Last year, I took an on-line class from world renowned photographer and instructor, Scott Kelby called Travel Photography: A Photographer's Guide to New York City. In the class, Scott identifies a number of different New York locations that are not necessarily the 'touristy' spots. For those locations that might be 'touristy', he identified unique ways to shoot them that set them apart from run-of-the-mill shots that you'd see.
So after taking the class, I did a one-day photo trip and photographed a couple of the places that Scott identified. Then I did another trip and then another.
At some point, I gave myself a goal of photographing all 18 locations that were taught in the class. While Scott did all 18 in one day, it took me 9 trips spread over eight months. According to my Fitbit app, I walked over 158,000 steps which equates to 65 miles! Some of the locations, I visited multiple times, others just once. I estimate I took over 3,500 photos.
So here's my view of the greatest city in the world...
St. Patrick's Cathedral & The Atlas Statue
I've captured two iconic locations in this photograph. The Atlas Statue, which is part of Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral which is across 5th Avenue. By getting down real low, I was able to capture both icons in a single image.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The exterior of St. John the Divine
While I had heard of this Cathedral before going, I had no idea where it is or anything about it. In the class, I learned it is the 4th largest cathedral in the world. It is enormous!! It's located on Amsterdam Avenue & 110th Street near Columbia University. The admission is $10.00 and it is very photographer friendly. They even permit tripods which few locations do anymore.
The Morgan Library & Museum
One of the Reading Rooms in The Morgan Library
This is another spot that I had never heard of. This was the personal library of financier J.P. Morgan. It is located at Madison Avenue & 36th Street. The library contains several rooms which are open to the public
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park and the surrounding neighborhood called DUMBO was probably my favorite location to shoot. The park extends along the Brooklyn Side of the East River with the Brooklyn Bridge bisecting the park. The views across the East River of the Manhattan skyline are amazing and the Brooklyn Bridge is right in the middle. At one time, the neighborhood was primarily old brick warehouses that have been redeveloped into lots of little shops, galleries and cafes. You could truly spend an entire day in the park and neighborhood.
I call this photo 'The Sticks'
This has become a very popular spot for photographers. It's at the south end of the park. This photo was shot right after sunset. The pilings are part of an old marina. I recently learned that the subway runs under the gap in the pilings that you see in the center of the photo.
This has become a 'must shoot' spot for anyone wanting to photograph iconic NYC spots.
Immediately adjacent to Brooklyn Bridge Park is this spot for the perfect shot of the Manhattan Bridge. It has become an extremely popular spot to photograph. The day I took this shot, there had to have been over 100 photographers all jockeying for position. I waited for over half an hour waiting for everyone to clear out before I got my shot.
This is in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn at the intersection of Washington & Front Streets. It was 5 minute walk from the subway station.
Shot from a section of Brooklyn Bridge Park called Pebble Beach
The Oculus is the Transportation Hub at the World Trade Center. It replaced the old subway and PATH stations that were destroyed in 9-11. This is another amazing photography location and one where you could spend an entire day photographing. It is part of the World Trade Center Complex. The 9-11 Memorial & Freedom Tower are immediately adjacent.
The Fulton Center
Hard to believe this is a Subway Station
The Fulton Center is actually a subway station that's maybe a 3 minute walk from The Oculus. In taking this photo, I was pointing my camera straight up at the ceiling.
Top of the Rock
Sunset overlooking The Empire State Building and lower Manhattan
A view to the southwest of the Times Square Buildings, Hudson Yards and New Jersey in the distance
The Top of the Rock is the observatory at the top of Rockefeller Center. Though the observatory at The Empire State Building may be more popular, without a doubt, the Top of the Rock provides the best view of the ESB in the entire city.
I had originally planned to do this shoot in early January. When I went to the entrance, the guard told me that the fog was obscuring the visibility and suggested returning another day.
So I returned this past week on what was a beautiful day. I got up there about an hour before sunset and there had to have been at least 500 people already lined up against the railing waiting for the sun to set. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze in and found a spot to place my platypod.
This was my setup to get the sunset photo above.
Grand Central Terminal
The Main Waiting Room at Grand Central Terminal
Outside of Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal is another iconic New York location. The architecture is magnificent with something to photograph no matter where you look.
Downstairs at GCT is a great food court as well as one of my favorite restaurant in the city, 'The Grand Central Oyster Bar'. If you go, make sure you sit at the counter for the full experience.
