Stopping Time: New York in One-Point Perspective
Thanks to today’s smartphone technology, most of us have a camera on our person at all times. The iPhone 7 shoots a maximum pixel depth in RAW of 3024 x 4032, or 10″ x 13.5″ at 300DPI. The camera has a 12MP rear-facing cameras with an aperture of ƒ/1.8. That’s phenomenal quality for a phone. I’m also very excited about the new Light L16 camera coming out sometime next spring. It’s set to revolutionize smaller cameras. The iPhone7 Plus contains a camera with duel 12MP rear-facing camera lenses. This Light L16 Camera uses a sixteen rear facing lens system to shoot photos at the same time, then computationally fuses them into a 52MP DSLR-quality image. It’s quality unlike anything we’ve seen before in such a small camera. I can’t wait to try it out!
The architectural layout of New York city is a huge reason why it’s long been a favorite location for photographers. It’s not just the energy and the actual amount of life teeming on its streets, it’s also the shooting perspectives created by the 1811 Grid Plan.
Although grid plans had been utilized in both ancient and modern times, the grid plan of 1811, filed in March of that year, was radical and divisive. It called for a complete overhaul of the island’s topography and had no regard for the land’s natural ecology. Almost all hills above Houston street were leveled and all marshlands were filled in. Upon the topography twelve primary 100 foot wide (30 meter) avenues—roughly parallel to the Hudson River—were placed, running north-south. Lexington and Madison avenues were added later, and while Broadway existed in 1811, it wasn’t part of the original plan above Houston Street. In wider areas of the island, four lettered avenues were included east of First avenue, running towards the East River. These main avenues intersect streets at right angles creating vast stretches of Manhattan that are perfect for shooting one-point perspective photography.
I shoot as much as possible around New York. I find the act of stopping to take a photo of life occurring in front of me therapeutic. The pace of New York is so fierce that it’s easy to allow everything outside the periphery to blur, but if we train ourselves to slow the blur down there’s so much awesome life to see and be a part of. Thanks to the smartphone, it’s easier for us all to be better photographers. I consider photography an alternative means to create memories. Ever looked at a photograph you’ve shot? Isn’t it funny how our minds are are immediately transported into that moment as soon as we study the photo? Shooting photography in New York is even more emotionally layered thanks to the hundreds of years of fast-paced human energy on every street.
On a sunny Flag Day in 2016 I was looking north while standing at the western corner of Fifth Avenue and Forty-Eighth Street. I was waiting for the traffic light to change with hopes of snapping a good photo of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. When the light did change, somehow the traffic which had just passed south was at least two blocks further and the traffic yet to pass was at least two blocks north. As I stood in the middle of the street focusing my eyes on the shot, the rest of my senses noticed the stillness all around. I instantly heard the sound of footsteps and of the casual conversations people were having as they passed. It was surreal. The noise of automobile traffic had been silenced and old New York was alive. Take a look at that photo below.