Back Bay Blues

Boston’s Back Bay area is loaded with wonderful architecture and landmarks that can provide a wide variety of photo opportunities.  And for some reason, I hardly ever visit there with my camera.  I finally made some time this past summer, however, to come into town and create some images, and set up camp at the Boston Public Garden.  There are great views of the city in several directions here, along with the signature pond, hundreds of trees, winding pathways, a bridge and more.  I wanted a shot of the former John Hancock Tower (now 200 Clarendon) and thought the pond would make an excellent foreground subject against the building and the Back Bay skyline.  I was not alone.  The place was packed with “pro” photographers sporting all manner of iPhones and iPads trying to capture the scene.  I think my X-T1 and tripod were probably the right call.

 


Boston Waterfront

I have worked in the city of Boston for the majority of my professional career, and I feel as though I know the city quite well.  It’s buildings, streets, etc. are all very familiar to me.  Yet when I have the chance to take in the city from an elevated point of view, it always seems to take on a new look for me.  The view from the observation deck of the Custom House is no exception.  This was taken a short while before the sun set to the west of where I was standing, and I love how the last of the warm sun was lighting up parts of the various buildings that make up the Boston skyline.

There are pretty amazing views from all four sides of the observation deck, and I ended up moving around more than I probably should’ve trying to get the “shot” of the city at sunset.  Fortunately I spent more time before sunset at this specific location, and was able to frame the image exactly as I wanted, and could wait for the light to be as I wanted it too.  This is definitely a spot I plan to revisit soon.


Sunset Over Boston

The sunset over the city of Boston last night was spectacular.  I had chosen a new vantage point for some skyline shots, and was on the observation deck of the Custom House tower.  This building is a Boston landmark, and appears in many if not most images of the the Boston skyline.  Aside from being a beautiful structure on its own, its observation deck provides some great views of the city and surrounding area.  The only challenge here is the fact that the deck is surrounded by a serious fence, and you need to conduct tripod gymnastics to get your camera to point through the fence.

This image is looking to the north towards the North End and Charlestown further in the distance.  The sky put on quite a show, and added great mood to this city skyline image.  I’ll have more images to share in later posts.


 

Back Bay Storm

After the stormy weather moved through Boston this past weekend, we were left with windy conditions, and plenty of leftover clouds just as the sun was getting ready to set for the night.  In other words, ideal conditions for some long exposure photography.  While the sky was on fire to the west – the vantage point of my post from the other day – it was more pastel to the southwest where I was now aiming my camera over the Back Bay skyline.

Now the price you pay for having the streaking clouds and smooth water is of course the crazy movement in the trees.  And while some may disapprove, I actually really like this effect.  The contrast of the sharp buildings against the movement of just about everything else in the frame is a look I’m constantly searching for.  And on this night, I was treated to a brilliant opportunity to create such an image.


Fire Over the Bridge
On Saturday afternoon, some significant storms were moving through eastern Massachusetts, and it looked as though there could be potential for a nice sunset as the storm cleared out. Our plans for the night had kinda fallen apart, so I decided to head into Boston to see if the sunset would indeed materialize.
 
It certainly did. This is the bridge at the Boston Public Garden, and the sky behind was absolutely on fire. I had come to primarily shoot the city skyline, but the color was concentrated in the sky a little more to the west, so I quickly moved my position to get this shot. It was amazing how many people suddenly broke out their iPhones and iPads to get a shot of this incredible sky. Thankfully I was a bit better prepared than just my phone.

Stronger, Faster, Betterjavascript:void(0);

Words to live by.  At least they are if you’re a rower in the Boston area and you pass by it every day as you train.  This graffiti message is written on the train bridge that runs beneath the BU (Boston University) Bridge over the Charles River.  The Charles is where the crew teams from Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, etc. train and compete, and also home to the annual Head of the Charles regatta.

I had visited this spot recently to get a sunrise shot of the Boston skyline, but was disappointed by too much cloud cover to the east to allow for the image I was wanting.  So instead I aimed my camera at this train bridge.  I love the bright colors of the graffiti against the old rusted metal of the bridge and tracks, and found this angle to get some leading lines through the image.  The glow from the rising sun on the water added some additional color.

On a side note, I believe that this location on the BU Bridge is one of the only places where you can swim beneath a boat, while under a train, while under a car, while under an airplane – all at the same time (at least in theory).


Lights Over Boston

Not much to say about this image.  Just that my love for both long exposures and the Boston skyline magically came together the other night just after the sun set.

It was incredibly windy, so there’s unfortunately a bit of blur in the buildings.  Certainly not enough to stop me from posting this shot, however.


The Gahden

No, that’s not a typo.  It’s how you say “garden” when you’re from Boston.  Or at least every movie made about our city in the past 20 years would make you think that’s how you say it.

Anyway, this is a fairly common view of the Boston Garden and the Zakim bridge, and one I’d been wanting to get for a while now.  So when I had a chance to go into the city a few nights ago for some sunset shooting (images to follow later), I made sure to stop at this spot before I drove home.  Traffic was just strong enough to create some light trails, and although the clouds had mostly disappeared when the blue hour hit, there were still enough to add some additional interest.


Looking Down on Fenway

Last night I left work and joined my friend Bob Lussier for a photo shoot in Boston.  Bob had recently created some images from the observatory at the Prudential building, and wanted to try some new things with a return visit.  And in my eagerness to steal all of his good comps, I decided to come along and create some images of my own.

The observatory, called the Skywalk, is on the 50th floor of the Pru, and provides some incredible views of the city.  Unfortunately we didn’t have access to views from every side as there was a private function taking up some of the space, but we knew there was a Red Sox game at Fenway, and the view of the ballpark was there for the taking.

I wanted to capture the lights at Fenway, and have light trails from traffic on the Mass Pike as well.  I experimented with different exposure times, apertures, etc. to get the look I wanted, and this was my favorite capture.  One of the things I learned, however, is that long exposures can’t be too long from this height and distance, as even a building as large as the Pru will still move in the wind causing a tiny bit of blur in the details.  On my next visit, I’ll be sure to take this into account.

P.S. Sox 2, Rays 0


Back Bay Dawn

A cloudy pre-dawn morning is an excellent time to create long exposures, especially when you can include a skyline, such as the Back Bay area of Boston, as part of the image.  Streaking clouds with pastel colors always contrasts nicely with buildings.

What makes this image kinda interesting, is that someone unfamiliar with Boston would think that the snowy foreground area is simply a large field, when it’s in fact the frozen Charles River.  Hopefully frozen for not too much longer, however, as I think we’ve all had enough of this winter by now.