Last weekend I did a quick trip up to New York City for a couple of days. My plan was just to get a way with my better half and enjoy the weekend walking around the Big Apple. And that is exactly what we did! Since I wanted to relax more than shoot I kept the gear light so here is what I took with me:
Zeiss 12mm F2.8 (Just in case I needed it) I could have left this at home…
Fuji 16mm 1.4 (I knew I would use this plenty at Top of The Rock)
Fuji 18-55 ( A Fantastic take anywhere Lens! I Don’t leave home without it)
Fuji 55-200 ( For rooftop images, Central Park, etc.) I wound up leaving it at the hotel before leaving for the TOTR though as it would have been too long of a focal length for the low light encountered. That was a right call on my part.
2 ea, 77mm Polarizers
77mm step-up rings for each lens
7 ea batteries ( only used 3 full and 1 partially in 2 days of shooting) but better safe than sorry
4 32gb SD cards (only used 1 full, and 1 partially)
1 small Sirui tripod and ballhead that fit in my small bag just in case (never used at all the entire weekend)
NOTE: With the above kit over my shoulder messenger style, I walked for HOURS, everywhere, and I swear I didn’t even realize I was carrying a camera bag at all!
Left at home:
All of the lens shades, hoods, ND filters, macros, other step-up rings, balance of the SD cards, Flashes, triggers, bigger tripods, base plates, hand grips for the X-T1, Remote release, etc. etc. etc. You get the picture.
The weather on Saturday was just perfect for walking around; sunny, high sixty’s, blue sky, pretty and puffy clouds. On Sunday it was rainy, but even that was ok as we were headed home anyway but even that didn’t stop us from having some last minute fun – but I’m jumping ahead of myself.
Saturday morning we had a delicious breakfast at Astro restaurant on Avenue of the Americas and 55th. I had been there many times before as I had worked on various projects in NYC and had stayed at the very same Hilton as I was staying now. The Astro Diner is about a block away and given the opportunity to eat there is not one I would pass up. Anyway we had brunch there, then continued walking north into Central Park. Being it was a Saturday morning, and a gorgeous one at that, to say the park was crowded is an understatement but it was nevertheless a fun day. We spent several fun filled hours walking the lake. We had a run-in with a raccoon which tried to rob us of our bottle of drinking water when I stopped and put it down to snap a photo; and we had to literally side-step a horde of rats, yes, rats that were gathering scraps of food and stuff oblivious to the mass of humanity walking around them on the wide, paved footpath right in the middle of central park. After spending a couple of hours walking around and not even making a small dent in the amount of acreage of this huge, diverse park we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and take a break as that evening I had 6:30pm tickets to the “Top Of The Rock” at 30 Rockefeller Center! Up there, on the 69th floor there are some amazing views in every direction of Manhattan, the surrounding boroughs, and then some!
We arrived at 30 Rock at our scheduled time, and we shot up the elevator and were at the top by 7pm after passing the various security check points, as well as the kitschy photo ops where they try to get you to by prints of course. We did not. As you can see in the image, the views are spectacular. You can stay as long as you want which is fantastic. We stayed until dark. It was almost 9:45pm when we headed down the fast elevators and hit the street to walk back to our hotel. Along the way I snapped some more images of the street vendors, and other touristy photos just, well, because I could and I was having so much fun!
On a side note I have to mention the photographers and cameras I saw at the TOTR. Remember: I was up there for almost four hours waiting for the light, relaxing with my wife and having fun but always keeping an eye out for the unusual. I did see the usual gaggle of Canikons. Oh so many! I did catch a woman with a Pentax film camera and a 50mm Lens. After seeing what amounted to hundreds of cameras and iPhones I saw only one other mirrorless camera besides mine – an Asian gentleman with a Sony A6000. That was it! Where were all the mirrorless fans?! Represent!!!
If you’ve ever been to TOTR, or anywhere similar you know they have 2-3” thick plexiglass for you to see through, with spacing between each pane. Well, the spacing was just wide enough for my 18-55 with my 77mm step up ring to fit through at most of the panels, but I did have to remove the step up ring from the front of the 18-55 in order to shoot through some as the space between some of the panes were just to tight. The folks using dSLR lenses were out of luck – there was no way they were fitting a 24-70 or 16-35 through there; maybe a 24, 35, or a 50? . Heck, my Zeiss 12mm, and the Fuji 16mm were a tight fit at some of the open slots between the plexiglass panes. So if you are planning on going up there, plan for that! Bring along some fixed, smaller diameter lenses unless you enjoy photographing through scratched plexiglass. I also want to throw out there to all to not use your pop-up flash for the following reasons as the light wanes:
– The flash bounces off the plexiglass and messes your metering overexposing your image.
– The image, if anything is visible, will not show you anything in the background like the empire state building as it’s too far away!
If you want a photo of your wife who is posing oh so stiffly in front of the empire state building as you fiddle with your camera for ten minutes (yes. I’m speaking to you Mr. rude Asian man with the Canon and the 16-35, who was pushing small children out of the way to pose your wife, the one in combat boots) please, jack up your ISO, and open up your aperture, or drop your shutter speed, but whatever you do, don’t fire your pop-up like you did. Maybe she’ll give you some lovin’ later.
On Sunday morning we enjoyed a delicious, relaxing, and complimentary, full buffet style breakfast at the hotel restaurant before checking out. Even though it was raining and misty I wanted to do a little bit of scouting for my next trip as we were already in the city. The next trip will be in NYC but this time I’ll be working the southern tip of Manhattan – and the Battery area. I want to explore and photograph there. We drove around in the rain for a while until I found what I wanted and noted the address in my GPS for future reference. Since I was already there I took some photos while my wife drove around, or parked somewhere and read a book for a short while.
Overall it was a very successful trip photo wise. I have yet to review, cull or edit ANY of the Central Park, or the Top Of The Rock ones, but the few images I did manage to pop off in the rain while in lower Manhattan on Sunday morning before heading home are already available for sale! I can’t wait to find some time to edit the others I took at TOTR and in Central Park! I strongly suggest if you are going to be anywhere on the east coast, to make NYC a stop along your route – you won’t regret it.