Gorgeous Photo of NYC and the One World Trade Center Taken from an Airplane

Good Morning, New York

The rules might say to keep your electronics stowed during takeoff and landing, but sometimes, you just can’t help yourself. And even though we certainly don’t condone breaking FAA regulations, the above photograph is a prime example of one of those times when not being able to help yourself pays off.

Taken by photographer James Kastner, the snap beautifully captures the sun glinting off the One World Trade Center just as the glare on the harbor aligned with Liberty Island. It’s no wonder the shot has gone viral.

The story behind the photo starts with a 7am business flight from Newark to Miami that Kastner was taking with his boss to demonstrate a 3D printer at a jewelry show. This isn’t the first time Kastner has gotten media attention for a photo he’s snapped out of an airplane window, and so his boss was kind enough to give him the window seat.

And it’s a good thing he did, here’s a closer crop of the shot he was able to capture:


He took the photo with his 5D Mark III and trusty Canon 28-70mm f/2.8L lens, and when we caught up with him through email to inquire about the image, he told us a little bit about how he got the shot:

I did have to break the rules a bit to get the shot, but I couldn’t resist, so I set my camera to silent mode to be as stealthy as possible. As we gained some altitude, the sun was just coming up, creating an awesome silhouette of the city.

The plane made a slight turn to the east and was angled just right so the city was in full view. The sun was glaring and the shine coming off One World Trade Center was too irresistible to miss that photo, so I fired off a few shots. I got this photo just as the glare on the harbor aligned with Liberty Island.

When he got back to his hotel, he immediately recognized the shot for what it was and uploaded it to his Life After 10,000 photo-per-day album on Facebook, and then eventually Reddit for good measure. The rest is upvote history. As he puts it: “I should fly more often.”

Click here for a higher-res version of the original shot, and if you’d like to see more of Kastner’s photography, you can do so on his website or that aforementioned Facebook album by following the corresponding links.

(via Gizmodo)

Image credits: Photograph by James Kastner and used with permission.

  • VSM Photo


  • JimmyKastner

    Thanks for sharing my work! It means so much to me!

  • Turbohampster

    lovely pic!

  • Col Kenobi

    Great shot!

  • Joey

    Its an interesting choice of colours that he used when post processing this image. Its refreshing to see someone using split tone colours that aren’t teal and orange.

    this combination in particular gives hints of green around the periphery of the heavy vignette.

  • aim54x

    I get around those rules by shooting film in a mechanical camera…FM2n

  • sharad2020


  • Rabi Abonour

    Lovely picture once you click through to the large version. The embed doesn’t do it justice.

  • tron_

    while we’re talking about things that don’t matter, you might like to know that i just got a new toaster.

  • Stormin

    the 5D has a silent mode?

    Also, plane’s electronics are rated to withstand lightning strikes and they fear my little P&S or ipod etc etc (i always shoot during T/O and landing (after the crew is strapped in)

  • Graham King

    The 5D III does. Super quiet shutter. Love it.

  • some guy_not a Troll

    Not sure what PP does when posting images on here! When I first saw this image, I thought, am I the only one who thinks that this photo is not that great?, no disrespect James.

    That was until I saw the facebook image that looks 10x better then the one in this post.