HW1 – Melissa Ortiz-Vasquez

Manhattan Skyline (Study 1) by Michael Kenna

1. What type of photograph is it?
Manhattan Skyline is part of a series of black and white photographs depicting imagery of New York City.

2. What can you tell (or guess) about the photographer’s intention?
The goal of the photographer was most likely to capture an iconic, dramatic shot of the Manhattan skyline in a minimalistic way.

3. What emphasis has the photographer created and how has that been done?
The viewer’s eye is drawn to the subject (the buildings) but the details are hidden away so as to not mess with the visual hierarchy. The photograph may have been taken during sunset so the light of the sun would be directly behind the buildings, acting as a backlight in order to give the buildings that silhouetted appearance.

4. Do technical matters help or hinder the image?
What would normally be a very busy and detailed image is reduced to a simple photograph of a horizontal line of buildings with water below it and the sky above it. Small details are minimized to the point of near nonexistence, which really helps the subject stand out with its sharp edges.

5. Are graphic elements important?
Yes. Because the subject is a horizontal line that extends through the entire photograph, it really is the first thing anyone will see. The distant eye-level viewpoint balances out the photograph by having the buildings act as a dividing line between the water and the sky.

6. What else does the photograph reveal beside what is immediately evident?
NYC is synonymous with the glitzy and glamorous city life you see on TV. This photograph, by being a minimalistic depiction of the skyline, reveals a sort of peace and tranquility that residents may forget within the city limits.

7. What emotional or physical impact does the photograph have?
The photograph gives off a very peaceful vibe with its lack of detail and calm waters. It feels like it’s depicting the city while “asleep”.

8. How does this photograph relate to others in the same series by the same photographer?
Like the others in this series, this photograph depicts an iconic view of New York City in black and white, reduced to a simple snapshot. It’s almost as if the usual city clutter were purposely being scaled down for the sake of those who aren’t used to it.

1 Comment

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One Response to HW1 – Melissa Ortiz-Vasquez

  1. You describe the essence of Kenna’s style well. He reduces scenes to a few graphic elements to create iconic images of well know places. As you state the horizon line runs exactly through the middle of the photograph. Placing the horizon like this always creates a sense of equilibrium and balance. and you are right this is to a glamourous New York. the city almost looks small in comparison to the water and sky.

    My guess is that this is was taken at dawn from New Jersey.

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