“Location, Location, Location”
No, I don’t mean buying the most prime real estate in the world with a handful of trinkets from a group of native Americans who happened to be passing by that day and probably did not claim to own it anyway. I mean finding the view of western, lower Manhattan, which would allow a full, face-on view of the new tower.
Serendipity played its role, as I travelled to a friend’s birthday party in a building on the shoreline of Hoboken, just before sunset. The ferry gave some attractive views during the crossing, but the pitch, yaw and roll of a fast launch crossing a great river is not ideal for photographic stability. Instead the attractive quayside and pontoon sections jutting into the river Hudson offered magnificent views of midtown and lower Manhattan with the sun setting in the West behind the camera.
The Art Of The Possible
Architect Daniel Libeskind’s various designs for this building are lighter, more shapely curved and complex than this final compromise between the desires of the promoter, the city and the designer. That said, for me the external effect is much more attractive than the buildings it replaced. The reflectiveness and transparency of the cladding create a changing surface, reflecting the surrounding buildings and clouds and allowing the starry, speckled lights to glow in the early evening.
Structurally, the plunging lines of its triangular sections create a more visually dramatic effect than previously and the particular angle that I chose seeks to maximise the thrust of the central section down to near the ground.
Emotionally, it is hard not to draw a breath at the frequent passing of helicopters in front of the building and of aircraft in the sky behind it, given its status as a defiant challenge to those who bear ill will towards America. I did experiment with including some of these in other images, but I felt that this was unfeeling and improper.
The technical challenges were straightforward. Because I was carrying a monopod instead of a tripod, I had to make one compromise in order to achieve acceptable sharpness. This was to apply Shutter Priority and force a speed of 1/500s, which is a recommended cut off point for switching off Vibration Control. As a consequence of this, the light level from a setting sun necessitated the use of a less than ideal ISO of 2500. This defect seems to have resulted in a pleasing (at least to me) softening of the detail on the different faces of buildings reflecting the light.
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G,
Focal Length: 185mm
Focus Mode: AF-S
Shutter Speed: 1/500s
Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single
Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
ISO Sensitivity: 2500
Mounted on monopod
Having lived in New York between 2005 and 2008, I felt some compassion and satisfaction that the city is finally taking a breath and settling down to a new and vibrant, post 9/11 era. Ground Zero is now a dignified memorial and 1 World Trade Center contributes to the hustle and bustle of the 5 Boroughs. May it do so in peace.
Copyright Paul Grayson 2015 All Rights Reserved