New York: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park 2016-12-19

Looking to get skyline shots of New York City? Looking for a clean foreground? Want the Brooklyn Bridge to be a part of that picture? Then look no further than Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is a narrow park that hugs the East River on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. Until a few years ago, the area was dominated by old warehouses and piers. Starting in 2008, however, the area was redeveloped as a park. If you haven’t been to this area in 5 years or so, you won’t recognize it. As the park has developed, shops and restaurants have sprung up, making the whole area much more friendly. You should definitely make it part of your next trip to New York City.

Getting to Brooklyn Bridge Park

To get there, the best way is to take a cab (or an Uber). There is no subway station nearby.

You can combine your visit to the park with a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, but this is something of a hike. In addition to crossing the East River itself, the bridge doesn’t end right at the edge of the water, but takes you inland a bit in both directions. That said, I have done it more than once and found it enjoyable, so give it a shot if you have the time.

Photo taken walking across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park

When To Go

The best time to go is around sunset. The sun will set in front of you as you face the skyline. If all goes well, you will therefore be treated to an interesting sky.

If you do go around sunset, I recommend getting there about a half hour beforehand. You can take some daylight pictures and walk around to decide on the best spot(s). Then you can get a few shots during the actual sunset. For me, sunset is when the fun is just beginning, and twilight yields the best photos. At that time, the city lights will start coming on but there will be enough light to pick up the detail of the buildings. Of course, you can hang around for some night shots as well.

Morning is also a good time to go, although for me not as great as sunset. As the sun comes up, it will brighten the face of the buildings.


What To Bring

In addition to your camera, bring a moderate wide angle lens. You will not need an extreme wide angle to capture the whole scene. The wide angle lens is really the only lens you will need.

There are a few other items you should bring as well. First of all, make sure you have a tripod with you. You will need it as the sun sets and the amount of light gets less and less. Make sure you have a remote shutter release with you as well.

Finally, I would bring a 10-stop neutral density filter. The foreground of the shot will usually be the East River. If you just take a shot without taking steps to reduce your shutter speed, the water is likely to look terrible. Adding the 10-stop filter will allow you to make the shutter speed as slow as you want. Of course, this makes bringing the tripod and remote shutter release necessities.

Brooklyn Bridge Park 2 2017-01-13


Getting the Shot

There are a variety of shots to get from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The following graphic shows you some recommended places and shots:


Starting in the northeast portion of the park, your shots will primarily be of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the downtown New York skyline in the background. Moving to the southwest, you cross under the bridge. Shots taken to the south of that will be of the skyline, and the Brooklyn Bridge will be to the right of your shot. Finally, as you move further south, you will come to an area where there are many piers sticking out of the water.  It is a famous place to shoot and well worth a visit.


Other Places to Visit in NYC

While you are in New York, there are a few other things I highly recommend:

  • B&H: The first is a visit to the B&H Photo Superstore. It is awesome. I made a video of it during my last visit, which you can check out here.
  • St. Patricks: I would also check out St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This is a great place to go when the lighting/conditions outside are not so good for photography. Head in there and get a few shots of a majestic cathedral.
  • Top of the Rock: Finally, I would try to take in a sunset at Top of the Rock, which is the top of Rockefeller Center. I wrote all about it in this article.