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Top of the Rock, New York: 3 shot panoramic

Just a few minutes before taking this image I was on the busy and almost claustrophobic streets of mid-town Manhattan, with car horns beeping, crowds of people everywhere and huge skyscrapers all around blocking out the sky as best they could. And then, after a very quick (and impressive) elevator ride I was high above the chaos, noise and almost all of the surrounding buildings rooftops. It’s safe to say, after spending several days walking around the busy streets of New York, stepping out of the elevator on to the Rockefellers rooftop observation decks 67 floors above the city, is almost like stepping in to another world!

This image is LARGE, with the original file being over 7500 x 4000 pixels in size, as such much of the detail is lost compressing for web. However I have provided two version here, a 900 pixels wide version and further down, a larger, 1800 pixels wide version.

Mid and downtown Manhattan, as seen from the Top of the Rock observation deck at the Rockefeller (30 Rock). The view includes almost all of the most iconic New York symbols, from The Empire State, to the Varrazano & Brooklyn Bridge's, to the Statue of Liberty to the bright lights of Times Square illuminating up between the buildings to the lower right and more.

Click for 900 pixels wide version

Image details info: 3 shot pano
Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: 50mm 1.4 AFS (read my review)
EXIF: 1/10s, f2.2, ISO 4000

We opted to visit the Rockefeller instead of the Empire State building as we had been told the crowds were less, the views almost on par and the latter could of course be viewed from the former, giving you an image that includes almost all of the most iconic New York landmarks, from The Empire State, to the Varrazano & Brooklyn Bridge’s, to the Statue of Liberty to the bright lights of Times Square illuminating up between the buildings to the lower right and more. I really wanted to be up there around sunset and the hour after so as to get the twilight sky with city lights illuminated. However, typically that particular evening was the only cloudy one of the visit! But regardless, the view certainly didn’t disappoint, although the 10 foot high, 40mm thick panels of security glass did their best to keep me on my toes in order to get a decent low light image given that no tripods are allowed up there.

Mid and downtown Manhattan, as seen from the Top of the Rock observation deck at the Rockefeller (30 Rock). The view includes almost all of the most iconic New York symbols, from The Empire State, to the Varrazano & Brooklyn Bridge's, to the Statue of Liberty to the bright lights of Times Square illuminating up between the buildings to the lower right and more.

Click for 1800 pixels wide version

For those who have yet to experience the Rock, the observation area is split in to three floors. The first, is mostly inside the building with just the corners offering open air views. The second floor is all outside, allowing you to almost walk 360 degrees around the outside of the building. Climb a small flight of stairs to the 3rd and highest level, and you are rewarded with almost totally unobstructed 360 degree views from wherever you stand. Look one way and you can see the Empire State building, stand on the spot and turn the other way and you can see Central Park! When you’re at the very top, there is literally nothing above your head, unless you want to climb a lightening rod that is. It’s a breathtaking view, make no mistake!

MORE THAN JUST AN IMAGE

Although a view photographed by many, it has an extra special meaning for me because it’s not just a reminder of my first visit to the Big Apple, but more importantly it’s also a memento of the trip in which my girlfriend became my fiance, having said yes to my proposal the day we were due to fly home back to the UK, truly the best end to a trip you can imagine:)

Brian Maguire

Love the pano Richard. I was up there a few years ago, but in broad daylight and without my DSLR! I’m impressed with the sharpness given the lack of a tripod – and I remember that plate glass! How did you manage – did you brace the camera against the glass perhaps?

Nick Lewis

Fantastic panaroma Richard! Plus looking forward to seeing NY for myself next year.

Bryan Farrell

lovely shot and surprising dof @ 2.2!

David Lovell

Wow, great image. I have noticed that you have shot with a 4000 ISO with a Nikon D3s, I have been shooting with Canon all my life and seriously considering getting one of these to use for low light wedding stuff. Can you recommend?

Richard Peters

Hi Brian, the trick here was to shoot between the glass panels, not through them as that would have reduced the image quality too much :)

Richard Peters

David, right now there is simply no better camera for low light than the D3s. That could all change though by the end of the year…?

Brian Maguire

Actually I just dug out my pics from that time – and (as you say) the highest accessible floor has no obstructions – no plate glass, nothing! So did you deliberately shoot from the lower floor just to be able to brace the camera between the plate glass panels?

Richard Peters

Yep! And of course the other problem with the top floor is although there are no obstructions, you can quite easily get the top of the safety glass sticking up in to the bottom of your image. So shooting between the glass offered the best option I felt :)

Brian Maguire

Gotcha Richard. And I’ve got an excuse now to go back to NYC to try this!

Richard Peters

Don’t blame you! I can’t wait to go back over one day and take some proper images around the city! So much potential!

Nigel Cooke

Fab .and I think it works really well in B+W … reminds me of my trip there a few years ago. Such a wonderful place (New York in General), but especially places like this where you can get away from the hustle down below .. loved arriving just before dusk and watching the sunset, and the lights below come on.

Richard Peters

Thanks Nigel, I must say, your photo is stunning!!