I just returned from a quick 72-hour trip to New York City and as usual, there were a few "only in NY" moments.
As a child in the early 70s, I remember riding the subway, walking through Times Square and playing in Central Park when these areas were well known for muggings, assaults and other fun things. By the late 90s, the Giuliani regime had cleaned up much of the city and aside from the occasional one-finger salute, tourists can now enjoy most parts of Manhattan unscathed.
One of the most beautiful areas of the city has to be Central Park. There is one area within the park featuring a majestic elm tree-lined path where my family and I enjoyed a few moments of zen over the weekend. And when I wanted to photograph the beautiful tree canopy, I used my mini-triopd to set my camera at a very low, dramatic angle, dead center of the pathway.
While adjusting through my camera, I watched a grey-bearded wizard-type creature walk right up to my lens, mumbling something like "At your service" and "Google my name." (He looked like a KKK member after raiding the wardrobe department on the Harry Potter set.) I turned around but there were no film crews, kid's birthdays or early Halloween parties in the area. I didn't know where to redirect him out of my shot.
In my experience with shooting in other urban areas, I remembered the magic formula for getting people to move out of my shot...money. So, I offered the wizard guy $1 (expecting him to politely turn it down as not to compromise his holy wizardry) when all of a sudden...POOF! The wizard—along with my dollar—was gone.
When I returned home, I did in fact Google his name "Blackwolf the Dragonmaster" and found not only did he recently appear on Conan O'Brien but has many YouTube videos including this one which will give you an idea of how Central Park's characters have evolved versus 40 years ago.