Lately I’ve been complaining that shooting raw plus large (RAW+L) on a full frame camera takes up too much space. Yes I know, virtual storage space is cheap nowadays and there’s also lot of cloud based solutions out there but I remember when I first started with photography, there was only me and my small point and shoot and the files were so small, storage was never a worry of mine. Those were such simple times :). Anyway;
Yesterday I went out shooting on a rooftop, it was my first time. “OMG rooftopping is so dangerous and illegal, this is such a bad example for all the youth out there”. Yeah well, before you go all nuts about this admittedly controversial subject, just know the rooftop I went to is only 3 story building and it’s actually a parking lot for the AFI Cotroceni Mall in Bucharest.
So yeah everything was legal and perfectly safe for the public, no special permission was required and/or requested at the time. I like adventure as much as any regular Joe, but I personally tend to stay away from places with restricted access.
I would love to take rooftopping shots like these but I’d like it to be legal and safe and preferably when they don’t ask for a copy of my ID card attached to a “standard” release form and access request form. I leave in the real world too, I know that most of the tallest buildings are either owned by or rented by huge corporations who worry about they’re exposure and liability, I would too, so yeah I get it. What I’m saying is, I just wish tall building owners would just open up they’re rooftop for public access, from time to time, for an acceptable fee of course so people could enjoy their city from above from time to time.
It would not only benefit photographers but also any other denizen in a large city like Bucharest. I know Bucharest is no New York but I am so sure it would look great from above.
Back to my AFI Cotroceni “rooftopping” experience, it was a sunny day but still quite cold (about 4 degrees Celsius/ 38 Fahrenheit – ((can’t believe I spelled that right the first time)), there was ice and snow all over the place but I didn’t mind it, had good shoes on, which is a must if shooting in bad weather and I spent 1h:30m shooting out there until I got cold and felt the urge for some hot tea and something good to eat. Luckily I had an entire mall food-court to choose from just 2 minutes away.
There are a lot of video cameras up there, as to be expected, so if you’re ever out there try not to climb over the security fences or try anything of the acrobatic nature, you might get some unwanted attention. I was really lucky, the place was deserted (just a car or 2 up there) and that made for an interesting shot of the snow and Bucharest skyline.
There may be some security guards around up there too, I was left alone the entire 90 minutes I was there but if you decide to go there, be polite, you are on private property. You might want to dress decent also, don’t mean wearing a suit and tie but dressing like a bum and being socially awkward never helped anyone especially if you’re taking photos. So be polite and social should anyone try and question your reasons for being there. One of the reasons I brought my small micro 4/3 Olympus is that it is very non threatening and doesn’t look professional.
The scenery is not breath taking but can make for a decent shot or 2. In the words of the great Sam Abell, I’m not looking for perfection, goodness is enough. Look around for shapes, reflections or close-ups too, you never know.
Mistakes I made: did not shoot raw.
I came home very eager to review my photos only to find out that there were no raw files saved. Didn’t even have large (L) JPGs to work with, just normal (N) JPGs. I had set the camera to RAW+L before arriving at the location but there were no RAW files to be found. The E-PM2 is a great camera but a bit fiddly as it has a small wheel on the back to adjust the settings and I do play around with the settings when shooting and surely changed it without wanting to do so. Lesson learned: Check your settings!
All things considered the files were usable, even with a little crop.
If you know any other cool rooftopping places in Bucharest let me know in the comment section below.
Heck you know what, if you know any high enough places in Bucharest from which you can get a decent skyline shot, share your secret with the with the world, I’d really appreciate it. Come on, I know you want to! 🙂