Behind The Shot: Looking Over Manhattan

This past Saturday night I was in the middle of my first trip to New York City. During the long weekend, there was a lot to see and do around the city. One thing was at the top of the list; visiting the observation decks on top of the Rockefeller Center at night.



Preparing for this trip, I knew that I wanted to get some great photos. Looking through a few websites that offer tickets to different attractions, the Rockefeller Center came up. Known as the “Top of the Rock,” the view of the city at night from the observation deck was one that could not be passed up.

You arrive at the Rockefeller Center, the NBC studios location, and walk inside to be greeted by a complete lack of any signage directing you to where to go. NBC seems really interested in advertising the Top of the Rock, but not how to get to it… seems rather self-defeating, but the lines to get in suggest other-wards, or maybe they didn't anticipate me entering through one of the other 45 doors on the building beside the front plaza. Either way, I did eventually find my way to the tickets, the elevator and to the top of the building.

When arriving at the 67th floor, I quickly made my way up the stairs toward the 70th floor where I knew I could secure my tripod and take some photos. My excitement was destroyed when the 70th floor was said to be closed for “your safety.” This left me with some not so great options for getting the photo I wanted. Since the 69th floor did not give the options for my tripod that I needed, I was forced to up the ISO setting in the camera and shoot free hand… at night. I knew this would potentially destroy my photos, luckily it did not, but I had no other option.

I tried to do what I could for the skyline, and got the photos I wanted, enjoyed the amazing view and then moved downstairs to exit the building. Luckily for me, needing to bump the ISO on the camera actually had me set up for the shot at the beginning of this post. As I walked around the 67th floor I came across a couple sitting in the window, they would have been an amazing shot, but the reflections in the window made the photos unusable, as I figured they would be.

Standing there for a moment, a women made her way to the other window. When I saw that shot, immediately I could tell that this would be a great black and white photo if I could nail the shot. Luckily the bad lighting upstairs had already prepped my camera for the low light inside. I took the shot before she moved away.

Rarely do you ever have those moments in photography that you know you have a great shot on your hands if you don’t screw it up. Many of my shots come from a number of photos all over the place and seeing how well you composed them later in post processing. For every photo that gets posted, there are many that never see the light of day. This was one of those rare times when you knew, this is a great photo, just get it right. I’m fairly happy with the outcome, the light coming through the window is amazing and the backdrop is great too. I hope you all enjoy this as much as I do.

Until next time…