What to shoot in NYC?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by DeeJayK, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    I'm going to be visiting the northeast (US) next month over spring break with my family (kids aged 9 & 10). I'm looking for suggestions of attractions and events that might lead to interesting photo opportunities. The trip isn't primarily a photo excursion, but I'd love to come away with some frame-able images to remember the trip by.

    We'll be in Manhattan for four nights in mid-April (13-17). We're staying in Chelsea. A few of the things penciled into our (perhaps already overstuffed) agenda are: Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Park, the Top of the Rock or Empire State Building observation deck, Times Square, Grand Central Station, Central Park, the Museum of Natural History and the High Line.

    What are your favorite photo vantage points around the city to get images that capture the essence of the place? Any particularly good places to people watch? I'm also open to any restaurant suggestions you care to share -- where's the best spot to grab some slices of NY-style pizza, etc.? Any "secret" local knowledge you care to share is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    907
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    The Brooklyn Bridge is justifiably famous. But Manhattan is also connected to the rest of the world by the Manhattan, Williamsburg, 59th St., Triboro (RFK) and George Washington Bridges. The Verazano Narrows, Bronx Whitestone and Throg's Neck Bridges connect the other boroughs.

    Top of the Rock, while not as high as the ESB, let's you see the ESB.

    The Wall Street area and World Financial Center have lots of interesting views. Chinatown, the East Village and Greenwich Village are a bit funky. Chelsea itself has lots of street life.

    Have a great time.
     
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  3. FZ30

    FZ30 New to Mu-43

    6
    Jun 18, 2014
    Between Boston and New York
    Beat
    There might be quite some lanes to go over to the Statue of Liberty. If its a nice day, make sure you are really early there, otherwise you spend a lot of time waiting. I'm sure you will enjoy New York, but 4 days is not a real long time. I understand you want to have memorable pictures, but do your children and wife want to hunt for the right pictures for four days? You can take interesting pictures from almost any street corner, well, not every street corner but New York offers a lot.
    If you should not be able to make it to the Statue of Liberty, take the Staten Island Ferry from the Battery Park. It's still free.
    The 9/11 memorial is very special, and not too far from the Battery park as well.
    If you want to go on a ride with one of the open buses, deal with them. Last year we were 4 adults and 2 children and we paid for 3 adults and one child. We did the uptown tour and the down town tour. But I found the uptown tour much more interesting, and we had a good guide, that might have been the reason.
    Museum of Natural History is on the west side of Central Park. Take a stroll back through the park afterwards.
    Enjoy the big apple.
    Beat
     
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  4. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    I'm not planning on photography being my main focus. I'm mostly just trying to see if there are any "hidden gems" in the city that might be worth exploring.

    Great points around the SoL...I've got the Staten Island Ferry in my back pocket if we decide we don't want to deal with the throngs. Good tip on bargaining with the tourbus guys as well.
     
  5. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Anyone else care to share any favorite iconic NYC spots?
     
  6. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    436
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Take the subway to Brooklyn arriving for the sunset to shoot Brooklyn bridge and Manhattan, then go for a pizza (there's a place just next to Brooklyn bridge park - don't recall the name but its right in between the park and the bridge) eat your pizza and afterwards you can take another shooting session capturing the bridge and Manhattan with the nightlights. Then walk back to Manhattan crossing the bridge for a spectacular sight of Manhattan. A lot of people walk the other way from Manhattan to Brooklyn but the view going back is a lot more exiting. TOTR is also great for sunset but be there early, as it takes some time to get to the top.

    I went on a guided walk with guide the first day in NY, that takes you for a walk around Manhattan for 6 hours walking (and taking the subway) - that was a great way to get to know a bit about all the different things NY offers - you cover a lot of ground and can then mark what places you would like to revisit. (the operator was called Dozen apples and was really good).
     
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  7. Mercurio

    Mercurio Mu-43 Veteran

    253
    Jul 17, 2012
    Bogotá, Colombia
    Mauricio
    Architecture details is a must: I recommend to have a look to famous buildings such as the Chrysler, its lobby and elevators, a visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright´s Guggenheim Museum, the Grand Central Terminal, among others.
     
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  8. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    This gives a skyline shot of Manhattan and the bridge backlit by the setting sun. The cool shot is done at dawn when everything is front lit by the rising sun. The best place to get a skyline shot of Manhattan at sunset is from New Jersey.
     
  9. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    436
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Well i Think the brooklyn bridge with Manhattan and the setting Sun also is a pretty cool :) but it would great to see hat you mean with the front lit Manhattan shot so please share.
     
