Coney Island Photo Walk

Earlier tonight I had the distinct pleasure of joining Rick Sammon as a co-leader on his Coney Island Photo Walk. And what fun we had!

MG 1380ToneMapped

There was a great group of photographers, and we were very fortunate to have some incredible light. Rick had offered up the assignment to plan for some creative effects, and especially effects that harkened back to an older time. That certainly seemed to make a lot of sense for Coney Island, and so I started off with an image of the wall on the side of the original Nathan’s, complete with a bit of a “grunge” effect provided by the tone-mapping feature of Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro 2.0, even though the photo wasn’t an HDR capture.

Of course, since Nathan’s is such an integral part of the Coney Island experience, there was no shortage of opportunities to photograph the Nathan’s logo. Since a big part of Coney Island is the amusement park rides, I decided to incorporate the umbrella’s at another Nathan’s outlet with the large ferris wheel in another photographic composition.

MG 1514

Naturally we timed our visit to Coney Island to coincide with late afternoon light and sunset, so the shadows were getting longer and longer as we wandered up and down the boardwalk looking for great photographic opportunities. One of the unexpected things to catch my eye were the trash cans. Now, normally trash cans aren’t exactly photogenic, but here they were.

MG 1566

Part of that was due to the simple fact that the trash cans were lined up on the boardwalk and we were there late in the day, so the shadows stretched quite far from the trash cans. But another great elements was that the trash cans had been painted (by local schools as I understand it), so they were great photographic subjects all by themselves.

One of the trash cans that caught my eye featured the classic Coney Island character. So I got down low, laying on the boardwalk to get a good angle, and photographed the trash can. I felt a little silly, I’ll admit, laying on my belly on the boardwalk to photograph a trash can. But it was a fun subject, so I swallowed my pride. I set the aperture to wide open to minimize depth of field, making sure the focus would remain on the trash can itself.

I think my favorite subject of the evening, however, was a different trash can. This one featured a bit of a “splatter” pattern that I found intriguing. Even better, I was able to photograph it without anyone else nearby, so I could capture the boardwalk and the shadow without the distraction of other people (or their shadows) in the frame. Since the light at this point was creating quite a bit of contrast, I also captured three separate exposures to assemble a high dynamic range image later. The result, processed with Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.0, really brings out the full level of detail of the scene, yielding an almost hyper-realistic result.

MG 1438 HDR

Needless to say I had tremendous fun with my buddy Rick Sammon and all the photographers who joined us for this photo walk. I am very much looking forward to future photo walks, so stay tuned!

About Tim Grey

Tim Grey is in the business of making photographers smarter and happier. He is the author of more than a dozen books on digital imaging for photographers, has written hundreds of magazine articles, and publishes the Ask Tim Grey e-mail newsletter as well as the Pixology digital magazine. He also speaks at a variety of events and leads photography workshops around the world.
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5 Responses to Coney Island Photo Walk

  1. sharon levy says:

    what fun! HOT DOG!!!!

  2. rick sammon says:

    Nice images from a nice guy!

  3. HELEN says:

    Love the first trash can, the shadow and the late evening feeling. Would be happy to have that on my wall. Surprised there is any king of “worn” element left at Coney Island – has been approx 7 years since I was there. The HDR colored can is nice but does not give the same afternoon “golden light” feel.

    • Tim Grey says:


      Thanks! And I agree that the trash can with the HDR effect misses the late afternoon light. I just really loved the textures that the effect brought out. I plan to revisit Coney Island again when they re-open next year so I can explore some more photo ops there!


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