Capturing the New World Trade Center Memorial Lights with Joe Pellicone

Text and Photos by Joe Pellicone

On September 10, a few of my photo friends decided to go to Jones Beach for Sunset like we frequently do.  It’s a nice way to end the day with a cup of coffee, some photo conversation and our cameras.

If you live in New York or have visited here frequently, you know that the horizon is often cloudy, or should I say hazy, and it’s only on special nights that you get those amazing sunsets.

On this particular night the sky was more clear than normal at the horizon, and while the sunset was not that spectacular, you could see some of the New York City lower Manhattan Skyline with the help of a zoom lens.

This is a typical view from the Jones Beach Fishing Piers, and the city skyline is about dead center on the horizon.


We waited until after dark, and then one of my friends noticed they were testing the 911 memorial lights. They weren’t visible to the naked eye, but they were obviously there on his live view screen. So I ran back to my car to get my 100-400 and my tripod, but to my surprise, I had left the tripod in the other car!  Now what do I do? I thought for a minute and realized that I always carry my Platypod inside my camera bag.  I wasn’t sure it would do the trick, but I figured I would take some shots anyway. Nothing ventured nothing gained, as they say!

While I normally just mount my camera body to the ball head on the Platypod, this time I mounted the lens foot to it, thinking I would get more stability since the lens was bigger and heavier than the camera. I had to rotate the plate sideways, but it mounted fine.  Then I found a spot on the railing of the fishing pier. (I made sure I was on the concrete section so there was no dock sway)

I would normally have used the straps that were included in the kit I bought, but because I knew they were just testing the lights and they could go off at any time, I decided to just hold the Platypod in place with my left hand and fired about twenty Long Exposure shots.

Note: At the time I took this shot I didn’t know I was going to be writing this blog, so the behind the scenes shots of the camera on the Platypod were taken on a different day.




I was wishing I had a third hand just so I could have kept my fingers crossed!  As it turned out, the only luck I needed was that I’d happened to have the Platypod in my bag! I got three shots that I loved. All were basically similar to the one in this post.

After processing my images as I normally do, I started to wonder how far away the lights and the new World Trade Center were from my shooting location, so I fired up Google Maps and did some measuring. You’re not going to believe this, but I discovered that my images were shot from 27.5 miles away!   That really blew me away. I mean, I got this relatively sharp image of the World Trade Center and Memorial Lights from Jones Beach at that incredible distance using a Platypod! 


  • Sony A7-3

  • F5.6

  • ISO 800

  • 1.0 Second

  • Sony 100-400 GM Lens at 400mm

  • Platypod Ultra with Benro IN00

  • Processed Lightroom and Photoshop.