After making the long walk from Times Square to the far side of the Brooklyn Bridge I arrived here. This shot is taken shortly after the sun had set, in the blue hour. If you look closely you can see the Empire State Building lit up on the horizon.
Washington Square Park does not list amongst the usual tourist attractions of New York City, but it’s well worth a visit – at least in summer. There’s just so much going on there. Entering from the shady Northwest corner I was met by a three-piece jazz band. Moving on it seemed like there was a new band jamming away every twenty feet. Upon arriving in the middle, the fountain became the center of attention. A portly gentleman was stood in the middle getting soaked while people sat around the edges watching.
Then, to the left I saw what I thought was an amazing chalk drawing. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was a sand painting, a really big sand painting. This was the work of Joe Mangrum. He’s created a huge number of sand paintings in New York. You can see more of his work here.
Behind him, under the arch, a street performer was doing something I’ve never seen a street performer do. He was sitting on a bucket and playing a baby grand piano. I have no idea how he got the piano there and wonder if it stays there overnight or if he has to take it home every day.
***Edit: Joe just e-mailed me and directed me to this video, I now know how the piano gets there***
Finding a taxi in New York when you really, really need one can be pretty difficult. I stumbled onto a street where you’ve got a pretty good chance of finding one. But, it won’t be much use to you. The whole street was lined by these really deep, but very narrow, garages, all of them working on yellow cabs.
I wound up here as a result of my hotel selection. My decision to go to New York for the weekend was pretty last-minute and happened to fall on Labor Day weekend. The city was full, and hotels were expensive. Then, I discovered that a Yotel was opening in New York, just off Times Square, and was offering special low rates.
If you’ve never heard of a Yotel it’s the brain child of the owner of the YO! sushi chain. The idea for the hotel is based on Virgin Airlines first class cabins. They provide small hotel rooms, with all the amenities of their more luxurious counterparts at a much lower price. It was actually pretty cool, once I got through check-in. The room is definitely small, but mine was on a corner with floor to ceiling windows and feels plenty spacious – at least for one person.
Check-in is automated, presumably inspired by airports and the desire to reduce the cost. Also, a pretty cool idea. I’m sure it’s very efficient if you check in when the rooms are ready. Unfortunately, I arrived at 10am. My first attempt to check in didn’t work. I can’t remember what it said but it was nothing along the lines of, “your room is not ready yet.”
It felt more like your reservation didn’t exist.
So, I waited in the line of people trying to speak to the one staff member available. Once I got my turn, we went back to the machine and did exactly what I’d just done to get up the exact message I had just reported to him. I was then informed that my room is probably not ready yet and he offered to help me hand my bag to the robot arm that stacks them away in storage for you. I asked when my room would be ready and was told about 2 hours. So, I went exploring.
I came across this street of mechanics, totally accidentally, and immediately decided I wanted a photo of his place. I then paced back and forth a few times trying to work up the nerve to ask permission to take the photo. Finally, I caught someone’s eye and asked. He looked at me like I was insane and then the manager came up. He also looked at me like a lunatic but said yeah go ahead. So I strolled in and started firing away. Unfortunately, I’d left my tripod in my bag. As a result I had to sacrifice a bit of depth of field for a faster shutter speed.
I didn’t notice at the time, but the sign to the left actually said that customers had to wait outside because their insurance did not allow anyone to enter! Apparently, if you’re not a customer, this rule is relaxed.
I continued wandering and returned 2 hours later. The exact same thing happened and I was informed that my room would probably be ready after 3:00.
I was tired of walking by this point so I went to a movie. It was a bloody weird movie too, wish I could remember what it was called. Or, what it was about for that matter.
On my third attempt to check-in all went as smoothly as it should and things improved from there. That being said, I can’t see myself staying in another Yotel in the near future. It’s probably worth it for an interesting experience, but it’s still actually quite expensive for what you get, even at the discounted rates.
Central Park, New York City. This is one of my first attempts at HDR photography. Shooting so long after the sun had gone down was certainly optimistic. I’ve tried to process this photo over and over again and I’m finally at the point where I think it’s good enough to publish. Once getting involved in HDR you set off on a pretty steep learning curve and don’t even realize it. If a photo is causing problem it’s worth leaving it to sit, the next time you come back to it you may have a better idea of how to approach it.
