Friday, September 08, 2006
I'm in a New York state of mind
New York City, seen from above - click for higher-resolution image
I found myself on top of the Empire State Building this week. I wanted to somehow capture what it was like to be in that magical place that was the scene of so many classic movie scenes and so many childhood dreams of mine. I wanted to bring a bit of my experience home to our kids. Through pictures, I wanted to be able to explain what it was like, to get them excited so that they'd want to come back here so we could experience it for real, together.
Technical background: I bought a new gadget for my camera last week. It's a tripod with articulated legs that can wrap around pretty much anything. Up until now, I've been working without one, creatively bracing the camera on flat surfaces whenever I worked in low light and needed to use long exposure times. But that was wearing thin.
I used it for the first time for this series of images. To capture night scenes, the typical shutter speed of around 1/60th of a second simply wouldn't cut it. The images would be black. Longer exposures are necessary, but then you end up with blurred images because no one can hold a camera absolutely still for three seconds. And let's not talk about using flash. That's the domain of the clueless souls sitting in the nosebleed section at the football game.
Enter this little device of mine, which I used to clamp the camera to the outside of the security grating on the observation deck. I did so with great fear, because I had visions of my camera falling to the ground 86 floors below (and of having to explain it to my wife.) I received many odd looks from folks around me, but it was the only way to keep the shutter open for 2, 3 or 4 seconds and hope to bring home something workable. Because I'm a chicken, I kept my hands close by and, where feasible, the security strap around my wrist. In the end, I think it worked.
Your turn: Did this picture capture the sentiment of this place? What do you think (either first-three-words or whatever comes to mind) when you first see it? Was I nuts for shooting it this way?