Top of the Rock Photography

Top of the Rock view of empire state building
Empire State Building at Dusk:  seen from Top of Rockefeller Center
Unquestionably the best view in Manhattan is from the top of Rockefeller Center at sunset.  Looking to the north, central park stretches out as far as you can see, into Harlem and beyond.  Looking to the south, the Empire State building, the freedom Tower, the Statue of Liberty and countless other skyscrapers fill the landscape.  Standing over 70 stories tall, Rockefeller Center looks down on almost everything.

Reservations are accepted.  Wanting to be there for sunset, I planned my reservation 2 hours before the sun went down.  There is a bit of time taken before you actually reach the top.  You wait in line, you see a presentation, get assigned to an elevator and up you go.

On the top of the building, there are several platforms for viewing.  The highest one has an unobstructed view.  The middle platform has tall glass walls.  Between these glass walls, there are gaps big enough for a camera lens.  The lowest platform is inside.  It is much warmer but the view is not as good.  I found the highest platform extremely crowded.  Photography was much easier on the middle platform.  I put my lens in the gap and took several pictures without having to climb over a bunch of other tourists and photographers.
Top of the Rock View
Middle viewing platform of Rockefeller Center

As darkness came, I dialed up the ISO and kept shooting.  I used a variety of lenses here: 35 mm f/1.4, 17mm tilt shift f/4, and 70-200mm f/4.  I even used my tilt-shift lens to create a panorama.  The only bad thing about this location is the crowds and prohibition of tripods.
Panorama looking north:  building and Central Park extend out forever.  To take this photo I stuck my lens through the gap and shifted my camera body to the left and right while the lens remained still.
central park from rockefeller center
Looking over Central Park from Rockefeller Center

Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

brooklyn bridge view photography
Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan
New York City has so many amazing things to see, it is impossible to do them all in one trip.  My previous visit several decades ago included the most famous landmarks such as the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty.  Slightly less famous is the Brooklyn Bridge.  This incredible structure has been standing for over 100 years.  Millions of cars, bicycles, and pedestrians have made the track into and out of Manhattan from Brooklyn.  I decided to give it a go.  On a nice day, the walk is delightful. 

As far as photography is concerned, the views are somewhat constricted.  Pedestrians must walk in the center of the bridge and there is a lot of rails, cables and other supporting structures to block the view.  I found better creative photography using my 70-200 mm lens and choosing to isolate parts of the bridge and parts of Manhattan.  I've seen very good wide-angle pictures as well.  I did not try that because the crowds to great to make that work on this particular day.

Autumn Leaves in Central Park

central park autumn new york
Spectacular Autumn Colors of Central Park tree
During my recent trip to New York City, I wanted to see some of the famous New England fall colors. My schedule didn't permit a side trip out of the city and I was more than excited to see Central Park.  I visited in the last week of October.  Many trees were in their most saturated colors.  I shot some wider shots (above) and some isolated leaf pictures (below).  It great to feel like a landscape photographer even when you are surrounded by the city!
autumn leaves in central park new york
Amber leaves of autumn
autumn in central park new york
Hanging Red, Yellow, Orange and Green leaves

Two Guggenheims

New York Guggenheim museum
Inside Guggenheim Looking Up
I won't put too much text here.  I just thought the Guggenheim museum was wonderful as a place of art and architecture.  I left my wide 17mm lens on my camera as I wandered up the circular incline.  I snapped a photo from the bottom and top.  These are great to compare side by side.

New York Guggenheim museum
Inside Guggenheim Looking Down

Kanarra Creek Waterfall in Autumn

Kanarra creek waterfall in autumn
Split Waterfall of Kanarra Creek
Kanarra creek is locally referred to as a miniature version of the Narrows of Zion national park.  The slot canyon has year-round water flowing and a wonderful short slot canyon.  As a bonus, Kanarra creek also has several waterfalls.  You must hike over or around these beautiful obstacles to continue upstream.

This autumn I picked Kanarra creek as my location on which to focus.  I felt the combination of trees, slot canyon and waterfalls could give me something very special.  On my chosen day, the weather was cloudy and it actually rained and lightly snowed on me.  My freezing body suffered while my creative side explored the canyon.  I have unofficially given this waterfall the name of "split falls".  I got up close with my feet and tripod legs in the water to get this particular view.  The shot below is a wider view of the waterfalls.
kanarra creek waterfall autumn
Series of waterfalls in Kanarra Creek

Black Pool of West Thumb Geyser Basin

Colorful bacterial matte yellowstone park
Colors and Textures of Black Pool
Yellowstone Park is filled with amazing discoveries.  Since 1984, I have visited the park every summer except four.  To satisfy my children, we see Old Faithful nearly every time.  But we also love to explore further off the beaten path (or at least away from the teeming crowd).  It'd been about 10 years since we last visited West Thumb geyser basin.  This is a colorful collection of pools and cinder cones right beside the massive Yellowstone Lake.  On a clear day the scene is breathtaking.

My favorite feature from this area is Black Pool.  The orange-red bacterial mattes are outstanding and so close to the lovely blue depths of the pool.  You really can get up-close and personal with this feature.  The colors are similar to Grand Prismatic Spring but on a smaller scale.  I tried to capture the fine detail and contrasting colors in this photograph.

Black Pool is no longer black.  A couple decades ago the temperature changed, colors changed but the name remains the same.

Old Faithful Rainbow

rainbow at old faithful geyser eruption
Rainbow and Old Faithful
Rainbow formation is actually a very predictable event.  With the right alignment of light and water in the air a rainbow will happen every time.  A rainbow in Yellowstone Park can be a nice photographic companion to a geyser eruption.  Old Faithful on a sunny afternoon, later in the day when crowds have thinned a little bit demonstrates this phenomenon.

The sunshine is coming from the West.  The prevailing wind also comes from that direction.  This spreads the water into the air on the east side of the geyser.  In order to see this in the best light, I would recommend being on the south west or directly south of the geyser itself.  The effect is short lived.  You may see it for about 30-60 seconds before it disappears.  Enjoy.

Red Rock Trail, Yellowstone Park (trail report)

red rock trail yellowstone lower falls
Red Rock Point Hike, Yellowstone Park
The red rock trail of Yellowstone Park is located on the North side of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  To access this trail, drives a one-way route beginning upstream.  There is a very popular hike to the brink of the lower falls.  The next major hike and parking lot is the red rock point.

This begins as a switch back trial descending fairly steeply.  The trail is paved part of the time.  Waterfall cannot be seen until you have distended a few turns.  Then it is in view and you can hear the powerful water.  As you descend further, the noise grows louder and the view continues to improve.  Descend to the red rock point by going down several flights of stairs noted in the picture above.

The view was quite wonderful.  I was there midmorning.  The waterfall primarily faces east.  Because of this, the late afternoon sun would make it difficult to photograph.  Sunrise might be a better time to visit this.

The hike itself is short but will make you puff because of the high altitude.  You can easily go down and back in less than one hour.  I highly recommend it.
red rock point waterfall view
Lower Yellowstone Falls

Zion Canyon: Three Waterfall Oasis

private waterfall zion desert
Three Waterfall Oasis
I am a fan of falling water.  It is especially sweet to find in the desert.  There aren't many places in Zion National Park which have not been discovered or put on the park map, especially in the name Zion Canyon.  During my recent visit there, one of the shuttle drivers pointed out a pull off which sounded interesting to me.  I jumped off the shuttle and walked a long ways back until I found it.  It was a worthwhile stop because a beautiful oasis with a split waterfall was all mine for a short time.