Lance Lewin  

Steps of NYC: Tension by Lance Lewin

November 2021 - Steps of NYC: Tension

About the Image(s)

Happy November! In this months featured work (part of a large series of work collected over three years in NYC, no book yet), I am trying to create "tension". At the same time we are seeing a perspective not normally visualized, or at least, not consciously.

(By all means right-click and save to see outside PSA scope, as I feel the image is too large (here) to reveal the proper perspective).

I sat for some time at the top step and waited for the right moment. My wife, Anne stood right behind me to protect me from people banging into me on their way down the stairs. Very little post-production on this digital capture.

ISO-1600 F/3.5 @35mm

This round’s discussion is now closed!
12 comments posted

Cindy Smith   Cindy Smith
Very interesting shot.   Posted: 11/01/2021 16:37:22

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Photographs of this kind are better presented within a series; that is, along with other like-compositions in a visual-documentary style. But, I present this example to examine Compositional Style: here, using dead-space to initiate wonder or tension.   Posted: 11/02/2021 16:36:04

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Hello Lance,
This is certainly a unique perspective. I note that all three figures are taking a step. The two closest each are in the middle of a step, one up and one down, which means that there is tension in the leg muscles to control their stepping. But is that the tension you are talking about--I suspect I am missing what you are aiming at. Would you be so kind as to explicate your composition of tension more?   Posted: 11/04/2021 23:28:16
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Happy Friday, Stephen, everyone! This is a wonderful question, and very happy it was asked. It is the type of question I hope to address in more depth, and similar questions about the intricacies within the Art of Photography in the new Digital Dialogue Group (Proposal) I hope is accepted by PSA administration. More about that later.

Please, see my short response on the Bulletin Board. Thank you.

Lance A. Lewin   Posted: 11/05/2021 07:20:30
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Hello again, Lance, I have just read your Bulletin Board post on this subject. Now I get it. You are talking about injecting into an image composition a depth of interpretation more commonly (to me) found in literature: contrast (not just light and dark), character, unstated purpose, symbolism, suggestion, unseen forces or actors, photographer's purpose or message (even photographer's character), statements or interpretations of history or current events, mystery, questions.
So just to start on this current image:
Who are these people and where are they going? Are then in a hurry or at leisure? Do they look at each other as they pass? One is a man and one is a woman? Did either glance at the other with appreciation, unpleasantly, inappropriately? Who is the third person, what is their gender, did they interact with the man going up on the left? Whenever there are three in an image, we must consider the Christian Holy Family or the Trinity. Since (I think) your image makes no comment, but only shows a situation, there is (I now see) an enormous tension of unexplicia (if I may coin a term).   Posted: 11/05/2021 12:00:09
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hi Stephen! Yes, Compositions of this kind can vary greatly on how it can be interpreted: but it is keen to understand sometimes the author gives background (by way of long description or simple Title) that is means to hint or otherwise sway interpretation in a certain direction.

In the featured image, (and within a special group critique format) I have chosen to just present the work as is, and only gently point to the overall feeling of "tension" as a manifest of the oddly grouped subjects and empty space.

On the other hand, the work is part of a longer/larger series of work which will (in addition to what was discussed here) reveal other narratives for viewer contemplation.

As always, you remarks are thoughtful and thorough. Thank you for participating. Thank you.   Posted: 11/11/2021 08:19:12

Steven Jungerwirth   Steven Jungerwirth
Interesting image - definitely works in B&W. I confess that upon first viewing I took it pretty literally and without much thought/interest. I appreciate that the questions you and Stephen raise make the image more interesting. I see the value of the empty space in the center. Also - the small number of subjects allows the viewer to see detail in each foot and think about each person (as opposed to a scene with 20 people on the staircase - which would have conveyed a crowded/rush-hour scene; with very different emotional impact). I appreciate that you are exposing us to unconventional images that nudge me to be more creative/thoughtful.   Posted: 11/09/2021 06:42:00
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
As always, Steve, your participation always includes a varied scope of insights, ideas and summary we can all learn from. It makes my input more meaningful when I receive responses that are always on task, or otherwise focused. Thank you!

See my extended response to our guest, Stephen for more insights.   Posted: 11/11/2021 08:23:28

Jennifer Marano   Jennifer Marano
Hi Lance,

It was interesting to view your image both before and after reading others' comments! Like Steven, I was looking at it very literally at first, thinking about coming and going and wondering how long you had to wait in New York to see so few people on the stairs. Looking back with tension in mind, the first thing that struck me was that the forward leg of the person on the left mostly hid the other leg and I felt a tension of unbalance in that person. Also, the steps struck me as small for the size of people's feet. I also felt a strong sense of movement. An interesting and thought provoking image!   Posted: 11/14/2021 09:26:01
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
....very interesting and viable interpretations, Jennifer. Thank you for these most detailed and analytical observations.

This particular location had moments when few people walked by...I believe I sat for 7-10minutes waiting while continually peering through the viewfinder: in this case, the shot is not 100% spontaneous, but it was not designed to be that way. My only input was this particular perspective, camera settings, and of course, when the ideal vision presented itself through the viewfinder.

Thank you, Jennifer.   Posted: 11/15/2021 13:53:37
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Lance, sitting 7-10 minutes peering through the viewfinder reminded me of something I just read about the recent death of fashion photographer Hiro: that when he was an apprentice at Harper's, Art Director Alexey Brodovitch told him, "If you look through the viewfinder and you see something you've seen before, don't bother to click the shutter."   Posted: 11/22/2021 23:31:17
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Good morning, Stephen!
Depending upon what the artist is trying to capture from behind the lens, (e.g. beauty, intrigue, documentary...)photographers' must search, pick and (what I like to refer to as) 'capture on a seemingly already painted canvas': from this perspective they reframe and capture the desires, vision or narratives worth revealing.

"Art is hidden in nature, and that he, who can tear her out of it, owns her". 17th century painter, Albrecht Dürer.   Posted: 11/23/2021 04:30:34