New York Daily Photo Analytics

Monday, September 13, 2010

Drive-by Shooting

Silvercup Studios, with its huge iconic sign, has been an elusive enemy of mine for some years. On February 7, 2007, I did a story on the studios in located at at 42-22 22nd Street in Long Island City, Queens, and its history as a conversion of the former Silvercup Bakery building (circa 1920) - see it here. However, all the photos from that time were taken from across the river in Manhattan. I had yet to see the sign and studios close up.

My experience of war and enemies is limited to Avalon Hill board games such as Stalingrad, and chess or Go, all of which I played in high school and where circling the enemy is an effective, if not necessary, strategy. So Sunday, armed with cameras for shooting, flashcards as ammunition and board games as experience, I hunted that sign down.

Fortunately, for the inexperienced warrior that I am, Silvercup Studios is a very slow moving target, and a drizzly Sunday is the perfect time to go to Long Island City. The neighborhood is very quiet, essentially deserted. Public transportation will get you there easily, however, covering large tracts of the outer boroughs becomes impractical by foot - best is by bicycle or car. If you have the luxury of a car, driving is a breeze and parking is everywhere to be found on Sunday.

There are many subjects in New York City that, for any number of reasons, are best photographed from an automobile. Many vistas and vantage points are from roadways - often, stopping is not even an option - so shooting through an open driver's or passenger's window, open sunroof, or straight through the windshield becomes the modus operandi. However, if not limited to necessary situations, this can become a dangerous habit, leading to a lazy style of photography which I like to call drive-by shooting.

There are numerous good vantage spots for shooting the Silvercup Studios sign, and I explored the options, combining the few skills I have and what I know, past and present, about capturing the enemy by circling the building and neighborhood numerous times in my covered wagon for an afternoon of drive-by shooting :)

Note: The ultimate view of the sign is from the on ramp to the upper roadway of the Queensboro Bridge, returning to Manhattan. Here the road makes a complete 360 degree circle completely around Silvercup, affording close views of the sign from front, back and side. However, this busy traffic loop is somewhat treacherous to drive one handed while shooting with the other. Another time perhaps.


Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Beautiful shots, Brian, and I admired your tenacity in getting them. Your discussion of "drive-by shooting" reminded me that there is an interesting sounding exhibit at the Whitney now, Lee Friedlander: America by Car. Friedlander uses "the sideview mirror, rearview mirror, the windshield, and the side windows as picture frames within which to record reflections of this country’s eccentricities and obsessions at the beginning of the twenty-first century."

Mary P. said...

I, too, am guilty of drive-by shooting. Like you said - sometimes there's no other way to get it. I've got an amazing shot available from the ramp from the LIE to the BQE - only trouble is, it would take a passenger to REALLY get the shot. And I'm never the passenger. You can probably quess what it is. I'm sure it's not an original thought.

Sally Darling said...
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Vivien said...

You always have great photos :).