Midtown Lights

Though it’s rather cliché, it’s been a while since I’ve been playing around with long exposures and thought it was high time to get some shots of light trails around Manhattan, particularly near the Fuller building (better known as the Flatiron).

Late on a Saturday evening, I set up my tripod around 23rd street to get some shots before realizing that there are only so many angles of the Flatiron that are possible from street level. It was a warm night, however, with plenty of traffic and just enough clouds to give the sky a fairly dramatic feel.

So, after a brief time by Madison Square Park, I made my way north past the Empire State Building and onto Times Square. I wouldn’t normally set foot anywhere near there, but, equipped with my tripod, I was excited to see what my Rokinon wide angle lens and remote shutter release were capable of in the lights of city.

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As it turns out, the artificial lights of Times Square made it tough to find a shutter speed long enough to get light trails and motion blur while not completely blowing out the brighter ares of the scene. Despite shooting with a small aperture of f/22 and ISO 100, I wasn’t getting the desired effect, at least not without heavy post production which isn’t really my style.

To counteract the city lights and try some daytime long exposures, I just picked up a variable ND filter from Syrp. I haven’t made it back up to Times Square with the filter yet, but here’s a quick example of long exposure taken in the bright afternoon sun of the Brooklyn waterfront.

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Though the sun is still above the horizon just out of frame, this shot was taken with a shutter speed of 5.3 seconds(!) to give the moving water that ethereal foggy look.

In direct sunlight, the filter is less capable of long exposures, but does allow for a wider aperture and a nicer looking depth of field which I’m excited to continue playing around with. More photos soon!


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