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Afternoon in Chinatown

Last week we set out with the 4×5 camera to shoot below Canal Street. It has become an increasingly important part of the process to pre-scout locations just like we would for a film. Although the crew only consists of two people, a bag that looks like airplane luggage on wheels, and a carbon fiber tripod, it’s not nearly as quick as moving around with a HDSLR. Moreover, there are many places in the city who will give you a big hassle setting up a tripod as we have learned, around Rockefeller Center, or South Street Seaport. We’ve started to get faster at setting up, but even as streamlined as our setup has become, there is still light measurement, critical focus, setting the proper f stop and loading the negative.

The quality of detail, depth, and color on film seems to make a big difference over digital. Chinatown presents a good subject for these large format negatives. They are corners of the city not as recognizable or as repeatedly photographed as other locations in New York City.

As we were setting up, a Chinese woman, in her late fifties or early sixties approached us and asked us what we were taking a picture of.  We answered “the park… nature.” She proceed to explain to us a bit about the story of the guy in the statue. Lin_Zexu an official who had fought off the opium trade.

Finally as the sun crept back up over the buildings. We had a moment to take a picture of a building on our list on the corner of Broadway and Broome – This classic wrought iron building. Next week we’ll continue our exploration of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. These neighborhoods are so rich in character it’s going to give us a lot of material.

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