The Big Picture—NYC Pt 2

By Mark

In my view capturing the nature of a city is a photographic challenge. One can approach it on the micro level, recording the myriad of small details and allowing the viewer to put the pieces together.  For much of my photography that is what I prefer.  There is something though about the New York City skyline that demands a different treatment. The Big Apple has an iconic profile which really lends itself to big panoramas.  When you combine the capabilities of the D800’s sensor resolution and the richness of the city, it opens up an amazing window into other people’s windows. 

We have covered how easy it is to create panos with Lightroom and Photoshop on several occasions.  One useful trick when shooting the images is to include your own hand at both the beginning and the ending of a sequence.  This and LR’s stacking feature helps identify which images are supposed to go together.  After you have grouped a sequence into a stack, you can then discard the hand shots.  

Talk to the Hand

Talk to the Hand

Editing the images for a pano is still required.  You want a consistent exposure, tone and sharpening across all the images.  Pick the most representative image, make your adjustments in the develop module and then synchronize those changes across the other pictures. 

There are some great locations around NYC from which to take these kinds of shots.  As an unexpected bonus, our suite at The Frenchman’s Quarter Guest Apartments included a 5th story balcony.  Since we were only a block from the theater district and surrounded by skyscrapers, it provides a good contrast between the old and the new.  

Shooting with a camera that produces 50Mb files means that the file sizes for these images can get a bit large.  

1.21 Gigawatts??? No, but 2.45 GB is still pretty large

1.21 Gigawatts??? No, but 2.45 GB is still pretty large

Once the image has rendered I just use the Ctrl-Alt-Shift-e combination which creates a merged version of all the layers.  I then just delete the layers from the file which saves a lot of space.  I then save it.  You might have to close Photoshop and restart it in order to clear out your working cache space.  

Cityscapes need a little distance to provide some perspective.  You can go out or you can go up.  I did both.   Starting with the view of the lower East Side from the Brooklyn Bridge (no, I didn't buy it) in the early morning.  hours I shot this 11 shot composite.  

Lower West Side from the Brooklyn Bridge

Lower West Side from the Brooklyn Bridge

.  Later that morning we all went to the top of the Empire State building.  The last time I was there was on my honeymoon and although it was a wonderful trip, the weather was a little overcast.  This time the weather was perfect.  These two views look uptown and downtown.

Uptown from the ES

Uptown from the ES

Looking Downtown

Looking Downtown

I talked about the level of detail you get with the D800.  This little snippet is from about 2/3 of the way back in the Downtown image. 

Finally we visited the old Bedloe’s island, where a certain lady hangs out and was able to catch the dynamic waterfront of the lower West Side and Battery Park.

Next week we will look at photographing really familiar places in new ways. 

Looking back at the Lower East Side

Looking back at the Lower East Side