Recently I saw the Paul Strand exhibition at the V&A in London. One of the first images, the famous “The White Fence”, came with a quote talking about the idea of a perfect black and white image according to traditional ideas (grey scale ranging from dark black to white including all mid tones). It’s amazing to read how thoughtful and mindful photographers like Strand crafted their images.
On my first trip to New York I captured four images that in my option are close to an ideal black and white image. Two are high contrast with almost only black or white values, two are very balanced. I am not too technical but reading about the early masters and their struggle to achieve perfection reminds me to appreciate the incredible effort and knowledge hidden in each photograph.
Just before Christmas 2004 was my first time to visit New York City. The impressions were overwhelming, the energy incredible and the amount of fast moving people surprising. Despite the fact that I had already moved to London it still felt like a more intense place.
Due to jet lag I was wide awake at 4am anyway so I decided to take my massive medium format camera and take long walks every morning. It’s such a beautiful and special situation when the city that never sleeps takes a short nap.
Because of the long exposures I needed to capture the dark environment, the photos turned out ghostly and mysterious – a deserted and calm New York City full of stars.
I’ve never seen the Twin Towers but the first image in this series gave me the shivers…. the two dark shadows of the pier almost formed a negative of the once towering symbols of New York.