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Winter in the Sky «Joe McNally Photography

Posted the below on our Instagram account, and some folks commented a bit. When I shot it, it was a random frame made from the open door of a helicopter on the way to, as they say, fry larger fish. We were bombing down the Hudson River towards Gotham. Trees and shadows were not the main objective of that flight. But as the ever astute editor of editors, Jimmy Colton, pointed out on Twitter, what makes the frame sing a bit are the footprints and pawprints in the snow. Which I only really saw later. Photography… .sigh.

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But apart from the icy wind in your face there is something wonderful about being in the air over NY on a frigid day. The summer haze has rolled out to sea, and the clarity of the air allows for the knife edge of the sun’s rays carve out patterns and shapes with a distilled crispness.

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The below couple of frames, of an oft photographed muse, the Statue of Liberty, are amongst my favorites of the Lady. Just pieces of her, shot in the late fall, never published, but of the thousands I have burned on her lovely visage, calmly overseeing the port of NY, I’m fond of these. The late light limns the dimensionality and details of her resplendent garments.

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The late fall or winter light gives you gifts of light and shadow, with its steep angles and early daily demise.

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And of course, there’s always the wide views. Working a Nikkor 16mm fisheye, one would have to have orangutan arms to clear the physicality of the chopper. So, I just let it be in the frame, and the reality of the machine becomes part of the scene, like it or not. It’s not something I think about much when the pilot dips the bird sideways, per your instructions, and cartwheels around a notable ground structure. The lens accents the vertiginous aspects of the activity at hand, to be sure, so I generally just arms length the camera and make sure everything onboard is tied down or clipped in, including me. Sticking your neck and your lens into the wintry slipstream in a tipped chopper can certainly make your balls shrivel like raisins, if you think on it. I prefer to just imagine it as a very wonderful roller coaster in the sky.

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I have to admit that I photograph the new silvery sentinel at the base of Manhattan ruefully. I look at the sky, and I want to see the twin towers, looming once again. The NY skyline misses them, dearly.

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Fall rolls into winter, and cold, clear light embraces the big city. Like a snow globe, it glimmers as the wintry air sweeps over it.

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More tk….

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