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Times Square, New York City Photo Guide

New York City Photography Guide

When it comes to photography, Times Square, New York City is one of the best urban models you will find. It is not a beautiful city in the classic European sense. Rather, it has a larger than life personality that makes it unforgettable. That personality is as diverse and colorful as the people who live here. This New York City photography guide is designed to help the camera-equipped tourist to find the best places to capture compelling cityscapes during their visit. Let’s start with your choice of equipment.

New York City Photography Guide

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The photo above was shot about five years ago with a handheld Canon Rebel XS and kit lens. The Rebel XS was the entry-level DSLR model for Canon at that time. I shot this image at F:8, 400 ISO and with image stabilization enabled. This photo of Times Square, New York City is available as a free high-resolution digital download suitable for printing and framing. Click the button below for instant download. For personal use only. Please contact me for any commercial use or application.

My Top Times Square Photo Tips

Here are a few top tips to help you capture memorable photos during your visit to New York City:

Your Camera Gear: Travel Light!

If it’s too heavy to carry all day don’t bring it. You don’t need long telephoto lenses or heavy pro-level DSLR cameras to capture great photos of New York City. Keep it light. New York is a walking city. Traffic is a nightmare so you are better off using public transportation and your feet to get to your favorite attractions. The lighter your gear the better. If you must bring a tripod, make it the lightest, most portable model you will find usable. A heavy backpack full of lenses and gear will limit your mobility and the range of great images you can capture.

Night Photography Tips - Times square, NYC

Foot traffic is fast moving and dense in most parts of Manhattan. Trying to setup a tripod can often be a nuisance and even a potential safety hazard. Fortunately, most modern point and shoot cameras and lightweight mirrorless and DSLR cameras usually have some form of image stabilization built in. During the holidays when crowds are heavier than normal in Times Square, the police discourage the use of tripods as it can pose a safety hazard for pedestrians. The Times Square photos seen on this page were all captured near sunset with a handheld DSLR camera (Canon Rebel XS) and image stabilized kit lens set at 400 or 800 ISO. Unless you are shooting sweeping panoramas of the New York City skyline at night you will not need a tripod at all. Comfortable walking shoes will be your most important piece of photographic gear!

Times Square: Get Your Best Photos

To capture the most intensely colorful images in Times Square, do your sightseeing in the early afternoon to pick your favorite places to photograph. Scout out Times Square. Now, take your photos in the half hour before and after sunset (otherwise known as the ‘Golden Hour’). Why is this the perfect time to photograph Times Square? You will have the perfect balance of glowing sunset light in the sky and street light from the electronic billboards. You will capture dazzling images with little effort because of all the beautiful light. Once the sky turns black your images will lose much of their color and appeal. Don’t bring a tripod to Times Square. The foot traffic is so dense that you will most likely create a hazard just by setting it up. There will be sufficient light to shoot consistently sharp handheld photos with your image stabilized camera set at 400 or 800 ISO.

Times Square, NYC Sunset

A key to great photos of Times Square is careful timing. At sunset, avoid photographing electronic billboards when they are showing large areas of white or very light colors. Your camera is more likely to overexpose those billboards and they will appear to be pure white in your photos. Rather, wait for billboards that show lots of primary colors and strong pastels. Your photos will have richer colors if you do.

If you preset your cameras aperture and ISO settings you will be able to shoot rapidly and get a higher number of photos during the ‘Golden Hour.’ I generally turn on image stabilization, set the aperture to F:8 and ISO to 400. Let the camera focus automatically and shoot as many photos as possible. The light is so beautiful during the ‘Golden Hour’ in Times Square that it is hard to make a bad photo! Don Peterson