4 min read

Streets of New York

I've had the chance to spend a bit more than a week in New York City for work in late July.
It's actually not my first time in NYC, but the "real" first time was a 3-day stay in October 2011 and the city was hit by a big snowstorm on my second day there...

Rockefeller Center under the snow, panorama — 5D Mark II, 24-70mm f/5.6

Needless to say I did not see much of the city then!

Also, I recently purchased an old 1982 Leica M4-P and a 1989 Summicron 35mm f/2 Leica lens. The compactness of the combo, especially compared to a 5D Mark II + 24-70mm f/2.8, makes it perfect for street photography, where discretion is key.

In my mind, nothing could be better than the streets of New York to practice street photography. So that's with this mindset that I wandered around in this concrete jungle.

The Flatiron Building

Mind you, it was the first time I was trying my hand at this. I am more used to landscape/cityscape photography, where a city's atmosphere is communicated through larger scenes, wide views playing with lights, geometry or meteorologic events (snowstorm is a good example 😌).

Capturing a city's mood through its people, on a much more granular level, is way more challenging!
You've got to watch for any little detail, any situation that once frozen will tell the complete story of whatever unfolded before your eyes. This of course is true in other fields of photography, but when on top of that you don't want to be noticed by the people you're shooting, I think it adds to the difficulty.

Anyway! I was located near the Madison Square Park, so that's where I first walked around, camera in hand and eyes wide opened.

This woman looked so classy, with her white suit and bow-tied shoes!
It felt like she had just come out of the shop's window itself.

It was my very first "close-up" street photo and I was quite afraid she'd spot me adjusting my shot if I was standing right in front of her, so I took the picture from an angle. I kinda regret it today, but still like the image for both its atmosphere and the thrill it gave me to capture it.

I found that this thrill was a great driver to try and get closer shots of unsuspecting people...

Well, sometimes they do catch you, but that's not a big deal (not always, at least!).

Of course I also went on a little sightseeing trip, and found it easier while still interesting to take pictures of a crowd in this context, everyone being busy looking at stuff other than the creep pointing a camera at them 😁

On the boat to the Statue of Liberty

Finally, I feel the photo below is a good sum up of what I learned during the few days I spent discovering street photography: I was close to the guy but did not want him to notice me.

I metered the scene for a good exposure, set up my camera and aimed to the left so that he'd think I was shooting something else.
I slowly shifted to the right to include him in the frame and then waited for the right moment: barely a few seconds later he moved his hand into a ray of light to throw away his cigaret butt.
Knowing I wouldn't get a second chance, I pressed the shutter release, and captured what would be my last photo of New York City.

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