This is the trip where I really got to test out my new Canon 5d Mk II and L-series lenses. I walked across Brooklyn Bridge and actually got my timing completely wrong. The sun had set by the time I got there. I set up for a night shot of the skyline, and then the sunset provided an encore, spreading pink light across the sky.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was initially annoyed to have cranes ruining my skyline shot. This was taken a week before the marking of the tenth year after 9/11. I processed this while watching a documentary on the progress of the World Trade Center’s new tower. Suddenly, I realized that is the building with the cranes in my photo. I understand that when this photo was taken it was at about half of the height it will reach.
Another shot portraying the hustle and bustle in Time’s Square, New York. It’s very easy to spend hours here, every few steps presents a desirable angle. This is a combination of 7 exposures processed with Photomatix, Photoshop CS5 and Topaz Adjust. I used the de-ghosting tool in Photomatix to select this group of people and to select the streaks for the headlights.
Another shot from Times Square. My mom is from New York and as a result I’m pretty sure that’s where the bulk of my audience is coming from. So, I’ll try to sprinkle my New York shots around liberally for the time being.
I was heading right through the middle of Times Square a few hours before sunset as I meandered towards Central Park. I came to this corner and decided I liked the lines created by all the poles. I’ve also always liked that Bubba Gump Shrimp sign and couldn’t tell you why – I’ve never even been in the place. Looking at the scene, I thought it would be cool to catch the guy snoozing on his chair, and the vendor leaning on his stand, against the backdrop of the hustle and bustle of Times Square. I stood there for a very long time, waiting for the space in front of them to clear enough. Then, this third guy came and lent against the pole to the right. This motivated me to recompose the shot. I began waiting again. At this point everyone’s attention turned to Broadway and I could hear why. What must have been hundreds of bikers came flying through. It was a trail of bikers that lasted a good few minutes. Some doing tricks as they came through the mass of people. It was shortly after this moment I was able to get the clearest shots of the scene. Even so, I’m not sure how many pictures I had to blend together to hide the random foot, hand or arse captured by the camera.
I used to get uncomfortable setting up my tripod in busy areas, which was pretty detrimental to the results. I’ve decided that the best cure for this in the whole wide world has to be setting up in Times Square. It doesn’t get more crowded than here and setting up here is actually a pleasant experience. The majority of people pay you no mind and you feel like you’re stood there in your own bubble as the rest of the world rushes around you. I reckon that even if you don’t have a tripod it’d be worth finding somewhere to just stand still. It seems like very few people do that in Times Square. On top of this, the few people who did pay me any mind all seemed to have cameras in hand and approached to ask questions about which lens I’m using, or why I’m shooting so many exposures. That’s enjoyable too, and makes me feel far more experienced than I am. I’m sure there are other places in the world that could offer up the same phobia breaking experience if you’re having a similar problem. Feel free to suggest some in the comments by clicking below. My goal tonight is to figure out how to make this button more obvious.
As it’s New Years Eve it make sense for today’s picture to be at the scene for one of the biggest New Years Eve parties in the world. I took this shot in summer, early in the morning. I’d been in Times Square the night before when it was full of people. It was weird being there when it was just me and the street sweepers. It was nice getting to take my time to set up for this shot without being jostled by the bustling crowd though.
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So, this is my first post. I didn’t plan on making my first post on Christmas day, but I’ve actually got time to go for it and I’ve decided to take it. As it’s Christmas I’ve decided that rather than uploading the photo I planned on posting (which you’ll see tomorrow) I should go with a Christmas theme. So, here you are, the angels and the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York.
I took this picture at 5:30 in the morning. It was freezing and while trying to decide the ideal spot to frame this photo a very friendly security guard came over and asked what my camera cost. This seems to be a regular question when out photographing and I’m not sure why. The cost of my gear feels quite personal, like asking a lady her age. Following the question he suggested that I use the barriers behind me as a tripod. I thought this was an odd suggestion as I had my tripod visibly strapped to my backpack. I informed him that I had a real tripod and he informed me that I was not allowed to use it. The reason he gave me was that, once upon a time, a child tripped over a photographer’s tripod and the parents sued.
At this point I decided to highlight the fact that he and I were the only people there, and I’d warn him if he was on the verge of tripping, but it didn’t make a difference. So, I used the barriers as he’d suggested. I also used my tripod, but not in the normal methodology. The barriers were too low to get the Christmas tree in so I placed my bag on them for a higher base. The tripod strapped to the outside worked to support my lens. This still wasn’t quite right so the final stacking of equipment included my blackberry and a lens cap to raise the back of the camera. At this point I was thinking if anyone were to run past and grab anything this security guard had better be on his toes. In the end, I’m very happy with the results, tripod or no.
The website is pretty shoddy at the moment but it’s a work in progress. Hopefully it will be polished by 2012.