Holiday road: Grand Central Terminal & Flatiron, NYC

12 10 05 Grand Central & Flatiron-5According to a reference on Wikipedia, Grand Central Terminal was the sixth most visited tourist attraction in the world 2011. It’s not entirely surprising but equally, it didn’t seem any busier because of the visitors. Like most everything in New York, it is just plain busy! I suppose it helps that the place is so enormous – it covers around 48 acres so the crowds weren’t any more noticeable than anywhere else really. We’d done a lot of walking the day we visited the station and we were all pretty fatigued so lunch and a short break was most welcome. Because the light was so low, I had to lean or brace the camera against a wall / banister in order to capture these photo’s. Most of these exposures are between 0.8 to 1.3 seconds and I was hoping to grab some frames where some people were quite still whilst others rushed past. I had varying success. Plus, with clan keen to keep on moving, I couldn’t linger for as long as I might of liked.

Canon 7D | EFS 10-22 | Handheld | ISO 100-200 | Aperture priority | Post: Lightroom

12 10 05 Grand Central & Flatiron-2

12 10 05 Grand Central & Flatiron-3

12 10 05 Grand Central & Flatiron-4

12 10 05 Grand Central & Flatiron-1

Flatiron Building

This is one of the most iconic buildings in the world and it didn’t disappoint. The rest of the family had set off back to the hotel (Macy’s had drained the last of their energy reserves) and I continued on the last few blocks to grab some late afternoon shots of Flatiron. Just to be annoying, a couple of blocks away, it had started to rain a bit through broken cloud cover. For a point of difference, I decided to use my 9 stop ND filter to try and capture some longer, low angle, exposures of the building – I thought it might be cool to grab the light-trails of cars when it was still daylight. They didn’t turn out that bad but it was a headache to accomplish since tripods aren’t allowed in NYC. I ended up having to rest the camera on my backpack or in a planter pot which made focusing a challenge since it was too easy to bump the lens while I setup. The process was: focus camera; switch lens to manual; switch camera to Bulb program setting; screw on ND filter…stuff it up (becuase the lens moved while screwing on the filter) and start again :-(. Repeat previous steps, balance camera on backpack at correct angle; set 2 second timer; trigger shutter with remote release; count to a certain number (48 seconds in the example below) and review image. Discover that I’d bumped the lens out of focus and start again :-(. Discover that the camera had moved during the exposure and start again :-(. Discover that raindrops on the lens were shadowing the images – start again :-(. For those that haven’t used a 9 stop filter before, the difficulties arise because once the filter is on, it is so dark that you cannot see a thing through the lens. Its sort of like wearing a welding mask. If its bright enough, sometimes you can see things if you switch the camera to Live View but it’s still too dark for the camera’s focusing system to work properly. Anyway, its all fun even if its a bit time consuming :-).

Here’s one of the shots – tell me what you think, was it worth it? (remember to click on it to see it bigger).

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Here’s a couple of other quickies for those of you who made it this far.12 10 05 Grand Central & Flatiron-6Above: Flatiron building, NYC. B&W conversion with film effect and scratches added in post.


12 10 05 Grand Central & Flatiron-8 Above: Looking east (the edge of the Flatiron is building is to the right of frame, closest to the camera).



16 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow – these are by far my favourite photos that you’ve taken!!! Just enough movement… Great sharpness!!! This is stunning Distan!!! 😀 **


  2. Distan Bach says:

    Thank you so much Xandré! You’re too kind by half. Personally, I quite like the B&W of the Flatiron building.


  3. Kathryn De Carlo says:

    Do u ever sleep??? Thanx for posting at such an early hour, gave me something to enjoy whilst feeding Luca!!



    1. Distan Bach says:

      Thanks Kat. Between midnight and 4am is my most productive time and its also the only time when I can get some peace and quiet. Hope all’s going well with little Luca; I feel terrible that I haven’t been over to see him yet. I’m looking forward to catching up with you all really soon.
      Appreciate you taking a moment to comment too, Kat. Take care guys.


  4. bec says:

    Fantastic shots, I also love the B&W of the Flatiron. Nice work


    1. Distan Bach says:

      Cheers, Bec. Appreciate the kind words and thanks for dropping by again too,


  5. These are in my mind some of your best images, giving the viewer the sense of the hustle and bustle along with the contrast of the majestic buildings. I really like the technique in the B+W of the FlatIron building


    1. Distan Bach says:

      Oh wow, James. Such generous comments! Thank you so much, that really means a lot.


      1. You are always more than welcome.


  6. drawandshoot says:

    An incredible set, Distan! The movement is absolutely perfect – the city that never sleeps.
    The black and white Flatiron image is beautifully timeless.


    1. Distan Bach says:

      Thank you very much, Karen. The Flatiron B&W turned out really well. Even in colour it colour it looked like it could of been taken 40 years ago. Glorious building.


  7. janina says:

    I think the B+Ws of Grand Central are very cool, and the B+W of Flatiron. The colour version with blurred traffic car lights would appeal to me if the focal length were a lot less extreme (leaning buildings really are not de rigeueur!) — focusing just on the Flatiron itself with the blurred lights and just some buildings in the background — cleaner view. Otherwise, I just have one question, were you able to get inside the Flatiron building? It would be fascinating to see it inside, architecturally. Good post!


    1. Distan Bach says:

      Janina, thanks so much for your comment and visiting too. I know what you mean about the distortion caused by wide angle lenses. It used to really annoy me and as a consequence I rarely used the lens. Also, whilst I enjoy processing my images, going the extra step to correct the verticals would of meant even more work. The photo just isn’t strong enough for me to take that time. If anything, I would probably try and do it for the B&W Flatiron image rather than that one. Having said all that, it doesn’t really bother me that much any more and in fact, sometimes I quite like it. Truth be told, I wanted to get even lower so I could capture the light trails at such a point that I’d get a sense of converging lines. Buildings leaning in and the street and car lights travelling to a central vanishing point. Not quite what I achieved though.

      In regards to actually going into Flatiron, no, I didn’t try. It was quite late and I just assumed that it wouldn’t of been an option. I agree though, I think it would of been very interesting to see inside.

      Again, thanks for visiting and my apologies for taking so long to reply.


  8. Mike Moruzi says:

    No tripods in NYC? Really?? I can understand not allowing them in the buildings, but not outside seems a shade on the extreme side of things.

    Anyway, lovely images. The aged, B&W is great – took me a minute to figure out it was current day! The interiors are really nice too and a technically strong set of images especially considering no tripod.


    1. Distan Bach says:

      Thanks Mike. Yeah, the coppers moved me on a couple of times in Times Square earlier in the week. Incredulous, I queried them and they said it was a city ordinance and that tripods are considered a hazard to pedestrian traffic which I can understand… to a point. I’m very conscious of getting in the way of people when using my tripod and take pains to be as inconspicuous and unobtrusive as possible. Oh well, its nice to be challenged – it forces you to be more creative and get you thinking outside the square again.

      I think the ‘vintage’ feel to the Flatiron image is helped by the fact that the car in the lower centre of frame looks like its from the 70’s too!


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