Thursday, February 3, 2011

2004 Google New York portrait from the Empire State Building

Nearly seven years ago, Google New York was based in Times Square (we're now in a much cooler location in Chelsea). We had a nice view of the Empire State Building, which meant that we should also have been able to see our office from the ESB. The question that came up over our communal lunch table was: “what focal length lens would we need to take a portrait of all 20 engineers from the top of the ESB?” After some initial confusion about the mathematics of optics, we came up with the answer: about 4000mm. That's a big lens! Fortunately, Michael Riley had a 2000mm astronomical telescope, and I had a digital SLR (Nikon D1x) with a DX-size sensor, which meant that once I bought a physical adaptor, we had a 3000mm focal length camera. Maureen Marquess called the ESB and found out that we could bring the bulky telescope up to the observation deck as long as we were finished by the time it was opened to tourists. The only remaining challenge was getting Michael Riley up that early – he's most productive in the wee hours of the morning – along with the other engineers. But on October 23, 2004, the stars aligned, and Michael and I went up to the (very windy) observation deck with 25mm, 105mm, 450mm and 3000mm lenses:





Clay Bavor stitched these photos together to create this zooming movie: