I am returning from a week in NYC attending the PDN Photo Expo and then staying on to visit with my daughter and playing tourist. PDN (as usual) was awesome and it reminded me of attending the computer shows back in the late 70's, full of excitement. I fell in love with the new 5D MkII...I actually had one reserved at Hunt's Photo and turned it down. Just doing a little proactive recession proofing. Boy this market is crazy and I'm taking a major hit.
After the Expo we visited the New York Botanical Garden, did Central Park, and then the Metropolitan. On the last day it was rainy and I was beat, but I still wanted to get out to the Financial District with a possible visit to the Statue of Liberty while everyone else was shopping. Now I get lost just going to the store at home so navigating the subways and streets of NYC is a major challenge for me. In the rain hauling camera gear in the cold, wind...well you get the picture. I decided to go with one body and my 24-70 and 70-200, with a Think Tank Change-up bag. I was still pretty obvious walking around in my bright red ski jacket with this big camera -- tourist alert! I started out around 9 am and took the Green line to Wall Street. As I popped out of the ground Trinity Church was on my right...I was there!
So I found the famous Wall Street which to be honest was not all that impressive. The New York Stock Exchange building was obviously closed to the public and had an enormous flag draped across the front of the building. I guess they wanted to demonstrate the patriotism of losing trillions of dollars in this holy institution. Across the street was the famous statue of George Washington at the Federal Hall Building, witnessing the mess this country has created. Security was very tight and despite the rain, there were many tourists wandering around, primarily from Europe and Japan.
From Wall Street I made my way to Ground Zero. I did not know what to expect. I walked north on Trinity Place up to Liberty and headed west. As I approached the site I could see that everything was boarded up at street level, again very tight security and lots of construction equipment. I passed the 9/11 memorial musem and had intended to come back but never did...next time. It was around lunch time and very crowded. I was hanging around one of the construction entrances taking some shots when this huge construction worker starts walking towards me. I expected him to start telling me to get lost but I smiled and waved and he then asked me if I was getting some good shots. He told me to go to the Winter Garden Court in the World Financial Center for the best overall view of the site.
At this point I really needed to find a restroom so my potty radar was on high alert as I entered the World Financial Center complex hoping that I would blend in with all the suits walking around. This building is huge and I spotted a sign to the Winter Garden. This is actually a huge food court within a bunch of high end shops. I found the viewing area and just stood there, looking at the site through the windows. I started to get quite emotional as I saw all the American flags on the cranes and the enormity of the site. And then I started thinking about what it was like when it happened, and the clean up, and the lives that were affected. I just stood there and looked.
Then I remembered that I really do need to use the toilet and I really do need to make some images so it was images first (of course!) and then on to find the public restroom. I grabbed a sandwich and planned my next stop...the Statue of Liberty. I decided to walk on the Esplanade at Battery Park City, so I could fully experience the wind chill coming off the Hudson River. Judging from the total lack of people I was convinced that it was too cold for any rational human being to be walking around.
The ferry to the Statue and Ellis Island leaves from Battery Park, and as I walked up to the ticket booth they were telling everyone to hurry up as this was the last ferry of the day, and that it was too late to go to Ellis Island. So I think I got the last ticket (my style) and I ran to catch the ferry. Of course they had the airport security set up and I had to strip off the camera gear, shoes, etc. while I could see the boat waiting to leave. Oh those tourists! The ride on the ferry was fun as it allowed me to reach another level of coldness as the spray added some moisture to the air. Curious there was no one on the back railing of the boat taking pictures...everyone was huddled inside as any sane person would do. I was hanging off the back hoping the spray would keep off the lens.
Before you knew it Lady Liberty was right in front of us. We docked and I headed to the park visitor center to get my National Park Passport stamped. You approach the statue from the back, walking around the base you can get a sense of the scale, and then the impact hits you when you walk around to see the face. Brilliant. As I was shooting the light was changing and the conditions were just perfect for what I consider a great day to be out in the cold. These clouds are not Photoshopped! At 5:00 the last ferry was leaving so I made sure I wasn't the last one. On the ferry the sun came out for a brief moment to illuminate the city with the light of liberty.
In retropect this was one of my best days for images. What made it special? The locations, the weather, my frame of mind? Special days are to be cherished because they don't happen very often. When they do we celebrate and give thanks.