Note: this photo was published in an Oct 25, 2010 Trés Sugar blog titled "Would Reading This in Public Embarrass You?" It was republished in a Jan 27, 2011 Trés Sugar blog as well as a May 4, 2011 Trés Sugar blog and a Jul 20, 2011 Trés Sugar blog and an Apr 27, 2012 Trés Sugar blog, which is fine with me since I like the picture quite a lot!
Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Feb 28, 2012 Good Photography blog, with the same caption and detailed notes I had written on this Flickr page.
Most of the time, I have no idea what I'm going to photograph when I walk out the door with my camera; spontaneity is very important to me, and I'm constantly amazed by how many unexpected opportunities present themselves on the streets of New York. But when it's raining outside, my options are limited: digital cameras don't like water, and expensive DSLR cameras have a reputation for reacting very badly when they get wet.
So when I saw that it was raining this morning, I figured that it was time to make another visit to the local subway station, to see if I could find some interesting new scenes to capture, while keeping my camera comfortably dry. It was also a good opportunity to try out the combination of a newly-arrived (just this morning!) 70-300mm VR zoom lens with the high-ISO capability of my recently-acquired Nikon D700 camera. So I set the ISO meter to 6400, found a quiet bench on the uptown side of the 96th Street IRT line, and sat patiently to see what would happen across the tracks, on the downtown side...
All in all, I thought the people that I photographed today were relatively boring; they were low-key and lethargic, and they mostly stood in one place while they waited for their local or express train. But I ended up with about 50 photos, and when I looked at them after uploading them onto my computer, I found that they were actually more interesting than I had imagined. There's a little bit of noise/graininess, but I decided to leave them that way; I did adjust the "hot spots" (areas over-exposed from the fluorescent lighting in the subway station) and "cold spots" (shadows and dark areas), and punched up the color a little bit. But aside from that, this is yet another view of the typical daytime scene on a typical NYC subway line...
Over the years, I've seen various photos of the NYC subway "scene," usually in black-and-white format. But during a recent class on street photography at the NYC International Center of Photography (ICP), I saw lots and lots of terrific subway shots taken by my fellow classmates ... so I was inspired to start taking a few myself.
So far, I'm taking photos in color; I don't feel any need to make the scene look darker and grimier than it already is. To avoid disruption, and to avoid drawing attention to myself, I'm not using flash shots; but because of the relatively low level of lighting, I'm generally using an ISO setting of 800 or 1600 -- except for today's photos, which are all shot at ISO 6400.
I may eventually use a small "pocket" digital camera, but the initial photos have been taken with my somewhat large, bulky Nikon D300 DSLR; and today's were taken with an even bulkier Nikon D700. If I'm photographing people on the other side of the tracks in a subway station, there's no problem holding up the camera, composing the shot, and taking it in full view of everyone -- indeed, hardly anyone pays attention to what's going on across the tracks, and most people are lost in their own little world, reading a book or listening to music. But if I'm taking photos inside a subway car, I normally set the camera lens to a wide angle (18mm) setting, point it in the general direction of the subject(s), and shoot without framing or composing.
So far it seems to be working ... we'll see how it goes...