dimensional ocean of humanity. It makes me think of futuristic visions of vertical cityscapes depicted in science fiction. And who knows, maybe that’s what it will look like in another hundred years or so. And in our science fiction future we’ll have flying vehicles that allow us to park on the upper floors without ever touching the ground. I saw it in a movie so I know it’s true.

As Luck Would Have It

As luck would have it I ended up in New York on the hottest three days of summer. It was stifling during the day and muggy late into the evening. When it started to rain I headed down to Times Square to take some photos. Despite the crazy weather some people still showed up to see the sights. It was an amazing experience to be there in those conditions because there was so much to photograph.

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As Luck Would Have It
As Luck Would Have It – In New York City

I have an idea in my mind to capture people in crowded places. It seems I’m always traveling to places that are heavily populated. So rather than try to pretend people are not there I look for ways to make the crowds part of the composition.

I enjoy this idea because it allows me to examine things in a different light. The images are studies of crowds and crowded places. A natural inclination for landscape photography is to not include people but with urban exploration it has a different set of rules.

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Maybe I see aspects of myself in the faces of crowds. Regardless, it’s why I call these types of images studies, because from them, I have something to learn.

Path Station at the World Trade Center

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.

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Path Station at the World Trade Center
Path Station at the World Trade Center in New York City

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.

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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.

Columbus Circle at Midnight

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.

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Columbus Circle at Midnight
Columbus Circle at midnight in New York City

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.

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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.