#Photography: New York, and all that I learned from the 'Big Apple'

in photography •  4 years ago 

THE City of Dreams for many, a new beginning, a place to get truly lost and in the process discover that nobody actually cares about you - not because people are rude but simply, because it really is one of the most progressed cities culturally.


As a South African, it was quite amazing to be given the opportunity to explore a city and another part of the world many people would quite literally joke about trading a kidney for - I'd of course sell one to go and live there (and no, that wasn't a joke).

From the clean streets to the scenery, the breathtaking views of the city at night to the vast array of trees and of course, the downright weirdest people on the planet; New York offers it all and more and despite the high tax, a decent paying job would make it a place where many could survive and still have fun.


Let me be clear about that: I lasted a month as a person who smokes, needed to eat and pay for accommodation and travel all on a mere budget of a thousand dollars - and I had a lot of fun and never went hungry. (Don't ask me how I did it because I honestly don't know. But as they say, if you can survive in New York, you can pretty much survive anywhere).

As much as I wish I had gone in Summer, Winter certainly offered the breathtakingly clear night skies that I craved, as did the brisk bite of the crisp morning air. Nothing opens your lungs like the Winter winds of New York hitting your face early in the morning.


I was of course told not to convert back to my home-currency when buying things but I couldn't help it - at times, things were simply darn expensive and at other times, surprisingly more affordable than I would have ever expected. This was especially true when it came to food - six dollars really gets you a lot.

Visiting the Big Apple as a group also certainly helps save you a lot when looking for accommodation so to anyone considering travelling to New York, be sure to book well in advance and look for package deals.


One bit of advice, do not go on tour group travels. Simply put, these are expensive and you can see everything you want and more by sticking to the basics - and by that I mean walking the streets like a normal human being.

If you are reading this and have been a fan of my page for quite some time - especially for all of the bonsai related content - don't try and bring back tree seed you've picked. This will land you in some hot water with customs no matter how much you've sterilized the seeds or how they have been packaged.


Of all of the things I believe I had enjoyed the most, one thing really stood out and it actually was nothing strange at all: Simply watching people was an activity of choice, be it night or day. The word 'transfixed' comes to mind.

One could easily spend a day monitoring the habits of the every day person and it is something not easily explained. One simply has to watch to understand.


A valuable lesson I learned was that expectations really don't matter and are quite mundane in any case. Another thing I find difficult to explain after visiting the city itself.

An added benefit of walking almost everywhere was getting lost - I do not understand how anyone could get lost in the city; A pub on every corner offers free Wi-Fi (with that comes Google Maps) and refreshment.


Of the greatest disappointments I uncovered was my own neglect and lack of foresight. I ought to have packed in a better quality camera - there was something about how the light simply reflects differently from our own in South Africa and, for some reason ended up flooding my photos with light. Most of the photos came out beautifully though so, it wasn't a complete loss.

The newly opened Hudson Yards certainly offered an architectural delight as did The Vessel - a beautifully designed building offering a number of aesthetically pleasing views of the area, including The Hudson River.


A little bit off by some 30 meters, one can walk along The Highline - another piece of the city any and every photographer ought to visit.

Aside of the general parts of the city, Central Park offers even more beautiful sights and be warned, take some peanuts with you if you want to avoid having your snacks stormed at by the local inhabitants of the forest, those being squirrels - cute little demons they are.


It may have been a wrong time of the year to visit, but at least I got to enjoy the nature part of things as it was coming back to life; green buds visible from the trees as life began to breathe back into things again.

Weddings are also plentiful, and you will see many come rain or shine.


As for the epitome of things anyone with a bit of cash should do, visit the Empire State Building but ensure that you are there on a Monday evening after 8pm. This I discovered was the most convenient time as other times had too many people present, making taking photos somewhat difficult. My first round saw me put away my camera and only take photos using my cell phone.


A brief, important bit of advice; Take the stairs after the first elevator up - this only takes a minute and saves you around 30 minutes of waiting in a queue for the final elevator. Also, there really is no difference between the first viewing floor and the upper one - don't ask me what floor that was, I honestly cannot remember. Ah, and take something warm with you as it does get nippy in windy conditions, especially at night.


Subways are no fun, not that it is unsafe or something but simply because the trains rattle way too much, and you can't exactly see where you're going either.


Restaurants I will recommend are:

  • The Corner Bistro (LONG ISLAND CITY) - BEST BURGERS!!!
  • Jekyll and Hyde Club (NEW YORK CITY) - BEST PIZZA!!!
  • The Loeb Bouthouse (CENTRAL PARK) - This place has the best fries on the planet! Their wraps are also amazing.
  • Employees Only - C'mon, who doesn't love a good cocktail. (NEW YORK CITY)

(Please do Google the places if you intend to go to any of them as I can't remember the street addresses.)


