I often forget I’ve only been to New York once, back in 2005 on the way back to the UK from a West Coast road trip. This image sums the place up to me – walk, go, go, do it now, forget about the risk. This was taken on film with a Canon EOS 3000, and my latest purchase – a fish eye “lens”.

I admit a was a little naive about photography gear back then and had planned to find a “proper” photography store in NYC and get myself a good quality wide angle lens to snag the scenery with. We ended up in a shop I can’t remember in a street I’d never be able to find again (warning #1!). The store clerk was friendly (warning #2!) and let me try out a couple of options: a wider-angle lens, and an add-on to my kit lens that screwed on and allowed flexibility “without the extra weight”. I tried them both, went outside and had a peer around with them, somehow assessing the optical performance of these things through the viewfinder. Hmm.

Then we got to price. Nothing was tagged (WARNING #3!), but the chap was offering the wide-angle lens around $180, which seemed reasonable but wasn’t as wide as I was really after – I wanted more of a fish eye look. The converter I think came in around $120. That seemed a little high, but then it was doing what I wanted from a lens and it was kind of a wacky look at the time, so why not? I started toward the door to try another dealer, and the guy persisted, persisted, persisted… though didn’t lower his price.

He got me. I paid up, left with this crazy golden thing that turned out (when I got home) to be some shoddy camcorder accessory worth about $30 and I was thoroughly fleeced. Let that be a lesson to me to know your stuff beforehand. Sad, I guess – you just need to know where the better stores like B&H are, otherwise you can get taken for a ride.

Still, I paid for a guy to have a great dinner somewhere!

Plus, even though it was overpriced, it did help me see NYC through a different view and I picked out some shots that just wouldn’t be interesting without the wacky fisheye distortion and the extreme optical fuzziness at the edge of the circle. That’s why mistakes are important – sometimes they aren’t really mistakes.

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