I had a mission on a recent Saturday. I wanted to spend the entire day driving along the waterfronts in northern Brooklyn and Queens to take photographs of Manhattan’s skyline from new vantage points. I also wanted to revisit certain areas to try to recapture familiar scenes in a new light. I returned home that day with a few gems.
On a friend’s suggestion, I stopped first at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City in Queens. Its piers and promenades offer expansive views of the midtown skyline. I photographed a white ship on the East River in the shadows of the Empire State Building, a seagull soaring by the Chrysler Building, the 432 Park Avenue apartment building on the rise amid fellow high rises, and a boat approaching the Queensboro Bridge.
When I set out to take photos these days, I not only use my tripod to take steadier shots with my Nikon D90, I also always take advantage of my iPhone 5C camera’s capabilities. I used its panoramic feature last Saturday to capture the sun-kissed midtown skyline.
Next, I drove into Brooklyn and came across my great find of the day. I crossed paths with an equestrian statue of George Washington in Continental Army Plaza, at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. What struck me first about the commander in chief as an artistic subject is how bundled up he appeared. That feature suggested Valley Forge, the military encampment remembered for the brutal winter Washington and his troops weathered there during the Revolutionary War. I then trekked partly across the bridge, in search of any interesting angles I could find in its web of steel crossbeams and eastern arch.
Later, I drove to Brooklyn Heights, where for the first time I walked the full length of the promenade above the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that overlooks New York Harbor and lower Manhattan. I took out my iPhone to capture videos of a military helicopters that circled the Statue of Liberty and flew over the Brooklyn Bridge and up the East River.
Once again I snapped a few shots of the bridge and skyline from new perspectives. But my main purpose for stopping in that area was to walk along Washington Street, which aligns perfectly with the eastern arch of the Manhattan Bridge. It’s been a much-photographed spot in Brooklyn since after the bridge opened in 1909, and, finally, I can cross it off my photography to-do list.
Yet, as often happens when I spend a day taking photos, the subject of my "shot of the day" appeared unexpectedly. As I walked from Washington Street back to my parked car, I spotted a woman lying on a bench reading from her Kindle with the Brooklyn Bridge, Freedom Tower and 8 Spruce Street building towering over her. Let’s just say I hustled to capture this image before she suddenly departed.
As the afternoon wore on, I drove over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan to make my way to Central Park. At a friend's request, I once again took photos of couples rowing boats on The Lake with the Loeb Boathouse as backdrop, only this time I shot them during twilight. Later, I walked a few yards over to the stairs and arches at Bethesda Terrace, where I took photos of the ground-level walkway bathed in golden light.
As dark had descended on the park, I started to make my way to my car on 84th Street. I stopped at the Conservatory Water, or what I call the toy sailboat pond, my first visit there at night. And soaring above the pond and surrounding trees, piercing and splitting New York's night sky, was an illuminated 432 Park Avenue. I parked my tripod at different points around the pond to capture this still unfinished building that is crowned by a crane.
The last stop on my all-day journey was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the sidewalk areas on both sides of the main staircase recently underwent a facelift, featuring new marble fountains. My final shots of the day were of the warmly-lit facade that I took through the fountain’s intermittent springs of water.
With the day complete, I drove back to Long Island, already envisioning how I would layout my photos for this blog.