Manhattan in Medium Format, 1980

Instead of flying out of Newark, New Jersey after a week’s worth of work, I changed my flight to La Guardia and took a bus to Manhattan to spend a few hours shooting with my Yashica Mat 124G. The Yashica Mat 124G is a metal solid twin lens reflex medium format camera that I’ve had for over thirty years now and is still as reliable and functional as the day I bought it.

These shots were taken in May, 1980. The day was clear and warm being late spring. This was my first time to New York City and I was in awe, to say the least. For the time that I had, I just wandered around taking shots.

Here’s a shot of a subway under Grand Central Station.

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The light was really low and I was shooting Tri-X at ISO 400 and didn’t push the film, so it was tough holding the camera steady. This was shot at f/3.5 which is wide open for the 124G and at 1/30 sec.

Every photographer takes a subway entrance shot whenever they see one, and I’m no exception. The irony isn’t lost, looking at the debris on the stairs and the “IT’S YOUR SUBWAY” sign.

NYC 1980

The leisure suit in this guy looks cool, big time in style at the time. Maybe they’ll come back…

NYC 1980

Grand Central Station is a classic place to shoot, It’s challenging with a TLR to get fast street-style shots looking down at a waist level view finder, but if you park yourself in a spot it works. Here are a few:

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This worked out because of the light on the front of the escalator, centrally framing the subject.

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Here’s another shot below Grand Central Station that caught my eye because of the posters and soft contrast.

NYC 1980

This dude was cool, dancing and trying to pick up the two women seated at the fountain.

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Of all the shots taken that day, this is my favorite with the girl with the notebook.

NYC 1980

This is a small slice of un-gentrified NYC in 1980. I still remember shooting there to this day. Using a TLR is a little tough for street photography, but many great street photographers have used them in the past.