From the Back-Window, 291
Alfred Steiglitz's "From the Back-Window, 291" was taken in 1915 from the window of a gallery of his in New York. At first glance the photograph seems like an average cityscape picture, but when dissected there are many aspects that play a role in its impression on others.
The shot was taken at night, however, I feel that this is not the only reason the picture has a somewhat gloomy feel. Little light is seen besides the light coming from buildings, almost as if there is no sky. The darker exposure also presents a somber expression. The buildings in the foreground also have a similar, somber and rather diminished, presence due to the fact that they are much darker than the bigger buildings in the background. It is as if the smaller buildings are dwelling in the shadows of the dominant large structures, cast aside and forgotten. Although the material of the structures, both in foreground and background, is dark the windows are quite bright, as well as the door midway down on the right. This could be interpreted as life within these buildings.
The viewpoint of the camera also has an impact on the "feel" of this image. The buildings in the background are higher than the camera which gives them a dominant presence while the closer smaller buildings are mostly lower than the camera. This high viewpoint diminishes the buildings in the foreground. In addition, the camera is not facing these buildings head on which creates diagonal lines with the rooftops and edges of these structures. These diagonal lines give a sense of movement although we know these erections are firmly planted. The use of vertical and horizontal lines should also be noted. In my opinion vertical lines are much more visible in the larger structures that occupy the background. Having these lines more visible add to their stable and dominant appearance. Vertical lines are much more difficult to identify in the foreground...
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