Sunday, October 31, 2010

Is That A Camera In Your Pocket?

The shift from summer to Fall in New York City is always different. Sometimes it is abrupt, sometimes prolonged. But one thing always makes it easy to tell that summer has left is the fact that the 750 Billion tourists who visit New York with their cameras, are gone.

I’ve been doing a lot of filming around the city lately. Not in the touristy way of “Oh my gosh those people are doing hip hop dancing on the street, I have to film this!” And not in the “QUIET ON THE SET” type of way either. The filming I have been doing is more project based. Videos for contests, friends’ companies, and things like that.

I mean I still stop and watch the hip hoppers, I just don’t film them.

Filming in the city is a very interesting experience. If you spend any amount of time walking around the city you will see 2 things. The first is a movie set. You see them all over the city. I have seen the set for Gossip Girl nearly a half dozen times… which is kind of unrewarding because I don’t even watch Gossip Girl.

Seriously I don’t. What? Stop looking at me like that.

But if it’s not professional big budget movie/tv sets that you see, its amateur photogs, film makers, and students shooting every square corner of this fine city. I suppose it makes you feel like you are really somebody walking around the city with a camera. But as a passive observer, when you look at some of the other people walking around this city with cameras, you realize carrying a camera may not necessarily make you look like somebody.

The amount of tourists that roam around the city in Summertime seems to increase every year. But the amount of tourists that meander around Manhattan with digital cameras that cost thousands of dollars appears to have dramatically increased in the last couple of years.

And its not just expensive cameras, it is the expensive cameras with gigantic telephoto lenses attached.

Now you might be saying, but maybe they are press. Maybe they are here to take pictures of professional athletes. Maybe they work for the news.

I considered that. But press photographers typically don’t walk around 5th avenue with 7 Abercrombie bags wearing an I Love New York shirt and a camera lens so big it looks like it could tell the last time there was a high tide in the Sea of Tranquility.

What is so far away that they need to be taking pictures of? The whole point of coming to New York City is so you can see these things up close. Who comes to this city to get pictures of things that you want to stand far away from. That’s like going to a strip club to stand outside. I mean, like, other people. Not me, I’m, ya know… uh… moving on.

Like this guy whom I saw outside a taco shop near Union Square.

He stood there for a good 10 minutes looking around with his monstrosity hanging from his neck. I’m not sure if he was lost or just looking for something to take a picture of. Maybe people from other countries have stronger neck muscles than Americans. I don’t even like having change in my pocket. Anything heavier than a granola bar and I want a wagon to pull my stuff around town.

I mean lugging a 4 pound camera around a city all day just doesn’t seem like my idea of a good time. That is why I bought a video camera that I can fit in my back pocket.

Well, I mean that and the fact that I don’t have a couple of thousand dollars.

It is with this camera that I have recorded the last 6 or so videos I have posted up on my YouTube channel.

Recently I was working on a video in Central Park. Now I haven’t filmed a video in a park since the very first video contest I entered.

And the main reason is I am terrified of being arrested. I mean currently I owe the library some money and that is causing me massive stress. And that’s just the library. But New York City has very specific rules about filming in certain places and requiring permits for certain types of filming in specific locations.

So the last time we went to film I was very discrete about my tiny little camera and my cast of 7 that I was filming with. No giant telephoto lenses for me. It was guerilla film making at its finest. Well, as much as you can call 7 people lounging in the middle of the Sheep Meadow on a September day “guerilla.”

In fact the greatest threat came not from Johnny Law himself, but of the Asian Jungle Jim who was throwing a rather large glider plane around the meadow. He was dressed in a vest and explorers hat just hanging out by himself throwing a plane around, nearly hitting small children and unsuspecting loungers. He didn’t hit us but he came close.

But filming with a pocket sized camera doesn’t make you feel like some kind of fancy professional. It actually makes you feel kind of goofy. Like you are trying to fool people into believing you actually have a camera. Which in some cases, actually enhances the quality of your work so that you're not focusing on trying to appear like some fancy pants, but rather actually trying to make something decent.

But we actually succeeded in completing our Central Park project. I was happy with the way it came out. Hopefully it will lead to more projects doing videos for companies. And that way, maybe I too will be able to afford a 4 pound camera. And a wagon. I will need a wagon too.

But either way, enjoy the end result.


Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

Okay for real, what's up with that guy and his ginormous camera (and ginormous is really a word? Spell check says it is. Hmm...)? That picture is making my neck hurt just looking at it.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh that is a massive camera.
I was walking around taking pictures of...nature and carvings on churches and stuff...just because I do that a lot, and kept being nearly knocked out with people's giant lenses.

It makes me feel embarrassed to even have my little camera, but the joy I get out of photographing pretty landscapes makes up for it.

Los Schoenys said...

What I find funny is that everybody around here thinks they're some awesome photographer just because they own a Nikon. Really? A $500 purchase all of a sudden makes you a professional? Please. I take better pictures with my iPhone.

Flitterbee said...

I read 4 pound camera and I think: - a camera that costs £4. As for the weighty one, the only time I've carted around a camera of those dimensions is when I was being paid by the hour to make good use of it :D

When you live in a village/town/country where there are no blocks of skyscrapers etc, you'd want to take home some evidence of that, too. Maybe the guy was absorbing the atmosphere initially and then wished to take a photo to capture that feeling. Or maybe not.

The first, last and only time I went to New York, I used a film camera. Ah, them were the days, eh? ;)

Caroline B said...

If I had a camera that big and expensive, I'd spend all my time worrying about getting mugged or smacking it on something concrete and breaking it instead of enjoying my holiday. Easier to have my little pocketable one, which probably explains my dodgy photos!

Rachel said...

That's kind of like how I used to live on Oahu and I saw the set for LOST all the time....but I don't even watch LOST. Totally unrewarding.
But I think not watching Gossip Girl is a bit more unforgivable than not watching LOST....yeah I'm going to pretend I didn't just admit that.

That camera is ridikalous.

Pat said...

Okay, guilty as charged. I ALWAYS have my camera with me - wherever we travel. Sorry! But I don't have that humongous lens. I do have lens envy, though! :)

cute video :)

It's All Good said...

You wanna know how we Floridians know when summer is over and fall begins? All in a sudden, our roads are PACKED with snowbirds... yeah, but when and if I visit New York I will be one of those people with my fancy camera (no huge lenses though) cause, well, I love photography, and you New Yorkers have so much more potential and inspiration than we do (really, palm trees do get boring, and Miami isn't around the corner for me) Anywho, hope your winter doesnt completely suck, ours is gonna be beautiful as usual ;)

Cathy said...

Wow, he should have a very short person running around with him to help hold up that camera!

I love the cameras that will fit in your pockets - but now I'm running out of pockets - one for my pocket-sized phone, one for my pocket-sized camera...if they start making pocket-sized Starbucks cups I'm going to be in trouble!

redisdead said...

I actually use the same setup (from what I can see) than this guy when taking pictures in a city.

It's also great for portraits among other things.

I went to Berlin last summer. I had a compact camera and my DSLR in my luggages. After the first few days, I just left the compact at the hotel, because I never used it.

Yeah, they're heavy, but the picture quality you're able to achieve with theses vs a compact is, in my opinion, worth spraining your neck.

I want to take the best pictures I can when visiting some place I can't go to every other day, and most compacts take terrible pictures, full of noise and/or heavy compression and aggressive noise filtering, or distorted to hell and back because of the cheap plastic lens they have.