New York, New York

Sunday 5thAugust 2018

We were up and out reasonably early. First stop was the Statue of Liberty. It was so hot already. We got an Uber straight down to Battery Park and found the line for tickets. We thought that it was a pretty long line for the ticket sales. It moved pretty quickly though. We got our tickets and headed for the next line – the security checkpoint. That took much longer. After lining up for so long, we got through and onto the boat. We couldn’t believe it when we were going past the Statue of Liberty and seeing it ‘in the flesh’ so to speak.

We got off the boat on the island to see her close up. Neither of us were feeling great, partially due to the weather and partially due to fighting off bugs. I had started to take some antibiotics as my throat infection from Dublin was not improving at all. We had something to eat and Phil tried some American Lemonade – made from lemons – not Sprite or 7UP (as our lemonade is called here). It was super refreshing (and very cold) and really helped to get us going again. The sun was pelting down and it was so hot. We took some photos (naturally) and walked around the island. We didn’t get tickets to the crown as we weren’t sure in advance when we would be going there and it wasn’t something that interested Phil and I. A word of warning though, if you do want to go up to the crown, you should book online, well in advance, especially in July and August.

We lined up and got on the next boat to Ellis Island and back to Battery Park. We didn’t feel up to stopping at Ellis Island that houses the immigration museum due to the heat and wanting to get something to eat before starting the photo tour. As we got off the boat there were some street entertainers. They were amazing and got the crowd involved. Unfortunately, we couldn’t watch them for long as we had to go. We were meeting the photographer opposite Grand Central Station at a café, so went there for lunch. It was perfect. It was airconditioned – which was a definite today. We had a beautiful lunch here and met our photographer, Frank here too.

After lunch and getting to know a little about Frank, we headed out to start our photo safari. We had organised this through New York Photo Safaris (if you want to check out their website, click on the link). Our first stop was Grand Central Station. Frank set us some challenges and away we went. He helped us in terms of composition and low light photography (as we didn’t use the tripods in the station). We experimented with people moving through the frame. Phil was way more successful in this experiment than I was. Frank then showed us the whispering wall. If you face a corner and whisper upwards, then you can hear it from the opposite diagonal corner. It was very cool.

We headed back out onto the streets of Midtown New York. We experimented with taking photos of different buildings and other details that caught our eye as we walked. Our next stop was the New York Public Library. I was reliving the moments in Day After Tomorrow – one of my favourite movies. Frank set us another challenge here – to take photos that included the lions – don’t stress – they are stone lions. We accepted the challenge. We also got some water, the heat wasn’t as bad here as at the Statue of Liberty – due to the shade from the buildings, but it was still hot. There were people selling cold drinks of water out of their eskies – entrepreneurship at its best.

Next, we headed to Bryant Park. This was just behind the library and was a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. There were lots of people relaxing (in the shade) and some crazy people playing / relaxing in the sun. I guess when your winters are as cold as New York has, you appreciate the sunshine more. Once more we had a challenge to complete in terms of photographing the carousel depicting movement. Phil was, once again better at this challenge. He understands the technical aspects of the camera better than I do. We had another challenge to complete here, which was portraits of people, which is something that I tend to do better than Phil.

As we were leaving we got chatting to some lovely local people who lived and worked in the city. We then headed to Times Square. This is crazy and we loved it! Massive billboards, advertising everywhere, neon lights all around, hundreds of yellow cabs, people out enjoying this crazy environment and beautiful day. I didn’t know what to take photos of first! Frank helped though by suggesting ways to improve on my original photographs. It was fabulous. I experimented with some panning of yellow taxi’s. I’m happy with the results that I got, although I need to experiment more with this, ready for our next trip away.

Our next adventure on our safari was to brave the subway! Frank was very kind, helping us to get our ticket and taking us on the train. It was similar to the underground trains in Sydney and the tube in London – but on a completely different level. There are heaps of trains and different levels of platforms in each station depending upon which train you want. When we got off at Brooklyn, High St, we experimented with taking photos of the trains and the station signs.

We walked downhill to get our first glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. Wow! The sun was just setting and it was so surreal to actually be here when we had dreamed about it for so long. We stayed here for a while so we could get the sunset colours and then the evening lights. Frank was very helpful in terms of settings on the camera.

Frank then showed us another spot where we could get photos of the Empire State Building through the arches of the Manhattan Bridge. This required some patience as we had to take the photos on the side of the road and so any cars coming along were in the shot.

We farewelled Frank, who was extremely kind and helpful. We had a great time with him and would highly recommend New York Photo Safari Tours. We ended up getting an Uber back to where we are staying as we were both completely wiped out. Today was a big day, but a great day.

Another big day tomorrow.

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