Archive for Horseshoe Bend

A Street Photography Location Nonpareil

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2019 by johnbuckley100
All images Leica M10 with 35mm Summilux FLE or 21mm Summilux

I saw a provocative headline recently that asked “Is Instagram Killing The Great Outdoors?” Of course, Betteridge’s Law of Headlines states, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered no.”

Still, it’s a pretty good question. Ten years ago, Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona was a lovely place to stop and reflect high above the curvature of the Colorado. These days, hundreds of people arrive in busses in order to get selfies they post on Instagram.

There are people falling off of Yosemite cliffs, trying to get that Instagram post that will generate likes. One instinctively recoils from what we perceive to be a desecration of nature — going to the right place, but for the wrong reason.

But what of buildings, street corners, locations that seem made for photography? The Occulus is the Santiago Calatrava-designed train station built as the nexus for all of the lines — PATH as well as MTA — that used to flow beneath the World Trade Center. After 9/11, when all the lines were crushed by the weight of the collapsing buildings, they had to rewire them, and someone had the brilliant inspiration to hire Calatrava to build a station that is, in its own way, far more spiritual than the outdoor memorial a block away.

I wanted to see it, and photograph it, because it is beautiful. I had no idea it is the NYC equivalent of Horseshoe Bend, a place to which thousands flock in order to have their picture taken, and for good reason.

It has lookout points on both ends that are perfect locations for selfies.

I thought it was cool, and it is certainly a gorgeous structure. But while standing there, suddenly the sun must have come out from behind a cloud, because it was transformed. For the next approximately five minutes, it was a street photographer’s dream come true.

It took about two seconds to realize this was an ephemeral playground. If you look all the way up to the top image, try finding the couple making out at the top of the stairs. They weren’t there to be photographed, they were there to make out before bidding farewell, he back up the stairs, she headed down to the 1 Train. They were every bit at home as lovers on Point Neuf, or at least the Point Neuf as it existed before last week’s fire at Notre Dame. And they were a street photographer’s dream come true.

To me, among the most interesting things to photograph are people standing at some distance below: dolls in a doll house, going through their day with no recognition that a camera is turning them into, as Daido Moriyama wonderfully put it, “fossils of light and time.”

The Occulus would be one of those perfect photography locations from which Rene Burri would have created a masterpiece.

As it was, I was there just long enough to work within its magnificent quality of light.

I can’t wait to go back.

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