Empty Sky Memorial Sunrise 05Sep2016

Yesterday morning I was hoping to shoot the Empty Sky Memorial during sunrise.  The Empty Sky Memorial is the 9/11 monument at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.  The memorial looks over the Hudson River towards the One World Trade Center and points out where the Twin Towers used to stand.  The monument was literally angled directly at the sunrise.  I use the Photographers Ephermeris (TPE) to help me scope out interesting sunrise/sunset angles.  See image below for the angle yesterday morning and what I was hoping to see.  The yellow line is the angle of the sunrise.  You can see its on the same line as the memorial with the sun rising at 6:27 AM.

TPE Screenshot 05Sep2016 – Empty Sky Memorial

So I decided to leave my house at 5 AM to get there around 6 AM (a one hour drive).  I got there and all was well with a half cloudy sky.  However the clouds were on the horizon.  I set up my tripod with my 28 mm lens hoping to have the sky clear a bit as the sun started to appear.

Well….that didn’t happen! The weather is unpredictable for sure! The clouds stayed around and not much color came out of the sky.  I kept on shooting anyways since the clouds were moving pretty quick and the timelapse turned out ok! Could’ve been better but I was pleased with the results.  I ended up shooting in Aperture Priority with f/18 and ISO 200.  I generally like using this since I can eliminate flicker with LRTimelapse.  The camera adjusts for the changing light which can be about 8-10 seconds in shutter speed from dark to sunrise.  I also use a graduated ND filter to help keep the sky darker and set my exposure to -0.7 or -1.0 stops to ensure I don’t over expose the image as it ramps the shutter speed faster.

For this video I ended up starting a bit later because of some distractions in my set-up so I could use a lower ISO (ISO 200) and higher aperture. I usually need to be about f/10 but I could use f/18 and set my interval at 7 seconds.  I need about 2 seconds wiggle room in-between the photo shutter speed and interval to ensure there is no overlap or missing photos for writing to the cards.  I started at about 3.0 seconds and went from there on aperture priority.

I got about 320 photos with these settings which is a bit longer than I like.  I usually shoot for 10-12 seconds of video at 24 fps but still turned out ok. Retrospectively a 8-10 second interval at even ISO 100 might have been better. Overall a pretty good experience with some insight into the preparation and luck needed!  I would give this another B- and would love to try my luck next year!

Camera Settings:

Nikon D7100, 28 mm f/2.8

Aperture Priority, f/18, ISO 200, 7 second interval


Leave a Reply