114 posts tagged night
New York City at night - Shooting with a camera that can see in the dark: the Sony A7S
It’s no secret that I absolutely love photographing New York City at night.
City nights create a huge spark in my imagination recalling all of the night sequences in the history of cinema. My love of night shooting is also aided along by the fact that I don’t necessarily enjoy shooting the city during the daytime since I have extreme sensitivity to sunlight. And so, I spend a lot of time walking through the neighborhoods of New York City during the late hours of the night and wee hours of the morning. I would say that I spend more time out in the streets of NYC with my cameras more than I do during the daytime.
A little background about gear:
I have been posting my photography online ever since I first knew I was falling hard for photography. It’s interesting to look back at posts and articles wrote a few years back opining on the exact moment I knew I was in love with photography. Many of my early posts about photography discussed how being limited with my gear early on helped me to learn about light and work within the constraints of my gear.
I grew up in Queens in a family that skirted the line between lower middle class and just slightly below. We made the most of what we had. When I was 17 years old, due to circumstances that I will write about one day, I moved out on my own in New York City as the rest of my family moved 2500 miles out west. With this context in mind, I think that starting out with limited gear in photography wasn’t so much a stretch for me since I had a long pattern of trying to make the most limiting of situations work to my advantage in life.
When I finally had a little money and knew I wanted to upgrade my camera, I chose Sony based on trusted advice from a good friend. I never regretted that choice. And as I moved up with my gear choices due to an eventual partnership with Sony and then, most recently, being chosen to be one of 10 contracted Sony professional photographers, I have had the chance to experiment quite a bit with some of the most innovative cameras in the world.
I never forget where I came from though. I always feel fortunate that I can do what I do now as a career and while I am no longer as limited as I was when I started out with my $79 point-and-shoot camera, I think a lot about what I am able to do now with photography in contrast to what I was unable to do back in those early days. I think that remembering the limitations helps me to appreciate how much I am currently able to make my visual dreams a reality.
My theory about camera gear:
I felt it was necessary to include the above before I start to talk about the Sony A7S. Context is everything. Sony doesn’t ask me to make posts about the cameras I use. If I enjoy the experience I have with a camera and love what I create with a camera, I will write and post about the experience. I never feel pressured to create content for the sake of creating content. I love photographing my travel adventures and my New York City adventures and if I come across gear that wows me, it’s hard not to share how I feel about said gear.
It’s as simple as this statement: camera gear allows me to test the limits of my imagination and vision.
Photographers are dream catchers and moment collectors and anything that lets me catch my dreams and collect the moments that make my heart sing to the best of my ability is going to be something I want to share.
Seeing in the dark:
Right before I attended the American Museum of Natural History’s first adult sleepover, I was sent the A7S. It’s an unusual camera in the current camera gearscape. The Sony A7S has the unrivaled ability to shoot up to 409,600 ISO, a fact which looks completely ludicrous when you first read that number. While I was at the museum sleepover, I was completely blown away by the fact that I was shooting in extremely low light at 25,000 ISO and ending up with images that had little to no visibly aggravating noise.
This past weekend, I decided to take the camera with me and my friend Spencer as we wandered around the Lower East Side. Spencer is one of the most talented guitarists I know and when we hang out in the summer, he usually brings his guitar to play outside, so I figured I would try to record his playing on the streets of NYC late at night when the light wasn’t so great. While I love taking photos at night, I have felt limited in the past when it comes to areas of the city that aren’t well lit.
Anyone who has talked extensively with me over the last few months knows how much I am obsessed with exploring video in terms of creating new media. I have always viewed life as if it is a cinematic sequence. Even as a child, I imagined that every action was a frame in a never-ending film that I am directing. Photography is my way of capturing stills from that never-ending film and exploring shooting video is my way of capturing the sequences as they happen.
Some statements about this video:
1. I have almost no experience shooting video currently. I am still waiting to get a great directional shotgun microphone for my camera, in fact. This is one of the first videos I have shot that I was ok with posting online because I am blown away by the image quality (and I love his guitar playing).
2.I shot this video handheld as an MP4 (I hadn’t changed the record settings yet.). There is quite a bit of city noise and my focus was on capturing his playing against that great backdrop.
And so, this was the result of my spur-of-the moment recording (uploaded to my YouTube channel that I will start posting more content to soon!):
….This was recorded at 40,000 ISO!
It was 1:00 in the morning and we were sitting in a low-lit section of Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. I didn’t edit this at all aside from passing it through a noise filter in Premiere to lessen the city noise (minimally). The video does look a bit compressed due to upload to YouTube but other than that, it’s hard for me even to fathom that I was able to record at such a high ISO with no issue. I could have pumped it higher as well but then I would have run into over-exposure issues.
The photo that accompanies this post was shot at 32,000 ISO on Clinton Street the next night. You can view it larger here if you wish: New York City - Night - Lower East Side - Clinton Street.
As I mentioned in my museum sleepover photo-set, when I got my first Sony camera (the A55), anything past 800 ISO was unusable due to noise. And when I shot most of my New York Snow photos, it was with the A99 at 4000 ISO which (for me) was the limit for that camera. So, 20,000 ISO and 40,000 ISO just seems like a dream!
Getting back to the beginning of this post, as an avid night shooter who prefers night photography over daytime photography, the implications that this camera has on my own photography is huge since I no longer feel as limited as I can’t wait to do more night photography and video (I have a video project in the works currently, will tell more about it in due time) and capture the moments and sequences that make my heart sing.
And that makes me incredibly happy.
Information about my New York City photography book which is releasing in stores and online in the autumn of 2014 (including where to order it):NY Through The Lens: A New York Coffee Table Book
New York City: Night
the city stars
shine like supernovas
in a vast
And in the hours
just before midnight
during muffled increments
when the city’s heart
palpitates in time
to the distant lullaby
of the day’s remains
alleys and streets.
New York City doesn’t have many alleys.This is an alley in lower Manhattan. This was taken on a quiet night with my Sony A99.
I love the moments that occur when night falls and dreams roam the streets.
Information about my New York City photography book (including where to order it): NY Through The Lens: A New York Coffee Table Book
New York City - Night - Times Square from Above
while we soar
through the streets,
flying past buildings,
the city soars
along with us,
its neon lights
This is a 2.5 second long exposure taken with my Sony A7R while I was high above Times Square at midnight one night. Truly a breathtaking view.
New York City at Night - Lower East Side
Street lights shine
under a blanket of
as the mist
from the fog
of millions of thoughts
into a sky
heavy with dreams.