  10. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Just returned from my trip. I'd like to thank everyone for the terrific advice. Still working my way through my images, but here's one of lower Manhattan shot from the Staten Island Ferry:
    i-rq4H38B.
    One World Trade Center and Battery Park [E-M5 w/ Panasonic 45-175 @ 45mm f/10 processed in Silver Efex Pro 2]
     
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  11. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    436
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Great shoot - Keep em coming :)
     
  12. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    441
    Feb 1, 2010
    Philadelphia, PA
    I am just reviving this one because I had almost the same questions. Will be in Manhattan in a couple of weeks for 4 nights. Last time I was there, the WTC was a just a whole in the ground, so it's been a while. I will be there with a non-photog friend, but I negotiated some photo-dedicated time;) I have a few questions reg. equipment and sites.

    - I will have a GX7 and a GX8, for general walking-around I will probably keep the 14-140 on the GX8 and the 9-18 on the GX7. For a few specific places I will take the 7.5 Bower (thinking about entry halls, the Guggenheim architecture, and some fun pics). Since I have plenty of space in my bag, I will throw in the 42.5/1.7 and the 20/1.7 for low light/night shots, and I always carry a manual 50mm, probably the Planar 50/1.4 with a Lensturbo. Do I need the Oly 75? I love the lens, but it is a tricky length, somehow.... Of those, what would be your choice for night skyline shots from Brooklyn? I will probably also have the 100-300 with me for other parts of the trip, any use for that in the city? I hope not to carry ALL lenses ALL the time, just trying to plan ahead a bit...

    - I am also thinking about taking a monopod and/or a tripod. Does anybody know what, if any, restrictions there are for tripods, especially 1) Top of the Rock if I want to hang around there from blue hour to dark, 2) Guggenheim and MOMA?, 3) Grand Central?

    - As for places to visit, my friend has never been to NYC before, so we'll do the usual tourist program, i.e. lots of walking around mid-town, maybe Chinatown, the village; many of the 'main sites'; Guggenheim & MOMA. I have the High Line and the WTC on my list. Any other must-see places that are not too far off the beaten path?

    Thanks,

    Stefan
     
  13. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    907
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    Tripods pretty much not allowed in private spaces, e.g. Museums. They're also problematic in crowded streets and sidewalks. I've been chased by security guards where they would admittedly might have inconvenienced others, and rightly so. In public streets, there's no law prohibiting them other than common sense about the crowds. I wouldn't try it on the sidewalks in Times Square, for instance.

    Brooklyn waterfront south or north of the Brooklyn Bridge (the Promenade south, Dumbo north) both offer great Manhattan views at or after sunset and sunrise. For cityscapes, a trinity of zooms - I use the 9-18, 12-35/2.8, 35-100/2.8 - cover it. Obviously, a tripod will be useful here.

    I've never carried anything longer than a 40-150 in the city, so no comment on the 100-300.

    For Street photography, it's your choice. I've been successful with mid and long zooms, with primes, with an RX100, with a Nikon V1.

    Manhattan and nearby Brooklyn are pretty big. Plan to use the subway to get from area to area, although walking across the Brooklyn Bridge from City Hall in lower Manhattan is fun. From City Hall to Chinatown and Little Italy is a hike. Then the Village, then Chelsea and the High Line, then Midtown, ... . Before you know it, it's 10pm and you're exhausted.

    Checkout Cityscapes and the Street sections in my SmugMug gallery below.
     
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  14. deepaqua

    deepaqua Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    840
    Feb 12, 2016
    All good advice, except I would suggest walking across the Manhattan Bridge rather than the Brooklyn Bridge.
    • It's less crowded
    • There are separate paths for pedestrians and for bikers
    • It's easier to get good shots of Manhattan as the the walkway is better situated on the side of the bridge
    • There are gaps in the lower part of the iron fences, allowing one to kneel down and stick a lens through them
    • About three-quarters of the way across, there's a hole in the chain link fencing so it's easy to get that classic skyline shot (I took this pic from there this past weekend)
    Just make sure you take the walkway on the SW side of the bridge. The one on the NE side is for bicyclists.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
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  15. Bytesmiths

    Bytesmiths Mu-43 Top Veteran

    One thing you didn't bring up… NYC has some of the best photography stores in the world.

    The big discount retailers (B&H, Adorama, 17th St) all have retail centres where you can play with the more esoteric stuff that small-town photo stores can't afford to carry. But there are also numerous "hole in the wall" shops that carry lots of used gear, again, tending toward the more esoteric. I bought the legendary OM-System Zuiko 24mm ƒ3.5 shift lens for ~$600 at one of those, used it for years, and eBay'd it for over $700 a decade later.