I cannot begin to describe how much I miss this part of the world; coming back home felt like something similar to a dagger being removed from my chest and slowly inserted back in while being twisted. You really do fall in love with the place in a matter of moments - perhaps because you get to simply disappear in the movement of things.


But nonetheless, all great things unfortunately do have to come to an end at some stage and with that, the end of this piece.

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hi @imagendevoz
as a traveler I must be honest and tell you that New York is not at the top of my wish list. but W O W, your photos are fantastic and made me want to be there to enjoy the view! I always thought that in such a big city (like all the big cities eh) I would feel lost and alone in the midst of a lot of traffic and a multitude of people running. It is not so? you seem to have felt at home instead ... How long did you stay there? how much time do you suggest for a proper visit to the city?
Congratulations and thank you for sharing with us

I visited for a month and would suggest that the visit be around that time. It gives plenty of time to do and enjoy just about everything the city offers. Traffic didn't bug me as much since I walked just about everywhere. I would suggest finding a place to stay at in Long Island City as it is the most convenient if you are on a tight budget. New York really wasn't on the top of my wish list either to be honest - I would have much rather preferred Italy, Turkey or Alaska. But that's just it - I kind of wanted to disappear and feel 'lost' for a while; You really don't feel alone, at least in my opinion. Hope you do consider adding it to your list, I would recommend the visit.

well, it seems to me that it has very similar tastes at the top of the list !! thank you for your long answer, I think that sooner or later we will be ready for NY and then maybe we'll fall in love with it! maybe at Christmas, like in the movies! and what about photography? Are you a professional photographer or is it a passion? because your pics are amazing!

I have to warn you to pack a lot of warm clothes if you plan on heading there in winter - it does get freezing! No, I wouldn't claim to be a professional photographer at all. I used a lowly Canon EOS 1200D and made use of the on-board settings to get the right lighting etc. But thank you for the feedback and compliment.

Hey great post. I was in New York a few years ago and couldn't wait to get out lol. It is a bit different with 5 people compared to one as the budget gets hammered hard. The Rands got chewed up way too quickly. I thought the place was just too dirty and 4 days was long enough. I am glad you had a great experience and survived on $1000 which is amazing in itself.

Tell me about it (money wise). It wasn't easy but we did it. Dirty though? Everywhere I went it was beyond clean. I couldn't even find a cigarette bud on some streets.

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I have never heard someone talking so nicely about New York. Yes, people like the city but it sounds like you fell madly in love with it :) And looking at your pictures I can understand that. I've talked to many people who already visited New York and they would tell me that it looks exactly like in the movies so it has never really attracted my attention.. Just recently a friend of mine keep asking me to go there so I might give it a go..

Your photos are great! I'm sorry to hear that you faced some issues with lighting but those ones that you shared are very good!

Congratulations on your curie vote!

Thanks a million. It does, somewhat, look like it does in the movies although not as big as one would imagine. There were places I thought would appear much larger and grander but not at all. Give it a go if you can; you'll never know until you've tried it.

Thank you for sharing your views and experience in New York. I actually like the place though I only see it on TV and never had actually experienced it. Though it is not a surprise that living here is quite expensive, especially if you came from a third world country and spending money is way cheaper than one of these metropolises. If given a chance, I just want to experience it but not exactly my type of city where I could live in, unless I really have a lot of money. The buildings and sceneries are breath-taking by the way and I got to say that you were able to make your time there worthwhile.

Thanks for sharing @imagendevoz. God bless you!

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I think you do need to be rich to live there but most people earning an average wage seem to get by just fine. Others not so much unfortunately.

lol....for some second i forgot you were in new york and thought of the pictures as south africa. But am glad i came back to my senses and went a long with you in new york city.

The big Apple is really worthwhile. Great clicks in there, in fact i really love all the images in your blog, they are worth watching. Lovely touring around and i hope you continue to give us more feeds from your end

Thanks so much. I wish we had places like this to photograph in SA. Will try and keep up the content. It's been difficult with work lately.

It was interesting to read your blog about your adventure in New York. I've seen many blogs but hardly ever one that is about budget traveling. People mostly post about famous buildings, places which is obviously welcome but I believe many would want to know how you can handle your limited finances as well. That is a very important part of the travel and you need all the information you can get in order not to pay too much for services.
You were lucky to be able to spend so much time in the city. My cousin was there last year, it was part of a tour she did but she had only one week, which is not enough to see all the beauty and historical places the city has to offer.
I love your photos, you've managed to capture some lovely scenes and the lights are absolutely fantastic. I guess I would spend a day in Central park feeding and having fun with squirrels. 😁 I love them so much but unfortunately there are not many around where I live.
Anyway, I hope you will have the chance to go back soon and spend more time in the famous city. Good luck and thanks for sharing your experience with us.