"Give me your tired, your poor..."
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Familiar, But Misplaced
The sentiment is not misplaced, being both a testament to much that is good about America, as well as a challenge to many other rich nations struggling with the dilemma of how to deal with the desperation felt by the poor and displaced in the world to reach a place where they can rekindle hope and find peace.
Why misplaced then? It is the statue, which is misplaced, in that the island upon which it rests is not Liberty Island in the New York Harbour section of the Hudson River, but on the Isle au Cygnes in the River Seine in Paris. Although only one of very many copies of the New York icon in France and worldwide, it was installed only three years after New York and is second in date only to the bronze model for the original in the Luxembourg Gardens near the French Senate.
The large scale version is isolated high on its pedestal, framed only by the sky and clouds. People might only be glimpsed as tiny figures peering from the crown, if you happen to have a pair of binoculars with which to search for them.
That is why I like the humanity of this version, framed by trees and with anonymous, hopeful figures heading for protection behind her saving skirts. An ominous cloud looms above the scene, but the stairs have been climbed and the desired destination reached.
The image of the statue that you see is visually “misplaced”, in that it is not facing the viewer, left-handed and holding a tablet of the law in her right hand, but is, in fact viewed from the rear. The silhouette effect prevents our brain from seeing her clearly and, at least for me, gives the impression that she is facing towards the camera.
Equally, the eye asks “is this a colour image or is it in black & white”? Viewed on my colour-corrected screen, it seems to be a sepia-toned black and white image. In fact it was normally exposed as a colour image, using the “cloudy” white balance appropriate for the day. This was an unintended but happy consequence of focusing on the bright part of the scene, in order to create the silhouette and the choice of “spot” metering, which prevented the camera from calculating an averaged, compensating exposure formula that would have brightened the darker areas.
The same choice resulted in a very fast exposure of 1/4000s, given that the camera was “tricked” into believing that the bright sky was the acceptable point of reference for the available light. Of course this aided sharpness accuracy, given I was hand holding a relatively heavy combination of D800 body and zoom lens.
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G
Focal Length: 170 mm
Focus Mode: AF-C
Autofocus Area Mode: Single
Shutter Speed: 1/4000s
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Compensation : 0
ISO Sensitivity: 640
Copyright Paul Grayson 2014
Keywords: AMDG, Art, Fine Art, Nikon, Nikon 70-200mm VR zoom, Nikon Capture NX2, Nikon D800, Paris, Paul Grayson, Photeinos, φωτεινος