Central Park Photography rules

Started Feb 19, 2014 | Discussions
Steven Wandy Veteran Member • Posts: 5,389
Re: Central Park Photography rules

Heyseuss Hoolio wrote:

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?

Nah - the gang members will know you are trying to pull one on them. The End!!!

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clear glass Contributing Member • Posts: 814
about Central Park at night.

I'd be very very careful after dark. People have been robbed, hurt, and killed there.

Len_Gee
Len_Gee Veteran Member • Posts: 9,686
Re: Safety in NYC and Central Park at night
1

local novice wrote:

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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...Bob, NYC
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"Well, sometimes the magic works. . . Sometimes, it doesn't." - Chief Dan George, Little Big Man
.

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

Good points.

For safety at night in NYC and Central Park, do as you would in Rome.

Enjoy your trip.

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richarddd
richarddd Veteran Member • Posts: 3,091
Re: about Central Park at night.
2

clear glass wrote:

I'd be very very careful after dark. People have been robbed, hurt, and killed there.

Which part of the populated world has no robberies, hurts and murders?

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dinoSnake Senior Member • Posts: 2,376
Re: Central Park Photography rules

pedroboe100 wrote:

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!

That depends Attending an opera series and being generally friendly helps

Steven Wandy Veteran Member • Posts: 5,389
Re: Central Park Photography rules

dinoSnake wrote:

pedroboe100 wrote:

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!

That depends Attending an opera series and being generally friendly helps

1 - great shot from a nice prospective.

2 - I doubt if you were able to walk into the Metropolitan Opera House (much less set up) a tripod - unless it was hidden in your pants and you walked very stiffly ;-). Possibly a very collapsible mono-pod or a small table tripod and set it up in the opening on the wall.

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Steven Wandy Veteran Member • Posts: 5,389
Re: about Central Park at night.
2

clear glass wrote:

I'd be very very careful after dark. People have been robbed, hurt, and killed there.

And that has not happened in other parts of New York City? Let's not try to scare off the tourists BEFORE they get here! (But obviously a bit of caution - especially at night - is certainly warranted.)

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Sierra Dave Regular Member • Posts: 464
Re: Think of it like this

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.

No, it's more complicated than that.  Any tripod in Fulton Park (Dumbo) for example is considered evidence that you are a professional, and hence you're asked to produce a permit.  Even just having a big lens (e.g. a full-frame 70-200/2.8) can cause them to come and ask whether you are photographing 'for personal use' or not.  It seems to be much more a money thing than a 'public nuisance' thing.

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BruceB609
BruceB609 Regular Member • Posts: 474
Re: March dreary, April better

Michael L NYC 99 wrote:

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

-- hide signature --

See my Flickr photostream here Michael.Lee.Pics.NYC

...buildings better with clouds than clear night? Yes, day or night. Often would agree, a great way to use the skyline as a backdrop for foreground detail. However, if city lighting is enhanced by sunrise or sunset, a clear dusk can work nicely (Port Imperial and Dumbo, below). I do find clear night shots of the skyline all start to have the same look and turn repetitious or monotonous. You see one, you see them all. It's like looking down each block in Manhattan. Every canyon seems dressed the same so I have to use the foreground to differentiate.

Every season or month offers its own character and photo preferences in NYC. It's just a very diverse climate. I usually take advantage of seasonal characteristics. In March, you'll still be able to shoot through trees. Lighting effects and detail aren't hidden by tree foliage. Another advantage is the day still being short enough that lights are on fairly early in the evening. If you're on the street or along the paths in the park, people are wearing coats and hats which is usually more photo wise than t-shirts, shorts and flip flops, even if you use them for subtle foreground props to frame your shot. Of course, it all comes down to your tastes.

As for low clouds, they can be great above brightly lit areas and buildings will silhouette beautifully which I too, usually prefer to clear night detail. I think it also amplifies heights. With a normal time exposure you capture cloud detail but with long exposure, you can capture the flow just as some photographers prefer longer exposures of stream water currents. Atmosphere, composition and lighting are my most important considerations.