Pershing Square Central Cafe
In addition to being a great photo spot, the food there is fantastic
This Pershing Square Central Cafe is directly across the street from Grand Central Terminal and literally sits under the Park Avenue overpass. The bright right and neon lights make for a great photo. It's a great spot for people watching as everyone is rushing in and out of the train station.
Tudor City Overpass
I used my platypod, which I rested on a railing to capture this long exposure
About a 7 minute walk from Grand Central Terminal is The Tudor City overpass. Looking to west, you have The Chrysler Building in the foreground and a clear view all the way up 42nd Street. If you turn around and look to the east you have a wonderful view of the United Nations and the east side of the city.
The lights and reflections of Times Square
One of the most photographed locations in the entire city. For me, the best time to photograph Times Square is in the evening after a rain storm. The puddles and rain drops create some amazing reflections!!
New York Public Library
Located on 5th Avenue & 42nd Street is The iconic New York Public Library. It feels like you're are walking through a museum. The first time I went, I took the free tour which allowed me to visit many of the historic spots in The Library. This photograph is of The Reading Room. I was actually surprised that they permitted photography in just about all spots in the library.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
An original work of Washington Crossing the Delaware
I'm certainly no art connoisseur but I absolutely loved my trip to The Met. It is enormous, covering five city blocks. It's located on 5th Avenue and 84th Street on the Upper East Side. It's also directly adjacent to Central Park.
I was completely blown away but what I saw. They had works of art from every culture and genre you could imagine. I saw Da Vinci originals and a collection of what had to have been 12 or more Rembrandts.
I actually didn't do a lot of photography there. I was more fixated on just taking in everything I saw. This one painting caught my eye. The photo doesn't do it justice but it has to be at least 10' high and 20' wide. The painting is 150 years old and looks like it was completed yesterday!
Manhattan Skyline from New Jersey
In the class that I took, Scott Kelby included his skyline shot from Hamilton Park in Weehawken, NJ. Being a New Jersey resident, I felt that there were better spots to shoot the skyline shot.
Photographing the 9-11 Tribute in Light has been one of my 'bucket list' photos for some time and finally got the opportunity to photograph it this year. This photo was taken from Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
It is a very moving memorial to see with your eyes and I was fortunate to be able to see it and capture this image.
One of the most popular New York locations and arguably the most photographed is Rockefeller Center. It's one of those spots that is very difficult to capture a unique image.
I took this photo in the late afternoon and was able to capture the beautiful 'golden light' and some of the reflections in the windows.
A Few More...
While none of these photo locations were included in the class, I thought I'd throw in a couple more locations that I encountered along my way.
The Flatiron Building
At 20 stories, The Flatiron Building is considered to be one of the very first skyscrapers to be built in the city. It has been been beautifully maintained and is truly an architectural marvel.
The West Side Rail Yards
The West Side Rail Yards act as the staging area for Long Island Railroad trains going in and out of Penn Station. It is just south of the Javits Convention Center. In the background is the brand new Hudson Yards project. Unfortunately, in a future phase of the Hudson Yards project, the rail yard is to be covered.
The Bethesda Arches
There are many beautiful photography locations in Central Park but perhaps none more spectacular than The Bethesda Arches. It was originally built in 1859. The walls and ceilings are constructed completely of tiles creating the beautiful mosaics.
One of many amazing arches in Central Park
28th Street Subway Station
This is one of several flower mosaics that have been installed at the recently renovated 28th Street subway station on the #6 line
Views from the Highline
The Highline is a city park that runs for a mile and a half on the cities west side between 12th St. & 34th St. This neighborhood is referred to as the Meat Packing District. It is built upon a former elevated rail line and offers great views of the city along its entire length.
New York's newest landmark
The Vessel is part of the new Hudson Yard project on New York's west side. It has quickly become one of the cities most popular attractions.
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall - Home of the world famous Rockettes
These fountains across the street from Radio City provide a unique foreground element to incorporate into the photo.
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III. My 'go to' lens for city photography is a Canon 16-35 L lens. I also use a Tamron 28-300 and Canon 70-200 L lens.
Editing, is done in Adobe Lightroom Photoshop.
I'll add a Neutral Density filter when shooting long exposures. Since there are so many places that will not permit the use of the use of a tripod, I always have my platypod with me.