Stephen Wilkes's New 'Day to Night' Pictures: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, London, and Paris
Stephen Wilkes released a trio of new "Day to Night" pictures: "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," "London, View from the Savoy," and "Paris, Tournelle Bridge."
He captured the first from the top of Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle. "I always loved the parade as a kid, but I'd never been – it was something I caught on TV each year – and as a parent, it was the same way with my children ... they loved it, but we never ventured into the city for it," Wilkes recalled. "My daughter was second assistant on the shoot and when she ran out for coffee, I told her to stop by the base of the fountain, so she's also in the picture." The final composition rewrites time in a sense, with Thanksgiving morning on the left side and the parade balloons wrapping around the park in reverse order. "It was great to explore that element," he noted, "though perhaps my favorite part of the image, which you can only see when looking at a large print, is a family enjoying dinner in the window of the apartment building at right."
Wilkes set up his camera at the Savoy Hotel ("It's a luxury when I'm able to shoot these on a solid piece of ground, especially one that serves really good coffee") to capture an incredible view of London that spans landmarks like the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, and the Eye. "The weather was overcast, then, suddenly, the sky started breaking apart and I was able to catch a lot of dramatic light," he said. "It takes a specific mentality to go out and shoot when it looks bad and to stick with it; however, I've found that if I stay positive, magic can happen."
For the Paris image, Wilkes wanted to depict Notre Dame Cathedral at night, "so I knew the right side of my picture would be 'Day,' " he explained – and it proved to be an eventful one. "In the morning, there was a crew race with boats rowing by on the Seine, and as the viewer comes across the image diagonally, the color changes and Notre Dame appears, illuminated," despite the lack of street lamps on the "Night" side. "At sunset, these larger boats travel down the Seine and light up the river banks, and I used those as my 'Night' light source. That sort of painting with light gives Notre Dame a three-dimensional quality," Wilkes explained. He kept in mind that the City of Light doubles as the City of Love: "On the lefthand side, a bride and groom are embracing for a photographer, a couple is sitting together, and passersby are holding hands. There are many romantic moments in that photo, and that's what Paris is about to me."