Author: Amadou Diallo
Publisher: Course Technology Cengage Learning
Review by Conrad J. Obregon
This is a simple book that proved a pleasant surprise.
This book of places to photograph includes chapters on New York City’s architecture, city life, events, urban oasis and secret NYC. There is an appendix that shows which of the places to visit based on weather and time of day. A typical entry is Brighten Beach. The entry started out with an indication of weather conditions and time of day for best shooting. This is followed by a description of the place, a suggestion for the kind of photographs to shot, including any special equipment that will prove useful, and ends with instructions on how to get to the place by public transportation. Each entry includes a few photographs taken by the author. (For non-New Yorkers, Brighten Beach is a neighborhood, not just a beach, and the author’s suggestions include photographing in the neighborhood’s restaurants.)
It’s always useful to have a guide when shooting in a new place. My own preference is a friend who lives in the area but friends often have a limited view of what might interest a photographer and, of course, you may not have a friend in the area. I usually try to research a new place, including looking at books and on-line for the way other folks have taken photos. A guide book like this can prove useful.
On the other hand, I often wonder if I am going to go some place where I’m going to find specific holes in the ground in which to place my tripod legs. I can remember an evening shoot at Tunnel View in Yosemite where 18 photographers were lined up side by side with crossed tripod legs. The best picture from the shoot was an image of the line-up of photographers! And yet there are iconic shots that a photographer has to capture, even if one can purchase the same shot from a nearby rack of postcards. Architecture in particular often does not offer opportunities for the photographer to impress his vision on the image. Thus, for the IAC building in Manhattan, which was designed by architect Frank Geary, Diallo could only tell me to stand in the same places as I had already discovered myself. On the other hand many visitors to the city might not even have realized that this subject existed. For the Empire State Building, his suggestion to shoot from the third floor of the Rockefeller Center observation deck where, unlike the lower decks, there are no glass partitions, can be a real time saver.
Other then architecture, the other chapters of the book suggest places to go that are less iconic, but provide greater opportunities for the photographer to impress his vision on the image. Even long time natives might not think of shooting the tango dancers in Central Park, or the Hudson River Tug Boat Race, or the Conservatory Garden in Central Park or the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens.
Even if the book only helps a photographer to get one memorable picture of the “Big Apple” that he or she would not otherwise make, this book is probably a worthwhile investment for the photographer visiting New York.
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