Central Park Photography rules

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local novice
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Central Park Photography rules
10 months ago

We are planning a trip to NYC in mid-March.  I have seen many beautiful night photos of the park on this forum and elsewhere.  I am wondering if there are any rules or regulations on photography in the park.  I looked online and there is a form to fill out for filming and photography events.  I am a little confused since I think that is for professional photographers.  Any restrictions on amateurs/tourists (e.g. tripod/monopod use)?  Also any safety issues at night? My impression is the park is relatively crowded even at night.

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Michael L NYC 99
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

I've never had trouble using a tripod in Central Park and I never got a permit. You do have to be sensible and not block pathways or otherwise impede pedestrians, runners, carriages, etc. I imagine permits (and associated fees) may get you special access or keep others away from your location. Of course, I'm sure professional filmmakers get permits for all the gear and crew that is required.

I feel relatively safe at night, although the park is not heavily populated in most locations at night, unless there is a special event happening. The park is used much more in warm weather, so more people will be in the park at night in the summer compared with the winter. I try to stay in well lit areas and turn off my headphones so I can hear people approaching from behind. There are some heavily treed areas which I would suggest staying away from at night.

Regards

Michael

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local novice
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to Michael L NYC 99, 10 months ago

Thanks for the info.  The reason I asked is I have read that people with tripods draws attention from law enforcement in Dumbo and I was curious if this was true for Cental Park.

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pedroboe100
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

No limitations on CP AFAIK. There are places with restrictions. For example : Lincoln Center. You can take pictures of LC from the sidewalk on a tripod, but not on the stairs or plaza. Law enforcement it's friendly on most cases, so don't hesitate to ask. Have fun!

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jeffharris
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

local novice wrote:

We are planning a trip to NYC in mid-March. I have seen many beautiful night photos of the park on this forum and elsewhere. I am wondering if there are any rules or regulations on photography in the park. I looked online and there is a form to fill out for filming and photography events. I am a little confused since I think that is for professional photographers. Any restrictions on amateurs/tourists (e.g. tripod/monopod use)? Also any safety issues at night? My impression is the park is relatively crowded even at night.

Don't worry about it.

The thing to be aware of would be NOT to block pedestrian traffic, staircases, doorways, etc.. Just stay out of the way and no one will bother you.

I often carry a monopod which is even less intrusive, or use my tripod one-legged.

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local novice
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to jeffharris, 10 months ago

Thanks for the advice, looking forward to the trip.

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dennis tennis
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

you need to associate yourself with one of the camera gangs of New York.  You don't have much time to become a mFT rollers so I would suggest you buy a 1DX + 85 F1.2L.

Get in touch with the mFT local gangs in NYC and offer to smash your 1DS and 85mm in public to prove to them that you are a true mFT believer.

I'm telling you this because shooting in Central Park is a serious business.  You need to travel and shoot in packs.  If you don't, you'll get shiv in the ribs and bleed out.

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jeffharris
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to dennis tennis, 10 months ago

dennis tennis wrote:

you need to associate yourself with one of the camera gangs of New York.

I'm telling you this because shooting in Central Park is a serious business. You need to travel and shoot in packs. If you don't, you'll get shiv in the ribs and bleed out.

Watching too many bad old movies about big bad nasty old New York in the 70s, eh?

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local novice
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to dennis tennis, 10 months ago

dennis tennis wrote:

you need to associate yourself with one of the camera gangs of New York. You don't have much time to become a mFT rollers so I would suggest you buy a 1DX + 85 F1.2L.

Get in touch with the mFT local gangs in NYC and offer to smash your 1DS and 85mm in public to prove to them that you are a true mFT believer.

I'm telling you this because shooting in Central Park is a serious business. You need to travel and shoot in packs. If you don't, you'll get shiv in the ribs and bleed out.

I wasn't sure if you were pulling my leg or confirming a tourist's worst nightmare about NYC. Thanks (I think).

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Bob Tullis
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Think of it like this
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

local novice wrote:

Thanks for the info. The reason I asked is I have read that people with tripods draws attention from law enforcement in Dumbo and I was curious if this was true for Cental Park.

For streets and public parks, it's the difference between shooting for yourself, with or without a few friends at your side, or taking over a portion of the public space to stage a shooting event (like a wedding, model shoot).   Wedding photographers and film students with accessories (lighting, reflectors, screens, wardrobe, any or all of it), no less more ambitious productions, are where permits come into play.   Of course, if you impede traffic of any kind, or are just a nuisance or hazard to general activity about, you can expect to be hassled anywhere.

Private property with public spaces have different liability issues, and they will rightly ask any photographer with a tripod to cease using it on their property, unless permission has been granted by the property's agents with that authority.

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Michael's Photos
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

Lived here since 2000. Even though Guilliani cleaned up a lot of the city and made it possible to take a subway at night, I would never go into central park after 11PM. Ever. OK to hang out in front of Columbus Circle, that's OK.

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local novice
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Re: Think of it like this
In reply to Bob Tullis, 10 months ago

Bob Tullis wrote:

local novice wrote:

Thanks for the info. The reason I asked is I have read that people with tripods draws attention from law enforcement in Dumbo and I was curious if this was true for Cental Park.

For streets and public parks, it's the difference between shooting for yourself, with or without a few friends at your side, or taking over a portion of the public space to stage a shooting event (like a wedding, model shoot). Wedding photographers and film students with accessories (lighting, reflectors, screens, wardrobe, any or all of it), no less more ambitious productions, are where permits come into play. Of course, if you impede traffic of any kind, or are just a nuisance or hazard to general activity about, you can expect to be hassled anywhere.

