Rodney Campbell's Blog

New York – Manhattan Skyline…

by on Apr.27, 2014, under Life, Photography

I’d seen a couple images of this location online with the Manhattan skyline at sunset with these fantastic poles out in the water providing this perfect foreground interest leading out to the city skyline. Ever since I knew I was heading to New York I knew I’d have to shoot here and capture it for myself

Poles Apart

Poles Apart

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 170 sec at f/9, ISO 200

I’d seen a couple quick guides to shooting here but the most helpful was a post by Matt Kloskowski because it told me exactly which subway to catch and which station to get off at to get here 🙂

As I was staying in upper Manhattan I caught the MTA green line (4/5/6) train down to Fulton St station and changed to the blue line (A/C) train and headed under the East River to Brooklyn and got out at the High St station. It was then just a short walk down to Brooklyn Bridge Park and along the Promenade to the southern end where the poles were

There were already a number of photographers out with their tripods when I arrived but there was plenty of space and surprisingly most of them left just after sunset and didn’t hang around for it to get really good during twilight

I had a couple things I wanted for my visit here

– first the best time to shoot here coincides with sunset and more so twilight afterwards (so we can get colour in the sky as well as having the lights of the building on display)
– secondly I wanted it to be near high tide – I’d seen a number of shots where the poles were very exposed (low tide) and I much preferred the look when just the tips were sticking out of the water – for me this meant I had to visit this location early in my stay in NYC – the tides were just getting lower at sunset as the days went on
– thirdly I wanted lights on in the city buildings so I had an interesting cityscape rather than just silhouetted buildings – actually this was my biggest concern since I was down here on a Sunday evening and I figured a weekday with office workers working late would have been a better time for this – as it turned out I needn’t have been concerned
– I wanted a long exposure look to the water with it smoothed out and glassy – this would be easy after sunset but before sunset I’d be using ND filters to lengthen the exposures
– some epic colour at sunset wouldn’t go astray – couldn’t really predict that but the cloud cover when I headed out from our apartment at least looked viable

Based on some previous location images I’d seen I’d essentially pre-visualised the particular spots I wanted to shoot here so once I’d arrived just before sunset I quickly setup and set to work

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

Heading into sunset we started getting some nice rich colour in the sky with reds and pinks rippling through the whispy clouds. As you can see there’s no lights on in the buildings as yet

This one a Lee BigStopper (10 stop ND) blue around 7:15PM and almost 20 minutes before sunset

Manhattan Blue

Manhattan Blue

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 23 mm, 257 sec at f/9, ISO 200

I wasn’t expecting to be able to get the nice sunset sky and the building lights in a single frame so I’d taken a number of frames at various exposure times with the same composition for over half an hour (7:45PM to 8:20PM) with the idea that I could blend two exposures (one for the great sunset sky and water and one for the buildings lit up at night). In the end I havn’t bothered and have just processed some of the individual frames

The image at the top “Poles Apart” was the last frame of this sequence (8:23PM) (about 50 minutes after sunset) and the image below was taken right after sunset (7:40PM). The colour in the sky was shaping up very nicely – this one just using a CPL and a grad to hold down the sky and we’ve now started getting lights on in the office buildings

Manhattan Sunset

Manhattan Sunset

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 21 mm, 63 sec at f/16, ISO 50

and then strangely most of the other photographers left before the real show started. I was probably only going to ever get to shoot here this once so I was going to make the most of it and stayed till the bitter end of twilight and didn’t leave till after 9PM

Whisps over Manhattan

Whisps over Manhattan

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 62.00 sec at f/11, ISO 100

About thirty minutes after sunset and I’m still using a grad to hold down the sky (and the building lights now)

Manhattan Poles

Manhattan Poles

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 62.00 sec at f/9, ISO 100

It was now getting pretty dark so I decided to try a couple more compositions before I left – I moved over to the left to shoot straight down this twin line of poles

End of the Line

End of the Line

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 22 mm, 247.00 sec at f/9, ISO 200

and then over towards the far right with the taller poles sticking out of the water and a tighter view of the Manhattan skyline

Standing Tall

Standing Tall

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 26 mm, 309.00 sec at f/10, ISO 200

All in all I was very happy with the result of my evenings outing – it’s a fantastic location and I felt confident I’d come away with some good shots

I was wondering how safe it was going to be wandering the streets and subway system of New York alone late at night – it was almost 10AM before I caught the subway back, but there were still people everywhere – Brooklyn Bridge Park was still a hive of activity and the trains whilst not packed were still reasonably full even at this late hour on a Sunday night

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