Manhattan Skyline: Photo of the Week

After a quite emotional departure from South America I arrived very late the other night to New York City.  I can’t tell you how struck I was by the “awakeness” of this city so late at night on a Monday.  I shouldn’t have been surprised as New York is so rightfully nicknamed the city that never sleeps.

I have to be honest, I was worried that I would fall into a strange state of culture shock when arriving back in North America, but for the time being I actually feel very comfortable here.  The one thing I have noticed though is the size.  And not only the physical size, but the relative travel time in distance.  In Medellin I could hop a taxi and in 5-10 minutes I would be anywhere I want to be.  Here in Manhattan, even with the subway (which I love by the way) it takes time to get anywhere.  Regardless, I’m loving the big apple so far.

Yesterday it rained basically all day here in New York City, which often makes photographers hide.  However, I am armed with a new camera (more on that later) and I couldn’t help but go shoot.  The truth is that although shooting photography in the rain can be a challenge, it is usually really rewarding.  Quite often the best photos come during, or just after a rain storm.  I shot this photo of the Manhattan skyline during the rain, and I couldn’t be happier about the way it came out.  The colours just came alive for me.

I only had two days to shoot photos so I didn’t get everywhere I wanted, but after searching out for some cheap flights to New York I have found some good deals and will be back in February. I’m looking forward to the chance to shoot more of the city.

Here’s the shot:

 How I got this shot

Some might feel that getting a nice skyline shot is simple.  You find a good view point and you shoot it.  While that’s not exactly the case.  Shooting skylines might be the most frustrating thing in photography because a lot of it comes down to luck.  I could prepare everything properly: be at my spot an hour early, have all my gear ready, batteries charged, but then just get a dull sky.  In all honesty, I was expecting a dull sky when I shot this, and I think everyone else was too because I was the only one there shooting.  However, the dull cloudy sky captured all the lights of New York City, which was covered in Christmas lights as well, and held a beautiful blue/purple colour for about 15 minutes.

When is the best time to shoot the skyline a city like New York City?  In my opinion it is about an 30 minutes after the sun has gone down.  This way you get this iridescent blue/purple light.  Plus you get all the building lights as well.  There is more to that though too.  I prefer to shoot skylines on weekdays in the winter.  Why? Because many people are still at work when the sun goes down at 430-5pm,  As such the buildings of the city are still very much lit up.  This photo of the Manhattan skyline in New York City is exactly that.

For the photographers out there.  This New York skyline photo was 3 images stiched together using Kolor Autopano Giga.  Each image was shot at f/16 at 18mm, with an exposure of 25 seconds.  ISO 100.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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6 Comments

    • Naw man, it was pouring during this shot. But, rain clouds make for great city shots right after the sun goes down.

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  1. Love how you captured the overcast winter halo effect. You dont see shots of that too often, and usually they look artificial. Makes me homesick.

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    • Thanks, I’m glad you like the image!

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  2. Great photo, Brendan. Spent a long weekend in Manhattan back in September and it was fantastic – so many photo opportunities! Hope you got a chance to visit Times Square and Central Park!

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    • Thanks Geoff! I did check out those places, but in my short amount of time I didn’t see everything I hoped. Luckily I’ll be back in February… Amazing city for photography.

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