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Standing Tall

A close-up of "Standing Tall" by Dan Piech: an ultra-high-resolution VAST photo.
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759 megapixels! A very high resolution, large-format VAST photo of the World Trade Center and Battery Park City at sunset; fine art skyline photo created by cityscape photographer Dan Piech in New York City

Standing Tall

World Trade Center, Battery Park City, New York City

This VAST photo has been three years in the making. During that time, I've visited this unique vantage point on no fewer than a dozen occasions, returning each time with photographic results that did not live up to my expectations. Finally, in the summer of 2017, a perfect set of conditions combined to reveal the photograph I had been envisioning ever since I first discovered this location.

As a long-distance runner, I spend a considerable amount of time traversing New York City on foot. While doing this, I'm always keeping an eye out for great photographic perspectives. In August 2014, while running out to the end of the Holland Tunnel mechanical pier, I discovered this wonderfully unique perspective on downtown Manhattan, Battery Park City, and the World Trade Center. I instantly fell in love. Consequently, I knew that I needed to return to capture a photograph that would convey at least a fraction of the scene's beauty. At the time, I didn't realize how difficult that would be.

For the next three years, I closely watched weather conditions and visited this location on numerous occasions. Time after time, the resulting photographs never had the beauty that I envisioned in my mind's eye. By 2017, I had all but given up hope that this location would reveal anything to me.

It was a hot summer afternoon on July 1, 2017 and I was in Brooklyn photographing an incoming thunderstorm. As the storm reached New York, the front lost its structure and, in the process, lost its electrical strength. I began packing up and heading home, thinking that the day of work would be yet another without any successful photos to show for it. Then, I suddenly noticed that the weakening storm was beginning to open a break in the clouds on the distant western horizon. The opening was appearing in the exact location where the sun would be soon setting. It could be perfect!

In the pouring rain, I raced towards TriBeCa and the Holland Tunnel pier, hoping to get there in time. As I did, the sun began to dip into the opening on the horizon, lighting up the pouring rain of the east-moving storm and producing a magnificent double rainbow overhead. Completely soaked, I ran out to the end of the pier and began frantically setting up my gear as the rain moved east. With my gear set up and ready to create the VAST photo, I looked out at the scene. After three years, everything was finally perfect.

A confluence of factors led this scene to finally have the beauty I always hoped it could have.

  • It was only a week after the summer solstice, so the sun was setting as far north on the western horizon as it ever does. This meant that the northwest-facing side of the World Trade Center (the side facing the camera) would be brightly lit and reflecting directly into the camera, unlike nearly any other time of year.
  • The storm clouds provided a beautifully dark backdrop on the left side of the scene, creating a stark but natural contrast inversion. Normally, foregrounds are darker than the sky but in this case, the buildings are brighter than the background.
  • The opening in the clouds happened in exactly the right location at exactly the right time. This illuminated the right side of the sky, balancing the weight of the image which would otherwise have been centered too far to the left. This also caused an interesting effect (that will probably go unappreciated by most viewers) where the inverted contrast found on the left side of the image slowly reverts to a standard contrast model as you travel from left to right in th image.
  • The rain and low-hanging storm clouds provided the necessary mechanisms to to enable the sunset to paint the scene with a beautiful palette of pink/peach pastel hues.
  • The storm clouds were unusually smooth and free from harsh contrast lines. Usually storm clouds compete for attention in a scene but on this evening, the clouds functioned as complementary negative space backdrop, allowing the skyline to shine as the focal point of the photo.

It's only fitting that a moment this perfect was captured using the VAST technique. This VAST photo is 759 megapixels which makes it 3,300% higher resolution than a typical professional photograph. This unprecedented level of clarity reveals a world of detail that would otherwise have gone unseen. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, despite being 9 miles away, is clearly visible. Intricate architectural details of every building have been carefully captured. Groups of people can be seen enjoying a glass of wine at the City Vineyard. The pier 25 attractions are ready to be explored. The famous Stuyvesant High School stands in stunning quality. And even tiny details such as the climbing ladder for the World Trade Center spire can be clearly seen.

Three years after discovering this vantage point, I'm finally proud to have created a VAST photo that is worthy enough to represent it.

Date & TimeJuly 1, 2017:  7:34pm
LocationWorld Trade Center, Battery Park City, New York City
Coordinates40.726351, -74.015232
Focal Length227mm
Shutter Speed1/30
Number of Exposures41

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This is not an ordinary photograph.

Its resolution is 3,514% greater than a typical photo. Click on the boxes below to zoom in.

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Print only

Our photographic prints are created using a specialty, large-format fine art printer designed to produce archival, museum-grade prints. They are true "chromogenic" prints: light-sensitive paper exposed in a darkroom using state-of-the-art lasers to produce the sharpest possible image. Click on the icons below to learn more or click here to explore further.

Our photographic prints are available in one of two finishes: glossy and lustre. Glossy prints have a rich, silky saturation and are great for environments where the lighting and reflections have been carefully thought through. Lustre prints have a bright, sparkle-like finish that diffuses reflections and are therefore more versatile for environments where the lighting and reflections are less under your control.

Your print comes with two certificates of authenticity hand-signed by the artist and the printmaker: one that you will affix to the finished piece and one that remains standalone. Additionally, your print's provenance is tracked and verified using state-of-the-art digital technology. Learn more.

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Acrylic glass display

Our acrylic glass displays are ready-to-hang works of art that contain one of our photographic prints sealed between flame-polished acrylic glass and an aluminum backing. A hidden mounting brace on the rear causes the display to gracefully "float" off the wall for a sleek, modern frameless look that complements nearly any decor style. Click on the icons below to learn more or click here to explore further.

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Digital file

Purchase a rights-managed license to use this photo file. A license provides you with the full resolution digital image file and a permit to use it for a specific project. Use the form below to begin the licensing process or click here to learn more.

Total Pixels759,125,444
Horizontal Pixels32,009
Vertical Pixels23,716
Aspect Ratio1.35 : 1
File Size4,338 MB
Width @ 300ppi (perfect)8.89 feet
Height @ 300ppi6.59 feet
Width @ 150ppi (near-perfect)17.78 feet
Height @ 150ppi13.18 feet

Date & TimeJuly 1, 2017:  7:34pm
LocationWorld Trade Center, Battery Park City, New York City
Coordinates40.726351, -74.015232
Focal Length227mm
Shutter Speed1/30
Number of Exposures41

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