While out exploring for photo opportunities recently, I found myself on Coronado Island at sunset. I had been down by the border and was hoping to get something there but to no avail, so I wasn’t quite ready to go home empty handed. Walking along the boardwalk, I tried a number of different compositions, mostly toward the Coronado Bridge with the beautiful evening light. I’ve tried shooting that bridge now a number of times and can’t seem to get something I really like of it…even with the sweet light of this eve. C’est la vie!
Although the light was most dramatic over the bridge, I decided to head around and look for a unique vantage on the cityscape. A couple hundred yards down the path, I came to this large puddle, leftovers from the recent rains, and without thinking, immediately laid out flat on the pavement to get this perspective. The camera had to be very low, just a few inches off the ground, so I couldn’t use a tripod. A beanbag would have been helpful, but I didn’t have that and it was too cold to take off my sweater and use that! So, I adjusted my settings to 1/25 at f/4 using a 400 iso. Using my elbows propped to the ground and holding my breath, with the help of the lens’ image stabilization, I was able to achieve a sharp image.
I like the feel of this image. The city in the background, the symmetry of the lampposts, it all seems to create a futuristic feel. The figure in the image completes the scene and adds some needed life. When you take out the figure, the scene feels too sterile.
My first visit to the Big Apple was a quick 19 hours, though I didn’t let that stop me from getting some shots. The first stop was under the Brooklyn Bridge for the late afternoon and sunset light. Unfortunately, I got off two frames before being escorted off the “State Park” premises. Apparently, I didn’t look like the typical tourist taking snapshots with a tripod, Lowepro pack full of gear, and a digi SLR and Horseman 617(!!) hanging from my person. When the Ranger asked me the purpose of my shooting, I figured “Art” would be a safe reply. I was wrong. Without the proper permits, nothing more than cheesy snapshots. Wow, these New Yorkers are hardcore!
I was on “Top of the Rock” at 10pm and again at 8am. The morning was much better. Again, difficult to shoot (especially at night!) since tripods are not allowed. Also, it took me awhile to figure out to get to the very top to have views that are not through the protective-glass. For the morning shot, I was there first thing and used a bean bag to help with the camera. That method worked alright, but I would have liked a mini-tripod or gorillapod (which I haven’t yet used, but will look to add one to the camera bag after this trip.)
I stayed at the Renaissance Hotel at Times Square, which was convenient for getting to “the Rock” and walking around shooting. I did do a number of long exposures and had no trouble using the tripod around town, though I was a bit paranoid that I’d get arrested or something! Next visit, I’ll probably look to get the required permit and save the stress.
All in all, I’d call my 19 hours in New York a shooting success. The above images were some of my favorite from the digi and I still have a number of film images that I like. A project that I had been brainstorming for a couple of years about a collection of New York images is even more clear in my mind now and I can’t wait to get back and spend a good amount of time manifesting it sometime in the future. The trip also acted as a useful lesson that not all successful images necessarily come from endless hours/days/weeks of pursuit, but more from the internal spark of inspiration and passion. New York definitely lit me up.