Visiting the new memorial site at “Ground Zero” is clearly the latest “must” for both domestic and foreign visitors to New York, so much so that the area is literally submerged under a wave of humanity, fascinated by what happened here in 9/11 and by the very American story of survival and recovery that is on show today. This partly explains my search for an upward camera angle that would avoid the teeming masses and create an image of dignity and tranquility, which could point to a more peaceful future.
1776 is, of course a reminder that the tower’s height in feet, including the spire not seen at this angle, represents the foundation of the state, the principles it set forth in the Constitution, the Americans' belief in themselves as a nation of law and democracy and their honouring the sacrifices of those lost in today’s battles for hearts and minds worldwide.
Seeking The Mood
My personal mindset while photographing is entirely solitary. I am in an artistic, aesthetic, intellectual and technical bubble, which I find to be a Zen-like, heightened awareness of my surroundings, with a single focus on interpreting in the scene around me according to my emotional, artistic and technical responses to my choices. From the outside, it is exemplified by a slow walk, with stops to reflect on what is out there and with attention to as 360 degree as possible a view of the changing patterns between objects and effects of light as I move. My oft-mentioned hero Henri Cartier Bresson had much more of a dancing and prancing approach to his street movements, but then he married a Javan traditional dancer and was photographing people. I, on the other hand, married a Jazz singer and prefer to photograph things.
As I composed the image between the leaves and saw the tower delicately matching the blue of the sky above, I felt that this aspect gave a gentle feeling of uniting the earth and the sky in a forward looking and peaceful new purpose.
Serendipity versus Planning
While last week’s image had everything to do with planning, this one arose from serendipity. As the above text explains, I found myself in a crowded, noisy and, seemingly, rather disrespectful mass of tourism, which conflicted with my own mood and intentions. As I approached the area of the new memorials, I passed through the building sites of other, spectacular architectural works-in-progress and emerged under a few trees leading toward One World Trade Center.
Following my image-seeking habits, I looked up, as well as around and was immediately struck by the framing of the building between the leaves. My main concern was to achieve balance between the glare on the building and the dark of the trees. While taking bracketed shots and choosing alternative points of exposure in the image area gave me a range of results to choose from, the results shown in the camera’s image viewer made the building seem dull. On the other hand the histograms, both for tone and colour seemed balanced.
As a result, the effect of glare could be amended on-screen in post-processing, because the histograms demonstrated that enough good light and colour data had been captured to make compensating adjustments using Black Point and White Point controls.
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: 24-70mm f2.8G Zoom
Focal Length: 38 mm
Focus Mode: AF-S
Autofocus Area Mode: Single
Shutter Speed: 1/250s
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
ISO Sensitivity: 250
Mounted on a Monopod
Notwithstanding my personal feelings about the size and nature of the crowd while I was there, the area is being respectfully renewed and is well worth a visit, whether for the memory of for the newness of it all.
Copyright Paul Grayson 2015