Are you familiar with NYC? One night shot that never goes wrong for me during cooler seasons is up on the Brooklyn Bridge. The Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges also have walkways but are often obscured by fencing or subway rail. The Brooklyn is panoramic. Again, in March, people are still wearing something better, the atmosphere may give you an even softer backdrop behind people or bridge detail and, of course, there's plenty of city light detail. Even a rain can yield a dazzling effect with reflections off the wood decking and umbrellas are everywhere. Good bicycle shots too in the bike lane and you can always capitalize on the road traffic below you if you shoot over the sides for stronger color effects. Take a taxi to NY City Hall and the pedestrian walkway starts right there. Just follow everyone. After a 10 min. walk up the bridge, you'll start getting great opportunities. I walk over to the Brooklyn end and stroll back looking for the shots (like this one). You'll end up with a potential quantity of images that will justify the whole trip to NYC. Warning... it may also lure you back, especially in early November (along with Central Park).

Brooklyn Bridge walkway

Brooklyn Bridge

Port Imperial, NJ with skyline fog

Dumbo (from Brooklyn Bridge with clear dusk)

So often what I might catch from the Port Imperial ferry terminal at dusk.

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BruceWB

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BruceB609
BruceB609 Regular Member • Posts: 474
Re: Central Park Photography rules

I might have another suggestion on night or overlook shots. Here's a winter shot toward Merchant's Gate and Columbus Circle. In the background is the Time Warner Center. Go inside and you can go up several floors to get this overhead view of Columbus Circle. It might make a very nice shot at dusk, with headlights on or even a spinning wheel light effect with time exposures. The circle fountains are also lit. You may need a neutral density filter... not sure. Still, you can get the circle and a view down Central Park South (59th Street) toward Fifth Avenue.

Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle

Columbus Circle from Time Warner Center

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BruceWB

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richarddd
richarddd Veteran Member • Posts: 3,091
Re: March dreary, April better
1

I'm beginning to believe an NYC m43 (and 43) photo walk would be a fun idea.

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jeffharris
jeffharris Veteran Member • Posts: 8,613
Re: Central Park Photography rules

Steven Wandy wrote:

dinoSnake wrote:

That depends Attending an opera series and being generally friendly helps

2 - I doubt if you were able to walk into the Metropolitan Opera House (much less set up) a tripod - unless it was hidden in your pants and you walked very stiffly ;-). Possibly a very collapsible mono-pod or a small table tripod and set it up in the opening on the wall.

I carry my GX7 when I go the Met (Prince Igor tonight!), or Carnegie Hall, or other chamber or choral music concerts around town, with no problem. The NY Philharmonic are real sticklers about photography, so I hide my camera and use it anyway. Thank you Panasonic for Silent Mode!

Obviously, I never do any shooting during a performance, I like taking shots of the space and stage and audience members. There are some real characters!

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SteveS58 Senior Member • Posts: 2,304
NYC Photographer's Paradise

I am fortunate to live in New York, and for me, it's a photographer's paradise.  Rarely have I had a problem photographing anywhere in the city.  Everyone's comments about using common sense are appropriate.  Only on one occasion did I see a professional photographer being questioned about taking a client's portrait in a small park off 5th Avenue.

As long as you're not bothering or impeding anyone else, I don't think anyone will care.  Also, public officials and police in NY are generally polite and courteous.  Like Paris, London, and other big cities, we make a great deal of money off of tourists, so they are treated respectfullyl.  As long as you're not bothering or impeding anyone else, you'll go unnoticed.

Just walk around the city and you will see amazing things to photograph.

OP local novice Regular Member • Posts: 470
Re: March dreary, April better

BruceB609 wrote:

Michael L NYC 99 wrote:

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

-- hide signature --

See my Flickr photostream here Michael.Lee.Pics.NYC

...buildings better with clouds than clear night? Yes, day or night. Often would agree, a great way to use the skyline as a backdrop for foreground detail. However, if city lighting is enhanced by sunrise or sunset, a clear dusk can work nicely (Port Imperial and Dumbo, below). I do find clear night shots of the skyline all start to have the same look and turn repetitious or monotonous. You see one, you see them all. It's like looking down each block in Manhattan. Every canyon seems dressed the same so I have to use the foreground to differentiate.

