New York City Earth Hour Timelapse – Top of the Rock

Last night I went to Rockefeller Center to take a timelapse from Top of the Rock of the New York City during Earth Hour. Earth Hour is a once yearly hour where some buildings turn off lights from 830-930 PM to save energy. The Empire State Building participates and I thought it ould be a good chance to get to the Top of the Rock for a day to night timelapse which I had not done yet.

Sunset was at 712 PM and I got there about 530 PM to find a location. There are three levels to the view points. The bottom two have glass so I couldn’t shoot through that but the top level has an unobstructed view.

I packed light for this trip knowing it would be crowded and tripods aren’t allowed. I only brought my Nikon D850 and Tamron 15-30 f/2.8 lens. My plan was to use my Syrp Genie Mini box which is a pretty solid and sturdy box to hold my camera still.

I got there and scouted for locations to shoot. Good thing I arrived early! If you try and arrive at sunset its crazy crowded and you’ll never be able to squeeze in at the ledge to set up your camera!


For my D850 I had on 64 GM memory card and decided to use aperture priority mode at f/11 and ISO 400 with a 10 second interval. The D850 has exposure smoothing which is absolutely fabulous for a situation like this where it can get crowded and I don’t have a tripod! I basically didn’t have to touch the camera at all the entire time! I did adjust the ISO to 640 eventually once but I probably didn’t have to in the end with a 10 second interval.

The Nikon D850 also has a silent shutter which means no one knows I’m taking photos every 10 seconds when its pretty crowded!

The sun was setting off to the right so there was no direct sunburst or anything but I shot at around 25 mm and was planning to zoom in during post production to capture as much as possible.

The 10 second interval worked out pretty nice with the Aperture priority. See the first image below

Top of the Rock Earth Hour-1

At 830 PM the lights to the Empire State Building started to twinkle and were turned off for the towers. A few other buildings went dark too. Not as epic as some other cities but overall still a pretty good video!

Before Earth Hour

Top of the Rock Earth Hour-538

After Earth Hour

Top of the Rock Earth Hour-861

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