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Thread: NYC Mid-March.

  1. #1
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    Question NYC Mid-March.

    Taking a week-long family trip to NYC mid-March. I'll be taking camera equipment, though it's not the main focus.

    Gear:

    With all the tall buildings and narrow spaces (and even the narrow buildings... I'm looking at you, Flatiron), I'm thinking I want to be packing for normal to ultra-wide, but I'm also thinking some landmarks may best be shot from far away with a long telephoto... which narrows things down to bringing my whole kit.

    I don't want to lug around my full kit though, so I'm thinking of dropping telephoto for the most part, and bringing one of two more reasonable light small-bag kits:

    Kit 1
    • 7DmkII
    • EFS 10-18 (ultra-wide, ultra-light)
    • EF 24-70L f/4 (wide to slight tele)
    • Sigma EF 35 1.4 ART (normalish on a crop. Sharp and fast)
      • I might drop the 35 ART for the Canon 50 1.8, just to save on weight, since the 24-70L is pretty hefty too.


    or

    Kit 2:
    • 7DmkII
    • EFS 18-135
    • 35 ART
    • 85 1.8


    Kit 1 gives me an ultra-wide to low-tele range, a fast normal (on 7D), all decently sharp.
    Kit 2 loses some sharpness in the general lens, loses some wide. But, it gains some tele, and gives two fast options.

    Can anyone with more NYC experience give their take on these two kits, or even suggest an alternate versatile and lightweight walkaround kit? I do have a 70-300L, and a 70-210 (lighter and less conspicuous, but less reach, slow focus), but I'm imagining I'll have far fewer uses for tele (some landmarks shot from a distance) than the other lenses I selected. Will I really regret not bringing a decently long tele?


    What to do?!?

    We'll be going to see a show on Broadway. Daughter is too young to get into a taping of Colbert, Late Show, or Fallon, but wants to go find something from Brooklyn 99. Wife really want to go see the Math Museum.

    Other than obvious landmarks, and just wandering around and recognizing things from movies and TV, are there any under-appreciated gems you think we shouldn't miss? Or heck, there's so many famous things, do you have a favorite "You can't miss this" place or activity? Any of the museums that sound like a good idea, but aren't? Any that sound like they'd be dull but are amazing?

    Thanks for any suggestions or advice!
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  2. #2
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    Despite the fact that NYC is only a 40 minute drive or an hour train ride for, I only visit two or three times a year these days. That being said, there are so many options its hard to give you good advise without knowing what you and your family are into. As you probably already know, NYC is an expensive place to visit. Below are a couple of ideas:

    'Top of the Rock' (Rockefeller Center) at night is supposed to be fantastic for photos and an overall view of Manhattan, especially on a clear night (see Bryan's post here https://www.the-digital-picture.com/...-the-rock.aspx

    The Intrepid has been docked and open for tours for many years. My wife and 23 year old daughter finally visited the ship last summer and we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed it. We were especially impressed with the submarine tour, as we got a real sense of what life was like for the crew being underwater for long periods of time.

    I've eaten many times in Chinatown as a kid, but ever since we've had kids we stopped going (my kids were and still are very picky and wouldn't try anything on the menu). That being said, if your family likes Chinese food and wants as 'real' as you can get on the east coast, I would give it a try. Chinatown is also a cool place to visit as you get a pretty good sense of the culture even if it is only a for a few blocks. Oh, and they offer Gucci and Lois Vuitton pocketbooks for one tenth of the retail price...

    We also have visited Little Italy many times. Umbertos has been consistent over the years but is kind of pricey (as are most NYC restaurants). My favorite hot (spicy) shrimp dish is at Vincent's, again pricey (we don't go there too often). Both of these restaurants have likely had 'mob hits' back in the day, but I think those days are long gone. I gather some famous people come in to both places occasionally for the excellent food. In my experience, there was not that much to see in Little Italy, but if you like Italian food, it is worth the trip.

    Not sure if your into museums, but our kids absolutely loved the Museum of Natural History when they were about twelve and ten. We expected them to be bored after an hour or so, but instead we had to drag them out after about four hours. There is a lot to see inside, something for everyone. We've also visited the Guggenheim and found it more for the 'artsy' type (a lot of Picasso and abstract art). We also visited the Museum of Modern Art and found it less appealing to kids, but interesting for adults (especially if your into art history - Rembrandt, van Gogh, etc). Across the street from the Natural History museum is a pretty nice area of Central Park.

    Of course there's the Freedom tower, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, etc. Our daughter recently visited the Hudson Yards and enjoyed, very cool architecture and unusual design.

    With regard to camera gear, my choice would be kit 1. I think you'll find yourself reaching for the widest angle lens most often for landscape shots. NYC is never 'not crowded' (unless your up between 3am and 5am and shooting photos - hint). When your shooting from a sidewalk, there are always people walking in front of you and there are cars, trucks and buses passing in front of you. Instead of trying to get a clear shot of a landmark building, you might find it easier (and more interesting) to include the bright yellow taxicabs in your photo. By the way, you will not be the only person carrying a DSLR, but don't put your camera bag down for a minute while outside (regardless of what area your in).

