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New York, I love you

"New York, I love you..."

    This shooting was technically difficult and we have been planning it for several years. The idea itself came to us in 2007 after we had created such panorama with the help of a 4-meter pole. In January 2010 we chose time, arrived in New York and shot night sphere from the window of the Millennium Hotel.

    There was number of key difficulties.

    The first one and the most obvious is a shooting out of the window with long exposures in darkness. We haven't seen the other examples of night shooting with an external pole in the Internet yet and we feel proud to do something for the first time in the world :)

    The same shooting with the external pole is always made at day time because the pole with a camera swings from the wind with amplitude of 10-15 cm like an aspen leaf.  And for that reason the short exposures are needed to take photos.

    It is clear that it is impossible to realize such shooting in darkness as well as to stand a tripod out of the window. That is why we finally decided to set the tripod out of the window  :)

    Truly speaking, the tripod was in the room and a fastening system assured one and a half meter long bar which had been combined from two elements by RRS to be out of the window.


    In order 5 kg construction (camera, object glass, panoramic head and fastening) wouldn't fly down together with the tripod we used a counterbalance consisted of 3 big Cola-Cola bottles. The bottles were put in a plastic bag and were hung on the bar inside the room.

    The second difficulty was a depth of field. The field must be from 40 cm to infinity and we couldn't close a diaphragm much because of the long exposures. A focusing on hyperfocal distance resulted unsatisfactory. Besides, we couldn't put the camera further too because we needed to be able to handle it to rotate. Finally, we decided to use a method which is usually used in a landscape photography (well, we are actually the landscape photographers :)) and named "sharpness compensation". Speaking in brief, the city was shot with the focus on infinity but the room, our window and the closest windows of the hotel were shot with the focus on 1 m.

    Next problem was the way how to take away all this bulky construction (external bar and tripod) from the shot, taking photos of a model standing in the window. To do it we measured the camera's position out of the window and, then, all the construction was transferred aside inside the room in order to empty the window. But, at the same time, the camera stayed in the same position out of the window keeping the same distance from the windowsill. The starting bar's position was drawn with a felt marker right on the windowsill in order the construction could be returned back then to the same position. Then the felt marker's traces were washed off with matrix cleaning liquid  :)


    The camera was managed with the radio remote control which was fixed in the camera's hot shoe.

    Another difficulty was a dynamic range of shooting scene. We had to adjust scene brightness out and inside the room to the camera's range. To realize it we manually calculated the exposure compensation for each shooting series and measured the utmost range points out and inside the room. We used HDR's techniques in fact.

   We decided that we would shoot this sphere in high resolution using 16 mm fish-eye according to the following scheme: 6 shots going in circles and 3 shots to zenith using slim-rotator. It made our work more difficult because if we shot with low resolution (three shots using 10 mm fish-eye) many things would be easier and we would make much fewer efforts.

   In the beginning we were going to shoot nadir (down view) too but if we rotated the camera down out of the window we would spend too much time. As a result, we refused to shoot nadir right in the process of taking photos, although the slim-rotator allowed doing this, and retouched it during processing.

   We used the following equipment: camera Canon 1Ds MarkIII and objective Contax Carl Zeiss 16mm Fisheye adapted to Canon. First, we tried to shoot with old good "Fivy" (Canon 5D MarkII), but we discovered that exposure compensation range of "Fivy" (+/- two stops) wasn't enough for the scene shooting inside and out of the room. And as it was extremely inconvenient to change the exposition of every shot in the camera manually when it was hanging in the air at a half meter distance from the window and 120 meters from the ground, then we had to change the camera itself. Taking in consideration objective and other equipment the total amount of the hanging in the air construction was about $15'000.

    And if we calculate Coca-Cola too, then it will be $15'003. But it's still not clear if we should calculate the costs for Coca-Cola because it was hanging inside the room :)

    Just in case, the camera was corded with an armchair leg. We thought that even if our construction began to fell and pull the armchair, the armchair wouldn't go through the window anyway. So, we were completely ensured :)

    One difficulty more supposed that all we mentioned above was necessary to do very fast because the shooting held in so named short "blue hour" when evening illumination is more attractive and changes very fast and the total sphere shooting cycle with exposure compensation and camera's rotation out of the window took about 5 minutes.

    Before we left for New York a general rehearsal had been held. We constructed a test stand imitating the windowsill at the hotel and under local conditions made the corridor shooting running two of us around the camera which had been fixed on the external bar.

