Friday, March 23, 2012

P32: telephoto views - a variety of views

Well, I could not resist this one.  Staying on the 39th floor (actually 37th given there is no ground or 13th floor, don't you just love America), the view out of our bedroom window was impressive, to say the least.  Our hotel was on 34th street and we looked South over midtown onto the downtown financial district.  To the left was the empire state, to the right the Hudson river and in the far distance the building work replacing the twin towers was just visible.

This was in a sense a perfect position from which to shoot a variety of images using a telephoto lens, everywhere I looked there was detail, rooftop gardens, cooling systems, water reservoirs, decorative stonework themselves, it just went on and on.  The detail then combined with the overlapping buildings to create a bewildering array of possible shots.  Ansel Adams comment in the notes was very applicable to the scene that I could see.  Using my NX200 with a 16mm (24 FF) I shot the following two images to provide a sense of the scope of the world just outside the window.  It was not a bright day, drizzling steadily, and I was going to suffer a little from the fact that the windows were a long way from clean:

I have reduced the saturation and increased the contrast to match the atmosphere of that morning.  I then placed the camera on a window mounted gorilla pod, handy little device for shooting from hotel rooms and mounted a 50-200mm zoom, not a great optic, but light weight and the one that was there in my bag for this shoot.  Always the best quality lens, the one you actually have with you!

First I shot a sequence looking towards the turquoize building in the middle ground of the above shot, using 50, 100, 150, and then 200mm focal lengths.

Each time I adjusted the framing to capture the sense of overlapping buildings within the city scape.  These shots whilst nowhere near the quality, were reminiscent of Alfred Stieglitz's shots of the city skyline from his hotel/studio windows.  I was thinking about his work and presence in the city whilst working these images.

I then moved from views of the buildings to picking off details of the building tops:

My elevation provided a unique and the lens an almost intrusive view into the world below me, I especially like the table and chair on the roof top, with the cones placed to remind people (I guess) not to get too close to the drop.  Turning back to a more angled view of the overlapping buildings I took the following:

These fascinate me, if I lived in the US I would be tempted to rent a room on a fine weekend and just spend the day shooting details from the window. The overlapping shapes and forms, built out of cubes, cones and cylinders, seem like a giant child's building block set, or alternatively cubism without the need to distort reality.

I have very many more similar photographs, the opportunity was essentially infinite.  This was a dramatic outlook on an  world very alien to someone who grew up in the low rise cities of Europe.  You cannot imagine the glee when I got to the room and looked at my camera bag.  That is my final post from my New York trip.  A city of unbelievable photographic potential, from grubby urban social documentary, through marvelous colorful street photography and into landscape imagery that verges on the abstraction of early 20th century modern art forms.  We will go back, but next time I will have a single photographic goal not many as in this trip, the tough question will be what?

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