Central Park Skyline
New York City

On Photo Safari in Central Park

One of the things I looked forward to most on my trip to New York City was spending long, unhurried hours in Central Park. I’ll always remember sitting in Hyde Park in the early ‘80’s people watching and enjoying the large, verdant open space in the center of bustling London. I imagined myself sitting in Central Park re-creating that lovely experience. On the other hand, I also wanted to improve my travel blogging skills. At the top of the list is photography. It’s an area where I definitely struggle. Often I lack the patience to wait for the right shot or for people to disperse and I usually only grab a couple of shots at a location and then later regret that I don’t have more options for the blog. It was time to embrace slow photography! My plan was to take a photography tour on Saturday morning. I figured I could get a close and unique look at the park and maybe improve my skills.

Central Park Skyline
I was greedy and tried for the rock, lake, trees and skyline.

For $100 I booked a two hour  photography tour with New York Photo Safari in Central Park. Tours were also offered for the Met, Grand Central, Iconic New York and NYC after dark. Central Park seemed the best option for me. It would provide the opportunity to take photos of both cityscape and landscape, wouldn’t involve too much walking and was appropriate for everyone from beginners to advanced hobbyists. There were quite a few different tours offered on other sites like Viator or Expedia. I really just took a shot in the dark to select the one that had good reviews and seemed a comfortable fit for me. Hm, must stay in the “comfort zone.”

Central Park Lake
This guy just wouldn’t row to the best third of the shot.

It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful morning to be in Central Park. I met our guide, Zim, and another young woman who would be taking the tour that morning. I lucked out because it was just the two of us and we had plenty of one on one time with Zim. The other young woman was an aspiring fashion photographer with an amazing camera worth probably thousands of dollars. I use an Olympus PL–7. It was a bit of an intimidating start. Zim asked why we were taking the tour and what we hoped to learn. Apparently, I was deep undercover and never mentioned the blog. I said I just really wanted to have fun and learn to take better photos. Maybe it’s time to open up about the blog and trust that I will learn and grow more by sharing it? Next we got down to business and Zim shared some great tips about composition. We were set to take photos.

Central park Bench on Photo Safari
Really Long Central Park Bench

Zim guided us through a variety of different situations. We took photos of a park busker, Belvedere Castle, the lake, fences, paths, the New York City skyline, and some macro photography in the Shakespeare Garden. In each instance we would take an initial shot. She would look at it it’s give us advice and ask us to retake another. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  I learned that each shot is not a one time opportunity. I could look at the photo and with Zim’s advice find ways to better it. This was probably my biggest take away from the tour. I put aside my tendency to give up and learned about opportunities to improve the shot.

Central Park Butterfly
Central Park Butterfly

What I Learned:

  • Pick a “best friend”, and focus on it. If you’re shooting a bench, don’t be afraid to get close and make it all about the bench.
  • Don’t get greedy and try to put everything in the shot. It just becomes a hodge-podge.
  • Use the rule of thirds. For example,position your horizon two thirds of the way up.
  • For macro photography, it’s okay to move a leaf or dust off a rock.
  • Play around. It’s digital. You can just delete the bad shots later. (Believe it or not this was a big one for me!)

This was a fun and unique tour that I would definitely recommend. I came home and decided to look for more classes and opportunities to improve my photography. Here’s to stretching the comfort zone!

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Central park Photo Safari



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