Some time ago, I considered posting the following photo on my old photography blog, but stopped, mainly because it reminded me of 9-11 and I thought it might be construed as being insensitive. I took this photo of Boston's John Hancock building on a beautiful October morning in 2011.
I have been going through all my photos (thousands) to find some forgotten ones to post to my new website. I ran into this series and it got me to ponder the process on how some images jar us into thinking and/or doing the proverbial "double-take". It can be emotionally moving and can stop us dead in our step. This one at least gets me thinking.
I remember just snapping away as the plane's contrails formed and billowed past the building. At the time, it seemed kind of cool. The sky was so BLUE and cloudless. The contrail was so LONG. The weather was so PERFECT for a late October fall day.
The series consists of 6 photos. Looking at them, I decided to play around with them a bit using different croppings and filters. The one on the above right seems so dark and ominous. It strikes me as having ill intent. With the building leaning to one side, for me at least, it implies that it could fall down. The underexposure makes it sinister at best. Even the architecture of the building, I can see the number 11, the now sadly famous representation of the destroyed NYC WTC. Planes and buildings for most Americans is, at least, a reminder of our tragic past. And with this image, consisting of just two simple elements, it *could* pull out some emotions that have been slowly receding in our nations psyche.
But playing around with the next image, through some manipulation and cropping, the photo may imply that the danger has passed. Like sweeping the sweat from our brows, all is okay. The plane has left an interesting contrail across the frame and it hasn't been distorted by the winds aloft. The building is still standing. We may feel a little more balanced and safe. It's also brighter and a prettier shade of blue. It's actually kind of interesting. Maybe we will study it a little longer and observe the windows and the few lights that are on in the offices of the building.
And in the last image that is below and to the right, I straightened out the image and cropped it tighter. Now it's boring (at least to me) because our mind doesn't have to work at the game of brain Jinga. It's just there and so what? There are no stories. No emotion to process. It's a pretty shade of blue again, but that's about it.
All this to say, that there are ways to manipulate the observer, the movie-goer, the reader, both children and adults alike, whether we are aware of it or not. That is why I love cinematography so much. If the cinematography of a movie is good, I will probably see it a couple of times and process the movie to figure out the techniques used to tease out all the emotions in me.
I am sure all of you are saying, yeah, well, duh. And that's okay. I just felt like writing about it! And just to remind you not to believe everything your eyes seem to tell you. Not everything is what it appears to be...