A week or so ago my buddy RC Concepcion stops by my office and he’s showing me some great night photos he took of the New York City skyline (seen here and below). I asked where he shot them from, and he told me some were taken from the top of Rockefeller Center, and some from the top of the Empire State Building.
Since these were night shots, he’d need a tripod to get shots that sharp, but neither of those places allows you to shoot with a tripod. In fact, they pretty much confiscate your tripod if you even walk in the front door with one (of course, they tag it, and give it back when you leave).
So I asked RC how he got permission to shoot with a tripod, and he said he actually didn’t use a tripod at all—then he let me in on a little trick that he’s been using that so far hasn’t raised any eyebrows, but still gives great tripod like results for low light shooting.
He said he: …”uses a Manfrotto 244 Variable Friction Magic Arm with Camera Bracket and a Manfrotto Super Clamp Without Stud. B&H Photo offers them together as a kit, but the arm is different – it has a lever instead of the ball tensioner” (which RC thinks is better).
He told me, “On both the Top of the Rock and The Empire State Building there are protection fences that are pretty sturdy. You can attach the arm to the structure and fire away.” (that’s the rig shown at right—you can see it clamped to the fence, and it gives you a lot of freedom as to where you position the camera).
The shot you see below was done using this same rig, but it was shot from the observatory at the top of the Empire State Building.
Anyway, I had just never thought to use a Magic Arm and Clamp for situations where tripods aren’t allowed (that RC guy is pretty clever). Anyway, my thanks to RC for the photos, and for letting share his cool tip with you guys. :)