Behind the Picture:New York “City on Fire”

I’v taken many a picture in my lifetime and I’d have to say that this is my favorite. It also happens to be in my favorite city besides Sydney, NYC. It is indeed the city that never sleeps.
The chaos and excitement of being in NYC is something I think everyone should experience in their lifetime.

I was into my 3rd day of a 4 day stint in NYC back in 2012 and I really wanted to capture the skyline during Sunset.
And I thought the best place for that was to head to Brooklyn and shoot back towards the city. It’s been shot before by thousands of photographers and it was a shot that I flew all the way from Sydney to capture.

So my day started at midday, leaving my hotel just near Central Park. Judging by the map it was a straight walk down 7th avenue, cross the Brooklyn bridge and away we go.

My idea was to start at the hotel walk all the way and shoot other landmarks as I went.
Lets just say it was a long walk, and I lost my faith in being able to read a map.

It took close to seven hours to get to the bridge. A few detours here and there to avoid some less hospitable locals, who would be quite happy to get their hands on my precious Canon and my journey was nearly complete.

More on that here

So I hit the famous Brooklyn bridge to continue my pilgrimage to my vantage spot.
The walk aver the bridge is more like circus , with hoards of tourist and their iPhones snapping the bridge from all angles, New Yorkers on their afternoon jog  and street vendors selling whatever you needed or didn’t need.

Finding the best vantage point to shoot the skyline was made harder by walking the backstreets of Brooklyn and getting lost like the tourist I was.
Luckily I bumped into a Sydney couple who call NYC home and pointed me in the right direction.

Getting lost in any city is bad, but made worse when the sun is setting and you’ve travelled across the world to photograph it. So my casual walk through NYC turned into a afternoon jog carrying cameras and an awkward tripod.
Not wanting to miss the sunset over the city was worth the unexpected workout.

So I finally found my spot overlooking the city on the Brooklyn side of the bridge and began to shoot as the sun was setting.

It also happened to be the 4th of July, which is quite a big deal in the USA. Somewhat similar to Sydney’s NYE.
I also happened to be surrounded by thousands of locals and tourist wanting to witness the same thing as me.
To say it was hot is a understatement, it was the middle of a heat wave and I was surrounded by strangers and  kids screaming to their mothers “where are the fireworks”. So it was not the serene moment I envisaged upon my departure from Sydney.

As the sun descended over the city, the lights in the office buildings started to turn on and my picture started to finally take shape.
After all the hours of waiting, myself and the thousands of people finally started to see some fireworks.

Only problem was they were on the other side of the city on the Hudson River.

I’m sure for the people on the Hudson side they had a spectacular view of the show, but on the Brooklyn side we definitely had the poor mans view or in basketball terms we had row zzz.

So, frustrated that I had screwed up my only chance of shooting the worlds famous city as the sky was alight, my dream was dashed and I packed up and started head back to the hotel cursing myself for the lack of research.

After a few minutes walking I thought f…. it!!! I’ll give it one more go.
So I set up once again in a new spot, giving it one last chance before I threw in the towel.

As I did, the kind people running the show let off a series of fireworks red in colour and my tourist eyes lit up!!!

Bingo I said to myself, I’m back in action. And for the next few minutes I shot my heart out.

With the advantage of a 30 second exposure, it was able to give the impression that this fabulous city was on fire.

So with some luck and persistence I was able to take a picture that I can call my all time favourite. Aptly named “City on Fire”.

Content I then headed back to the hotel thinking of what next to tick off on my bucket list!

Til next time

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