Top of the Rock Photography

Top of the Rock view of empire state building
Empire State Building at Dusk:  seen from Top of Rockefeller Center
Unquestionably the best view in Manhattan is from the top of Rockefeller Center at sunset.  Looking to the north, central park stretches out as far as you can see, into Harlem and beyond.  Looking to the south, the Empire State building, the freedom Tower, the Statue of Liberty and countless other skyscrapers fill the landscape.  Standing over 70 stories tall, Rockefeller Center looks down on almost everything.

Reservations are accepted.  Wanting to be there for sunset, I planned my reservation 2 hours before the sun went down.  There is a bit of time taken before you actually reach the top.  You wait in line, you see a presentation, get assigned to an elevator and up you go.

On the top of the building, there are several platforms for viewing.  The highest one has an unobstructed view.  The middle platform has tall glass walls.  Between these glass walls, there are gaps big enough for a camera lens.  The lowest platform is inside.  It is much warmer but the view is not as good.  I found the highest platform extremely crowded.  Photography was much easier on the middle platform.  I put my lens in the gap and took several pictures without having to climb over a bunch of other tourists and photographers.
Top of the Rock View
Middle viewing platform of Rockefeller Center

As darkness came, I dialed up the ISO and kept shooting.  I used a variety of lenses here: 35 mm f/1.4, 17mm tilt shift f/4, and 70-200mm f/4.  I even used my tilt-shift lens to create a panorama.  The only bad thing about this location is the crowds and prohibition of tripods.
Panorama looking north:  building and Central Park extend out forever.  To take this photo I stuck my lens through the gap and shifted my camera body to the left and right while the lens remained still.
central park from rockefeller center
Looking over Central Park from Rockefeller Center