June 13, 2011

They Say the Neon Lights are Bright


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I couldn’t go to New York and not shoot Times Square. That would just be wrong.

After a late dinner, goodbyes, and some light-hearted insults and curses, the group of us parted company. Some hit the garage to retrieve their cars and some hit the subway.  I, on the other hand started hoofing it back to the hotel, about 15 blocks away.

I thought about grabbing a cab, especially after hauling my camera gear around all day. I swear … at the beginning of the day it felt like my bag weighed mere ounces. By the end of the day, it felt like it weighed tons. Anyway, I figured, what’s another 15 blocks. Besides, I knew I’d be walking through Times Square and figured I’d take the opportunity to shoot a little more.

I threw the fisheye back on the camera ventured in. The lights were bright and activity was high. On their respective traffic light cues, cars flew through the intersections and people scrambled across the streets. Neon and LCD lights made the middle of the night feel more like daylight.

I stopped and shot in a few spots, but when I hit Broadway and (I think) 7th I lingered a little longer. I liked the way the elements converged. I shot a few sets of brackets to be sure capture enough details in the signs and buildings as well as a good range of motion blur from the cars lights and the pedestrians.

In processing, I wanted to build an image that conveys the hyper activity of Times Square at night. In Photomatix, I blended 2 or 3 of brackets using the exposure blending mode (no tonemapping here). Then, in n onOne Software’s Perfect Layers, I selectively masked in a some of the ghosted motion and sign details using a few of the other brackets.

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  1. Very cool image! Time Square is on my bucket list and I’ve heard that you really can’t capture it properly without a fish or really wide angle.

  2. Nicely done, Bob. This has to be the best Time Square image I’ve seen. It captures the activity well without being garish and overdone.

  3. This is an amazing city scene! The exposure is spot on and there is just enough blur in the people. Just right.

  4. The ghosting is awesome – I also love how you centered up the fish with the streetlamp, (it almost looks like the ball is about to drop on New Year’s) — I know what you mean about the gear, I am still sore from lugging around all my stuff 🙂