Sunday, May 17, 2015

New York City 2015

This time around in New York City, I was going to focus mainly on the people. On my first trip to New York I was overwhelmed by the towering skyscrapers and parks and neighborhoods and I didn't really take many portraits. Two years later, I had already realized that travel (or landscape) photos are almost always more interesting with people in them... 

Very early in this four-day stay I had purchased a new 50 mm lens, this time at f/1.4 (refurbished or used I don't remember). That didn't seem like much of a step up from my older f/1.8 lens, on paper at least, but in reality, the quality gap was pretty big. This new lens gave stunning results, and could be opened up to f/2 before getting soft. My old $100 lens could barely stay sharp at 2.8, and at those apertures, every stop counts. I was also carrying around my trusty 105 macro and the Tokina 11-16 ultra-wide, a DX lens that's also FX "compatible" so that zoomed-in the dark corners were pretty small and could easily be cropped out. That's what you get for going to full-frame before having enough money to buy a full set of new lenses. 

I started my trip around Brooklyn Bridge, meeting a friend on vacation with her parents. I ended up going on a couple of guided walking tours with them, which was fun because as a part of a group you get to see the more interesting places (that I would probably have walked by on my own) and also it is less suspicious when you snap pictures of people when you're part of a tourist group. 

The bridge hasn't changed much since last time I was here. I took my time to find interesting people to photograph instead of the architecture. Going back down to the Manhattan side we stopped to watch some street performance.

We continued to a tour of Chinatown and Little Italy. On the way we spotted a fashion shoot on one of the street corners:

Some more people shots along the way:

Finally we made it to the Chinatown market place for some cliche shots of vendors and exotic foods.

Even caught an angle into some board game these guys were playing.

We got some lunch in Little Italy and I was really enjoying the wide aperture and high ISO of my camera. As the light was getting lower I could still shot handheld without any trouble.

This image is a composite of 15 frames with the 105. I was planning on taking long range shots of people, and needed the extra width so I quickly shot this whole wall in segments:

On the next day we walked around a while in Times Square that was packed full of people (tourists mostly, I can bet). 

If you ever spent any time with me and my camera you'd know I have a peev about photographing other people taking pictures. 

Here, with a relatively long lens, this was really easy. Also people posing for photos is great...

Next: going in to some shops... Victoria's Secret is one of the most beautifully designed, colorful shops I've seen. I always try to sneak a few shots before it gets too conspicuous.

Taking people shots doesn't have to be people in real life. Ads, storefronts and billboards work too...

Some more people, trying to get them on interesting backdrops.

Nearby is also the Rockefeller center, that I absolutely loved last time, with it's dramatic verticality.

But this too can get more interesting if you include people...

...or just anything in the foreground to give some contrast to the stark architecture.

Of course I couldn't help myself from taking a few "straight up" building shots:

After that we went on a night time tour of Chelsea, Times Square and Rockefeller center. Once more I had a chance to push the limits of my camera+lens, with the New York night lights providing plenty of illumination for hand held shots at high ISO and wide aperture. 

And finally, no trip to NYC is complete without a visit at central park, one of my favorite places in the universe... 

Just the contrast between the high-risers and the greenery makes this place magical.

Bird-watching-people watching.

Here I'm just showing off what a wide aperture can do for you in adding depth to an image.

This was a really fun trip, and I feel that when comparing images with my previous trip I have evolved some as a photographer. Here's one last image capturing the magic of central park along with a bonus human being in the frame - to make it more interesting... 

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