A chill wind blows over the water, creating small but harsh waves that gently crash against the rocky facade of the shore. The tripod, though strong, can’t find a solid footing in the small areas of sand between the jagged edges of the rocks. After multiple tries I finally get the tripod to stay. I could have changed my location a bit but that would mean changing my composition and that I am not ready to do.

The sun has just started to set, lights on the empire state just turned on, and slowly but surely the city is coming alive. Look away for a second and you will miss another building lighting up and adding to the glow of the city.

I click a test shot.

Too much ambient light from the sunset, I can’t get the right exposure length that I want. I’ll just have to wait it out.

Simran is enjoying the wind in her hair, I laugh a little inside knowing that soon she will be complaining about the chill. I warm my hands in my pocket and once again imagine the shot I am trying to click.

Now that the sun has crossed over the horizon, day time is quickly fading to dusk. The reds and oranges in the sky are substituted almost instantaneously by blues and blacks. Specks of clouds play with the last remaining beams of light, providing some much needed natural drama to this spectacular display of mans’ invention that is Manhattan. Row after row, all you see are little boxes of light, yellow, yellow, yellow, red, yellow and maybe even some blues and greens. Now everyone is the same, every window the same. I try to find the difference between an office in the financial district, with analysts sitting in front of their terminals adding to the opulence of this city and a house where the same analyst might stay, east village maybe? The windows now reveal nothing.

It’s time to get back to my camera.

I change the exposure to compensate for the reduced light, this might just be perfect. Another test shot. Still not there. “Another 10–15 minutes!” I scream out to Simran as she pulls her overcoat tight around her. The image on the back of my screen is flat and the foreground is completely lost to the light of the city. I hear the waves get a little stronger, as they gently crash against the rocks; perfect for this shot. Although, the moss on the rocks are completely lost to the darkness of the night.

I whip out my phone and ask Simran to do the same. Flashlights on, I ask her to wave the light on the rocks right in front of me when I click. She is confused, but I explain to her how it will help light up the moss on the rocks, something I really need for this shot to be a success. I don’t think she believes me, but she helps out anyways, though after complaining about the cold.

It’s almost an hour past sunset now and the city has really lit up. What is New York without the lights? Would it still feel the same? Is the energy and humanity of New York constricted by the concrete and lights? Do the waters of the Hudson and the sea, that bring calm and tranquility to the city truly balance the truth that they mask?

Time to get back to my camera.

Adjust settings again, signal to Simran to start the flashlight dance and another few shots. Looking at the back of my camera, I can see I got what I was looking for. This shot is complete, the perfect way to celebrate my 30th. Was it a photographers high or did it suddenly get really cold?

As I pack up my tripod and my camera, I am grinning inside. I can’t wait to get back to my laptop and see how this turned out. Now that I’ve got what I came for, I might as well click a few others I see on the way.