Every season or month offers its own character and photo preferences in NYC. It's just a very diverse climate. I usually take advantage of seasonal characteristics. In March, you'll still be able to shoot through trees. Lighting effects and detail aren't hidden by tree foliage. Another advantage is the day still being short enough that lights are on fairly early in the evening. If you're on the street or along the paths in the park, people are wearing coats and hats which is usually more photo wise than t-shirts, shorts and flip flops, even if you use them for subtle foreground props to frame your shot. Of course, it all comes down to your tastes.

As for low clouds, they can be great above brightly lit areas and buildings will silhouette beautifully which I too, usually prefer to clear night detail. I think it also amplifies heights. With a normal time exposure you capture cloud detail but with long exposure, you can capture the flow just as some photographers prefer longer exposures of stream water currents. Atmosphere, composition and lighting are my most important considerations.

Are you familiar with NYC? One night shot that never goes wrong for me during cooler seasons is up on the Brooklyn Bridge. The Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges also have walkways but are often obscured by fencing or subway rail. The Brooklyn is panoramic. Again, in March, people are still wearing something better, the atmosphere may give you an even softer backdrop behind people or bridge detail and, of course, there's plenty of city light detail. Even a rain can yield a dazzling effect with reflections off the wood decking and umbrellas are everywhere. Good bicycle shots too in the bike lane and you can always capitalize on the road traffic below you if you shoot over the sides for stronger color effects. Take a taxi to NY City Hall and the pedestrian walkway starts right there. Just follow everyone. After a 10 min. walk up the bridge, you'll start getting great opportunities. I walk over to the Brooklyn end and stroll back looking for the shots (like this one). You'll end up with a potential quantity of images that will justify the whole trip to NYC. Warning... it may also lure you back, especially in early November (along with Central Park).

Brooklyn Bridge walkway

Brooklyn Bridge

Port Imperial, NJ with skyline fog

Dumbo (from Brooklyn Bridge with clear dusk)

So often what I might catch from the Port Imperial ferry terminal at dusk.

-- hide signature --

BruceWB

Thanks for all the advice. Were your Brooklyn Bridge pics hand held? Have been to NYC a long time ago and took the standard bus tours.  We are determined to explore by foot this time and have deliberately booked a hotel close to the Brooklyn Bridge to get early morning and evening pics. What do you think about safety on the bride and on the Brookyn end during these hours?

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OP local novice Regular Member • Posts: 470
Re: NYC Photographer's Paradise

Thank you kindly for your advice, it is very reassuring.  Even in my home town one must be aware of the rules to avoid a hassle. It's good to get advice from people who know the area.

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Bob Tullis
Bob Tullis Forum Pro • Posts: 34,983
Re: Think of it like this

Sierra Dave wrote:

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.

No, it's more complicated than that. Any tripod in Fulton Park (Dumbo) for example is considered evidence that you are a professional, and hence you're asked to produce a permit. Even just having a big lens (e.g. a full-frame 70-200/2.8) can cause them to come and ask whether you are photographing 'for personal use' or not. It seems to be much more a money thing than a 'public nuisance' thing.

Interesting.   But I'm not surprised, either - there can be more photographers about than non-photographers.   I guess I've never been hassled for the kit doesn't look the part.  

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...Bob, NYC
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.
"Well, sometimes the magic works. . . Sometimes, it doesn't." - Chief Dan George, Little Big Man
.

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Bob Tullis
Bob Tullis Forum Pro • Posts: 34,983
Cool, Bruce

Thanks for that tip, and the lovely view.  

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...Bob, NYC
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.
"Well, sometimes the magic works. . . Sometimes, it doesn't." - Chief Dan George, Little Big Man
.

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benarden Contributing Member • Posts: 576
Re: Think of it like this / and also

local novice wrote:

Bob Tullis wrote:

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

Also; If you stay around Dellacouirte theater,Belvedere Castle, Bethesda fountain, the Boat House
( where there is a very nice restaurant ) 
& the south end of the park,
aside from " Black Ice" & traction issues, you will probably have no problems.
Up in the "North Woods" at night? - dunno . ..

