New York City!

Discussion in 'Travel' started by christopher_leonard, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. Hi All,
    I'm a complete newbie here so and I'm looking for some help and advice. I live in Ireland and I'm travelling to New York City at the end of this January and I have a couple of questions you might be able to help me with, so here goes.
    Empire State Building: I have heard that there is a "chicken wire" type of fence around the viewing area which prevents the use of SLR's and only allows for P+S cameras to be used, and also are Monopods allowed??
    Subway to New Jersey: I'm staying in Times Square, and I'd like to take an evening/night shot of the Manhattan skyline, I know to get that shot i have to cross the river to the New Jersey side. Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but is there a subway that runs under the Hudson, and if so where would be the best location for me to shoot??
    Buying a used D3 or D3S in Manhattan: I know about B+H and Adorama, but are there any other reputable dealers, or more importantly anywhere to stay clear of!!
    Thanks for your help!!
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Empire State Building: I have heard that there is a "chicken wire" type of fence around the viewing area which prevents the use of SLR's and only allows for P+S cameras to be used, and also are Monopods allowed??​

    Nothing prevents you from using SLRs but there is a fence. I can't remember if you can shoot through it.

    They officially restrict tripods but everyone I know who took a monopod got told to leave. It's a liability issue. Also, they won't hold stuff for you if you bring something you can't use.
    Subway to New Jersey: I'm staying in Times Square, and I'd like to take an evening/night shot of the Manhattan skyline, I know to get that shot i have to cross the river to the New Jersey side. Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but is there a subway that runs under the Hudson, and if so where would be the best location for me to shoot??​

    It's called the PATH train and it will take you to Hoboken or Jersey City. If you can go to Hoboken, there are places with a good vantage point, like the Stevens Institute campus. There may be spots you can walk to in Jersey City but I've never done it.

    PATH trains run from the west side and downtown over to Jersey. You can find information on the PATH site.
  3. I wouldn't buy equipment in any place that you don't know about in advance for being ethical like the two you mentioned. How would you complain after you get back to Ireland?
    By the way. Have a wonderful trip to the Big Apple. Try some of the offbeat, non-tourist places to shoot as well.
  4. Thanks Alan!!
    Any tips for those "offbeat" places???
  5. david_henderson


