Behind the Image: Jeremy Walker recounts his New York state of mind

Behind the Image: Jeremy Walker recounts his New York state of mind

To celebrate the lead up to PhotoLive 2014, we’ll be featuring a different image from each photographer speaking at the event.

Sometimes a spectacular image happens when you least expect it. Leading landscape pro Jeremy Walker explains how a trip to New York to photograph architecture yielded a completely different type of image than you’d normally associate with the Big Apple.

Behind the Image: Jeremy Walker recounts his New York state of mind

Decaying wooden piles from the old wharfs on the Hudson river, New York, by Jeremy Walker

Earlier in the year I was shooting architecture in New York and instead of staying in central Manhattan I hired an apartment in the suburbs and chose to commute into the city.

Every morning I walked passed this location on my way to the train not giving it a moments thought.

It was only when my job was finally finished I was able to spend some time contemplating the myriad poles and piles and the way the tide ebbed and flowed around them.

SEE MORE: 5 ways to shoot landscapes you never thought to try

I spent an hour or two on successive  mornings trying to get the combination of tide, composition and light come together and received many a strange look and comment  from the commuters .

Although some planning goes into an image like this lady luck also plays a big part. I only had two days for my own shooting and I was dependant on the tide.

Fortunately the waters of the Hudson played ball. Too high a tide and most of the piles would be submerged, too low and it would be a forest of darkness.

The light was just right too with high grey cloud blocking out any direct sunlight, so no big distracting highlights to contend with.

SEE MORE: 10 landscape photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)

Another problem with shooting in big cities, especially some of the suburbs is security and forever glancing over your shoulder to see what the threat levels are like.

Fortunately this part of the old docks has been gentrified and security cameras and guards are plentiful. In fact many commuters stopped to chat, puzzled by what I was shooting.

What of course they could not see was that I was shooting a long exposure, allowing the water to move and ripple around the decaying wooden docks.

The LEE Big Stopper allows for a ten stop increase in exposure, a 30th of a second becomes 30 seconds, just long enough to blur the water around the piles yet short enough to retain some detail in the surface of the water. A short enough exposure to allow some detail in the ghostly gulls too.

The kit for this shot was very simple: a Nikon D3X with a Nikkor 45mm Tilt and Shift lens and Gitzo tripod with an Arca ball and socket head.

The advantage of the tilt and shift lens is in allowing the depth of field to be maximised by tilting the lens down by a degree or so.

To increase the exposure from a 30th of a second to 30 seconds a LEE Big Stopper has been used and the conversion to black and white was done in Photoshop.

Apart from a few odd looks hanging around the Hudson looking at long gone docks and piers was good fun … or am I just strange ?

Jeremy is running a session at PhotoLive 2014 on how to photograph panoramic landscapes. You can check out his website to see more of her amazing pictures.

PhotoLive takes place in Leeds (23 Aug), Edinburgh (30 Aug) and London (06 Sep). You can view the full schedule and book tickets at Use code DCAM20 and get 20% off your ticket.


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