Shooting the Blue Lights, Part 4

Walking down a little further, I passed by all the tourists taking pictures. Saw one guy with his point and shoot on a tripod, trying to a pic of his three friends in front of the city. I quietly wished him luck and kept walking. I saw a couple of other photographers there with their SLRs and tripods (all fancier than mine) set up along the way, and tried to stay out of their way. I picked a spot that had a clear view of the Empire State Building to my left, and the blue lights straight ahead. Just to the right of the beams was a string of lights from a bridge, though I have no idea which one. To the left were some low-lying buildings, nothing remarkable. That’s what I had to work with.

On the bright side, the sky was mostly clear, minus an occasional small cloud drifting by in the far distance. The wind was up, but I thought I had everything I needed to get a decent shot. Again, it just came down to getting the right settings. How quick a shutter speed to minimize the wind? How high an ISO to achieve that? How large an aperture could I use? Adjust one to the left, adjust the other to the right. Click, try again.

ISO 400, 2.5 seconds, 17mm @ f/5.6

ISO 400, 2.5 seconds, 17mm @ f/5.6

I did notice something from the new perspective, though. It’s something that came up in an earlier conversation. It looked like only one beam was on. I suspected that was because we were looking across the beams, and one was hiding behind the other effectively. Looking up at the clouds where the light ended, I could see I was right. Two clear bright spots of light indicated that two beams were piercing the sky. But from there, it only looked like one. Perspective is your enemy. And, again, my choice of location came back to bit me. I’d rather have a shot with both lights visible, but I’d take what I could get.

From this angle, you can make out the two beams of light separated as they hit the clouds.

From this angle, you can make out the two beams of light separated as they hit the clouds.

TOMORROW: The problems with planes and cruise ships.