    If you catch the PATH to Exchange Place- its the first stop on the Jersey side if you use the line that passes through World Trade Centre. You can also get there from the PATH 33 street station if you change trains/lines at Newport. Its not a hard system to use. When you get to Exchange place, use the main exit and turn back on yourself and the Hudson River and skyline view will be right in front of you, with the new WTC buildings centred. IMO get there an hour or so before sunset and stay till you lose interest. In the morning you get a silhouette.
    Other good skyline opportunities from the Staten Island ferry and from the Columbia Heights promenade in Brooklyn , easily accessed from Clark Street subway on the 2/3 lines Just make your way to where you can see the river and ideally walk a little way south. Its a full-on relatively close view of downtown, best in the morning before or as the sun comes up. You can walk back to Manhattan over Brooklyn Bridge for more good views.
    There was no chicken wire on the Empire State when I was last there 5 years ago, though you need to squeeze the camera between the railings which prevents shooting at a sharp angle left to right. There was none on the Rockerfeller Centre either just a few weeks back. Lines tend to be shorter there and you get the Empire State in your pictures if you want. Not as high of course but you do get better views of midtown , and central Park. They're both good spots, both busy.
  6. Hi Christopher,
    You may consider going to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. The observation deck is small and enclosed, so if weather is a factor you'll be in a circular room with quite a view. You'll have to shoot through plexiglass. On the 86th floor there is a fence, but it's wide enough to shoot through. That deck is open to the elements. You can get tickets for both the 102nd and 86th floor decks.You may want to look at the the visitor information here .
    The area down around South Ferry and Battery Park is a real zoo right now due to construction. The Indian restaurant across the street from B&H is very good and reasonably priced. On a recent trip over there I stumbled into a food truck heaven on 46th St. between 5th and 6th Ave. More reasonably priced food at lunchtime. You can also get nice Manhattan skyline shots from Brooklyn. Have a great time. NYC is a wonderful place.
  7. David, Laura,
    Thanks for the tips greatly appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Really excited now :0)
  8. The outdoor viewing deck of the Empire State Building is quite small. Forget about tripods and monopods. They'll never let you upstairs. There is fencing at the ESB, but the gaps are large enough that you could pass your head through if you tried. I did this once and was immediately reprimanded by a security guard.
    I have seen people use tiny tabletop tripods and "gorilla" pods on the outdoor deck of the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center where there's much more room. However, the outdoor decks at both buildings are often CLOSED IN THE WINTER depending on the weather.
    My advice to you is to plan to take all of your shots hand held and to call ahead each day to determine what facilities will be open. There's a lot more to photograph in New York than what you can see from the top of a tall building, so don't be discourage if the decks are closed.
    Two sections of Jersey City (reachable by the PATH system as David mentioned) offer good NYC skyline shots: Exchange Place and Newport. I have used tripods at both locations without ever being questioned by the authorities. Keep in mind that it can be EXTREMELY WINDY along the Hudson River - hold onto that tripod! It can be very cold, as well. Dress in layers. The areas are generally okay, but be aware of your surroundings and suspicious characters.
    Views of the city are available from the Brooklyn waterfront and from some parks near the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York Parks department tends to be rather tripod-unfriendly, so expect to be approached if you set one up in any park. (Out on the streets and the edges of sidewalks, I never have an issue.)
  9. My wife and I went to New York in January a couple of years ago just after there had been a further heavy snowfall - it took over half an hour for our plane to taxi to its gate because there was insufficient clearance for the jet engines over the snow that had been cleared from the run way. The heavy snowfall also meant that crossing the roads in New York was difficult and you needed at least ankle-height boots to get through the melting slush.
    However, it did make New York spectacular and there was a particularly haunting moment as we walked through Central Park listening to a solo saxophone player.
    I do recommend that you visit Top of the Rock at the Rockerfeller Center. The queues to go up are much less than for the Empire State Building and you do get clearer views. We went up mid- to late- afternoon so that we could see the view in daylight but also see the changes as the light faded and the city lights came up. While we were up there a wedding party came up to have their photographs taken - the bride must have been freezing in her silk dress! There was another photographer who was using a Fuji 617.
  10. Here's the jazz player in Central Park.
  11. There is security fencing at the ESB, but you can shoot through it.
    The other tall building with an observation deck is the Top of the Rock - the GE building at Rockefeller Center. TOR is much better for photography because instead of fencing, the security border is glass. You can shoot through the glass, and there are gaps at the ends of the panels that are wide enough to shoot through. And the glass also provides protection from the wind - something that you will really appreciate if you visit in late January! DAMHIKT.
    There are two observation decks at ESB, but both have wire security fencing. There are also two decks at the TOR, but the upper deck is only steps higher than the lower deck. My recollection is that there is no security border around the upper deck because anyone who falls from there will land on the lower deck, only a few feet away. But that upper deck is very cold and windy in January.
    You've mentioned two reputable dealers in Manhattan - the third is Calumet Photo. I would be cautious about buying used equipment from anyone other than those three shops.
    As others have said, the PATH train will take you across the Hudson, but if you don't know where you are going, that could be a bit risky - there are areas in NJ that are pretty rough. You might be better going across the East River to shoot the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn. You can get there on the subway or by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, and my sense is that the DUMBO area of Brooklyn is more tourist-friendly.
  12. david_henderson


