Thursday, October 9, 2008

Documenting an Urban Landscape

For my Media Practices: Concepts assignment in which we were to document an urban landscape, I chose to take photographs of subways all over Manhattan, although the majority of my images were restricted to the downtown and midtown area; I spend a significant amount more time near Union Square and on the L train than I do on any other part of the subway. A greater portion of my photographs were void of human presence as a choice, since the focus of my interpretation of this space was on the structural and detailed elements: the curvature of the platform, the posts running from floor to ceiling, the track itself. Initially I took over 30 photographs, and finally narrowed them down to 23, and ultimately to only seven.

I chose to go with the vertical aspect ratio due to the fact that the majority of my photos with the strongest images and vectors were in the vertical format. If I had known that we had to eventually choose one aspect ratio I would have decided to shoot only in that format, especially since I was disappointed not to include some of my horizontal photos in the final presentation.

My vectors spoke strongly visually, thematically, and aesthetically, and I’m overall fairly proud of my work. The only major regret I have is the lighting; since I despise the look of most flash photography, I chose to take all of my images with the light that was available to me. In some cases, the lighting was very low indeed, and I didn’t notice this fact until they were up on the large screen in class.

I feel that the one photograph that really feels like a moment encapsulated in time is the final shot with the sudden appearance of hordes of people during rush hour in the financial district, waiting for the uptown train. I tried hard not to upset anyone or make them feel uncomfortable, and coupled with the fact that a fine was in order if I was caught taking photos on or near the subway I attempted to include as few persons in as subjects as possible. In all of these photos, the structure and vectors becomes the subjects.

I tried my best to not stage any shots, to just take photographs of what was presented to me. For about two weeks I carried a camera with me each time I went on the subway. Each of these photos represent something different about the underground landscape: the platform, the rail, the turnstile, the interior, the signs, the disparity in levels, the masses of people, and the intricate and abundant tile work that is present in every single train stop. I felt that I was the most successful when it came to dimension and displaying of vectors, both parallel and converging.

Here's an example of another photo I really liked, but couldn't include it in the project do to its aspect ratio:

1 comment:

Princess Leah said...

I like the lack of lighting and lack of people. Do not get a fine, though. Otherwise I will have to call you and say "What'd you DO?"

How was this received in your classroom?