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Thread: Large Format in New York

  1. #1

    Large Format in New York

    Very soon I'll be spending five days in New York for the first time, and I don't know what to expect when it comes to a tripod mounted camera. I have taken photos in London, Paris and Sydney and usually manage to find out-of-the-way spots to set up the tripod. I can work quickly with a reflex viewer and rollfilm on my baby Arca, and I have most things in pockets so that there is no need for constant access to a backpack. Am I ready? Is it safe? How much hassle will I get from officials when taking photos of the Chrysler and Flatiron buildings etc at sunrise or just after sunset? Where is the best island to go for an evening view of the city skyline? Any hints, tips and not to be missed photo locations would be greatly appreciated!

    Steven (www.duskart.com)

  2. #2

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    Large Format in New York

    I have never had a problem on the sidewalk in NYC with my 4x5. I try hard to make sure I'm not blocking any kind of traffic. I have asked the police about it in Times Square, and they said fine as long as I was not creating an obstacle. New York is now the safest city in its size class, but one should still be wary. Stay self contained. The only buildings I know that would create a hassle are Federal buildings. Sooner or later some kind of officer will come up and tell you you can't photograph them. In parks, you are supposed to get a permit to do commercial photography. Just be ready to point out that your work is non-commercial if someone asks. They're just trying to limit the number of model/fashion/movie shoots going on at one time, and keep tons of gear off the grass. By myself with a 4x5, I've never been asked in Central Park. For a view of the skyline, I would take the ferry to Staten Island or shoot back at Manhattan from the promenade in Brooklyn. You can't work on a tripod in the subway system unless you have a NYPD press pass, and a tripod requires a permit obtained in advance for Grand Central Terminal. I shoot all the time in New York, and love it. If you are coming soon, be prepared for the cold! It's been warm a lot lately, but this can not last! Enjoy.

  3. #3

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    Large Format in New York

    You can also get fantastic sunrise shots of NYC from the promenade on the New Jersey side of the Hudson river.

  4. #4
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Large Format in New York

    Good tips above. I particularly like the skyline view from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in the evening.

    You'll want to avoid using a tripod where there are crowded sidwalks, and you will very likely be asked a few questions if you use a tripod along the waterfront in downtown Manhattan from, say the Seaport down to Battery Park, and up from Wagner Park to around Chelsea Piers. Other than that, you're usually okay. It is good to be able to set up and close up quickly, keep all your equipment close to you and under your immediate control. A reflex viewer is good, particularly if you're alone.

  5. #5

    Large Format in New York

    As mentioned, the promenade in Brooklyn Heights has a good unobstructed view of Manhattan. There are better views in along the waterfront in Hoboken and Jersey City, but getting there can be a pain (maybe take the NY waterway ferry to Hoboken and use the pier for photography?) If you are feeling adventurous, there are great places to find shots of Manhattan between the two bridges in Brooklyn, often called DUMBO.

    Note however that according to NYC law, you are required to have a permit to use a tripod; no matter if you are shooting for yourself or commercially. The permit is free, and obtained through the Mayors office of Film and Television. I have never gotten one, and have shot in NYC for years. In any case, most cops won't bug you, unless you are near a "strategic" building, in a busy place, or if they are feeling belligerent.

    New York is pretty safe, I worry more about being hit by an SUV than I do about being robbed. That said, don't leave your bags anywhere out of direct sight (including when you are under the cloth) and never leave anything photographic in the trunk of your car. Have fun...

  6. #6
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Large Format in New York

    "Note however that according to NYC law, you are required to have a permit to use a tripod; no matter if you are shooting for yourself or commercially. The permit is free, and obtained through the Mayors office of Film and Television. I have never gotten one, and have shot in NYC for years. In any case, most cops won't bug you, unless you are near a "strategic" building, in a busy place, or if they are feeling belligerent."

    Could that possibly be true? I've been photographing with a large format camera here for ten years and never heard that one. I know it's true in Empire Fulton Park, which is the state park next to the bkln bridge on the brooklyn side ... they have it posted on big signs. But I've shot there too without getting hassled. This, however, is a state park, and their rationalle is that they get revenue from the postcards and posters that they sell.

    What kinds of things are you hoping to photograph? I hope you're open to opportunities beyond making the ten millionth skyline/sunrise picture from the promenade. There is so much here to discover.

  7. #7

    Large Format in New York

    John, Bob, David, Jason & Paulr, thank you your replies!



    It seems that NY is like Paris when it comes to tripods - you aren't supposed to use one, but you get away with it 95% of the time as long as you are not causing a nuisance. Jason, you are correct regarding the threat of SUVs, I have once been saved by a friend who pulled me back after I looked the wrong way when crossing a one-way street... Paulr, I will be photographing anything that does or doesn't move! I have the digital for when I am doing the usual sightseeing trips and street candids, but I have some pre-orders for some of the more famous landmarks - and I want to provide the best quality possible. Five days isn't much time I know, especially if the weather doesn't assist, but I'll give it a shot!



    Steven


    http://www.duskart.com

  8. #8
    Terence
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    Large Format in New York

    The Brooklyn Heights promenade is good for downtown views. Take the 2/3/4/5/M/R trains to Borough Hall in Brooklyn and head west towards the river to get to the promenade.

    Hoboken has great views of Lower Midtown (Empire State Bldg, etc). Take the PATH train to Hoboken from the stations at 9th, 14th, 23rd or 33rd Streets and 6th Avenue. Trains run 24 hours and are quite safe. PATH station in Hoboken is right next to a recreational pier, but for the best view walk upriver and uphill to Stevens Institute of Technology, and head for Castle Point (look for a very tall flag pole and an old canon. The view of Midtown is great with an extra +/- 125' of elevation. An alternative for the PATH is to take the New Jersey Transit #126 bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street and Eight Avenue. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Hoboken and runs down Washington Street. Ask the bus driver to let you off at the 8th Street stop and walk straight up 8th to Castle Point.

    For good downtown shots, take the PATH train from the World Trade Center one stop to Exchange Place in Jersey Cityand you'll be right at the water. Used to be a beautiful view of the Trade Center from here.

    For East Midtown views head for Long Island City (part of Queens). Take the 7 Subway train from 42nd Street to the Vernon/Jackson stop, which is the first stop in Queens. Again, head west to the river. There's a waterfront park right in front of the tall residential building (you can't miss it, as there's only one).

  9. #9
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Large Format in New York

    I also have just worked on the fly without a tripod permit, but I'm usually photographing in less trafficked places where I'm not likely to be bothered. When I've looked into it, it seems to be mainly a liability issue--they want to be sure you have liability insurance before setting up an obstruction on a public sidewalk. It's mainly addressed to film crews and fashion shooters with lots of lighting and equipment, but technically, it applies to anyone with a tripod, so there's always the risk of encountering the tripod police in the City.

  10. #10

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    Large Format in New York

    Wouldn't getting hit by a bicycle messsenger or a Subaru make you just as dead as getting hit by an SUV?

    Opps, getting political... dang!

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