Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chuck the Writer Gets Lit Up in Schenectady

No, not "that" kind of lit-up.

Now that I've had my chance to experiment with HDR photography, I thought I'd take a shot at one of the Capital District's iconic illuminated signs - the sign above the General Electric headquarters in downtown Schenectady.

Of course, it's one thing to actually take the photo - but it's another to find a location suitable for shooting. My original plan was to get as close to the building as possible and shoot the sign from maybe the GE parking lot. No such luck - the building was wrapped in a green chain-link fence, which would have been right in front of my line of view.

I then decided to take a chance and drive straight up to the front gate and ask the gateman if I could shoot the sign from inside the fence. But before I could roll down my window, I saw a sign on the tollgate that said "NO CAMERAS OR RECORDING EQUIPMENT PERMITTED." I then asked the front gateman if there were any places one could shoot the sign without violating this rule.

"You could shoot from I-890," he said sarcastically, referring to the elevated highway. "Just don't get run over."

Unfortunately, even if I COULD shoot from I-890, there would be no way for me to set up a tripod and shoot on a federal interstate - especially with the prime shooting location devoid of a breakdown lane.

Reluctantly, I resigned myself to shooting the logo from Erie Boulevard, farther away than I would have liked.

At that point, as I was squeezing off photos and calculating exposures, a Schenectady police car pulled up next to me.

Oh shit, I thought. I probably violated some rule about photography on the city sidewalks, or something.

"What camera are you using," he asked me.

"Nikon D70," I replied.

"I've got a D60 myself, I use it to shoot my daughter's recitals and swim meets."

Ah... the cop speaks Nikon.

Actually, he was more interested in making sure I was safe. He also recommended that if I really wanted to capture the GE sign, I should walk up Erie Boulevard and access a pedestrian bridge that spans one of the side roads.

Great suggestion. And as you can see from the photo, it worked out better than I hoped. And as you can see... I actually got the shot I wanted.

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