TODAY | September 18, 2012
>> much. those pictures of the duchess of cambridge were taken using a very powerful long lens to. give you some insight into how they were shot we've inlisted the help of former paparazzi photographer james ambler at a promenade in brooklyn heights overlooking lower manhattan . his subject is nbc's stephanie gosk. she's across the river more than half a mile away at the south street seaport . good morning to both of you. james , let me start with you. when -- since you used to do this for a living, when you first saw these images of the duchess of cambridge, what was your initial sports? was it, wow, that's out of bounds, or wow, that's the ultimate get?
>> a little bit of both, to be honest with you. they are fantastic pictures, but the content of what it is is almost too risky for it to be of any value.
>> she was sunbathing topless at a private residence. the photographer was apparently more than a half a mile away. talk me through the equipment that would be necessary to capture that kind of an image.
>> well, she would needed a very long lens. what you've got here is a 600 mill lens, put a doubler on it so it doubled that length to a 1,200 mill lens and a camera body to go with it. the distances are getting larger and larger with the technology growing and the ability to be able to catch people from very far away .
>> just to give people an idea at home, how much would that kind of a setup would cost?
>> a setup like this is going to start you out at about $20,000. you also need equipment to send the pictures, almost as important as taking the pictures, to get the pictures out very quickly, so, you know, it's not a cheap hobby to have.
>> i want to put some animation up on the screen right now, james , as we continue to talk. i mentioned you're at a promenade in brook lynn. stephanie gosk is about a half a mile, if not a little bit more away at the south street seaport , so as you look through the lens, and we're going to be able to see what you're seeing in your viewfinder live on our screens, let's see how close you can get to her.
>> yes, so this is -- this is a shot from where i am, and obviously we've cropped in slightly as well, but can you see that from this distance you can get a really good shot from over half a mile away.
>> she's turning around waving. stephanie , can you hear me, by the way? i don't know if stephanie can hear me, but there would be no way, james , that she could see you where you are. if you were taking secret photos of her, there would be absolutely no way she would be able to see you, correct?
>> yeah. i mean, she would -- not with the untrained eye. if you had a pair of binoculars or security detail was looking out, they might be able to spot you, but, you know, there's lots of tricks that we have. you use natural surroundings to hide as well.
>> would you then take the images as close as can you get with that lens and the doubler, you would download them. then you could crop them further and even zoom in more than that, is that correct?
>> yeah. with these new cameras, the image quality is so good that you can actually take a wide image, zoom in on it, crop in and blow up that image even further, so really now distances are becoming, you know, given the right conditions, they can be, you know, as far away as possible.
>> if we can put the last image back up. there's an image of stephanie gosk that you have managed to capture and we've enhanced from more than half a mile away, so the message, james , to the people who are the targets of -- of the paparazzi is what?
>> if you don't want to get pictured topless, don't take your top off, you know. there's no real distance.
>> james , succinct and well put. james ambler, thanks very much. stephanie , thanks for being the target this morning. it's amazing.
>> i guess that is one lesson. don't take your top off. i don't know.
>> half a mile away.
>> words to live by, yeah,