Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Click Away"

Lunch time on an unusually warm day. It is cloudy and dark, rain is in the air. Pictures taken in this kind of light are evenly lit and lights pop. A favorite time to wander and shoot.

I headed down Broadway in the Financial District, near Wall Street. I came to focus on a man in a red jacket. Red always is flashy in pictures, and I noticed he had a cigar grasped behind his back. I moved under a portico overhang of the building and watched from behind. The position of the cigar was interesting. I tried a couple of different settings and shot rather consistently. Sometimes one shot out of 30 may be something special. I knew, slowing down the shutter speed, would show cigarman still but the people passing on the street in front of him would blur, so I tried that. I kept shooting oblivious to my surroundings.

I came to feel the presence of two rather large gentlemen standing rather closely to me. One, with a walkie talkie, spoke "May I ask you, sir, what you are photographing?" I jerked up to see who was talking to me. I know it's legal to shoot pictures on public ground, and kind of organized my thoughts to put up a fight. Although, this I might have been just off the sidewalk, potentially on private property.

Also coming to mind, was an incident from a few months ago. I saw an interesting light fixture on a building, and reflexively took several pictures. I was halted by a security guard who said I wasn't allowed to take pictures of that particular building, which happened to be the Federal Reserve building. I really didn't think much about its security as it was in quite a public location frequented by tourists. You can take pictures outside of the NY Stock Exchange (certainly a secure location). But, that time the guard made me delete all the pictures of the light fixture, plus a shot of a stop sign that happened to use a tiny portion of the facade as a solid background. I concluded that was a power play by the guard, as I later went on the internet and found hundreds of pictures of the building, so I'm not sure how much more secure it was without my pictures.

With that in mind, I was concerned about the possibility of being asked to delete the cigar pictures. At that point, the guy said must have sensed my trepidation, "You're not in trouble, what are you taking pictures of. This is a sensitive property." I understood the guy's job, and hunched over and pointed. "You see that guy's cigar? That's what I'm taking pictures of." The guy turned and looked then grinned. He said "Take as many pictures as you want. Click away".

I took another 15 or so, waved to the guard who went back to his post (which was inside the lobby) and headed off downtown. I didn't bother to turn around and inspect the building to see what it was. I didn't really care. After all, it was all about the cigar.

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