Would also suggest some food & water for your excursion in any case

benarden Contributing Member • Posts: 576
Re: about Central Park at night. Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Fountain, Poets Walk

richarddd wrote:

clear glass wrote:

I'd be very very careful after dark. People have been robbed, hurt, and killed there.

Which part of the populated world has no robberies, hurts and murders?

Just use" New York Street Rules" ( or anywhere else) & you'll be fine.
Paul McCartney is reported to have seen a show at The Apollo, then walked s through central park at night ( unscathed !!)
It's pretty safe now; & esp. in the winter. Recommend staying south of 79nd st ( right ??)

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 4,734
NYC in general
1

NYC is very photographer friendly in general.  A few outliers exist:

Iconic building owners have trademark and other protection on their building.  One example, the Chrysler building.  They don't like people making money off pictures of their property, much as many sculptors don't like people making money off of pictures of their sculpture.  If you're taking pictures of it close enough to the building, their security people may come out and harass you.  The likelihood of that is directly related to the sophistication of your camera.  If you're shooting with a point and shoot or phone, never.  If you have a Phase 1 medium format camera, almost certain.  So shoot from across the street… You'll not have issues with any pictures you make unless they show up in ads without permission.

Tripods aren't always welcome.  Many building security people will ask you to take it down and move on, as will a lot of the police officers.  Again, the odds are directly related to the sophistication and size of your camera.  If you're set up someplace that inconveniences anyone, you'll be asked to move on.  There's a park across in Brooklyn that looks towards Manhattan that's run by the National Park Service, and they have a rule that says, if you're on a tripod, you're making images professionally and need to pay $500 for a permit and show proof of insurance etc.  Idiotic, but I've had run ins with them a few times because I make and shoot pinhole cameras… which need to be on tripods.  Honestly - a hand-made shoebox size (because it was made from a shoebox) pinhole camera becomes a professional camera once it gets on a tripod?  Really?  But they'll stand in front of your camera and wave handcuffs in your face.

Grand Central and Penn Station aren't tripod friendly at all.  I remember when they were indifferent, and there were days when there'd be 10 people with tripods up on the steps.  I understand the concern.

You don't really need a tripod anyway.  ISO on most m4/3 is excellent up to 1600.  There are window sills, newspaper boxes, car roofs, rocks, and friends who can serve as flat stable surfaces instead of a tripod.  It's good to learn to look for tripod alternatives anyway, as many places in the world - historical sites, churches, rare architectural buildings, etc - have anti-tripod rules.

If you're photographing bridges, tunnels, airports, train stations, in anything other than a casual way, you may well be visited by law enforcement or security as a terrorist threat.  There's this fear of terrorists photographing buildings, that becomes irrational because they only seem to notice bigger sophisticated cameras.  My hand-held large format film camera seems to attract security concerns but not the 100 people nearby waving an iPhone camera in the air.  Terrorists shoot sheet film?  Really?

Don't bring a fashion shoot, or anything looking like one.  If you're taking pictures of your wife, friend, kids, neighbor, no big deal.  If you've got two or three people posing for you, and particularly if you've got three or four people posing and someone holding a light or reflector, you've just crossed over into needing a commercial permit.  A lot of fashion shot on the streets of NYC is therefore shot guerrilla style, at least for lower end publications without much budget.

Some people do not want their pictures taken.  So don't.  If you're taking pictures of scenes with multiple people in them, they'll duck or turn their back or whatever, and since you're shooting the scene, that's all they'll do.  If you're taking a picture of THEM, one person not a crowd, they may be more vocal and forceful in expressing their opinion.  I've found that a lot of wonderful faces in Chinatown, for example do not want to be photographed.  So, if they act like they don't want to be photographed, don't photograph them.

Anywhere I go, I always make eye contact with someone I want to photograph to give them a chance to agree or not.  95% of people don't care.  That moment of eye contact may make them less photogenic for a minute or two but then they'll forget about you and you'll get to shoot as much as you want.  Sometimes I don't want my picture taken…

In NYC, by and large your camera will be ignored.  If it's not, respect the concern and move on, there's a lot of spectacular photographs out there. It's not worth being disrespectful to get any photograph.

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