NYC subways, 2010
This is a continuation of a series of subway photos that I began in the spring of 2009, and which you can find here. Thus far in 2010, my photographic efforts have included the IRT subway stations at 96th Street, 42nd Street (Times Square), and Christopher Street/Sheridan Square (in Greenwich Village).


Over the years, I've seen various photos of the NYC subway "scene," usually in black-and-white format. But during a spring 2009 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 some myself.

One of the reasons I rarely, if ever, took subway photos before 2009 is that virtually every such photo I ever saw was in black-and-white. I know that some people are fanatics about B/W photography as a medium; and I respect their choice. And I took quite a lot of B/W photographs in the 1970s, especially when I had my own little makeshift darkroom for printing my own photos.

But for the past 30 years, I've focused mostly on color photography. As for photos of subways, I don't feel any need to make the scene look darker and grimier than it already is, by restricting it to B/W. Indeed, one of the things I find quite intriguing is that there is a lot of color in this environment, and it's not too hard to give some warmth and liveliness to the scene...

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 3200 or 6400, depending on which camera I'm using. As a result, some of the shots are a little grainy - but it's a compromise that I'm willing to make.

I may eventually use a small "pocket" digital camera, but the initial photos have been taken with my somewhat large, bulky Nikon D300 and D700 DSLRs. 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. But if I'm taking photos inside a subway car, I normally set the camera lens to a wide angle (18mm or 24mm) setting, point it in the general direction of the subject(s), and shoot without framing or composing.

If I can find some situations where people hold still for a few seconds, I think I might try some HDR scenes, just to see what it looks like. But so far, no such occasions have presented themselves. We'll see how it goes...
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