Travel

An Evening In Pittsburgh

I have forever enjoyed travelling to new city with my camera and indulging in adventurous night photography (secret to my adrenaline rush). Pittsburgh is a beautiful city located just three and a half hour drive from where I live, and I shamefully admit that I had not made it to this city in the past 10 years. It was only last year when the opportunity came up to attend a cybersecurity training program in the city of Steelers. I was very excited for soon I would be doing everything that I love doing. As an IT professional, I was thrilled about the training program but silently I was ecstatic about traveling to a new city and doing night photography. I like to be prepared when I travel to a new place and get my itinerary ready beforehand. Along with some homework I did, I also got a little help from the Uber drivers to pick possible locations for the night shoot, which worked out perfectly for my photography adventure.

Pittsburgh is known as the city of the steelworkers where the United States Steel Corporation's 64-story tall headquarter is located. The famous football team Steelers also got their name from this steel town and the history of it’s steel workers. Sadly, the steel corporation does not own the building anymore but they are still one of the largest tenants in the building. The city lost most of the steel workers due to the change in global economy market.

I chose to drive to the city instead of flying. I entered the city through a tunnel and as I came out on the other end, I was amazed by this view of Pittsburgh’s skyscrapers and bridges. I could not believe that it took me so many years to visit this beautiful city surrounded by the hills. As soon as I checked into the hotel, I went out for an evening stroll around the downtown. Surprisingly, the downtown was pretty quiet and not much was going on (I thought it was a MONDAY to blame!). Then I tried going to a few shops and restaurants and they were all closed or getting ready to close. After walking around for a while, I found one restaurant which happen to open late on Monday nights. It was quite an experience for me on the very first day. Nothing goes down before midnight in DC downtown and here I was in Pittsburgh at 9 pm trying to look for an open restaurant. When I came back and asked the hotel staff about the minimal activity in the city, he said that's how it's always been around the downtown. All the restaurants and small businesses depend on the corporate employees and closes early right after the office hour.

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Cherry Blossom Festival 2019, Washington DC

Being a local, I can vouch that spring is the best time to visit Washington DC. Just when locals bid goodbye to the long brutal winter, tourists pour into the city from all around the world to see the arrival of spring in the nation’s capital. Approximately 3,000 cherry trees around the tidal basin area go to their full bloom during this time of the year. These trees were presented as a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo to the city of Washington DC in 1912 as a symbol to celebrate the friendship between Japan and America. In DC metro area, the arrival of spring is celebrated with the Cherry Blossom Festival which is a month long program that involves various outdoor activities including the marching band parades, music, showmanship and many other events. These pink and white cherry blooms look so amazingly beautiful, they leave the viewers wonderstruck. Above all, this festival is a stunning opportunity for photography enthusiasts from across the country and all around the world.

During the peak bloom period, it can be a real struggle to find a good spot to photograph without getting tourists or other fellow photographers in the frame. Last year, I reached the tidal basin area at around 6:30 AM and quickly realized that I was late. Because of the crowd, I was not able to take a single photo the way I had imagined. On the good side, I was able to put aside my camera and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the cherry blossoms. Learning from my past experience, I decided to go little earlier this year but still bumped into few tourists and a couple of photographers who came to photograph the sunrise. While people were waiting for the sunrise, I was setting up the camera on the tripod and getting ready for the blue hour shots. It was a cold and a windy morning, and taking a long exposure shot for the blue hour was a challenging task without getting part of the image blurred. After finding a proper composition, I took a few shots but it all came out blurry because of the swinging tree branches. I patiently waited for the wind to stop and managed to get one good shot. The picture below was taken at aperture value of f/11, exposure time of 25 seconds, ISO 64 and focal length of 22mm using the Nikon D810 body and the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G lens.

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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.

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Travel, Blog And Nikon D810

I must admit that traveling and blogging do not go together and specially if you are traveling into remote areas where Wi-Fi is not readily available. Last couple of months, I was traveling into different places (of Nepal) and realized that not having internet all the time or not updating your social media in every hour or even not having to worry about writing anything removes a lot of pressure from your shoulder and helps you to relax and be more creative. It was a good escape for a couple of months and enjoyed every moment of it. While traveling, few thoughts came into my mind about blogging and how I can incorporate those beautiful landscapes of the himalayan nation but later I chose to stay away from it and enjoy the free moment I had. Sometimes, writing a blog can put lots of pressure and specially when you are running out of the times and topics. First, you have to think about the blog post and then explain it nicely so that you can deliver the message you are trying to deliver to your readers. During the process, you might have to include some visuals (photos, graphs or videos) and that would be an extra work on top of the writing part as well. It's a fun thing to do but surely a time consuming process as well and, if you have another full time job, it becomes very difficult to manage time for the blog regularly. It sounds like an excuse for not being regular on blogging but this is the truth which I learned from my own experience; hard to do full time job and be regular on blogging. Please accept my sincere apology for not being as regular as I wanted to be.

If you were following my blog in last few months, I mentioned about upgrading my Nikon D700 to either D750 or D810. I also mentioned that I was leaning towards D810 for few reasons which I would tell once I get the camera. And the moment is here; I sold my D700 and got the Nikon D810 last month. The main reason I went with D810 and not D750 was same look, feel and control as my trusted D700 even though some believe that D750 has a better dynamic range being newer model than D810 which may be true but I am very happy with D810's capability on every aspect of photography so far. I loved my D700 and the only reason to upgrade was to get little more pixel for cropping and get better dynamic range with the Nikon's newer EXPEED 4 sensor.

SuperMoon (click the image to view full size)

It's been few weeks I am playing with the D810 and I am very happy with my upgrade decision so far. I will be uploading more pictures in coming days but here is the super-moon shot I tried on December 3, Sunday. Please stay tuned and keep guiding me through my mistakes. Happy Shooting!