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Airplane Thoughts

Manhattan

Today my airplane pulled up at the last moment, circled the city and then landed. The pilot didn’t explain why — congestion — until we’d flown over Manhattan and the Bronx to the George Washington Bridge. The city was golden. Many of the passengers were vocally distressed, and a few made references to jihadists. That they considered this a more likely explanation than a traffic jam at LaGuardia was disturbing.

On the taxi home I read the Wall Street Journal: on the cover, a national map of home foreclosure rates. It looked blotched and unhealthy. Outside, in the streets of Queens and Brooklyn, spring was arriving. Winds on brown trees, high sun on tired brown buildings. Outside my apartment a middle-aged Caribbean dude sauntered by, singing about Bush and Cheney leaving office, as I searched for my keys. He wasn’t a hipster. From a Republican perspective, this cannot be a good sign.

I temped briefly as a photo producer at the Christian Science Monitor during the fall of 1999. I made photographs look realer: shadow here, light there, subtle shifts in emphasis and accent. The point is to make an image appear as it would in your mind’s eye. The more correction required, the more interpretation demanded. Artificially lit shots are especially tricky. Skin tone requires special attention. I ended up spending lots of time making the Presidential candidates and their people look … like people.

The photo editor and I never quite saw eye-to-eye: should an image look good, or should it look real? Perhaps we had different definitions.

: Image

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