Photographing Grand Central Terminal

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I think the thing I love the most about traveling and exploring new places is how it puts me in touch with history.  It is hard to describe the feelings I had when I stood in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where Anne and her family hid from German occupation during World War 2 for two years before being betrayed and taken away to the concentration camps.  I held my breath when I stood at the top of Notre-Dame Cathedral one morning, looking out across the rooftops of Paris towards the Eiffel Tower.  Construction on Notre-Dame began in 1163.  853 years ago.   Amazing.  At Pearl Harbor in Honolulu I looked down at the wreck of the USS Arizona, which still leaks oil into the ocean to this day.  The bombing of that ship in 1941 brought America into World War 2.  A few hours later I stood on the deck of the USS Missouri,  in the exact spot where Japan surrendered  in 1945.  It is moments like this that keep me motivated to travel.

New York City is iconic, known the world over, with a history all its own.  Grand Central Terminal is definitely one of the quintessential landmarks in this remarkable city, and I’d like to share part of a photo essay I shot there on my last trip.  This post is part four of a five part series featuring photography from New York City:

The roots of Grand Central Terminal go back to the Grand Central Depot, which first opened in 1871.  146 years ago.  This was followed by the Grand Central Station in 1900 and the Grand Central Terminal in 1913.  The Terminal occupies 48 acres, has 44 platforms, 67 tracks and over 750,000 people pass through its doors daily.  Yes, 750,000 per day.   The structure also houses restaurants, shopping and other assorted businesses.  It is a stunning piece of architecture.

Given its importance in the story of New York, I knew that I wanted to create a photo essay of the terminal that evoked its history and that had a timeless feel.   I chose to shoot the series in black and white, using the Acros film simulation processed with rich blacks, to try and create a cohesive series of photographs of the terminal.  All images in this series were shot with the Fuji X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 10-24mm lens, except for the close ups of the clock and the chandelier which were shot with the Fujinon 55-200mm lens.

Each photo can be clicked to view large.  I hope you like them.

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15 thoughts on “Photographing Grand Central Terminal

    • Ian says:

      Many thanks Joe! New York holds a special place in my heart, and I love visiting Grand Central. It is such a beautiful building.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  1. Phillipe Marquis says:

    I spent many hours in Grand Central and Penn Stations in the mid 1950’s when I would take the train from my home in Connecticut to the school I attended on Long Island. I loved wandering around Grand Central back then and looking at your wonderful photos sure takes me back. To me it looks exactly as I remember, nothing seems to have changed…except the look of the trains. Steam engines were still in use then and the platforms were often filled with clouds of steam. Thanks for the memories.

    • Ian says:

      That is such a great comment Phillipe! That timeless feeling is exactly what I am talking about when I talk about history and how it makes me feel.

      Thanks for posting!

      Cheers,

      Ian

  2. Denis says:

    Nice work here, Ian. We were in the city a few weeks ago and I spent a couple of hours here just watching and wandering (and having dinner with my daughter at Cipriani Dolci). It is one of my favorite places to pass through in the city and you’ve certainly passed along the timeless feel of its halls.

    It appears you used a tripod on a couple of the long exposures. Is that right?

    • Ian says:

      Hey Denis!

      I didn’t use a tripod actually… I’m pretty sure they don’t allow them in the terminal. Most of these shots are ISO 1000 – 3200, and handheld. For a few of the main concourse I rested the camera on the ledge and braced it that way.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  3. Denis Lincoln says:

    Ahh. My mistake. I know that you need a permit for a tripod and that as you say they don’t allow them. Don’t mean to detract from the work. I dig it. Someday I’ll update my blog with some of my work. Sigh.

  4. Morgan says:

    Hello, nice shots !
    Is the Grand Central wide shot in Acros film simulation ?
    And BTW, did you use a bean bag or used Lightroom vertical distortion correction ?

    I have night shots of Grand Central, but it does not look as good as I expected. By night there’s far less people and the light is not good.

    I need to go back !

    • Ian says:

      Good morning Morgan!

      Everything from Grand Central is Acros, yes.

      Where I could I rested my camera on a railing, and in the times I couldn’t I just shot at ISO 2000 or 3200 to get the exposure I was after.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  5. renniebrown says:

    Very nice images Ian. What struck me was how you managed to get shots of large spaces in a busy train station without any people in them! 😊 I like the shots with people too but those cavernous halls are so impressive and the 10-24 really accentuates the space. Very nice. Love the “Wes Anderson” symmetry on several of them too. Really works.

    • Ian says:

      Thanks Rennie! The shots with few people resulted from hours of standing and waiting. 😀

      I do love the 10-24mm for travel, it has never let me down despite my preference for primes.

      Cheers!

      Ian

      • Rennie Brown says:

        I’m considering the 10-24, although I lean to primes as well. Love the 35 F2 on my XT2! But this has got me thinking that the 10-24 might be a good idea while it’s on sale! Anyway these images are amazing.

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