Private property with public spaces have different liability issues, and they will rightly ask any photographer with a tripod to cease using it on their property, unless permission has been granted by the property's agents with that authority.

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I completely understand. Just want to know what the rules are if any.  When in Rome, do as the...

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Heyseuss Hoolio
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to dennis tennis, 10 months ago

dennis tennis wrote:

you need to associate yourself with one of the camera gangs of New York. You don't have much time to become a mFT rollers so I would suggest you buy a 1DX + 85 F1.2L.

Get in touch with the mFT local gangs in NYC and offer to smash your 1DS and 85mm in public to prove to them that you are a true mFT believer.

I'm telling you this because shooting in Central Park is a serious business. You need to travel and shoot in packs. If you don't, you'll get shiv in the ribs and bleed out.

Would it be acceptable to buy a used one?

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Dheorl
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

Are you in a public space? Are you obstructing a public right of way? If you can answer the first yes and the second no then shoot away.

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BruceB609
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Re: Central Park Photography rules
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

It looks like several responses go with my own experience, if it's personal, no problems, enjoy. The rules I know of are for commercial, heavy gear and production teams.

You mention mid March. That might be unpredictable weather wise but then strange weather can often make a great shot like low, up lit clouds over the buildings or fog etc... perfect for hiding the new ultra high One57 building. With all the snow melt and ground moisture we're in for, I'd predict it. I prefer locations for night shots at the south end of the park where I usually find more opportunities and light without walking a long way and I get more peripheral detail and lighting around the perimeter. Unless long time exposures, a really small, very light tripod, mini tripod or a prime lens with reasonably high ASA and stabilization is usually better for me because NYC photo opportunity is definitely about walking a lot. The last option, my E-M5, is the best but I sometimes take a walking stick with a head on it (monopod). Carrying gear or too big a bag can be a real pain unless you have a planned in and out objective. Alone, I'd hesitate going into the depths of the park at night with obvious photo equipment though I've never encountered a problem. I think the inside of the park, except for the south end, is better for dawn to dusk anyway. Although park lamps are everywhere, it gets quite dark and I can't recall any big reason to stay after dusk unless I'm nearer to Central Park South.

There's good opportunity around Columbus Circle (Merchant's Gate /southwest corner) and across from the Plaza Hotel (southeast corner) but one location to check out is on top of Cat Rock, right between the Wollman Ice Rink and the East Drive. It's a huge outcrop of bare granite, a good overlook toward Columbus Circle. You also have the Pond right below it. Great for reflections.

It may be seasonal but another good overlook is on top of the Metropolitan Museum where you can go out onto the garden roof. I shot from there during Christo's "Gates" project (February, a few years back). I'd contact them first.

Otherwise, if I have the time and energy, a rarely leave without something good wherever I go in the park.

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jkoch2
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March dreary, April better
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

April would be a better bet: signs of green, warmer weather, more people.

In mid March, the Park will look a bit bleak, particularly if the day is cloudy.  Baring a major rise in temperatures, traces of snow may persist, and look dirty. The roads may be gritty with sand or litter released by snowmelt.  Unless you spot a crocus or snow flower somewhere, there won't be much pretty vegetation.  Heavy congregations of ducks or geese in the scant open water spaces may cause ponds, or streams to look (ugh) unpleasant.  Beware of hypothermia or typhoid if you jump in.

Don't expect any prize photo ops, but bleak backgrounds for portraits or selfies may work well.

You do NOT want to lug extensive camera gear into museums, where you may end up spending a fair portion of your visit, so travel light.  Some museums or galleries are extremely restrictive about cameras, but blasé or resigned to the ubiquitous use of phone cameras.

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local novice
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Re: March dreary, April better
In reply to jkoch2, 10 months ago

Thanks for all the advice everyone.  This is why I love this forum. Looking at the historical weather data I think you guys are right on the cloud cover, oh well we will see what long exposures will look like at dusk/night.   Thanks again.

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Nippero
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Basically what everyone else said...
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

I live in NYC for almost my entire life and I've gone to CP a few times with my cameras (usually my Canon 5D). Never had any issues, just keep these things in mind (and this echoes what some have already said):

  • Don't set up in the middle of a walkway or street. If you must, then look around first, let people pass by if there are any people, then take your shot quickly.
  • Watch out for where you can or cant stand. This is especially true in the winter months as certain grass areas are closed off I believe.
  • Related to the previous point: don't accidentally destroy any flora when you're stepping off the walkway to take pictures.
  • I wouldn't go into CP alone with expensive equipment after dark. Tourists are easy to spot and easy targets. There's no way to hide that you're a tourist. NYC has also had issues with cellphone thefts ("apple picking"), but its not a problem as long as you're aware of your surroundings.
  • NYC is pretty safe in general, most thefts I've heard of are really thefts of opportunity. I.e. if the thief can quickly snatch something (phone..) and run off, they might do that but they wont come up to you with a weapon and mug you lol.
  • Practice common sense. Most of the above is really just common sense.
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local novice
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Re: Basically what everyone else said...
In reply to Nippero, 10 months ago

Thanks, very good advice.

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Michael L NYC 99
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Re: March dreary, April better
In reply to local novice, 10 months ago

local novice wrote:

Thanks for all the advice everyone. This is why I love this forum. Looking at the historical weather data I think you guys are right on the cloud cover, oh well we will see what long exposures will look like at dusk/night. Thanks again.

Cloud cover can be very good for night photography. It adds brightness to your shots and if you're looking for skyline shots, the clouds will show the buildings better than on a clear night.

Regards

Michael

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