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Photographing the New York skyline by Thorsten Overgaard

   
 
   

The story behind that picture:
"Photographing the New York skyline"

By: Thorsten Overgaard 

 

When in New York last week I decided to get my own tourist photo of the New York skyline

For the last week I had been able to see the highest building, the Empire State Building from my bed at the Ace Hotel five blocks away. And when a friend recommended that it was actually worth going through the painful experience of being a tourist to see the amazing architecture, I decided "why not?"

 

ACE Hotel in New York with Empire State by Thorsten Overgaard
My view from the ACE Hotel in New York. Leica M9 with Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4

 

But when researching on the net how to get up there the least touristy way, I stumbled over a blog where it was mentioned that one could photograph from the Empire State Building at 33th Street or The Rock 49th Street (The Rockefeller Plaza).

The Rock has the advantage that if offers a view to the Empire State Building, as well as a closer view to Central Park. Why stand on top of the main attraction when you can get it in the image by choosing another building.

 

 

Hence on the day where it was overcast I booked a scheduled tour at 4 PM for 25$ and walked the twenty streets up to The Rock equipped with a Leica M9, a 21mm and a 90mm lens. I got the ticket by e-mail so they could scan my iPhone.

It took about 30 minutes to get in and up to the top (you have to skip the cue that offers a group photo of your self with other tourists which you can then buy at a counter on the top where they yell "Get your Kodak photos").


On the two lower observatory levels you can photograph through the spaces between the thick glass.

 

On the first of three observatory levels (about 70th floor that is) you can walk out to either side and photograph towards Central Park or the Empire State Building through the spaces between the thick glass. The same goes for the higher level, wheras on the upper level that is smaller, there is no glass walls (because you can only fall two floors down). This top floor offers the most unhindered shot as you also have more space in the bottom of the frame when shooting with a wide angle.

 


The view from the absolute top of The Rock offers the absolute unhindered view without glass. Leica M9 with Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4

 

I tried different things with both the 90mm and the 21mm lenses. As I had choosen an overcast day with the light coming from the backside of The Empire State Building it wasn't clear enough to make some breatthtaking photos with the 90mm lens. But perhaps anohter day I will do it again and try to get some 90mm shots with straight angels by shooting directly at the buildings, but also snap some photos down at the street where you can see people, taxis and all nicely framed by skyscrabers.

Even there is a free view from the top, the Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4 captures some of the building in the bottom with it's 90° angle view. And the good or bad thing is that is is so razor sharp and detailed so that all the windows, lines and details almost become too sharp.

The way to get straight lines is to hold the camera in an upright position. If you tilt the camera up or down you will get tilting lines; the wider a lens, the more the lines will tilt. And you want straight lines because that is how the buildings are standing.

 

ACE Hotel in New York

 

 
   

The above is a ca. 35% crop of an image with the Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4 where I have cropped the details from The Rock in the bottom away, as well as the sides.

I had to tilt the camera down so as to get more buildings at the bottom, and to compensate for that I then adjusted the vertical lines +49 in Lightroom so as to get the lines straight again. You can see the picture right here.

Shooting cityscapes like that is different if you don't know the city from that viewpoint. I learned a few things when reviewing the photos and might spend a little time on my next visit figuring out interesting views, taking the position of the sun and other things into account.

Hope this inspired you to find some tall buildings whereever you visit and play with it..!

 

 

 


Thorsten Overgaard, May 2, 2012

 

   
   

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Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Leica S:
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240 (Leica M10)   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica M Monochrom Type 246 digital rangefinder   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica S digital medium format
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder    
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder   Leica Cine Lenses:
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder   Leica Cine lenses
     
Leica M lenses:   Leica R cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95   Leica R lenses:
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 180mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
     
History and overview:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica History   Leica Q digital rangefinder
Leica Definitions   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica Digilux 1
Camera Compendium   Leica X
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   Leica D-Lux
Ernst Leitz II and the freedom pledge   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
The Dream of Oskar Barnack   Leica CM 35mm film camera
     
Photography Knowledge   Thorsten Overgaard books and education:
Quality of Light   Thorsten Overgaard Workshops
Lightmeters   Overgaard Lightroom Survival Kit
White Balance & WhiBal   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Film in Digital Age   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Dodge and Burn   "Composition in Photography" eBook
All You Need is Love   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
X-Rite   "Photographing Children" eBook
The Origin of Photography   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
Case in Point   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
The Good Stuff   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course II
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course III
Leica OSX folder icons   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
     
     
     
Leica Photographers   Riccis Valladares
Jan Grarup   Christopher Tribble
Henri Cartier-Bresson   Martin Munkácsi
Birgit Krippner   Vivian Maier
     
The Story Behind That Picture:    
More than 100 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Join the Thorsten Overgaard Mailing List
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Leica Forums and Blogs:    
The Leica User Forum   Leica Camera AG
Steve Huff   LeicaRumors.com
Shoot Tokyo   The Leica Pool on Flickr
Erwin Puts   Adam Marelli
Eric Kim   Magnum Photos
Ming Thein  
John Thawley   I-Shot-It photo competition
Luminous Landscape   Leica Fotopark
Reid Reviews   Leica M240/M246 User Forum on Facebook
Ken Rockwell    
   
   
   

Above: The New York skyline photographed with Leica M9 with Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4, April 2012.

 


 



Also visit:

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Leica Definitions
Leica History
"Photographer For Sale"
Leica Lens Compendium
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Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4
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Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
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The Story Behind That Picture

 

 

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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 

 

 

 
           
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