It’s rare for Kate and I venture up to Midtown. The combination of the crowds, nondescript buildings, traffic, and chain restaurants makes for my least favorite NYC experience. If I only knew Midtown and Times Square, I would never choose to visit or live here. There are exceptions though. Maybe two or three times a year, something will push us north of 23rd Street. Probably my favorite exception is the Bergorf Goodman holiday windows. Sure, you will find gorgeous, imaginative windows at Bloomingdales or Saks, but for an absolute knock-your- socks-off, gasp-inducing session of window gazing, park yourself in front of Bergdorf’s. I know their team must work year-round on these windows and I can’t even imagine the budget. I don’t even want to know.
On Wednesday night, Kate and I met in Midtown, she with her Nikon D90 and me with my Hasselblad and two rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400. For stunning, full-color pictures visit her blog Embarrassment of Riches. Her pictures truly do the displays justice. Mine, however… Let’s just say that a hulking medium format, manual-focus, non-metered camera with B&W 400 speed film is not the proper tool for shooting windows in Midtown during an evening rush hour. But I made the best of it.
Since it was dark, I set my handy pocket light meter to 1600 ISO and decided to push both rolls of Kodak Tri-X to 1600. This allowed me to shoot at a reasonable aperture of f5.6 or f8 with a decent speed of 1/125th a second or 1/60th of a second. Not ideal settings, but not horrible either. The challenge came when I had to stop an average of 23.5 times an exposure while someone popped up in front of me with an iPhone to take their own pictures. I say pictures, not picture, because each person took approximately 47 photos as I waited to take my one shot.
I consider the evening a success, though, because I didn’t yell at, shove, or punch anyone. I did gently nudge one particularly prolific iPhone shooter out of my way once.
These pictures are okay. If I cared to go back, I would go later in the evening with a tripod and a few rolls of Fuji Neopan Acros 100. The shots would be well-framed, longer exposures, of course – a huge improvement over these. But did I mention that it’s in midtown? I’m not going back until next year.
All pictures were taken with Hasselblad 501cm, a Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens, on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 1600 and developed in a stock solution of Kodak Xtol developer for 8.75 minutes.