The Expectations Verses The Reality Of New York
How could it be that something could look like a work of art from afar, but once you see it up close, it’s not at all what you expected? Tourists will travel for miles, and pay a fortune to visit the so called extravagant city of New York, that is portrayed to them in the post cards. Don’t get me wrong, New York is a beautiful place with amazing architectural aspects, but if you want my opinion, it looks way better from far away, or in a picture. This essay will compare and contrast two photos that contradict each other in a very big way. While my first photo which I decided to call ‘Bridge View’ is of a beautiful picture of the view from the Verizanno bridge, my second photo ‘Trash Tracks” portrays New York in an entirely different way. Every single day, I take the buss over the Verizanno Bridge, to get from Staten Island, to Brooklyn and whenever I’m on the bridge, I look out the window to see the sun reflecting off the water that leads to the tall, beautiful sky scrapers off in the distance. From up there, you could never guess that the water is nearly brown, and has probably every single piece of garbage you could imagine floating in it. You also can’t see all of the garbage that lines each and every street, side walk and train station. I have taken two images for this essay that will show off both the beauty, and reality that is Mew York.
My first picture ‘Bridge View’ is a documentary photo that I captured from the top of the Verizanno Bridge, as I was going back home to Staten Island, from Brooklyn. In this photo, you could clearly see the boat filled ocean, and sky line of buildings off in the distance. When I first took the picture, the frame was focused mainly on the land and trees, which is now off in the far right because I no longer wanted that to be the main aspect. Also, I did that to give off the affect of rule of thirds, so that your eyes aren’t drawn to the land, but to the buildings and boats on the water. I really wanted to capture more of the ocean and city line, because that is what people who have never been to New York would want to see. What I like most about this picture is how calm it makes the city appear to be. That is my favorite aspect of the photo because it is completely ironic how one photo could make something so hectic, seem so peaceful. Due to this picture being as calming and peaceful as it is, it makes me feel relaxed. There is one sentence that Susan Sontag wrote on photography which is “although the camera is an observation station, the act of photographing is more than passive observing.” I chose that quote because it was very relevant towards why I took this photo in the first place. If I never took a picture of the view from the bridge, then I never would’ve taken the time to really observe anything. I never would’ve paid any attention to the boats, or the reflection of the sun on the water, but the photo was that thing that made me stop and really look at things in a whole other perspective. I guess that the view from the bridge was something that I was so used to seeing, so I never really stopped to appreciate the sights from up there until I took my Bridge View photo.
My second picture, which is also a documentary photo, is definitely not nearly as peaceful and calming as the first one. I captured this picture of all the garbage and litter on the sub way tracks as I was waiting to get on the R train. Those looking at this photo are able to see two large piles of trash, which consist of mostly items that should have been recycled. This picture was originally showing more stray garbage along the tracks, but I decided to only put those two piles in the frame because it gives off the full affect. This photo makes me feel truly disgusted by the city I call home, and the people who think it’s okay to just throw their trash on the tracks, mean while there is a garbage bin no more than five feet away. I am the type of person to never throw my garbage on the ground, even if there is no garbage bin within reach, I would hold it until I find one. It is horrible and sad to think about how someone might be the cleanest person in all of New York, with a spotless house, yet technically, they still live in filth. It pains me to think about how lazy people could be to throw their non- biodegradable trash wherever they stand, just because they can’t hold it for ten more seconds until they get the chance to throw it out. Seeing what I saw the day I took that photo really made me wonder weather or not any one even cares about the environment we all live in. Those who think it’s okay to just throw their garbage anywhere else besides a trash can need to realize the affects that they are having on the world. It just really made me wish that people would care more about the appearance and environment of the city that is admired by so many people from allover the world on a daily basis.
So, those are the two photos that I captured for this essay, and I picked them because each of them managed to easily contradict the other photo. The first photo portrays how somebody may view New York, without getting the full affect from actually coming here. My second photo was more of a reality check on the fact that New York is more then just a nice view. Both of these pictures seemed perfect to compare and contrast because they each show two different sides, of the exact same place. The pictures actually reminded me of one of those “expectation verses reality” comparisons that you could find basically anywhere on social media. Yes, my second picture was taken at the subway station and everyone knows that the subway isn’t going to be the cleanest and nicest places in the world, but there is no reason for it to look like that. So with the fact of the matter being that both of my pictures are from the exact same place, it is crazy how different the city could look from up close, rather then it does from far away.
