Manhattan stands proud, tough and strong at the center of New York City—and the world. To reveal those qualities in your Manhattan photography, you must see beyond the standard snapshots of the major tourist attractions, and accept a greater challenge. Here is an opportunity to test your photographer’s eye to find, and then compose, digital photos that capture Manhattan’s vibrancy and unique style of living, and not just its universal icons.
The first part of that challenge is to look for vantage points from where you can photograph the power and wonder of the total cityscape. Like many travelers, you may be arriving by air. Depending on the airport where you are landing and the time of day, your first opportunity for interesting photos of Manhattan could come from your seat in the plane. There are also many helicopter tours of the city that provide great photo perspectives. Learn the specific tips and techniques in the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—How to Shoot Pictures from the Window of a Commercial Air Flight.
Once you’re on the ground, look for the locations surrounding Manhattan from where you can photograph the city. On the New Jersey side, try Liberty State Park in Jersey City that juts into the Upper Bay just southwest of the southern tip of Manhattan and opposite the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You can then travel north by foot, car, light rail or ferry along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway to shoot different angles and views of the west side of Manhattan. At Fort Lee, you can shoot the upper west side of the city with the George Washington Bridge in the foreground. When you visit the Statue of Liberty, use that opportunity to photograph Manhattan from the boat and Liberty Island. From the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, you can then capture the morning sun reflecting off the wall of glass windows on Manhattan’s east side.
Now, you’re ready to plunge into the urban canyons at Manhattan’s core. Here is an opportunity to shoot with a wide-angle lens to create remarkable views of the cityscape from the inside. At sunrise or sunset, position yourself on a major north/south street to record the sunlight streaming through from east or west. Those intersections will be bright with light, making an interesting contrast with the north/south blocks in shadows. Look for a street gridlocked with cars, buses and trucks. Quickly (and safely) move to the center of the street and shoot wide-angle Manhattan photos of the snarled traffic. Read the three-part PhotographyTalk.com article about how to use a wide-angle lens, starting with Digital Photography—The Wonderful World of the Wide-Angle Lens, Part 1.
Other contrasting images to photograph in Manhattan are moments and places of serenity. Look for small parks and squares where a single individual has found a quiet place far from the hustle and bustle and noise. Rainy days in Manhattan will offer you other opportunities, such as a couple huddled under an umbrella strolling along colorful gardens. Be sure to include the magical reflections in the puddles. Use a telephoto lens, so you can shoot from a distance.
By day or night, Manhattan is the perfect environment for exciting street photography, or no-rules photography. The unique big-city vibe can prove to be elusive, so follow the tips and techniques in the PhotographyTalk.com article, Takin’ It to the Streets, to go “undercover.” You’ll discover and capture life on the edge in the city that never sleeps.