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Category Archives: new york city transit
I told a good part of my “September 11 story” over here. The part that I’ve never discussed is the picture in my head — the last time I saw the Towers standing. This being a photoblog and all, I think it’s a good place for that.
That picture in my head — it’s an image I can never share, and I’ll never forget. Gray sky, the two Towers, plumes of smoke, staring at them from a train car so far away and having no idea what the hell was coming next. Everyone’s seen something like that image, but this one is mine.
I’ve always regretted not having a camera that day. It’s not about “the image that got away” — hell no — it goes way, way deeper than that. It’s about that moment. The shock, fear, helplessness. It’s about remembering the Towers as they stood and the people that were trapped inside.
The twin to that picture, of course, is when both Towers were gone…the huge plume of smoke and nothingness. But my mind clings to the image of them standing, Crippled, but standing.
Last thing to say: it’s been nine years, how the hell do we not have a memorial up yet?
Pier D used to serve the New York Central Railroad’s 60th Street Yard and burned down in the early 70s. It’s full history is in the link. It’s now part of Riverside Park — it was allowed to stand as a part of Manhattan’s past.
There’s something fascinating about this structure — the shape, the way the sun shines through the angles, its history — it’s good to see NYC celebrating and trying to preserve its railroad past, even a bit.
Saw “Bunny and the Bull” down in Tribeca last night. It was great for plot and beautiful in visual style!
I was shooting my nonprofit’s walk, which starts in South Street Seaport and ends on the Brooklyn Bridge. I typically shoot events with more than one card, and I do this as a fail-safe: if a card corrupts, or something else happens, I at least go home with some pictures from the event rather than none. This particular night, I shot down at the Seaport, switched my card, did a few more frames and then ran up to the Bridge to meet the incoming walkers.
Everything was going swimmingly, and I was pretty psyched about some of the shots I’d gotten. It was toward the end of the night — I was hot, sweaty, looking forward to going home. I went to shoot a group and realized that my memory card was full. I debated with myself about shooting more — there weren’t very many groups left on the bridge; most everyone had dispersed. At most I’d get another 5-10 pictures. But you never know what you’re going to get from people: there’s always the chance that the shot you don’t take, the one you don’t stick around for, is the shot of your day and the one that gets used the most.
The Brooklyn Bridge has a bike lane and a pedestrian lane — both are pretty narrow. Unfortunately, when you do walk events, not everyone is paying attention and walkers inevitably end up in the bike lane. This ticks off the cyclists, as they then need to swerve around the walkers. Most of the time it’s okay, but sometimes folks need to jump out of the way. It was one such person that jostled my arm as I was swapping out my memory card. Anywhere else, it would have been fine — the card would have landed on the ground and I would have been able to grab hold of it. But the top portion of the Bridge is all wooden slats, with a small gap between each one. More than enough for a postage-stamp-sized SD card to slip through…and it did…
…and I stood, open-mouthed, trying to comprehend that the 275 shots I’d just taken, almost two hours of work, images I was excited about, were all gone in seconds.
I ran off the bridge and to a police officer. He was sympathetic and kind, but said that he couldn’t give me access to underneath the bridge — that he didn’t even have access, so couldn’t look for me — and to call 311 and see if anything could be done. But he also said that the card was most likely a goner, as it was going to rain and get pretty windy. SD cards are pretty fragile, if they sit in a puddle for a few days they’re basically toast.
I did find a community outreach person for the Bridge online, and have already been in touch. I haven’t heard back. I know finding the card is a long shot, and even if it’s found tomorrow, it could still be destroyed…but I had to at least try. In the meantime, my shots from South Street Seaport came out great — folks should be happy with those, at least. I still walked away with pictures.
So, what have I learned? To definitely, DEFINITELY stick with my practice of shooting with multiple cards. To be more situation-aware — while getting the extra 5-10 shots toward the end would have been great, it was NOT worth losing the 275 shots I’d just taken. I should have either come off the Bridge, swapped out, and risked losing more shots, or just called it altogether and headed home. I still would have had that card in my camera rather than heaven-knows-where and a ruined evening. There was nothing wrong with wanting more pictures — that’s what you should do — but not at the risk of losing the good ones prior. Very bad call on my part, even though it was an accident that caused the card to drop.
Fellow photographers, learn from my bad example!