The City of New York.
Gajillions of people walking here and there and everywhere. They’re walking fast and they’re not in any mood to have their cadence interrupted or slowed down. I know this because I am one of them. It’s how we are. We’re notorious for it.
Now, as a photographer – especially one who is setting up his tripod on the stairs leading down to the Essex Street subway station to get some brackets to tone-map, this flies in the face of what I just warned you about. Here I am, blocking the entire staircase down, praying that no one walks through my frame. The first six brackets flew by. Phew!
The latter three brackets took seconds. Seconds upon seconds. They felt like minutes. Sure enough, on the last bracket (about 45 seconds), two pedestrians walked up behind me, looking to get down to the station. It is at this point when when a lot of us approach a fork in the road.
The first path is one of entitlement and is always bound to end badly. I could have turned around, taken a typical new york tone and said, “just wait a minute, I’m almost done” and return my attention to the camera. This almost always is a poor path to take.
Instead, I took the path of being cordial. I smiled and introduced myself. I subtly pleaded my case, explaining that I just needed about 40 more seconds and asked if it’d be ok for them to hold up for that time.
They thankfully obliged and we started chatting. The friendliness makes you accessible and available – it opens the door for curiosity. These strangers felt comfortable now and this helped pass the remaining seconds by allowing us to engage in some small talk about this image that I was taking.
Before we all knew it, the brackets were captured and I happily folded my tripod, wished these two pedestrians a good day and carried on.
My father always told me, “you get more with honey than with vinegar”. With photography, especially when you are frequenting public areas, this is such a valuable lesson to learn and practice.
In terms of the shot itself, I went with the Canon 14mm prime lens to accentuate the linear distortion of all the straight lines in this scene. I tilted the camera down because I loved how the hand rails flew into the frame.
I processed the image inPerfect Effects, adding some tonal contrast for detail and then selectively brushed in some saturation and brightness on the stairs and lower pathway to help guide the eye through the frame.