    Many nuances appeared immediately. For instance, if first we make the whole construction and remove it out of the window then we can't hang the plastic bag with Coca-Cola as a counterbalance and it should be done beforehand :)

    The list of shooting preparing operations occupied the whole sheet of paper like a Boeing pilots' check-list before a take-off.

    We had a not resolved till the end problem how to fix the spherical head with the camera to the bar out of the window. During the test, while rotating, the heavy construction right in my hands unexpectedly broke the duralumin bolt which had fastened the bar and the head.

    Urgently we had to search for a substitute. Finally, a courier carried a new adapter for the fastening of the head to the bar to Sergey Semenov, who was going to fly to New York. The meeting of Sergey and the courier, transfer and demonstration of new equipment took place in the Airport Express train following from Paveletskaya railway station to Domodedovo Airport :)

    Another one problem was the way how to get the needed room at the hotel with the view to Manhattan.

    The hotel itself consists of two towers but for the shooting we needed only one side of the West Tower with a "right" view. We resolved that problem by making good relationship with a concierge who was reserving a room we needed on a desirable floor. As you can see here, with his assistance we tried all the hotel's windows including three-room corner suite :)

    Sergey Semenov, who had to shoot this complicated panorama, had never shot spherical panoramas before and his attitude to them was skeptical enough. Though I saw with a heavy heart the way he left for New York, I hoped that everything would be fine because Sergey is an experienced photographer.

And now Sergey speaks:

    Well, it's better to start with short comments.

    In New York, as well like in other US cities, there are very few opening windows in the skyscrapers, and if you find any including with a beautiful view, it is a real luck. The Millennium Hotel was occasionally found just in 2005 through the Internet search using the words combination "beautiful view to Manhattan". After, we have stayed there several times.

    It happened that last year I was there alone and I had to shoot everything by myself without assistants. It was January of 2010, almost my birthday (night of January 5-6). When I flew from Miami to New York, I knew that it wasn't hot that season but I couldn't even guess how. That time I shot from the evening till the sunrise (made many shots with different lights). My room was on the fortieth floor.

    Wet icy wind blew from the gulf directly to the window, and 7 degrees below zero changed into all 20. It wasn't better even with the maximum turned on heater in the room, two pants, a ski suit and a scarf. And for one hour shooting I froze till the bones. In the middle of the night I understood that I couldn't stand more and decided to do breaks running to the bathroom to heat myself under the shower.

    After next such heating in the shower instead ski suit I put on the recently bought suit by Boss, brushed back wet hair by trembling hands, stood behind the window and made myself to take several "romantic" shots. The only thing that shows the difficult shooting conditions is a quivering on the wind jacket's edge.

    The room service doesn't work at night at this hotel and the tray with breakfast, which you can see on the table and is used as properties, can be ordered only from 6 a.m. So, after the night shooting with opened window, first, I slept a couple of hours in the "frozen" room then ordered breakfast and shot several scenes while the sun didn't rise.

    Well, that is the story of this sphere.

The full version of this description with photos you can find in Articles

3 March 2011

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Add your review about "New York, I love you"

This is truly awesome, and the best thing to enjoy Manhattan since tourist helicopter flights have been relegated to the past ;-( You're amazing, guys!

Johan-Martijn Flaton, Netherlands


cruz vero, France

Sie haben Wunderschöne Bilde!

Heinz Schärer, Switzerland

Symbolic of creativity of the high order in terms of Architecture,Engineering and Planning.

Madhav Keskar, India


Alain Lhermitte, Norway

Awesome! Awesome!! Keep it up guys...

Prasad Dasanatti, India

Exquisite Places & A V.Scintillating Work :)

Pooja Devaraj, India

I have seen quite a few of the places you show in real,but never ever I saw them the way you shot them.Great work! I'm eager to see whats's coming next. Congratulations to waht's done so far! Best regards! Gerd from Berlin

Gerhard Mueller, Germany

prachtige site

jules claesen, Belgium

Love it

Debbie Wake, USA

very exellent.

niloufar torabi, Iran


Everett Yagud, USA

The jewland the best land ever to be made.

p.s love hitler

chanan boganim, Israel

Estupendas imagenes, muchas gracias

alberto imperiale, Argentina

Sep 20, 2012
Panorama is very attractive.

Daniel Kishore, India

Its really amazing.. Great..

Manish Gujrati, India


HUGO LY, Chile

Awesome. Speechless.

