Want to know what it’s like to co “glamping” in an island 800 yards from Manhattan? Then read on…. so for my 41st birthday my mom and my auntie treated me and my wife to a night of glamping at the “Collective” in Governors Island in Manhattan. Now for the uninitiated glamping is made up word that consists of glamorous + camping, as it’s not really roughing it when there’s electricity and access to running water and a bathroom. But more on the accommodations later…
Governors Island is only accessible via ferry. So we decided to grab a ride from Long Island City Queens as it was the cheapest place to park (vs Brooklyn or Manhattan).
The journey begins...
For those curious I chose to use my 70-200mm f2.8 telephoto lens to get closer shots of the city. While on a speedy ferry, you don't have the luxury of time to setup your shots so I had to work fast to do my best to get some money shots...
I wasn't sure which version to share with you guys - so I'm sharing both the color and black and white version...
Talk about a killer office view!
CLICK ON THE VIDEO BELOW TO CHECK OUT SOME VIDEO FOOTAGE (Excuse the grainy footage as the partition was pretty dirty):
Some shots of the Williamsburg Bridge...
This bridge should need no introduction...
It was at this point we had to transfer ferries as there is no direct connection from Queens strait to Governors Island. And for those wondering if you can make transfers on the NYC ferry - the answer is yes.
On to the second leg of the ferry trip...
Now this ferry terminal is older than yo mama! The Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal was built in 1903 and it's amazing to see the juxtaposition between this ancient relic and the modern buildings in the background.
WE MADE IT!
So the first order of business was to rent some bikes for the day. But when I see a Mister Softee ice cream truck you know I have to get a twist with chocolate sprinkles.
Another "fun fact" (I'm being sarcastic on this one) do you know what some people call chocolate sprinkles in Boston? Answer is "Jimmies". Think Jim Crow and use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Even in some donut and ice cream shops that I've been to it says Jimmies on the sign. Anyway...
Before we decided to take a loop around the island we decided to check in.
Overall the rooms / tents are really nice. The bed sheets were clean and there's electricity (so it's not really roughing it). With the higher end tents there's actually a bathroom inside, whereas the one we had the bathrooms are shared. But it's not a big deal as at lest there's running water and electricity!
CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON FOR SOME BRIEF VIDEO FOOTAGE...
So before we embarked on our loopty loop around the island I setup my tripod so we can take a shot. I composed the image, put it on a 10 second timer - and walah!
Talk about a restaurant with a stunning view!
I'm not 100% sure what is meant by "inclusive". I'd like to know your theory!
Apparently there used to be a fire fighter training site here. I guess it explains the broken windows...
While on our loop around the island I saw this massive ship. Turns out the Queen Mary 2 was in town! This sucker is massive. It's like the size of a skyscraper laying down.
I remember there was a lot of hype before the Queen Mary's maiden voyage. Just for fun I had a brochure delivered to me and holy cow was it expensive - like $10,000 a person expensive! Not only that but based on the photos in the catalog it's super formal. Even people laying down on the bed where in business casual attire - LOL. It was a treat to see it in person as I know it's a luxurious cruise ship and it was cool to see it. And in case you're wondering it was headed to Florida. Not very exotic sounding, but oh well.
When we were on the ferry there were people really dressed up. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I got wind of a 1920 jazz concert going on. Once we heard the music, we decided to head over to check it out...
And all I kept saying to myself was "THIS IS FREAKING COOL!". 🤯🤯🤯 For starters I really dug the music. Not that I have 1920's jazz era music on my phone, but when music is good - music is good!
Here's a video I found to give you guys an idea at to what was going on (circa 2014):
Now for me, the second mind blowing part was the effort people put into their outfits. Some even accessorized down to the picnic basket!
And even a vintage bike...
The third part that was freaking cool - was the fact that everyone was so happy! As a photographer, you add all these elements up and it's a recipe for some magical photos...
Photography is about "making" photos and not "taking" taking photos. So I decided to bring with me my neutral density filter.
You can see it attached to the end of my lens. Essentially it's like putting sunglasses on your camera so you can take longer / slower exposures in the day. Check this out...
Here's a regular exposure taken at 160th of a second:
Now here's a special shot taken at 82 seconds:
And just for fun, here's a black and white version...
The thing about shooting with ND filters is that it'll slow you down as you have to use a tripod and if you're not happy with (let's say a 1 minute exposure) you'll have to start again. You can literally be trying to achieve what you envision in the same spot for over an hour. I didn't have an hour since I did have my wife with me so I did my best to work fast!
My time was limited so I decided to shoot the Statue of Liberty with the ND filter on...
As a photographer a winning recipe for a money shot is sunset / sunrise photo + location. Since I was in the right place at the right time plus I was daydreaming of an epic sunset shot at Governors Island I used an app to check the time and location.
I was hoping that the sunset would be behind the city - but it turned out it was just to the right of the Statue of Liberty.
Now that I had the time and exact location it was time to take another spin around the island until dinner time.
The food was delicious, but my initial reaction was "where's the beef"? I probably just aged myself with this reference! Back in my day it was a popular term that came from this commercial:
Welp the sunset wasn't picturesque and it was a bummer. This was the best shot I was able to make via using the and editing in HDR (high dynamic range):
I can sleep for 10 hours and wake up at 7am and still be tired. I've never been a morning person and I always get sluggish everyday in the late afternoon. But once 6/7pm comes around I come alive! So far it was a long day. Factor in driving from Boston the night before, getting there via ferry, the heat and pretty much biking all day I was feeling exhausted. But once the sun was going down I was getting pumped up.
Why you ask? That's because my favorite genre of photography is shooting at night! The following images don't need an explanation so I'll let them speak for themselves. But I will say I was getting eaten alive by bugs and I found it amusing how everyone was asleep in the camp by 8:30! LOL
Fun fact - you get fined if you're busted outside of the camp grounds you'll get a fine. I believe it was about $100. I didn't feel like being questioned by authorities so I stayed just outside of the entrance. Maybe next year I'll roll the dice.
Well this is where my story ends. The next day we had to take different ferries back as the routes change during the week.
The answer is a resounding HELL YEAH! Next year we're going to time it so we'll be there for the jazz festival, get tickets and stay an extra day. And I definitely want to take portraits of people attending the festival instead of only shooting candid shots.
A special thank you goes out to Mom and Helen for this wonderful birthday gift!
That's it for now folks. I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you'd like to purchase prints or license any images don't hesitate to reach out!
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