New York Weekend
I’ve been wanting to photograph the New York skyline for years, though have never previously found the time to do it. On a whim, I asked my wife if she wanted to spend a weekend there playing tourist – happily, she said yes.
Rather than stay in the city proper, we chose the Hyatt in Jersey City that sits on a pier and overlooks lower Manhattan. Four blocks from the hotel is the ferry that runs you over to Brookfield Place near the World Trade Center, or up to 39th street, Midtown. We could park the car for the weekend and forget about it.
Arriving about noon on Friday, we were greeted by gloomy skies and drizzle, not exactly what I had hoped for weather wise. It actually turned out to be a blessing because we saw the skyline in various states of weather from inclement to clear blue skies. After checking in, we hopped the ferry to Brookfield to visit the 911 Memorial and grab lunch.
There were still a lot of people around despite the chilly temperatures and light rain. Well, that’s just New York, always crowded. Seeing the 911 Memorial was certainly a somber event. Growing up on Long Island, my parents had a place at Gilgo Beach – a small residential section of Jones Beach – and we could see the Twin Towers from the back deck. The overcast weather was fitting for such a visit.
Spending a weekend in NYC when you haven’t been there in years is both challenging and overwhelming. So much to see, so little time. We had made lists of things we were interested in, and though we did really too much for the time we were there, we hardly scratched the surface of what there is to see and do. Also, being “foodies”, we wanted some good grub. Quick tip, ask a cop where the local eat 🙂 On officer pointed us to a cantina that we would not have found otherwise.
After fortifications, we walked through the Fulton Center and then the Oculus. While I of course wanted to do some photography, the real purpose of the trip was to have fun with the wife, so I brought a small amount of gear and limited the time I spent shooting things to the minimum. Not knowing what would work best, I brought one full frame body with the 24-105 and a wide zoom 16-35. That wound up covering most of what I wanted, thought I felt the need to swap lenses often; if I had a 16-105 or a bit longer, that would have been perfect.
Getting cold and wet, we decided to head back to the hotel by late afternoon and get rested for Saturday. Before heading down, I had ordered a Lenskirt, basically it’s a piece of fabric that suction cups to a window, then covers your lens so you don’t get reflections in the glass from the room. It worked quite well – I stayed up late shooting the skyline while honey went to bed. The hotel had thick double paned glass, there was still some reflection in that that showed up in images and had to be taken care of in post.
Saturday was one long day. The first ferry left at 10A so we lounged in the room while the overcast weather burnt off, offering us a glorious blue sky day. And what a whirlwind day it was – we walked Battery Park to the Brooklyn Bridge and half way over – then up through Chinatown and Little Italy. Caught the subway uptown and wandered through Time Square, Hell’s Kitchen on the way to the Top of the Rock for sunset. A couple hours aloft watching the lights of the city come on – jockeying for an unobstructed position at the railing. But what a magnificent view! It’s a must do bucket list thing.
Departing Rockefeller Center, we walked into a couple of subway entrances until we found the right line that would take up back downtown. Grabbed a couple slices of excellent NY pizza in Tribeca on the way back to the ferry, catching the next to last boat back to Jersey. We walked a total of 13.6 miles. I was limping for the last hour or so, old and out of shape!
Back in the hotel room, I shot some more night skylines before turning in. I got up before dawn and shot some blue hour skylines as well. It’s still hard to chose which ones I like best, I was just mesmerized by the lights of the skyline.
Sunday, we were too exhausted to head back into the city, so after checking out, we did a quick exploration of Liberty State Park. It’s not the best view of Lady Liberty, you are looking at her backside. There a decent view of the city with Ellis Island in the foreground, but it’s fairly far away. I only had the 24-105 with me, should have brought the 70-200 that was back in the car, but my feet still hurt from the overexertion of the day before. I snapped a couple of vertical panos and called it a day, we still had a long drive back north.
Despite not being a dedicate photography trip, I still had many images to go through. There were enough good ones to post on social media for almost two weeks. I never really looked at the pano images from Liberty State Park, didn’t think they were anything exciting – it was nearly noon when I took them. Finally I did process them, again, nothing special. But I did think of the intro to the TV series “Blue Bloods” where they mirror the skyline of Midtown during the opening sequence. I thought I’d try that with my pano. Not being much of a Photoshop guru, I had to look for some tutorials on how to do it…after watching a couple and several attempts, I came up with my favorite image of the weekend. You just never know.