Thursday, January 28, 2021

New York State of Mind

I was recently flown to New York to sing in the premiere performance of Virko Baley's modern opera, "Holodomor: Red Earth. Hunger." starring John Duykers, Laura Bohn, and my voice teacher, Tod Fitzpatrick.  The performance at the Gerald Lynch Theater at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice was very well-received with a very nearly packed house.  It was such an honor to be able to share the stage with such amazingly talented musicians.  Most of my time in the city was spent rehearsing, but I was able to steal a few hours here and there to have fun with photos.  

I wanted to photograph the oh-so-cliche view of the New York skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge, but I was unsure if I wanted to include the Manhattan Bridge or not.  I took a taxi from Times Square to the Manhattan Bridge (Bk side), figuring I could have it frame the City and the Brooklyn Bridge.  

No dice.

The sun was setting so far south, and I really wanted it in my composition, so I walked the short distance to the little park by the Brooklyn Bridge, and was rewarded with this lovely composition.  

The New York City Skyline at the Brooklyn Bridge during Sunset on a Cold February Evening. This is a Panoramic stitch of 5-HDR frames.  Each HDR frame was created from 3-RAW images using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop CS4.

After the sun descended below the horizon, I felt I should start heading back to the other side of the river.  I figured the Brooklyn Bridge had a foot-path, but wasn't sure.  After walking a short distance, my supposition was confirmed.  From atop the Brooklyn Bridge, I could see everything!  Manhattan, Brooklyn, the East River, The Stature of Liberty, the Manhattan Bridge... and I loved how the arches of the bridge complimented the city skyline.  This sunset was turning out to be exceptionally beautiful, with the gradient stretching across the city, headlights passing by underneath, city lights turning on, and the American Flag proudly raised straight ahead.  So, I set up my tripod (narrowly, so as to avoid passers-by), and captured this HDR panorama.  There were, as I said, passers-by, so I had to do some selective masking when it came to processing the bridge... But I decided to leave the tourist taking a picture of the American Flag (in between the Light pole and archway... easier to see when viewed large).  There are so many blue tones when photographing this city, the warmth of the sunset and streaking car lights added just enough red and white to give this image a distinctly American feel.  

This HDR Panorama of New York City from the Brooklyn Bridge consists of 7-horizontal HDR frames.  Each HDR frame was created from 3-RAW images using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop.

I had a limited amount of time to explore the city, due to an arduous rehearsal schedule.  The next time I was able to get out was the night before my performance.  My dear friends at the Metropolitan Opera were able to get me comp tickets to see Rigoletto that night, so I had to be at the Met by 7:00.  My rehearsal got out at 4:30... enough time?  The sun set was scheduled for 5:15, surely I had enough time to make it back to my hotel, grab my gear, and get to the top of the Rockefeller building.  There was, as expected, a bit of a line to get to the top.  I thought it was funny that normally when I chase sunsets it's through the wilderness, trying to get to an advantageous spot for compositions.  This time I was chasing the sunset, but rather than contending with wilderness, I was contending with civilization (my least favorite activity is waiting in lines).  I must say, 30 Rock is a pretty impressive place!  Lot's, and lot's of money went into this building!  

The elevator ride up to the top was pretty cool... the ceiling of the lift was clear, and once the doors closed, the lights turned out and we could see up the shaft.  The shaft was lined with blue lights, and a neat video was projected on the clear ceiling, so the ride up looked like being launched on a raptor from a Battlestar.  

I made it!  It was 5:10, with the sun about a hand's width above the horizon.  

Up top it was COLD!  and Windy!  Fortunately, I was prepared for both.  Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared for the dust and smog in the atmosphere.  My eyes could do little more than squint without watering uncontrollably.  I patiently waited for the other tourists to move away from the wall so I could set up my tripod, then I claimed my spot (in my opinion, the one decent spot for sunset photography on the whole roof due to obstructions everywhere else).  In between blinks and eye-rubs, I was able to capture a few bird's eye shots.  

You can see the dust and debris in the atmosphere.  Notice the purple and green hues in the sky?
That's what we breathe :-/
Tetris, anyone?!
The New York City Skyline with the view of the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Both Rivers, and a ton of buildings!  This is a panoramic stitch of 4-horizontal HDR images, each HDR images was created from 3-RAW images using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop CS4. 
Not only was I able to enjoy a beautiful sunset from the top of the Rock, and watch the city come alive with lights, but I made it to the Met in time for the performance.  And what a wonderful production it was!  I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends and opportunities!  

The next day was our performance of "Holodomor: Red Earth. Hunger."  It was fantastic!  The auditorium was packed, all of the musicians sounded wonderful!  It was really the best we'd sung since receiving the music three weeks earlier.  Afterwards we all celebrated.  A long-time friend of mine was able to attend the performance, so he joined us for the night too.  I chose not to drink too much, since I knew I had an early day the next day... but before I knew it it was nearly 3:30am, and I had so much energy.  So, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity, and I went on a little photo-walk.  There's nothing like walking through the streets of New York at 4:00am, because no one is out.  Where there would normally be crowds potentially tripping over my tripod, there was empty sidewalk.  So I was able to have some fun with compositions.

"Batman's Gotham"  This is an up-view of some Madison Ave buildings and corporate art. 

Find Your One Time.
This is a fisheye vertorama of Times Square from 43rd St at about 3:30am.

I managed to leave New York just before the huge snowstorm hit.  I've been back in Vegas now for over a month, incredibly busy with my Masters of Music studies.  Currently I'm performing as Dr. Dulcamara in Donizetti's Elixir of Love (March 15, 16, & 17 at UNLV).  I'm also slotted to perform at this year's Classical Singer Conference in Boston, in May, and will be performing with Sin City Opera at Vegas' Onyx Theater, too.  Soon I will have completed my studies, and will once again be able to visit more exquisite landscapes.  Until then, enjoy these Cityscapes, and be well! :-)  

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