    I should put your mind at rest about the areas of NJ that border the Hudson. Exchange Place is the station for the new financial district in Jersey City. There's modern glass buildings, stores under, all round. There's a Hyatt 5 * hotel next door that I've stayed in ( and from where I could photograph the skyline from my own balcony. sadly the weather was ****) I have walked, several times, from the Colgate Tower near Exchange Place- to the Hoboken and beyond- to the areas where Jeff was suggesting above. I've never felt slightly ill at ease walking in this pretty smart, newly rebuilt area. A mile "inland" may be a different story and its certainly the case that all of urban NJ is not smart. But this part is. If you are really, really nervous there's another way to get there. NYC has a series of boat ferries across and along the Hudson and the East River. There's a ferry stop right outside the World Financial Centre near the WTC. You can get a boat right across the river from there to not far from the little urban park at Exchange Place. Personally I wouldn't worry, but there you go. The hardest thing about the PATH in my experience is how to use the ticket machines before you can get on a train. After that its modern, pretty clean and certainly more civilised than most of the London Tube lines I get to use.
    I can confirm also that the Columbia Heights area in Brooklyn is a safe (and very expensive) area. At the best time to be there (early morning) you're more likely to see dog walkers than muggers, and the shopping area that runs behind it towards Brooklyn City Hall is fine too - breakfast at the Happy Days Diner after photographing from the promenade is a NYC ritual for us.
    There are areas where I'm more careful. There's a decent viewpoint (though not as good as the above) at Long Island City in Queens with views directly onto the UN Building and Chrysler Building, where I'm careful to keep my eyes open as I walk -normally alone- to the East river from the subway. But nothing's ever looked likely to happen.
  13. Ian, I love your photo of the sax player in the snow! This is a great example. New York is a dynamic city. You can capture
    surprising and unexpected moments if you keep your eyes and mind open while wandering around.
  14. The Circle Line is a boat excursion around the entire island of Manhattan. Of course timing sunrise and sunset will be difficult but you'll get some interesting shots in any case. There's another cruise that combines dinner if you're taking a wife or girlfriend, or both.
    An interesting place to visit is the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. The museum is an aircraft carrier on the Hudson River at 46th Street pier that you can tour that has many variants of planes and jets on its flight deck as well as inside. They've recently added the space shuttle. There's also a submarine you can tour.
  15. Chris,
    If you are planning to go downtown to visit Wall Street, the Battery or the World Trade Center memorial, consider taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. It's free, you can get to Staten Island and back to Manhattan in about an hour and you'll get some great views of both the Manhattan Skyline and the Statue of Liberty, as well as the harbor in general.

