New York - The Photos / by Dario Branco

On my previous posts about New York, I mention several times that I wanted to do specific photos in specific places.

I know they are very cliché. That didn't stop me from doing them. My goal was to have two or three photos I could print, framed them and start conversations about it when I have friends at my home. Besides those places the ones, i enjoyed the most were taken on the streets. 

None of them ended up as I intended them to be.

Without further a due


My biggest problem was the weather. Either it was too cloudy or no clouds at all.

The first frustrating moment was trying to photograph the Manhattan bridge with the Empire State Building framed between the bridge pillars. When I got there it was so foggy that it was impossible to see the Empire State building. I knew the weather was not going to be perfect thanks to Clear Outside website. It has been the place I check when it is the best time to go out and make some photos. I never thought that it would be that bad that day.

On my second attempt, i had the opposite problem. The sky was too clear. I could see the building but the sky had no interest. Also, i got there around mid-day which made the scene too contrasty. The shadows were too dark. I was able to recover them in Lightroom but still, it is not as I wanted to be. Moving forward from things I could not control, I wanted the building to be as close to the bridge as possible, minimize all the tourists and cars.


It is not the best photo I could have taken. Ignoring the light conditions, the framing is not good. I shouldn't have hidden the right pillar behind the buildings. To finish, the light poles distract from what I want to show. 

The best version I have from this place was taken at night with the Fuji X100T.

Fuji X100T

Fuji X100T

I like the mood of the photo but the Empire State building is too small on the frame, the lights and the building in the foreground don't make for a clean image. This is definitely a photo to redo next time I visit New York.

My main goal was to capture New York's skyline. When I was researching I learned that there were two places that I should go: Top of The Rock and Exchange Place Water Front in New Jersey. I wanted to do it during sunset but once again the weather did not cooperate. Once again the sky was too clean. I wanted some clouds to have a more dramatic image. I also wanted a time of the day that I could have the colors of the sky and the lights of the buildings. On the Top of The Rock, i had to wait on the same spot for a few hours for the light to be perfect. I got there one hour before the sunset knowing that there would be a lot of tourists and I might not get a good place to do the photo. I also wasn't allowed to take the tripod with me which meant that I could not do image blending. All I did was taking as many photos as I could and waiting for the perfect time. 


Once again I wish there would have been clouds on the sky to have more interest. I also don't like the hot spot on the right. This was the only photo I took that had some detail on the buildings and also on the sky. After this, the buildings got too dark to try to recover any details. Even them I was already at 1/30 F4 ISO 3200. Pushing the limit as much as I could. If I gave up sooner I would not have captured the building lights. 

The only day I was going to be able to photograph from the Exchange Place Waterfront was the day before coming back. I was very optimistic because in the morning it was very cloudy but it would start to clear up during the afternoon. A few hours before going to New Jersey I went on the Staten Island's Ferry and took this photo.

Finally, I was getting the sky I wanted. Or so I though. During the two hours, I was waiting the sky went completely clear. There was some haze on the city but the clouds were gone. I was not discouraged by this. I was at the place I wanted to be the most. I used the ND 10 stop filter while I was waiting for the sunset and did a few long exposures. I wanted to do exposures longer than thirty seconds,  to smooth the water. However the longer the exposure, the longer it takes to process. I ended up turning this photo to black and white because I lost some details on the brighter areas of the image.

I like this image because of the sun's reflexion on the Freedom Tower. The timing was perfect.

Once the light started to fade I started taking bracketed exposures. I was doing this to have details on the highlights and the shadows and then blend them together on post processing. This is a technique I learned from Elia Locardi and Jimmy McIntyre and that I am still developing. For this image, i took longer to post process. From all the photos I took, this is the one I want to print. I had to be sure that it was perfect. I got unlucky with the sky but I love the sunset colors reflected on the buildings mixed with the building's lights turning on.


When I was taking this photo there was a moment that I will never forget. For a few seconds, there was complete silence. No boats, no helicopters, no cars, no camera shutter, only the sound of the river. During that time I was able to enjoy the view and got mesmerized with how such big and chaotic city can have moments of pure quiet. A moment I will remember every time I look at this photo.

There are also all the photos I took with the Fuji X100T. People I found interesting, details, moments. It may seem that I saw the city trough the camera viewfinder. This was one of few trips I did that i was controlling myself to not take photos of everything and it was one where I took the least amount of photos.

Here are all the final photos. 

I wasn't thinking about writing more about New York. After writing these last four post I have to write about my feelings when I was there. Tune in next week.