When I have the time, I go out late at night and take pictures of places in big cities. This is Columbus Circle at midnight, also known as central park south in Manhattan. It was late and I had just finished touring the park on a bike and taking all kinds of cool photos. Once you’re in the zone you don’t want to stop and time is the last thing on your mind.
While I was taking these, a gentleman came up and asked about what I was doing. He was visiting from DC and we stuck up a conversation. He suggested that I needed to go to the nation’s capital to take pictures of all the monuments. That’s on my list now.
For me I like going to places where I can go out walking with my camera and tripod late into the night. I’m drawn by architecture, leading lines and light. That’s essentially what this photo is all about. It’s doesn’t have to be anything in particular, just something that combines those elements.
European cities are great for this type of photography. And in general, Europeans stay out late into the evening so what seems late by American standards is quite normal there. Anyway, it’s all about having the time. And once I make the time then I get in the zone and suddenly, time is not an issue, if you know what I mean.
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.