    Enjoy your visit,
  16. Guys,
    Seriously thanks heaps!!!!!!!!!!
    I'm gonna print these tips out and take them with me!!!!!!
    I just hope the current cold snap dissipates before then!!
    Thanks again,
  17. Christopher,
    We'll go through lots of weather between now and when you arrive. Louie made reference to both observation decks at ESB having fencing. When I was last there in 2008, the deck at 102nd floor did NOT.
    The Brooklyn Bridge has come up in a few comments. It may sound a bit cheesy, but walking across this bridge can be a lot of fun, as well an an iconic thing to do while in the city. If you do this, be mindful of the bicycle lane. Folks on wheels take that lane seriously. You've not mentioned the kinds of things you're interested in, but one nice place to visit is the New York Public Library. Built a little over 100 years ago, it is all marble and has recently had an exterior renovation. It's located at 5th Ave and 42nd St, right down the street from Times Square. It's free and it's a beautiful building, inside and out. Bryant Park is adjacent to the library.
    Have a great trip, and post photos when you return.
  18. Taking the Circle Line (or any boat) or walking over the Brooklyn Bridge are not activities that I would recommend for January unless you experience unusually warm weather. Don't risk your health. My advice would be to stick to destinations in Midtown, Downtown, Times Square, Central Park, Chinatown, and Greenwich Village where you're never far from stores and restaurants that can provide warmth as needed.
    As mentioned previously, the outdoor sections of the observation decks are subject to closure depending on weather (primarily wind). The wind along the rivers, especially in Jersey City, can be powerful enough to knock you off of your feet. Dress warmly, and hold onto your tripod at all times.
  19. When in NYC, keeping your eyes wide open to the many possibilities for capture, is perhaps the best advice. The accompanying image was taken, during a visit last summer, from the top deck of a double decked tour bus, as we crossed the Manhattan Bridge.
  20. Thanks again guys, I'll be bringing my D7000 with 17-55 2.8, and also my 70-200 2.8.
    I'm not really "into" one specific thing, I like a bit of everything really, although I have mainly been a wedding shooter for the past 10 years or so.
    Like Lionel said, i also like to walk along and just "see" a picture.
  21. Well, there's plenty to see and shoot in NYC. Don't forget the people. Have fun.
  22. Any tips for those "offbeat" places???
    ... i also like to walk along and just "see" a picture.​
    For "offbeat" places and street shooting, NYC is hard to beat. There is no better place in the US to appreciate the Country's melting pot. Here's a thread you may find helpful. I followed the advice and spent a day at Brighton Beach (aka "Little Odessa"), another day at Chinatown and Little Italy. I felt like visiting three different countries! And the food, the shopping, OMG. Ask, and others may point you to finding Irish heritage.
    Bring comfy shoes, lots of memory cards/batteries, and MONEY!
  23. Robert K, Thanks greatly!!!!!!
  24. Any tips for those "offbeat" places???​
    There are two (maybe three) off beat places in New York City that could be interest to a photographer:
    Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx
    Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
    Both cemeteries can be easy reached by public transportation. New York Subway for Greenwood and Metro North for Woodlawn, since both have a train/subway a block away.
    Both have visitor centers and maps of their cemetery. Both permit photography but Woodlawn wants you to register to get a free photography permit. Both cemeteries are huge and you cannot see it all in a day.
    I recommend Greenwood if you enjoy landscapes since it has rolling hills, lakes and trees. I have seen people come there to relax, read a book or have lunch, among the dead. I recommend Woodlawn for the art since you will find many headstones done in artistic style. Also it has the huge mausoleums that many are lavishly decorated; you know they had money when they died.
    Here is a New York Times article that might be of interest too:
    I have been a Calvary Cemetery a few time too. Not as easy to get to like the other two. No visitor center and no map. But if you need to create photographs of cemetery with the famous New York City skyline in the background that is where you have to go.
  25. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Brighton Beach, Little Italy and Chinatown are not "offbeat" places in NYC. They are all touristy these days. If you want "offbeat", try somewhere like Sea View Hospital on Staten Island or, if you will travel a bit outside the city, Kings Park Psychiatric, or Holy Land USA in Connecticut. These are truly offbeat places that make for very interesting photography. Parts of them have been torn down in the past, worth checking to find out if they are still standing.
  26. Don't forget Time Square. It's an accelerated version of Piccadilly Circus.
    Please be a bit careful with your valuables in this crowded city.
  27. For offbeat subjects, there are two locations I like. One is the views from the High Line, an elevated railway track on the West Side, running from Gansevoort St three blocks north of 14th St past Chelsea up to 30th St. The old tracks have been converted to a walkway. The other is the Cast-Iron district located in the SoHo neighborhood downtown -- lots of interesting architectural detail.
  28. The Highline? Offbeat? That is a tourist magnet and if you love the crowds of tourist at Time Square you find them at the Highline. Most New Yorkers try to avoid this place!
    If you are into adventure I can recommend this for New York City It is a boat ride around lower Manhattan and I also visited Arthur Kills too by boat. But that was four hour boat tour.
    The boat ride will give you a unique prospective of lower New York City, Governor's Island and Status of Liberty. Also the skipper, Bjoern Kils is also a photographer too. So his aware of the lighting and best angles. I was surprised by the boat how staple of a platform it was to shoot from.
    He are the some Trip Advisor reviews:
    I have been on it twice and very fun to do too, besides shoot photos.
  29. Sorry, folks. I last visited the High Line in the early days, maybe 6 years ago or more, when the pathway was still under construction. Hardly anyone about. I should have known what was going to happen.
  30. The High Line is fun if not particularly photogenic. The views aren't spectacular, and it gets crowded on weekends, but it's New York City. Expect a few crowds.
    I would recommended Union Square Park during the daylight hours. Afterward, follow Broadway southward past the New York University area and continue on to Greenwich Village. Nice places to wander if they weather's not bad.
    Times Square and the Theater District afford good opportunities for taking photos of people, particularly tourists.
  31. If you Google search "empire state building lawsuit topless" there is at least one site reporting on this suit including a picture which shows the nature of the "fencing" at the observation level. And other things.

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