New York City bridges at night

Those of you that have either seen my website before or have followed my blog for a while, have most probably figured out that I really like night photography and that I like to make pictures of the bridges in the place that I currently call my home, New York City.

Bridges are what holds this gigantic city of 22 million people (including the metropolitan area) together. A city, that is built on three islands and stretches into every possible direction, simply needs bridges and tunnels to have people commute between home and work, provide easy access between the five boroughs of New York City and transport goods into the city. Unimaginable, we would still simply rely on ferries as during the 19th century, before one German immigrant by the name of Roebling came to the city and accepted the herculean task to build a bridge between the (then independent) cities of New York and Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn side pylon of the Brooklyn Bridge at night (© 2011 heidger marx photography. All Rights Reserved.)

“Brooklyn Bridge at night”

More than just being signs of a modern infrastructure, bridges are miracles of engineering. Bridges are a statement of the incredible perseverance of the human spirit against all atrocities. Bridges are connecting people. For me as a photographer, bridges are beautiful architectural monuments, all in their individual shape and design, tastefully lit at night and creating wonderful juxtapositions to skylines, old docks and other remains of the industrial past of this city.

In this blog I am trying to showcase a few of my favorite bridges from the metropolitan area, some iconic and well know, some less known, but, for me, still evoking the same feeling of connection. I find great pleasure in creating these images, I would feel honored if you find pleasure in looking at the images.

A twilight image of the Outerbridge Crossing between Staten Island and New Jersey from the Staten Island side over the Kill van Kull waterway (Heidger Marx)

“Outerbridge Twilight” – Outerbridge Crossing, connecting Staten Island, NY and New Jersey

A night time image of the Bayonne Bridge from the northern shore in New Jersey. I really like the lit up log in the foreground together with the reflections and the poles of an old pier (Heidger Marx)

“Bayonne Bridge with Log” – Bayonne Bridge, connecting Staten Island, NY with Bayonne, NJ

RFK Bridge (former Triborough Bridge) with the Manhattan Skyline seen from Astoria Park (Heidger Marx)

“Triborough Bridge” – Triborough (RFK) Bridge, connecting Queens with Manhattan and the Bronx

A night photography of Hell Gate Bridge (train bridge), seen from Astoria Park in Queens, New York City. Clouds moving fast over the bridge in this two-minute exposure. (Heidger Marx)

“Clouds over Hell Gate” – Train bridge, connecting Queens with Randalls Island and the Bronx

A night photography image of a pylon of the Manhattan Bridge shot from right under the bridge on the Brooklyn side (Heidger Marx)

“Manhattan Bridge Pylon” – Manhattan Bridge, from the Dumbo (Brooklyn) side

In case you ask yourself how those pictures were created, I used a technique called light painting on some of them, in particular where a dark foreground would have caused large areas of shadows that I didn’t feel good about. The long exposures cause the moving water to blur out and give it a misty, almost ethereal feeling. Reflections over the water get saturated with the ongoing exposure, which can be anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. A high aperture (high number, small opening) gives you the effect of a starburst emanating from all light sources, such as the lights on the bridges structure (try the same by looking into a strong light: your eye will almost automatically squint and you will see a star-like effect around that light as well!).

These and many other techniques are covered in my New York Night Photography Workshop that I teach as a private or group workshop upon request.

For more info on light painting, please also consult one of my former blogs: “An intro into light painting”

As always, thank you very much for your time!
– heidger

13 thoughts on “New York City bridges at night

  1. Heidger…

    This is a great collection of image of these iconic structures that connect NYC to the world. It’s amazing the concentration of bridges that connects to/from NYC on all 5 boroughs. The images of Hell’s Gate and Triboro (or now RFK) bridge are more appealing to me because I grew up very close to those bridges and sometimes when I visit NYC, I try to get images of these two bridges. I also particularly like the image of the Bayonne Bridge with the log in water. Are you planning on a collection of all the bridges connecting the city?

    Great work as always, and thanks for sharing these images.


    • Marty,

      thanks so much for your kind comment! I really appreciate it you taking the time for your response!

      I agree on the sheer number of bridges connecting NYC in all directions. By now, to my understanding I have images of all major inter-borough bridges, a few intra-borough bridges might still be missing though. Except for a few images from a recent night-out (including the GW Bridge and the Goethals Bridge), you can see the current status in the gallery “New York City Bridges at night”.

      Thanks again!

  2. Dear Heidger,

    Absolutely beautiful work. Great composition (different from the usual) and technically perfect. You know I don’t do night photography (I think I lack the patience for it) but I can recognize that these are wonderful images.

    I am finding it really difficult to figure out which of these images I like best. Perhaps I don’t need to make a choice…but if I were to, then it would be “Bayonne Bridge with Log”. I love the log adding weight to the foreground, the erect piles just behind it glistening in the light, the long exposure rendering the surface into a sheen and of course, the starburst effect as well.

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful images my friend.



    • Dear Debesh,

      I can’t thank you enough for your kind comment! While I don’t think that you are lacking patience (to my understanding, patience is needed for all types of photography), I am intrigued to hear from you what makes the composition of these images so different for the ones you have seen before. Are you comparing it to my other night photography work or more to my travel photography (in that case, I would agree instantly)?

      Again, thank you for taking the time, I really appreciate it!


    • Haha! Good point, Tor. Pictures of the Goethals will come soon, I just haven’t processed them yet. Perhaps with a new blog.
      Yes, you are obsessed with stinky-smelly-muddy Outerbridge. How does the Bayonne Bridge sound to you?

  3. Stunningly beautiful. It would be hard to choose a favorite. I really loved the Bayonne Bridge and the depth it creates with the heavy log weighing down the image. I was in awe of the feeling of power I got looking at the Manhattan Bridge Pylon.
    Would love to attend a workshop on night photography but maybe that’s just a wish dream because I like it so much. I am not sure I am patient enough to get it all set up.
    Thank you Heidger Marx for sharing these beautiful images.

    • Dear Emily,

      thanks so much for your kind compliments! Those two images that you picked seem to be the favorites of many others as well….

      No worries about the workshop. Whenever you feel your desire for creating a spectacular night photography can keep your impatience in check, then just let me know! Believe me, it can work and the feeling of satisfaction for what you have accomplished is definitely worth it!

      Thank you again for taking the time, Emily!
      – heidger

  4. Pingback: Night Photography: More New York City bridges at night | Blog | heidger marx photography

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