    B&H also has a decent used section.

    Not that you need an excuse to spend money on such a trip… :)
     
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  16. Apollo T.

    Apollo T. Mu-43 Regular

    114
    Dec 27, 2016
    Northern New Jersey
    A couple of thoughts come to mind. I grew up in the city and worked there for years. I love the burbs! So I've rarely gone for several decades. A couple of fave things from years ago:
    Museum of Natural History(on your list)- undoubtedly you'll go to Dinosaur Hall. In the back there is/was a small inocuous room with a small ramp up to the entry; go in there. It's not too great; come out and turn your family around. Point out that the door way is surrounded by A set of shark jaws from a Megalodon. Your family just walked thru those jaws in a single bite!!! If possible have someone take a family shot for you. A print of that will be a great show-and-tell.
    After leaving the museum on the same block is the Hayden Planetarium. Some kids really like that- your call. Could give you and the kids a point of stargazing reference when you're home. Regardless go there to ask about:

    Manhattanhenge - Wikipedia

    The dates may not coincide with your visit they would know. If you're lucky you may be able to take a shot like the one in that wiki article. To execute I would go to the Highline latish afternoon; come down and walk several bocks eastward-away from Highline; turn around and take the shot from the middle of a crosswalk. Obviously timing is of the essence.

    Best wishes for a FAB vacation to My Home Town
     
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  17. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    441
    Feb 1, 2010
    Philadelphia, PA
    Some really great tips, thanks! I will avoid setting up my tripod in the middle of Times Square ;) We'll get a Metrocard for the time we are there, so we should be good. We booked an Airbnb on the Upper East side, just a few blocks into East Harlem, close enough to lines 4 - 6 to get us where we eed to. I remember meandering down from the Upper East Side to Battery Park and back in one day, but that was when I was half my current age and weight... From what I read, East Harlem itself may be more suitable to my work as a public health professional than for a stroll as a tourist, we'll see.

    Never thought about walking the Manhattan bridge, have to look into that. Is there a way to walk the Manhattan Bridge toward Brooklyn and back on the Brooklyn Bridge?

    I also looked at some of the city passes which combine the tickets for a variety of things. They all seem to have pros and cons, but some get you into the express lanes for some of the sights, that may make them worth it. Not sure if we will make it into the Natural History Museum this time - no kids, just a friend and I. But it's on the list for a rainy day.

    Finally, I was planning on going into B&H, but I will probably ask my friend to stay outside and hold on to my CC :) Same is true for Zabar's and other kitchen stores as well as Korin, a Japanese knife store...

    Stefan
     
  18. deepaqua

    deepaqua Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    840
    Feb 12, 2016
    Sure, but if you're going to cross the river you'll want to spend some time in Brooklyn Bridge Park which covers the footings of both bridges plus a number of piers to the southwest. To get back to Manhattan, follow Old Fulton Street to Cadman Plaza and then look for the Brooklyn Bridge entrance at the corner of Tillary Street and Boerum Place.
     
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  19. lchien

    lchien Mu-43 Veteran

    213
    Aug 7, 2014
    Texas
    For a outstanding photographic view of the bridges and the buildings that most people don't get, perhaps the Circle Line boat tour would do you well. Besides the simple fun and excitement of being on the water in a big city. I can't say I've photographed from it but boat tours are usually a good bet. And it covers a lot of ground - but you don't have to lug the camera bag more than from one side to the other of the boat. Look for shots from the water looking down the canyon like streets- NYC is very squarely laid out. Finally, you might spy some angle on the ground that if you get to it you can get that once in a life time shot. Another hint is time of day. I'm not sure of the times but sunset hour late afternoon can be great cityscape shots. And of course Times Sq for people shots. And the view from the Empire State Building. It's still in wonderful shape with all its 1920's Art Deco charm (Hint: go early like 9AM, unless of course you want to get the setting sun). I'll leave you with one or two fun ESB shots from 2015: PA281893.JPG
    PA281891.JPG
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
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  20. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    907
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    If you look at a map, you'll see that the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges are relatively close on the Brooklyn side. In fact, the area between them is "DUMBO" - Down Under the Manhattan and BrOoklyn bridges. The Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge is near Chinatown, while the Brooklyn Bridge is near City Hall and just north of the Wall Street district, with Trinity Church, Battery Park, the World Financial Center and World Trade Tower, etc. So it's a viable plan to walk both.
     
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