Gary Hershorn is a world renowned photographer and picture editor. His long-term personal project is documenting the ever-changing skyline of New York City.

Since the pause he has observed the city at dawn and dusk. He has continued to show the beauty of New York.”The river is super-duper quiet and there are almost no boats, helicopters, or planes,” he observes. “When you walk and stand along the river, you almost feel like you’re in a nature preserve. You hear the birds like you’ve never heard them before. I swear there are more geese and ducks than I’ve ever seen. The river is very calm these days. The water’s flat unless there’s a really heavy wind.”

There’s been so much talk around the world about air quality. Gary’s seen that and says it’s significantly changed his way of shooting sunsets: “I’m absolutely convinced that the colors and feel of sunset have changed. Before this, prime shooting time was about 20 minutes before sunset. The sun would set and you would have a half an hour of this glorious burn where the blue hue comes and the sun is gone, and the buildings are reflecting the colored sky that’s behind you.

“Without question the glorious light is starting almost an hour before sunset. The light is crisper. It’s almost like fall, winter light when the air is definitely clearer.” Gary says that if there is an eight o’clock sunset, he used to be by the river by 7:30pm. Now he’s got to be out there by 7pm. It’s added a whole new dimension of light that wasn’t there before.

Next Friday and Saturday is #manhattanhenge. Gary recognizes that things will be a lot different than the typical scenes we’ve all come to expect. The photo above is from the Park Avenue Bridge at Pershing Square, which has in recent years been closed by police at henge time. “It’s going to be weird because there will be nobody in the streets. It may be the easiest time to stand in the middle of the street ever. You can take the picture that you really want to take without having to dodge traffic.”

The other common vantage point down 42nd Street for #manhattanhenge is the Tudor City overpass. Gary wonders what that will be like, given the crowds that usually show up for the event. Last time he was on that bridge in late March, there was nobody competing for a position. 42nd Street was newly painted and lined, but was eerily quiet.

He noticed the same thing at the iconic Grand Central Terminal.

Gary likes to have people in his pictures. Usually that’s not a challenge at GCT. This time he says: “My challenge was somebody going through and I was lucky it happened to be a train conductor.”

Gary has documented the rise of Hudson Yards for the last six years. On March 11, he was invited to attend the opening of The Edge observation deck. “It was the pinnacle moment of years of watching Hudson Yards grow. Being out on The Edge at the very point of that observation deck and looking out at the city, it felt like a crowning moment in my photographing this project.

“When I went up to the top I thought ‘wow, this is so cool’. But like everything in New York, you get to the pinnacle and then you come back down to ground!”

Last week, Gary came into the city. He used the PATH and the subway for the first time in two months (he’d driven in a few times before). He reports that it was very empty and extremely clean. He wandered and came to Times Square. He’s still bemused by how empty the crossroads of the world was. “At the moment, there’s no place in the city that’s more bizarre than Times Square, just because you’re so used to there being so many people and nobody’s there!”

“I photographed these three people. I wish I knew whether they were locals or tourists. Maybe they came from Jersey or down from Westchester just to get out of the house and do something. Maybe they wanted to see what New York felt like. I should have gone up and asked them what they were doing. What the hell were they there for?”

He has a special relationship with Times Square. He would come from his home in Toronto in the 1970s to celebrate New Years there. He’s photographed 12 or more Ball Drops since. He shot one of his many famous pictures from next to his desk on the 19th floor of the Reuter’s headquarters. Gary is a master at what he does.

His most popular photograph of the past 10 weeks has been of a rainbow over Manhattan.

When he described it as “a stroke of luck”, he was being modest. Gary plans and executes his shoots with precision. He has apps that closely monitor the weather, he pinpoints the rise of the moon and the sun so that he can get them balanced on the tip The Statue of Liberty’s torch. He elaborates: “Well, I expected there’d be a rainbow that night and I was out on the river waiting for that. Depending on the time of day, you can predict where it’s going to be because of the angle of the sun. They tend to be almost always North to South. I went to a spot that I thought I might be able to get the rainbow over Lower Manhattan.”

The luck was where the rainbow landed — it turned out better than that. “My guess was off a little bit. It came out of the top of the World Trade Center AND the Empire State Building. The fact that it hit both buildings in the same rainbow, that was just crazy luck.

“It was probably my biggest ever shared picture on Twitter. It just struck this nerve with people. Nobody is going out and everyone is talking about hope. ‘This gives me hope’ and ‘we’ll get through this’.”

He has a simple philosophy: “The sun comes up every day, no matter what happens, there’s still the sun in the sky. When I see the beauty that the sun creates every day, that’s what I want people to see.”

Gary’s photography has a beauty that enriches all New Yorkers who follow his Instagram feed.

Gary Hershorn is an award-winning Canadian photographer and picture editor. Currently the Photo Editor for Fox News Channel’s Gary’s 40-year career began in 1979 at United Press International in Toronto. He started at Reuters in 1985 as Chief Photographer, Canada. During Gary’s 29-year Reuters career, he worked as a photographer in Toronto, Senior Photographer in Washington, Picture Editor-Americas and Global Sports Pictures Editor. Gary has photographed 17 Olympic Games, 24 Masters Golf tournaments, 24 Academy Awards, Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cups, World Cups, and major news events. He has a long-term personal project documenting the ever-changing skyline of New York City. His latest book is New York Celestial. @garyhershorn

Stay in touch with W42ST and be first to read stories like this when you join our daily newsletter at