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A day photographing bridges in New York City

I had a fun day today in the big city with friend and fellow pro photographer Ron Lake. We kicked around photographing some of New York’s bridges, which are some of the most amazing structures anywhere. I’m planning a photography workshop to shoot the bridges and wanted to do a final scouting trip.

Before meeting Ron I went under the George Washington Bridge to the Little Red Lighthouse. It isn’t easy to get to but it is pretty cool and may be the smallest lighthouse I’ve seen at only 40 feet high. The lighthouse was originally on Sandy Hook in NJ and was dismantled and then rebuilt in this spot in 1921, which was a treacherous section of the Hudson River. When they decided to build the bridge in the same spot somehow the little lighthouse was spared and eventually ended up at part of the New York City park system. Getting to it isn’t easy, especially if you are driving because there is no parking anywhere close. I was lucky to find an early morning spot and made the long walk crossing Riverside Drive and Henry Hudson Parkway over footbridges and through pedestrian underpasses. I wouldn’t want to go there at night by myself.

I picked up Ron and headed to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was opened in 1883 and Ron and I together have been shooting photos for almost that long but even with all the times we’ve walked around or drove over the bridge we hadn’t strolled up on it.

The Brooklyn Bridge has some startling history. Four days after it opened there was a stampede on the bridge when a apparently a woman tripped and set off a quick moving rumor that the bridge was collapsing. Twelve people died and 36 more were injured. People didn’t accept right away that the bridge was safe and many wouldn’t use it. Officials went to the greatest showman of all time, circus man P.T. Barnum and he walked 21 elephants across the bridge. When people saw that they were no longer scared. 

It is a pretty easy walk onto the bridge from the Brooklyn side, you just have to find the entrance and walk up a flight of stairs. Since today was such a beautiful day there were a lot of people walking on the bridge, taking selfies and enjoying the view, which is magnificent. It would be fun to photograph without a ton of people but I worked around them as best as I could.

We made more photos around the base of the bridge and went over to the nearby Manhattan Bridge, which happed to eclipse the Brooklyn Bridge as the world’s longest by four feet when it was finished in 1909. It too is a beautiful bridge, especially when the suspension cables glisten in the sunlight. We know a couple of great vantages that make for cool shots and they didn’t disappoint.

We jumped back in the car, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan and went up to the Williamsburg Bridge. Not many people call this one pretty but I took us to a park at the base that is pretty neat. This bridge is more industrial looking than the other two and makes for different types of photos. It is easy to get under the bridge and I loved the way the light was playing off the columns and nearby high rise apartments.

Next was the Queensborough Bridge and a couple of little lookouts Ron had found. The paint job on the Queensborough is pretty bright, it is a lovely tan that catches light differently. The tram to Governor’s Island runs alongside the bridge and is fun to see. After getting plenty of shots around the bridge we called it a day.

Below is a gallery of photos, click on one to see a larger image and then you can click through the slideshow.

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2 thoughts on “A day photographing bridges in New York City”

  1. Yes, we’ll do some unique angles on those. Have you ever done the Little Red Lighthouse under the GWB?

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