black and white new york 

Black and White New York is a gathering of photographs taken in New York City from the years 1931 to 1954. In all of these photographs I will look for similarities and differences in all of the photographs. I will break down the striking images and give reasons why they define nearly 3 decades of this city's history.  

Empire State Building is an amazing photograph shot in 1931 by Lewis Hine. This stunning black and white photograph depicts the work of a construction worker of the Empire State Building. The photo is exposed for the background of sprawling city leaving the steal beams that make up the building in silhouette. The use of silhouetting and composition make the viewers eye follow the steal beams and lead you straight to the man working on top of the world. This photo is a great representative of the 1930’s in New York City when the buildings were racing towards the sky.
Zito’s bakery was shot in 1937 by Berenice Abbott. This photograph shows a woman peering through the window of the bakery through a maze of bread. Technically the photo has a perfect exposure balancing the outdoor light with exposing for the woman inside the store. The black and whites have a harsh contrast giving the image a pop. The composition uses leading lines and frames within a frame to help the viewer see the woman peering out of the window. Overall the Image is a very good representation of Pre World War Two New York City.
New York was shot in 1939 by Helen Levitt. This dark and mysterious photo leaves much to question to the viewer. In the photo a hand can be seen reaching through a curtain and pointing to the left of frame. The exposure used on this photo is dark and looks to be set for the outside of the building not the inside where the subject is. The interior quickly falls off into darkness to hide any detail beyond the hand. The framing uses a frame within a frame to create visual interest and give the viewer a place to look. This photo captures the darker and more mysterious side of New York City.
This shot by Helen Levitt was taken in 1939. The photo shows a boy standing with his back against the wall in what looks to be an apartment in New York City. The boy is partially hidden in shadow but a splash of light reveals his face with an awkward smirk. The photo is composed with four vertical strips that come together to create a stripped effect. The exposure is spot on creating true shadows and highlights throughout the photo. The image shows overall shows the simplicity of life for a boy in New York City in 1939.
This shot by Helen Levitt was taken in 1940 in New York City. The photo shows a young child sitting in a stroller with an infectious smile on there face. The photo has a very high level of contrast letting the child’s face pop and be the center of attention. The Face is right on the upper third and is in a pleasing place for the viewer’s eye to rest. This photo is a look at the life of a young mother and child pre World War Two in New York City.
This shot by Helen Levitt was taken in 1940 in New York City. The photo shows three kids on the stoop of a building in New York City. The kids all seem to have masks on so presumably this was on Halloween of 1940. The photo is composed so that the three kid’s faces are centered in the frame. The exposure leaves on of the three kids in shadow but feels right, as the contrast in the image is high. This photo is a slice of life from the American life in 1940 as a family in New York.
This shot by Helen Levitt was also taken in 1940 in New York City. This Photo depicts kids playing on top of a entry way to a building. The framing sets the focus on the left of the frame using natural frames within a frame to create focus points. There are many points of interest in the photo and all are naturally aided by the architecture and contrast in the image. This high contrast photo captures a moment in history for these kids of New York City.
This shot by Helen Levitt was also taken in 1940 in New York City. This photo shows a busy street where a group of children play on the sidewalk. The beautiful photograph captures two boys carrying an open frame that perfectly encloses one boy ridding a bike. The image is busy and chaotic but is very balanced and pleasing. The busy street has highlights and shadows that make every person pop off of the page and come to life. This photo captures the liveliness and hustle of the streets of New York City in the 1940’s.
Waiting Room, Greyhound Bus Depot, New York City was shot in 1954 by Esther Bubley. This photo shows a man and woman side by side sleeping at the bus station. The Women is placed on the right third letting the man sit in the center of the frame. The man and women fall perfectly in exposure letting bright highlights in the background bloom and create separation from the two and the rest of the room. This photo captures the hard working never stopping pace of the City post World War Two.
Maria Tallchief, prima ballerina of the New York was shot by Stupakoff in 1954. This photo depicts a ballerina standing alone in shadow. The framing has the woman almost perfectly centered in the frame. The woman is silhouetted by a large splash of light that fills the background. The woman stands poised and confident as she looks down at the floor.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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