Soumen Ganguly, India

Wonderful ! Great Wrok

Sunil Sutavane, India

v v good

sanat kumar dubey, India

All efforts are highly appreciable, beautiful and extremely mind blowing keep it up.

muhammad khan, Canada

Lindo demais. Adorei! É realmente um belo trabalho.

Edjane Cunha, Brazil

Wow, I have sent your web site to many friends. I am excited just like the first time using Google Earth, except yours have a very human touch to real life.
Simply wonderful art work!

Xiaoping Zheng, China

What a Peice of work

Lee Bray, Mexico

First Time this type of work I have in my life, Great work, and many thanks to air pano team.

Kashif Khan, India

one thing bothered me. he had a breakfast tray in the room ready to be eaten and yet he was holding a glass of wine... otherwise amazing. I'd like to see it in the day time too.

michelle mitchell, Iceland

It's very easy your wish comes true: http://www.airpano.com/360Degree-VirtualTour.php?3D=Manhattan-Day-New-York-USA or http://www.airpano.com/360Degree-VirtualTour.php?3D=Manhattan-New-York-USA

Varvara, AirPano

excelente maravilloso,gran trabajo....

victor gustavo sanchez quiroga, Colombia

I have lived here all my life (71 yrs). With this unbelievable display, you have given a true picture of this majestic and greatest city in the world. THANKS

Tom Maloney, USA

You are welcome!

Varvara, AirPano

excelente felicidades la claridad y el zoom de lo mejor y la composición del cuarto en uno excelente, el movimiento de la cola del saco podría mejorar? saludos.

Rebeca Montero Pineda, Costa Rica

As imagens são fantasista e muito belas.

Osmar Teixeira dos Santos, Brazil

very nice amazing

dilip babani, India

amazing and wonderful to look new york buildings.

anantalakshmi surya, USA

It is wonderfull and impressive!!!!! Thank you.

Jilmer Benites, Peru

muy interesante felicidades

jesus reyes, Mexico

Adorei, é uma cidade maravilhosa!!!! Fui lá muito feliz e andei de helicóptero a ver a cidade!!!!Bem-haja por este trabalho!!!Parabéns!!!

Julieta Mateus

excellent work. simply great.

Charuchandra Kinjawadekar, India

Many thanks!

Varvara, AirPano

It's awesome

drizzt zhan, China

Awesome! Several years ago I stayed in the very hotel and maybe in the very room looking at Empire State directly from my bed! It brought back memories, thank you guys so much!

Rudo Lesnak, Slovakia

Absolutely Awesome, I am surprised to see this wonderful work and speechless...just amazing and pray almighty for providing you his blessings in all of youre efforts...cheers..

Ibrahim Shajahan, India

Thank you for these words and kindness!

Varvara, AirPano

Best pano I have seen.

Randy Kosek, USA

Well done for all shooting. regret that there is nothing I can see in Hong Kong and China? Is the cost for all shootings too high?

Chit-man Samuel, Hong Kong

Dear  Chit-Man, there is a "Search" button on our main page. You can use it or check "All Panoramas" list. We have Hong Kong already http://www.airpano.com/360Degree-VirtualTour.php?3D=Honkong Cost for all shootings is very low, about 1 dollar per panorama. Tickets from Moscow to Hong Kong and back, and helicopter rental in Hong Kong are too high ;)


great work

niraj shah, India

Prekrasno......prekrasno..... nadam se da ću jednom to vidjeti i uživo


zdenka spišić, Croatia

Well done. I saw your story on CNN and had to check your website.
I am interested in your camera helicopter set up. How did you build does it have limitations? How much did you spend on it.

Peter Turo, USA

We can say that freezing may result in doing perfect job in some instances:) Congratualitons, well done in spite of the difficulties. The article encouraged me about making the similar on my own, thank you for achieving this.


Well, you are great! I can see you have made your own pano head, isn't it? Wow, I have made mine too, maybe I'll do some beautiful pics some day! :) Have you already done some transformation simulation with more than one pano? I made myself vanish from the room here: http://wp.me/s1AGa0-341 just click on the top right combo where it's written Comigo no quarto and change it to Quarto vazio. I mean, you've had all that effort at NY and made an astonishing night pano and I keep thinking how wonderfull would it be to see the exact same scene changing from day to night. Ok, I read the many difficulties and I can think of many others that could appear to do that. Maybe I'll try that from the top of my building :)

Best regards!

Carlos Carvalho