Professor Sean Scanlan
English 1101 section D345
8 November 2015
Photos are precious Memories
The environment inside a photograph helps a person remember all the good times and the bad times of their lives. A photo is able to hold memories that last a lifetime and could be passed down to newer generations. These things should be cherished and are precious to people that have experienced what are in the photos. People use photos to remember when their memories start to fade after periods of time. In Jose Parla’s “Research and Memory” in the text “the place where we dwell: reading and writing about New York City” he states that “these words are time capsules, mixed documents of memory.” It means that words that are written on a wall can never be erased from the memory of the people that wrote it and it will last a long time. So, if this was reworded to talk about photos it would mean the same thing, that photos leave an imprint on people and can last a very long time and will be in peoples memories.
I took two separate photos, the first was in the high school that I recently graduated from and the second photo is from Pier 5 looking out to Manhattan. While I like the second photo of Manhattan “Pier 5”, I like the first photo “Class Full of Music” immensely because I played music in that room in the photo and had my best memories there. In Class Full of Music I went to my old high school on October 16, 2015 and visited the music department in the basement.The studium is the chairs and instruments that were in the foreground and middle ground. Also, there are four double basses and six cellos on the racks in the back near the air conditioner. Besides those instruments, there are signs near the instruments that are helpful tips for new violin, viola, cello, and bass players to help them get better with their music. The room additionally has a hardwood floor and lights every two to three square on the ceiling.
In Pier 5 I took it at pier 5 where there is a soccer field in downtown Brooklyn. There are some picnic tables with beach umbrellas just in case it rains and to the right of the tables there are circular containers that are above the ground. They use them to have BBQ’s when the weather is nice outside and to enjoy themselves. There are also buildings in the distance and the East river is the body of water in the middle ground. One of the buildings in the background is the freedom tower where nine eleven occurred. Also, there are other buildings with interesting designs and look very nice.
These photographs hold dear memories to myself because they both are of places that I spent most of my time at during high school. Class Full of Music, I took of my old school because I was visiting on a Friday, when I don’t have school. I was in the orchestra when I was in my old school, and I played cello for the symphony orchestra and the string orchestra. I never had an interest in music when I was younger and had no interest in playing instrument, until middle school when I started playing in the sixth grade. Once I was admitted into high school I wanted to be in the orchestra and continue playing because I was passionate about music. That room was where I would go to relax, practice, and socialize for most of my high school career.
Pier 5 is one I will always cherish because I would always go to the pier to play handball with my friends there. I’ve played handball for most of my life and it has been the best part of it. I have been playing handball since I was four years old and have continued since because I’ve had a goal ever since to be able to beat my father at handball. This photo reminds me that I have to keep looking forward and remember all the good and the bad times in handball. Handball will always be a part of my life and I will remember every moment of it.
These two photos hold memories of when I was in high school and I will always remember the greatest moments in those places. In Susan Sontag essay “On Photography” she wrote that “A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it-by limiting experience to a search of photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir.” This helps enforce my point because when someone takes a photo they want to be nostalgic and relieve something that was in that photo. Both of these photos are great examples of memory because they have immense sentimental value to myself. These photographs are different in many ways because they represent two different ways of life that come together to make great memories.
These photos are different for many reasons, like how one is inside a building and the other is outside where you can see the world in a different perspective. In Class Full of Music, I have fonder memories of because it was the place that I spent most of my time and made the most of it. Pier 5 is also important to me, but the first one has considerably more memories of my life. Music and handball require passion and determination, while looking at your surrounds like the second photo doesn’t require anything, but it still has a huge impact on people’s lives no matter the perspective. While one photo is about music, the other one is about sports and the open outdoor, and these two important elements help me remember who I am.
Parla, Jose. the place where we dwell: reading and writing about New York City. Dubuque: 2014. Print
Sontag, Susan. ESSAYS OF THE 1960’s & 70’s. New York: The Library of America, 2013. Print