NYC Experience – Top of the Rocks

1 sec @ f/4 and ISO 200
View South towards mid-/downtown | 1.6 sec @ f/4 and ISO 200

In this episode about our week in NYC I want to take you up to the observation deck of the Rockefeller Center, called “Top of the Rocks”, just a few blocks to walk from Times Square. At 10:30pm there was no waiting line, so after showing our vouchers from the New York City Pass we could directly take the elevator up to the 67th floor, from where we enjoyed first views through glass panels (a bit protected from the cold winds), but then continued on to the open air viewing platform on the 70th floor. For a bit more info and some more photos continue after the jump….

1 sec @ f/4 and ISO 200
View towards Southeast | 1.3 sec @ f/4 and ISO 200

I always visit “Top of the Rocks” when in the Big Apple, as there is an unobstructed view towards mid- and downtown. In one photograph (see title image of this post) you can capture the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center (aka Freedom Tower) and the Statue of Liberty.

People argue, from which of the tree main NYC observation decks (Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, One World Trade Center) you have the best view. During our NYC week we visited all three of them. And I would say “it depends”. For night and sunset I would always chose “Top of the Rocks”, as towards south there is the most complete view of all towers and sights. During the day I would say the Empire State Building, as you are in the middle of everything, and in all directions there is a lot to see, especially during day time.

I would definitely rank One World Trade Center third. Not only that it sits pretty much all by itself towering over midsize buildings. And the view out to sea and harbor is not all that spectacular. And the mid- and uptown is pretty far away. The thing is, Rockefeller Center and ESB have outdoor viewing platforms. Which is awesome for photographers. One World Trade Center is indoor only, and the reflections in the glass are a nasty thing to cope with. But you will be able to judge yourself, as I will also take you up the other two towers in separate posts.

1/5 sec @ f/4 and ISO 1600
View towards North East | 1/5 sec @ f/4 and ISO 1600

Just to the right of Central Park is one of New York’s major new slender towers, the 432 Park Avenue, by architect  Rafael Viñoly. It is the second-tallest building in New York City, behind One World Trade Center, and ahead of the Empire State Building. It is currently also the tallest residential building in the world. Rising to 1,396 ft (425.5 m), it features 104 luxury apartments.

0.6 sec @ f/4 and ISO 800
View towards North | 0.6 sec @ f/4 and ISO 800

Towards the North is the “black hole” of the Central Park. You can see the construction of more super tall towers, making New York definitely the city of prolific builders (“prolific” is also the theme of this week’s WPC).

1 sec @ f/4 and ISO 200
View towards South West | 1 sec @ f/4 and ISO 200

You see from the listed exposure times I could not have taken the photos without support. As tripods are pretty much not allowed nowhere in NYC, I didn’t  even bother bringing one. But here comes an inexpensive and very useful piece of gear, my beanbag. No-one ever objected me putting my beanbag on a railing and placing my camera on top. I was really pleased with the performance of my OM-D E-M1 with the 12-100 F/4 Pro Zoom in this night session. The details the lens captures are amazing, in the title photo you can even see the Statue of Liberty in the Hudson River to the right of OWTC.

RAW conversion and post processing as usual in Lightroom Classic CC.

Wish you all a great and sunny Saturday!


Related Posts:

NYC High Contrast Monochrome

My New York City Eye Opener

Life in the Big Apple

Instant Inspiration (10) – Nocturnal Skyline

27 thoughts on “NYC Experience – Top of the Rocks

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  1. Stunning shots Marcus. And thanks for the tips on the best views. NYC is climbing up higher on my must-see list 🙂

  2. A beanbag!! You continue to amaze me with your resourcefulness, Marcus. This is a breathtaking set of images — gorgeous work.

  3. Marcus, your photographs of New York are pure urban poetry! I could never create such stunning photographs of this city. And I have never seen something like this also.
    And New York in your photographs is so beautiful!

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