The New York City!

Living in Washington DC, only four hours drive from New York City, I have been lucky enough to be able to visit this incredible city many times in the last ten years. It is always crowded, busy and messy but still magical. It hosts people from all around the world and serves food from all continents. I read somewhere that, in the New York City, even if someone eats two meals a day in a different restaurant everyday, they wouldn't be able to taste all the restaurants in their lifetime. That says so much about the magnitude of this world's largest city which has so much to offer to everyone. You can possible buy everything that money can buy here. After all, this is the Financial Capital of the free world.

This majestic city is the home for almost 10 Million New Yorkers and travel destination for almost 60 Million tourists every year. No matter what day of the month or what month of the year it is, the crowd doesn't seem to be lessening. People are out and about even if it's blazing hot outside or freezing cold. This city of concrete jungle welcomes you with the magnificent view of countless skyscrapers which seem to be growing in numbers every day. One does not have to be an architect or a photographer to admire the skyline of New York City. When I visited this city for the first time in 2009, I drove through New Jersey Turnpike and reached to the city via Lincoln Tunnel. When I saw the glimpse of these skyscrapers for the first time (from a distance), I was in complete awe and forgot to take a photo. I went there for the July 4th weekend to celebrate America's independence day and witnessed one of the biggest fireworks in the world. Even though I had just started learning about photography, I took my camera with me but didn’t feel ready to go out and shoot. I returned with some casual shots of friends and family gathering and promised myself to come back more prepared. I visited the city many times ever since and had managed to take few shots here and there. However, I was not satisfied with the outcomes and felt something was still missing. I decided to visit the city again and this time, I went back fully prepared to capture NYC in its full glory. This time, I was determined to get the shots I have always wanted and from as many places as I could pinpoint.

I pinned the places of interest on Google maps and started my journey. My first stop was the Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ. When I reached the park after sunset, it was little windy and cold. Without wasting any time, I set up my camera on the tripod, connected the remote shutter release cable to the camera and started composing the shot. When I was happy with my composition, I took one test shot. Since my focus was to get the deep depth of field making everything in focus, I set the exposure mode in Aperture Priority (A), set the ISO to 64 (lowest native ISO on the Nikon D810 to avoid any digital noise due to long exposure) and the Aperture value to f/9 (I discovered f/9 to f/11 to be the ideal range for sharper image when my Nikkor 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 lens is attached to the D810). I was taking the skyline shot across the Hudson river from the Jersey side. Since there were no moving objects and my camera was on the tripod, I didn't care too much about the shutter speed and let the camera decide it. Afer that, I setup the exposure bracketing (5 shots with the interval of 1 EV; -2EV, -1EV, 0, +1EV and +2EV). One last thing I did was change the lens focus from Autofocus to Manual focus and then focused into the infinity to make everything from the foreground to the background in focus. I have seen other photographers following a few other different techniques as well. One of the popular technique is, after composing the photograph, zoom into the 2/3 of the frame and focus on any particular point on the frame and then zoom out and take the shot. And the other more technical way of doing this is by using the Hyperfocal distance. You can follow the link if you want to know the detail about the technique. When I used my 16-35mm f/4 lens with my Nikon D700, manually focusing into the infinity always worked for me and I continuously use that technique with the D810 as well and I have never been disappointed so far. The first picture below was taken using f/11 at the focal length of 32mm with the shutter speed of 1s and the ISO 64.

Lower Manhattan Skyline from the Liberty State Park, NJ (click the image to view full size)

My next stop was near the Brooklyn bridge. After taking the shots earlier, I felt confident with the camera setup and didn't bother much to change the camera settings. All I did was find the good vantage point, composed the shot and took a few bracketed shots with different aperture values. The second picture below was taken using f/9 at the focal length of 16mm with the shutter speed of 4s and the ISO 64.

Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge (click the image to view full size)

When I got home, I exported the RAW pictures into the Adobe Lightroom and the first thing I did was fixed the chromatic aberration caused by the lens distortion. After that, I adjusted the exposure, changed a few color tones and applied gentle sharpening across the image. This has been my general workflow on the Lightroom ever since I switched from Capture NX2. Sometimes, I also merge the bracketed shots (using Lightroom) to produce an HDR image and see if I get more dynamic range in the picture by doing so. If I do notice the difference in color range, I further process the HDR image. Otherwise, I will just select the single best image which is correctly exposed and process it.

I tried my best to describe my workflow but if you have any question or comments, please let me know using the comment box below.