Digital Video: Agents Adams, Cacy, Caruth, Joseff, Martin, Savage, Schackman, Shafer, Slocum, Winckler
Digital Photography: Agents Fountain, Nicholson, Scott, Sokoler, Brypace, Clgregor, Eppink, Fawnandfauna, Mirka
Waveleaders: Agents Fountain, Spear, Todd
Mission inspired by: Agents Gee, Taliaferrow
edited by: Jamey Shafer
song by: Tyler Walker
For our latest mission, 700 agents lined the length of the Brooklyn Bridge a week before its 125th birthday. In the rain and cold we created a wave of camera flashes across the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Enjoy the video below and then read on for the report and tons of photos.
We get lots of mission ideas emailed in to the site. Sometimes they’re great, and we end up making them happen. Sometimes they inspire us to think of a new idea along the same lines. In this case, we had two ideas sent to us in one week that seemed to work perfectly together. Agent Taliaferrow suggested that we do “the wave” across the Brooklyn Bridge and Agent Gee suggested that we create a wave of camera flashes on a Manhattan street. We put the two together and The Camera Flash Experiment was born.
We would have agents line the length of the Brooklyn Bridge and then film and photograph the mission from the Manhattan Bridge, about 500 yards to the north. We weren’t sure how the flashes would look from that distance, so a small crew conducted a test run about a month before the mission. Agents Shafer, Adams, and I set up on the Manhattan Bridge pedestrian walkway and shot video of Agents Fountain, Walker, Gallagher, and Sokoler creating camera flashes on the Brooklyn Bridge walkway.
We were impressed with how four flashes looked, and were excited to find out how it would look with hundreds more. Still, capturing the flashes on video was going to be a challenge. They looked much more impressive to the naked eye than they did on the camera’s view screen. Capturing the mission via photography was going to be even more challenging, as our photographers would have to use long exposures to show the wave of light.
The biggest challenge of all in this mission was the weather. As Friday neared, the forecast looked worse and worse. We had over 700 RSVPs for the mission and a few agents had made travel plans. Agent Nicholson, our longtime photographer, had already bought plane ticket to fly back from a trip to Los Angeles to shoot the mission. We decided to move forward rain or shine and hope for the best. The mission should still work in the rain, and it would be a crazy adventure either way.
The crowd gathers
1… 2… 3!
The crowd heads toward the bridge enterance
Agent Nicholson’s pre-mission shot from Brooklyn Bridge Park
It took much longer than expected to get everyone in place, but most of the participants managed to have lots of fun despite the conditions. Many came alone and made friends with the people standing next to them. There were even a few “missed connections” posted on our site and on Craigslist the next day. Strangers and friends alike made the best of this ridiculous adventure.
Some didn’t even have umbrellas!
Agent Spear and Agent Fountain take off running
I nearly lost my voice from yelling “Go!” about one thousand times
Agent Spear runs and ducks to avoid covering the flashes
Agent Spear ran so fast he wound up in this photo twice
(this animation may not work in all browsers, get Firefox.)
Agent Nicholson had a tougher time getting good shots from Brooklyn Bridge Park. Being at ground level made it tough to capture the flashes. Here are a few highlights.
Agents looking at their photos as they leave
Although the weather was miserable to deal with, in many ways the night we picked was destined to be the night for this mission. The next night, which was to be our rain date if we had decided to cancel, it ended up thunder storming at the exact time of the mission. Had we moved it to then, an unexpected storm would have hurt us even more, as people would have been unprepared. We also found out that Manhattan Bridge walkway was closed for construction on Saturday and Sunday nights, meaning we wouldn’t have had access for our photographers and cameramen.
Despite the glitches in the plan, we had a blast pulling this off and it seems most of the participants did as well. We never know exactly how our missions are going to work out, but we do know that they will always be an adventure. This mission was different for us in many ways. Most noticeably was the fact that we did not have direct interaction with our audience. In fact, we can’t even be sure that anyone even saw what we did. But we can hope that at least a few folks driving or taking the train across the Manhattan Bridge, living in a downtown apartment, or walking home in the rain looked up at the right time and saw something spectacular.