Monday, January 30, 2012


We spent last weekend in New York City with our friends, the Petersons.  This is the first of a number of entries that I plan to post to my blog of the photos I took on the trip.

Coming from the humble city of Milwaukee, I found myself photographing the multitude of skyscrapers that grace New York's skyline.  There is a great diversity of architectural styles to choose from and one of my goals was to capture that diversity, in some cases in a single shot.  Here is one of those.

I particularly liked this shot because in included four modern buildings with quite different architectural styles but also included a much older church steeple in the foreground.  It also provides a sense of the density of the buildings.

Here is another shot showing some diversity of architectural style, including a building under construction.

Photographing skyscrapers presents certain challenges.  One of these is the problem of perspective.  This is particularly the case when the camera is pointed up.  All of the buildings appear to be leaning toward the center of the shot, as in the following B&W shot.

There is a hint of chaos in such shots.  Even though the distortion in this shot is quite severe, I like the sense of elevation that it conveys.  I chose to turn this into a B&W because the taller building in the background appeared a bit faded due to the foggy atmosphere.

Here is another shot that I turned into a B&W.

These buildings are near the site of the 9/11 Memorial.  I especially liked that the two buildings project a very geometric pattern that is accentuated by conversion to B&W.  There was no way to exclude the large crane in the left foreground, so I decided that I liked it.  I didn't mind that the top of the building on the left is cut off, since I was focusing on the geometric patterns.  I also felt that if I had shown some sky above the buildings, the image would have appeared out of balance.

Perspective distortion is reduced to the extent that the camera is perpendicular to the line of the buildings--that is, horizontal--as in the following shot.

There is still some distortion, as evidenced by the fact that, while the building on the left is lined up with the left margin of the image, the lines of the building on the right lean slightly inward.  This shot caught my eye as an abstract, particularly the apparent randomness of the contrasting colors of light and shadow on the building on the left.

I also found myself taking shots of fire escape stairs, as in the following few shots of a building across from our hotel.

I liked the above shot because of the shadows cast by the stairs in the early morning light.  Converting this shot to a B&W helps to accentuate the patterns of the shadows.  It also projects a sense that the shot was taken a log time ago.

Below is another image of fire escapes shot pretty much straight on (from our seventh floor hotel room), to eliminate perspective distortion.

Here is another shot of the building (and stairs) taken from ground level.

I particularly like this shot because of the contrast of color between the red of the bricks and the blue of the sky reflected in the building's windows.

I took the shot below fairly early on Sunday morning.  What initially caught my eye was the way that the sunlight streaming from the east was reflecting off the buildings.  I saw the family in the center of the shot that appear to be leaving a hotel and liked the candor that they presented in the shot.

I think three factors helped to make this an interesting photo.  First was the family captured in an unstaged moment.  Second was the fact that I was able to stand in the middle of the street to provide symmetry to the overall image.  And third, and probably most important, was the early morning light.

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