It’s been a long time I’ve been ship watching, ship stalking or however you want to call it. I can tell you one thing, it’s a monster job and you gotta love it to death what you do. Some think it’s easy as cake, nope. It’s pretty far from easy, it requires following the AIS, you have to calculate what time they’ll arrive, tide and delays do happen and sometimes your best of calculations can be off.
Weather is another major factor, fog can impair your view, the ship leaving too late can ruin an amazing shot and you have to settle for a night shot or even in the freezing cold can make filming unbearable.
In this feature I’m going to showcase my top 5 and most difficult ship watching sessions.
#5 Quantum of the seas: Final departure from America
This session was a very difficult one being the fact I raced to get to the highest peak to film Quantum’s final departure from North America, when 5 PM came & went then 5:30 PM I knew something was seriously wrong. Thanks to the Quantum OTS facebook fan page, they reported the computers on the ship had crashed and they had to manually enter people on the ship for boarding delaying her departure by 2 hours.
7PM had come, the sun was setting and I was very worried she would leave at nightfall thus ruining my great sunlight and shots of her, fortunately she departed at 7 PM after me waiting 2 hours in the cold to get her on camera, she left the slip and gracefully sailed under the bridge to open seas. As I filmed her with my 24x zoom I could see passengers lining the decks and enjoying the views, for me I had gotten more than I wanted as Quantum’s hull was bathed in golden sunlight making for a landmark shot of her and a fitting farewell to America’s 1st Quantum ship sailing for yet another island to call home halfway around the world, Shanghai China would be her final destination.
It was a tough shoot but I endured having to wait 2 1/2 agonizing hours and having to deal with elements beyond my control.
#4: Ft. Lauderdale departure session 2016
This was a monster shoot due to the fact I had to change locations, the weather was off and on heavy rain & the ships were leaving at a very fast pace. Got to the tip of the beach just in time after I missed Regal and Royal Princess leave yet I made up for it when Eurodam, Allure & Conquest departed.
#3 THE GRAND FLEET 2014
This was to any ship lover the holy grail of occasions where you have not 2, not 3 but 5 cruise liners in New York! Including Royal Princesses maiden arrival to New York and Queen Mary 2 passing the World Trade Center for the 1st time ever!!!!
This occasion marked the 1st time in over 13 years a true ocean liner has united the trinity with the WTC, but the question was which ship would come in 1st?
I left my house at 3am and got down to Exchange place at 5 am on the dot, I waited until 5:30, that was when the ships were starting to arrive, as with my calculations they were off by a far, GEM took the lead down the Hudson while Royal Princess docked in Brooklyn as Splendor came in 2nd then at around 6 am as the sun rose upon New York, Queen Mary 2 gracefully sailed past the WTC, she looked so triumphant and beautiful as she passed the New York skyline, her natural elements.
The shoot didn’t end there, I then proceeded to my favorite spot across the Hudson to capture the iconic image of the “Grand Fleet.”
Norwegian Getaway in New York January 2014.
I have to admit, this shoot nearly broke me in terms of the freezing cold and the difficult circumstances that made filming almost impossible.
When I tried to use the exchange place pier, the 2014 Superbowl players were staying in the hotel, they had rented the Hotel including the public pier for their exclusive use. I then had to find an alternative at the next pier over, but that wasn’t by biggest problem, it was the wind chill and freezing temperatures at 20 degrees that was taking a heavy toll on my body and my equipment but I had to get these shots for it would be the only chance I had to capture Getaway make her grand departure from New York and me being the only one who dared to brave the cold, I knew I was had the chance to get the exclusive images no one had. There was an amazing fireworks show followed by Getaway departing New York, I had gotten my shots I just had to find shelter where I could warm up after being outside for an agonizing 2 hours, it nearly killed me… but I lived to tell the tale.
#1 Queen Mary 2 as seen from Sea Gate, Coney Island aka THE FORBIDDEN ZONE.
This is my story of how I ventured into forbidden land, the only piece of land normal New Yorkers have never stepped foot in.
Sea Gate, Brooklyn holds a hidden gem up on its horn, the best ship watching spot in town.
For those of you who don’t know what Sea Gate is, Sea Gate is a private Sea Gate is a private gated community at the far western end of Coney Island at the southwestern tip of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It contains mostly single-family homes, some directly on Gravesend Bay.
I was working with a private client at Sea Gate when coincidentally QM2 was to depart that very afternoon.I took it upon myself to capture this moment as I would never again see the golden opportunity. The weather was perfect and the Queen Mary 2 looked so graceful, powerful and majestic in her full form as she sailed to open seas.
You could see her in her full element different from her many departures seen in the inner harbor, I’m the only man if not the first to ever film the Queen Mary 2 from Sea Gate / the forbidden zone of New York City.
These are some of my greatest and most difficult, it was done with sheer determination and will power, I can say with honor it was all worth it. I hope to have many more to come and to go to where no one has gone before.