At The Top

The scene on the 86th Floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building in my hometown of New York City was both comical and frantic. The weather on the ground was around 14 degrees Fahrenheit so you could imagine how balmy it was 86 floors higher and coupled with some friendly winds. Nicole  and I would get our lenses mounted, camera settings dialed in and jump outside to get our shots. It didn’t take more than 3-4 minutes before the freezing began to set in. So, we’d run back into the heated interior, chimp our shots, come up with a new game plan and head back out.

Unfortunately, ESB Security is pretty stern. They commandeered my tripod and even made me surrender my JOBY Gorillapod! Despite being without my trust stabilizers, I was able to make do using the exterior facade of the ESB when I shot brackets. Thankfully, there is a workable amount of space in between the gates here (you can kind of see what I mean on the very lower left and right corners of the frame).

For this shot, however, I had to rely on the capabilities of my 5D Mark III sensor and how much dynamic range it can capture in a single, hand-held frame. I’ve gotta say, I am extremely impressed with how much detail I was able to retain even though I was partially exposing for the sun. I used the 15mm Funk Buster Fisheye lens to create this abstract arrangement with the ESB’s iconic radio antenna tower in the center.

In terms of processing
For starters, I massaged the tone sliders in Lightroom 4.3 to get the exposure as even as possible. From there, I sent the image to onOne Software Perfect Effects 4, where I applied a touch of Golden Hour Enhancer and Radiance. I also masked in a custom Tone Enhancer on the actual building and antenna.

The final finishing touches were applied in Lightroom 4.3.

  • Brandon Thomas

    This is awesome pies.

  • Anna Ryndak

    Wonderful image!

  • Robert McMillan

    Just googled 15mm funkbuster – love it!

  • Ramon Nuez

    Different and very nice!

  • David Baker

    Such a killer shot Brian! I’ve never seen the Empire State Building shot quite like this. Love the composition and the way you framed the antenna with the fencing. Great work man!

  • Trey Coppland

    Great picture, the art and sky – amazing.


    Fantastic bunch of pictures Brian. Sometimes I miss the way you do some of them, especially those by night… if you could only give some information on the take or postproduction job it should be great. Thanks.

  • farah godoy

    Es buena!!

  • Paul Gunther

    Nice perspective, yeah last time I was there I was told off for hanging too long on the ramp from the door. Freezing as usual and I not properly dressed for it.

  • Joel Horwath

    Wow… in all the times I've been up there, I don't think I ever once looked up!  Great shot.

  • Ench Chantee

    Great perspective!!

  • Paul Nuzum

    really cool!

  • Thomas Chamberlin

    RC Concecion has used a Manfrotto vice-like mount (on the rail) with a small ball head up there and got away with it.It probably depends on who is on security detail that day on whether that constitutes a tripod or not.

  • Joseph Eckert

    Gorgeous shot, great perspective

  • Boris Manic

    nice shot!

  • Dave

    Great pic…stupid question though……at what point do you start worrying about equipment condensation with the temp extremes? Thanks.