    Finally, if you happen to be into Jazz (even a little bit) there is a place called the Village Vanguard (in Greenwich Village). The Big Band plays on Monday nights and I'd strongly recommend visiting I've been there with my father as a kid, as a young adult with my buddies and as a father with my kids and always leave with a smile on my face. Some of the best jazz musicians in the world (not necessarily the most famous) will be sitting five feet away from your table if you call ahead and request front row seating (get there early). Occasionally one of the big names sits in for an added bonus.

    Sorry for all of the rambling, hope I gave you some ideas that may help.
    Scott

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback Scott.
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  4. #4
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    I do not make it to NYC as much as I would like. The last time being several years ago. There is so much to do with so much that is obvious it could take up your entire trip.

    I will say, I would allow some time for the random. Just walking down different neighborhoods, there is just so much character. Also, you might find something totally unexpected that you just love. I am thinking of this French bistro that happened to be at the bottom of our hotel on my last visit with my wife. First time we ate there was out of convenience. Then next two times was because we just loved it.

    New York is large and somewhat difficult to get around in, so a lot of this depends on what neighborhood you are going to be set up in. But a non-obvious thing I really enjoyed was walking the "High Line" which is a 1.5 mile rail-trail-elevated park with great views of the city. Also, unless there is a show that you specifically want to see, I've used "TKTS" in times square to buy day of tickets to broadway plays at steep discounts. Last time I did that was a decade ago, but looking online and it still seems to be a thing. Of course, there are lines, and nothing is guaranteed, so if you really want something, buy in advance. For photography, I have always wanted that famous shot from Brooklyn Bridge Park with all the wood columns rising out of the water and the NYC skyline in the background.

    Other than that, I visit the usual/obvious locations. But, these are world class institutions, all depending on what your are into (if art at all--The Museum of Metropolitan Art).

    As for photography kit, I'd go option 1: I tended to favor my general purpose zoom, but I always do. You will likely find a use for an UWA, but then the 35A, I am thinking you may get some impromptu portrait shots.

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    Thanks for seconding the confirmation for kit 1, Brant. Looks like I have the right idea.

    So far, the only plans set in stone are the dates, the hotel (Freehand near the Flatiron building), and the Broadway play, Beetlejuice, which my daughter chose and is very excited for. Tickets are already paid for, so we can't do TKTS, but perhaps this info will help somebody else one day. We do plan to see the Museum of Natural History, and the wife (far more than the daughter) really wants to go see the Museum of Mathematics. Daughter really wants to go to Brooklyn to find something Brooklyn 99 related (looks like the green line, which goes past our hotel, goes right into the 99, but we need to switch from the 6 to the 4). Prospect Park Zoo looks to be near the 99 too, so that's an option. We will of course hit Central Park.

    Aside from that, we're open. I expect we'll find plenty to see and do just wandering around, but figured I'd ask as open-ended a question as possible to see what people suggested as "can't miss", then try to plan around that.

    Food seems to be a popular suggestion, but food is a tricky one for us. Wife prefers veggies, but will tolerate some meat. I'm a meat/potatoes kind of guy. There is very little in the way of veggies that I find edible. The fancier the restaurant, the more likely they will have ruined the meal. Daughter has nut and egg allergies, and also avoids spicy. The allergies lean us away from a lot of oriental cuisine, as they often have a nut component. North American breakfasts are nearly all egg-based. I don't like tomato or cheese, which it enough to pretty much eliminates the entirety of Italian cuisine.... it's just easier to avoid food suggestions altogether. We'll each find something.

    The 'Top of the Rock' that Scott mentioned looks like a cool photo-op. Perhaps if the girls want to do something on their own (like go to a vegan restaurant), I can head up top. I can't imagine all three of us heading up, and the two without the camera being patient while waiting for the perfect shot.
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    If you want to take a tele, consider the 55-250 stm. It’s not a fast lens, but it served me well on my trip to San Francisco last summer. I wasn’t keen on taking my 70-200 mk ii, and that EF-S lens does a pretty good job optically and is very light.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    My "can't miss" are: Times Square (but you'll see that with Beatlejuice). Metropolitan Museum of Art (it or the Louvre are the best art museums). Central Park. Top of one of the buildings (Empire State, etc). While I haven't done Statue of Liberty in decades, I'd put it on the list as well.

    A final thought, but are you familiar with a "City Pass"? I've done variations of this in several cities including Chicago, Seattle, San Fran and Paris. Basically you pre-buy a pass that gets you discounts to major attractions, which is nice. But most important, IMO, you usually you get preferred access/get shorter lines.

    A quick search online and New York seems to have the official "City Pass" and something called "The New York Pass." Both seem to have a number of the attractions on your list. Looking at these, the City pass let's you visit few attractions, but over a 9 day period. The NY Pass seems to work by day, but you can see more attractions (if you rush around???). Up to you, but the ones I've done had the City Pass format.

  8. #8
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    One last thing...
    As for Brooklyn 99, I think the opening scene (a fan myself, Diaz is awesome) is likely on New Dock Street near Empire Fulton Ferry Park. Could be fun to recreate the opening scene (them walking toward camera with bridge in background). This is not far at all from Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has the "poles view" that is famous for long exposures I mentioned above.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Brant. The relaxed pace of the City Pass is probably more our style than the New York Pass, where we'd be rushing around trying to make the pass worthwhile. Still, the list of 100+ attractions on the New York Pass site works great as a list of suggestions we can pick and choose from.
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