There’s something magical about the colors of fall. Especially contrasted against the concrete forest of Manhattan. And especially for a photographer from Denver like Chris Enzaldo. Chris, a former resident of the big city and avid Instagrammer (@oradventurenerd), returns to New York every year to photograph the fall. “I always thought of the primary colors of autumn as the bright yellows of Aspen and the rich blue skies of Colorado,” Chris explains. “It wasn’t until I moved to New York City last year that I was introduced to what autumn on the East Coast looked like. The brilliant reds and oranges of leaves around the city. They’re incredible.” And while Chris didn’t have plans to live in NYC long (he currently calls Portland, Oregon home), he vowed to come back to photograph the peak of fall foliage every year–usually the last few days before Halloween or the first week in November. And, every year upon his return, Chris falls in love again with that kaleidoscope of colors through his camera’s lens.
We asked Chris to take us through his photographic tour of NYC in the fall. And this is what he had to share.
Favorite hidden gem for non-New Yorkers:
Chris: To me, the ultimate spot for watching autumn pass by is Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Sure, it’s not much of a secret spot, but it’s just as spectacular as Central Park. There are so many groves and forests that would take you days to explore. Lakes and trails are everywhere. The key is to walk around late afternoon, between 3 and 5 p.m., when the light throws an extra shade of gold onto the trees.
Inspirational New York Instagrammers:
The IG community in NYC is astronomically talented, and they have the greatest city in the world as their backdrop. I’ve been fascinated lately by Angela Renai (@angelarenai). She just moved to NYC and has a really charming perspective on NYC moments. I’m also into Aaron Jaker in Brooklyn (@aaronjaker). I’ve followed Shafi (@cityandaperture) since he started last year—such a solid urban photographer. As for one of the K’s (IG’er with more than 10,000 followers), I’m inspired daily by @sweatengine, and of course the Insta Queen of Manhattan, @misshattan.
Say it’s a fall day and you want to capture all the colors of the city:
My day of photography is oddly quiet because I’m looking for moments and compositions. I’m not an early riser, so after breakfast and planning, I set out to walk around a neighborhood, say, like West Village. I just walk around for a few hours and try to find beautiful images. If you stay in one spot for a few minutes and watch the scene change, it’s just amazing. You’ll find a great picture if you just absorb a scene for a while, and test your angles. It’s super important to not get in the way of locals, who are just trying to go about their day. I believe there’s an art to shooting the city. Find those ‘quiet’ spots on the sidewalk, out of the way of pedestrians, and you’ll be good. Watch for cars and bikes always, of course. They’re on a mission. And don’t be “that tourist” who lollygags across streets. You’re in an urban wonderland, yes, but you should be able to go with the flow of the action.
Essential spots for you to visit while photographing NYC?
I have a tradition of buying macaroons at Ladurée, then walking over to Central Park to watch the autumn sunlight flow through the yellow and red trees around me. Eating macaroons, sitting on one of those long wooden benches that curve around a grove of elm trees, watching people walk by and take pictures of falling leaves and imagining what their pictures look like: this is a perfect afternoon.
The Pond: So many shots. Walk around it a few dozen times. There’s this one tree on the southern edge of the Pond, stunningly tangerine-orange, set before a wall of green trees.
Wollman Rink: Walk south of the Rink towards The Pond’s edge. That’s the ultimate New York City shot, especially at night. Gapstow Bridge up front, Midtown Manhattan in the background. Climb up the rocks beyond the west side of The Pond and admire the layers of autumn color looking east. One of my absolute favorite spots in the entire city.
The Mall: During the first week of November, it is unimaginably beautiful. The elm trees scribbling up to the sky go from light pear-green to banana-yellow seemingly overnight. Go to the northern end and look south and behold an epic autumn New York afternoon moment.
The Lake: Bethesda Fountain is abuzz always. Walk towards Bow Bridge and take in the Upper West Side buildings reflected onto the Lake. The story goes that John Lennon loved walking around this area when he lived in New York. Wander amongst the wilderness of The Ramble. It’s as naturally wild as the city gets.
Bank Rock Bay: Get lost around here. The way the water fills up with fallen orange leaves is surreal. Explore the moss-covered arches to the east. This area is especially stark and beautiful after Peak Week, around mid-November.
City Bakery in Flatiron District
After sundown, take a breather here. You have no choice but to get a hot chocolate and a pretzel croissant. Then, dip that pretzel croissant into the hot chocolate. Talk about heaven.
Mile End Delicatessen in NoHo
The smoked-meat poutine will fill you up with pure bliss. Simple as that.
If you have another day, take a walk down 42nd St, from west to east. You’ll spot the New Yorker building, Bryant Park, New York Public Library, Bank of America Tower, Grand Central Terminal, and the Chrysler Building, all without turning left or right. After all that, walk up to the overpass on Tudor City Place and turn around to take in an unforgettable Midtown scene.
Our humble advice? Take it all in. And don’t forget to take a few moments without your camera in front of your eye to truly marvel at the magic of autumn in New York. And thanks to Chris for all the photographic advice.
Chris Enzaldo is a Customer Experience Lead at Airbnb, a resident of Portland, Oregon, and a part-time photographer. You can find more of his photos on Instagram.