There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs – Ansel Adams


A Bird’s Eye View

Talk about getting the chance to shoot one of the most photographed cities in the world from a completely unique perspective. This year my lovely wife, Dipali planned the most awesome of all surprises for me on my birthday – a helicopter ride over New York City. The ride started at the South Street helipad, near South Street Seaport, looped over the Statue of Liberty and then headed upstream over the Hudson River up to Central Park before turning around and heading back the base. The pilot took his time pointing out the different points of interest and the history behind them over the communications system. I for one was really only interested in making the most of the fifteen minute ride by capturing the best photographs possible.

It was a perfect day for a photo-shoot, clear and bright, with the setting sun bathing the city in a heartwarming orange glow. I set my camera to an aperture of 8, an ISO of 200 and varied the shutter speed to achieve optimum exposure. That’s as easy it gets on a nice clear day. The rest is focusing on compelling compositions. I zoomed out as far as the window frames of the helicopter would allow me to capture wide sweeping vistas of the city. I’ve included some of my favorite shots from the ride in this post. They include a lot of New York’s signature sights – the Statue of Liberty, the Financial District with the Staten Island Ferry and the new One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, Chelsea Piers and City Hall

As always, I hope you enjoy this post and I look forward to hearing from you.



Umbrella Reflector and Orbis Ring Flash Diffuser



Flash-Photography is seriously addictive. So far I’ve shot indoors on three-four different occasions and outdoors twice and have been voraciously reading tips and techniques online in every minute I can spare. For the pictures below I used a 2 flashgun set-up…my first time doing that 🙂 The first (key light) was mounted on a light-stand placed on camera left, elevated well above Onyx and pointed down at him at a (roughly) 45 degree angle. The second flash was placed on camera right and diffused through an Orbis Ring Flash diffuser (see link below) and used for fill light. I also darkened the room by closing the windows and using Onyx’s black blanket to block out any external light, so all the light in these pictures is from the two flashguns.

Like I said,this was my first time shooting with two flashguns simultaneously and the other big difference in this shoot was that I used the umbrella as a reflector rather than a diffuser. So far I had always shot THROUGH a white satin umbrella. This time however, I used my new purchased Westcott umbrella as a reflector (shown below). Onyx was to the bottom-right of this setup. So, with the flash gun and umbrella turned away from him the light was reflecting off the inside of the umbrella and traveling back to illuminate him.

The Orbis ring flash diffuser is just that, a big diffuser. It’s a flash accessory NOT an actual flash. I read about it on the Strobist website as a great way to soften light from a secondary flash to fill in the shadows and decided it to use it indoors before trying it on an outdoor shoot. Its a little cumbersome and takes some getting used to but once you do. It serves the purpose. It gave me nice diffused (soft) light to fill in the shadows not fully illuminated by the overhead key light.

If you look at Onyx’s eyes in the cropped picture below you can actually see the reflections of both light sources in his eyes a.k.a specular highlights 😉

    PS: If you are in New York and you’d like an outdoors portrait shoot please do contact me. We can set it up. I promise to make it worth your while




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