Night Shots: New York City Skyline

One of the first things that exited me about getting my new Sony A7R camera was shooting full frame night shots. We are talking 30+ second shutter times at ISO 100.  Absorbing as much light as possible, capturing all the rich colors possible.

Living across the Hudson River from New York City, well that begged to be my first subject.

This was one of my first attempts.

Taken from Hoboken, NJ.  An airplane in the distance behind One World Trade Center (looks like a shooting star).
Taken from Hoboken, NJ. An airplane in the distance behind One World Trade Center (looks like a shooting star).

It was absolutely freezing out when this was taken (Jan 26, 2014).  It is interesting how the temperature impacts the clarity of the night.  Knowing that I was going to want to take photos like this multiple evening, I started becoming hyper aware of the conditions outside every night.

Luckily, the cold, crisp air made it pretty easy to get clear shot.  Unfortunately, it makes your fingers numb within seconds.

The large photo at the top of the page was taken this summer on an especially clear night.  I actually had to check multiple nights before finding one as clear as pictured here.

Both photos are taken from the same spot.  One looking south towards WTC1.  The other looking straight across the river or slightly north.

For comparison, here's the same basic direction taken in the winter.

Taken from Hoboken, NJ looking at the Empire State Building.
Taken from Hoboken, NJ looking at the Empire State Building.

HDR of NYC

Ok, the main photo at the top of the page is what some consider to be "cheating."  It is an HDR image.

To be honest, I'm starting to become obsessed with shooting HDR because it adds an additional set of creative inputs during post processing.

This is real HDR photography where I'm bracketing multiple shots at various exposures, merging and layering them, etc.  It is actually pretty technical.

One of the biggest challenges is movement.  For some reason, it didn't occur to me that the water in these images could present a challenge for HDR since there are so many points of movement.  Especially in the dark!

After dozens of frames, I was able to make this image work.

You can see all of these images in higher resolution over on my SmugMug gallery.