Photographer Vincent LaForet shows us that nighttime in New York City looks even more stunning from a helicopter.
There's a thrill that comes from photographing the Big Apple from almost every conceivable angle, be it from beneath tall buildings or on top of them. That's what photographer Vincent LaForet was able to capture in Gotham From Above, an aerial image series that presents New York City's streets and avenues as what LaForet describes as "brain syapses," seen from 7,500' above the ground.
Due to low required exposures combined with powerful vibrations (plus, it can be scary to stick a heavy camera outside of a helicopter with low visibilty and unpredictable wind), getting the nighttime images directly above New York was no small feat. "One veteran pilot that we often fly with refused to go up to the altitude we were at... He said that, 'helicopters are not meant to live in that realm'—which I kind of agree with following this flight," LaForet writes in a blog post. He admits, however, that the stunning rows and columns of glowing light turned out to be well worth the challenge.
Part of what makes these images so interesting is the particular perspective LaForet acheived: while shooting some images for Men's Health Magazine, he found a vantage that offered a directly vertical view of skyscrapers and industrial shipyards, contrasting more traditional shots from above the Hudson River. The photographer ended up so high above Manhattan, in fact, that he required special permissions from local airports whose incoming Boeing 747s were flying underneath.
Even with permits, though, Gotham From Above still wouldn't have been possible had it not been for recent advancements in photo technology, which gave him the luxury of "shooting relatively clean files at 3200 & 6400 ISO and a series of f2.8 to f1.2 lenses." The 7,500' altitude was the highest he'd ever flown at night, despite a career of over 50 aerial photo shoots, and the result, he says, is the stuff of dreams.
Try not to get vertigo as you gaze at the fruits of LaForet's labor, below:
Visit LaForet's website for more stunning vistas and unique photographic perspectives.