Saturday, March 3, 2012

New York - Looking Back

Back home now after a fabulous 4 days.  I am just now getting a chance to look at the photographs I took and reflect upon the experience I had in New York.  I took around 800 shots across a wide range of subject matter. Indeed this was the challenge of being in New York, it is visually arresting, everywhere you look something is happening, colour, form, interaction, juxtaposition, pattern, impact, perspective; the city is a perpetual assault on the eye.

When I planned the visit, I was thinking Gerry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz, when I arrived I rapidly found myself in Alfred Stieglitz territory and then Gursky raised his head.  The problem I had was simply too much material triggering too many thought processes.  4 days is enough time to smell the place, to photograph it would take a lifetime, even if only considering a tiny element of what the city has to offer.  In the end I became overloaded and sank into a touristic torpor simply clicking away at whatever mad sight came next. But, hey, this was meant to be a holiday, not a photographic marathon, so I went with the flow hoping that among the many frames I exposed I would get a few that would stand up and be counted.

The first impression, simply turning the corner from our hotel was the vibrancy of the place, this was inspired by Meyerowitz's street level images contrasting the dark shadows of the street with the blasts of colour from the buildings

Wearing my street photographer hat I really was spoilt for choice, this is the best image I captured, colour and movement.

Another photographer whose inspiration I brought with me was Joel Sternfeld and in particular his study of the the Highline.  We dutifully visited the raised railroad, now a linear park stretching 15 blocks.  Early on a Sunday morning we were among the few out and about:

One of the more bizarre incidents happened on the way to the Highline the day after we went to the WeeGee exhibit at the International Center for Photography.  A blood trail led across 4 blocks, weaving in and out, sometimes just a trickle occasionally a splash.  I thought it might just be a nose bleed, but the amount of blood contradicted that theory.  Perhaps some crime, maybe the ghost of a man with a Speed Graphic lurked in the alleyways:

I mentioned Stieglitz at the beginning.  The view from our 37th floor room brought me to that mode of thought:

Very reminiscent of the images he made from hotel and apartment windows in New York.

I will be returning to my New York photographs over a few blog entries to come.  One decision I made on arrival was to conciously work on 4 of the upcoming projects in the course:

Re-photograph a known photo, well not hard in New York.  This was an early shot in developing a sequence leading to attempting to rephotograph one of my favorite historical images, did I mention Stieglitz.

Using a wide angle lens for near far juxtaposition

Using a telephoto to compress planes

And finally picking scenes from a landscape - did they mention an elevated position.  Well here is my starting point, again shot from my hotel bedroom window:

An amazing and totally enjoyable weekend.

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