A City's Patience
I recently visited New York to try and capture some images of the city that were uniquely my own. After a rather large winter storm, I headed out into the city alone. I started in Brooklyn and eventually made my way to Central Park where I spent a few hours wandering around and shooting the freshly fallen snow. After I left the park, I headed up 7th Avenue back towards Times Square. I really didn�t have a mission, I just wanted to take in as much of the city as I could.
During my walk back, I passed a street that immediately grabbed my attention. The moon was slowly creeping across the sky and it was showering the wet pavement with an eerie glow. The headlights from a distant convoy of taxis mixed perfectly with the yellow tinge of the streetlights to create a colorful New York city pallet of colors. I walked down the street a bit trying to frame the shot and I eventually stopped in between two trees that I wanted to incorporate into the image. Once I was happy with the position, I unpacked the tripod slung across my back and set-up in the middle of the street.
In order to create this HDR photograph, I needed at least one 30 second exposure due to the nature of this technique. I soon found out that 30 seconds without traffic was a rarity, even on a side street. I could see the traffic light at the end of the street and each time it turned red I ran into the middle of the road and setup my tripod. On my first try, I got about 20 seconds into the exposure and a taxi cab came racing down the street honking its horn as I was obviously blocking his path. On my second attempt, I had to move for a snow plow that was lumbering down the street with a line of inpatient drivers immediately following it. On my third attempt, the first scenario repeated itself as a line on taxis came barreling through the side street. Each time I moved for traffic, I was forced to jump into about 18 inches of snow piled up on the sidewalk. This delicate dance of setting up and jumping out of the way continued over and over again.
A smarter man would have just moved on but I refused to leave without getting the shot. After about twenty minutes of pure trial and error, I finally manged to complete the 30 second exposure. Content with the image, I packed up the tripod and headed down the street back towards Times Square.
I am fast learning that many kinds of photography take patience and perseverance. You may have a good location and the necessary equipment, but that doesn�t mean that you�re going to walk away with the shot. This is especially true in urban settings where constant movement can be both a friend and an enemy. The patience and perseverance that is needed for photography mirrors many other aspects of life. Very few things are ever given to us. Most of us have to work hard and wait patiently for the things we want in life. This photograph reminds me of that. I knew the shot that I wanted and I wasn�t going to give up until I got it, even with so many forces working against me.
March 9th, 2010
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