So often when travelling we find ourselves in places where there are a lot of tourists. There’s nothing wrong with that and quite often I am one of them. However from a photography perspective it presents a challenge. For me the challenge is either how to incorporate crowds into an image or avoid them altogether. In this case I sat on a bench watching the people at One World Observatory and noticed the reflections creating this scene. I took several photos and this is my favorite.
This is also a good example of post processing. Because right out of camera the people looked more like silhouettes, you couldn’t see too much detail. I was able to bring that out in post processing, and primarily because I used a Sony camera with a great sensor. That sensor captures much more shadow detail something like an iPhone. So this is closer to what the scene actually looked like because of course our eyes are able to capture a wider range of light. I used post processing to bring the detail back from the shadows.
Getting back to the challenge of crowds, the other approach would be to avoid them altogether. To do that you need to get to places early or stay late. I don’t know about you but for me that’s easier said than done. Sometimes it can be difficult to get up and out early. I still try and sometimes I make it and I’m usually rewarded with softer light and scenes without a lot of people.
But these are just common sense tips. What makes an interesting photo is entirely in your head. With photography we can take the most common and mundane of scenes and express something transformative. That’s true for any art form, so whether you decide to include crowds or avoid them is just a technique, the thing that’s really important is what you see.
The last photo I posted was from Central Park in New York City. I’m a little amused because I just realized that this is from Central Park also; only this photo was taken in Canada. This is from a Central Park in Burnaby BC, near Vancouver.
Like it’s New York namesake, the Canadian version is in the heart of a sprawling urban setting with towering buildings and residences on all sides. However this park is densely populated with tall spruce trees. As soon as you walk a few meters, the sounds of the city are shut out by the thickness of the forest. Everything changes from one extreme to another.
On the outer paths like this, morning commuters walk to and from the train stations on their way to work. Deeper inside there is a rich diversity of flora and fauna. One thing that strikes me is the boldness of the squirrels. They’ll stand before you on the path demanding food. It seems that people feed the creatures because it shows in their behavior. A local also told me that songbirds will land on your outstretched hand near one of the ponds here.
Most people think of mountains and the ocean when you mention British Columbia. But even in the heart of its biggest urban areas are settings like this that keep city dwellers connected to nature. I suppose you could say the same thing for the New York version.
I’ve seen this guy playing the saxophone in Central Park several times before; he’s what I’d consider a permanent fixture. I stopped to take his picture and then left a few dollars in his case. When I was here about five years ago I saw another guy playing the guitar. I was at a train station in another city and someone was some guy playing a didgeridoo. No far beyond were other musicians waiting their turn.
That got me thinking about how they stake out these popular spots. I imagine it’s first come first serve. For prime locations like this in Central Park you probably show up early and once you start playing you don’t stop until you’re done, then the next guy takes over. It’s a dog eat dog world for buskers.
Recently I was walking along a street and there was a lone piano chained to a lamppost. When I walk back later a lady was playing a sonata as only an accomplished musician can do, it was stunning and several of us were stopped in our tracks listening to a recital.
Subways and tunnels are the perfect location because they concentrate people in confined spaces and you have a captive audience. Quite frankly it’s where I’ve heard some of the most talented musicians. What better way to practice than to perform in a public space? If I could play music I’d be out there too, but I take photos so I’ll just stick to what I know.