Contrast of war - Michael Blankenship

Wartime black and white photography.  Emotions are captured well in black and white, and these photos are no exception.  In the bleakest of times when grief is overwhelming the somber photos can still be a positive reminder; we made it through this.  These photos should also ward us from returning and devolving to these extremes.Is this art? What is the photo of and what was the photographer trying to show or tell the viewer? I ask you to look beyond the photo, think of the statements being made. I feel they stand on their own as pieces of art.

The full title of this picture is "President Lincoln United States headquarters, army of the potomac, near Antietam." This photo is taken shortly after a victory against Robert E Lee. The emphasis is placed on President Lincoln here in the center. The centralizing tent seems to be causing a focus on the height of Lincoln. The differing postures add context as Lincoln seems more noble and ridged and the others appear to be relying on his energy.
In this photo we have a rare look into the Gettysburg battle aftermath. The death is still fresh on the field and you can see a man on the horse in the mist in the background, a contrast of life over an overwhelming scene of death. The photo leaves empty negative space above to help draw the eyes down and towards the front.
This photo is a precursor to the first photo in the series. Here Lincoln appears to be encouraging the troops. His tall figure stands turned away from the camera, unlike the repeating line of the troops. The light color of the tents allows the soldiers to really stand out. You can see movement in the photo to the right as someone not quite in frame wasn't standing still enough for the photo.
Here we have Ulysses S. Grant standing outside of a battlefield tent. Grant is leaning relaxed opposite of an empty chair. By standing next to a chair in the photo, he makes me feel like he is ready to go. Centering the image is a tall and straight tree, this long vertical line seems to be adding to his stature. His dark clothing pops against the smooth light colors of the tent canvas.
Admiral David Dixon Porter leans against a canon on his ship. You can see other crew members continuing on their duties as he poses for this photo. The lines around formed by taught ropes and poles frame him nicely. The lines of the deck seem to cause a vanishing point over his back, if this was intentional it seems to cause you to focus on all that is behind him, as if to say this is all mine. He owns it well with his relaxed pose, almost a Capitan Morgan stance.
This photo is has the wrong title, It should be listed as Fort Totten. In this photo we see soldiers in full prepared defense. There is a long line of repeating canons pointing away from the troops. Most soldiers appear motionless, however a few have bent knees and look like they are leaning forward causing us to see the movement and next action they may have taken. Overall there is a really powerful feel here with the size of the canons and the amount of soldiers.
In this photo we have the famous Tuskegee Airmen receiving instruction, presumably for the next mission. Huddled around the map with intense and serious faces on. Space is cramped, and color plays a significant role here in integration. Lighting is key in this photo which seems to be coming from the foreground out of frame to the left. This lighting really adds to the contrast and definition of the photo. You can see everything in fine detail.
This photo is of troops leaving to France for war. The bleak surroundings mirror the flood of troops. Once thing stands out in contrast to the surroundings, opposite the line of troops is a woman standing over watching. See seems to be longing for a last look at a missed love one. The movement seems to drag reluctantly from left to right as they vanish on the horizon.
This photo shows a Cyclist soldier pair. The soldiers are centered nicely and shows them in a ready state. The practiced pair seems to be showing how it is done since there is barely anything around. The long repeating lines in the dirt that disappear off to the right seem to add to photo, and aid with the assumed movement of the bike.
This is a more recent photo of troops in flight preparing their minds for a jump. The soldiers are lined up and disappear into the darkness as the light from the camera flash only washes over the first few troops. The somber look in the first soldiers face tells of his thoughts. The downward turn of the line of his lips suggests the more serious nature of the moment. The extreme contrast here almost captures how cold it feels here.
Credits: All media
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