08.27.17: Sunset in windows

Sunset reflecting in windows of the World Financial Center, New York City. 


Technical information

Dec. 4, 2006,
5:01 p.m.

40°42’34” N,
74°0'53" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 20D

Canon EF 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 (127mm) 


2.5 seconds


Sometimes getting a nice photograph involves planning and preparation.

Then there’s this photo. All it involved was looking out my hotel window at the right time.

I was staying at the Marriott Financial Center (now known as the New York Marriott Downtown) in lower Manhattan and was getting ready to head out for dinner when I looked out the window of my 35th floor room and saw the early winter sunset reflecting nicely in the windows of the World Financial Center across the way. 

I grabbed my camera and a zoom lens that provided short telephoto capability and started scanning the building for interesting compositions. That’s when I found one floor with most of its lights on, breaking up the reflected scene with a horizontal strip of warm yellow. Apparently the business located on that floor kept later hours than others in the building.

I framed the scene so the illuminated floor would be about one-third the way into the image and the tops of reflected neighboring buildings were visible at the bottom of the frame, just because it looked interesting.

I liked how the reflected colors transition from orange to blue and how the strip of yellow lights serves as a focal point. The strong horizontal lines between floors and the thin vertical lines between windows give the scene an almost abstract feel, like it had been pieced together from different pieces of glass.

I ended up delaying my dinner departure a bit to get some additional long-exposure shots of traffic flowing along the West Side Highway beneath illuminated buildings and the night sky. I’ve used those photos many times.

And it all happened because I looked out my hotel window at the right time.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.