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November 5, 2012

New York Mag’s Stunning Sandy Cover Was Shot From A Moving Helicopter

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New York Magazine's Hurricane Sandy cover, "The City and the Storm."

A number of people have been asking us about this week’s stunning New York Magazine cover showing an aerial view of Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy’s blackout. Did the photographer use a helicopter? Wasn’t the airspace closed?

Well, before we got a chance to ask photographer Iwan Baan ourselves, Poynter got the scoop: He did in fact rent a helicopter.

We can tell you that New York airspace was indeed open throughout Sandy and its aftermath despite the airports being closed. In fact, without any arriving or departing airliners in the neighborhood, air traffic controllers allowed the chopper to hover at a higher altitude than would ever have been allowed if any of the nearby airports were open. That altitude provided the perfect angle for the cover shot.

It also helped that Baan had the latest and greatest Canon camera setup on the market: A Canon 1D X body behind a new Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L Mark II lens. He opened the aperture all the way and set the ISO to 25,000 with a 1/40 shutter speed. “[It was] the kind of shot which was impossible to take before this camera was there,” Baan told Poynter. We’ve all tried it from planes with lesser cameras, and sometimes you might get one keeper that isn’t a complete streaky, grainy mess, but even those are hardly worthy of a magazine cover.

Personally seeing lower Manhattan almost completely dark was jarring enough from ground level. I can’t imagine how surreal it must have been to see it while hanging out the side of a bouncing helicopter a couple thousand feet above the harbor.

Of course we’d also love to know where he rented the helicopter to give the pilot and some love too. We’ve sent Baan an email, so hopefully we’ll find out soon.

Full New York Magazine Hurricane Sandy Cover, "The City and the Storm." (Photo by Iwan Baan/New York Magazine)

Full New York Magazine Hurricane Sandy Cover, “The City and the Storm.” (Photo by Iwan Baan/New York Magazine)



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  • Mike

    He indicates it came out from Long Island, so that rules out the usuals like Liberty, Panorama Flight, NY Helicopter etc.

    My first guess is Al Cerullo, N355AG, who is a SAG/Film pilot. He flies a TwinStar, and I believe keeps it at Farmingdale/FRG.

  • For a non New Yorker, what is that “island” of light at the lower left of Manhattan. How did it escape the blackout.

    • Good question, Brian. The tall building with the blue lights is the still-under-construction 1 World Trade Center which had generator power, though it did go dark for a time during the storm. To the left of that is Goldman Sachs HQ, which also has its own generators and never went dark. Then there’s the large cluster of buildings right on the water, which is a residential complex called Battery Park City. They lost power Monday night but somehow got it back on Tuesday, though it’s still not clear how.

      • Thanks, Matt. I was surprised to see that spot of light because I thought almost all of downtown was dark.