Street Photography: Radio City

In yesterday’s post, I described how I issued a photo challenge to myself to create images of familiar and iconic structures in a fresh way. To do so, I decided to look up for small architectural details that might otherwise go unnoticed. The metal grating above the stage entrances of Radio City Music Hall along 51st Street feature, quite appropriately, the symbols of theater: the masks representing comedy (yesterday’s image) and tragedy (above). These masks of drama trace their origins to Ancient Greece.

The tricky thing with this challenge is not just looking critically to find these obscure details. It can be a test of one’s patience to get the shot to begin with. The camera I use for street photography has a limited zoom range. So it’s difficult to get a close-up of the mask unlike, say, the underside of the sconce at Macy’s. I zoomed as close as I could to the mask and then cropped away the excess afterwards.

The other issue is the effect of parallax. Pointing the lens upward at an angle results in the bottom of the mask appearing wider than the top of the mask. During post-processing, I was able to make adjustments to account for this optical distortion. But the result is not perfect though if I chose to invest the time, I could probably have achieved a straighter result.

In any event, straight-edged perfection is not what I was after. It’s about getting an intimate look at a small detail that resides in relative anonymity above the heads of most New Yorkers and tourists. One of the world’s most famous theaters is at once a visual icon and a complete stranger.

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Published by Xiomáro

Nationally exhibited artist, photographer, speaker, teacher, and curator. Author of "Weir Farm National Historic Site" (Arcadia Publishing).

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