Color can occasionally distract from the core theme of a photograph. I find that a simple black and white contrast is sometimes the best way to tell a story, and that’s exactly how I prefer to view the Statute of Liberty from the Ellis Island immigration building.
I had been to New York City many times for business, including just a few days after the 9/11 attack when everything at ground zero was still smoldering…an experience I will never forget. On this trip I decided to take a ferry out to Ellis Island. As I stood in the top floor of the immigration building thinking about how many people had come through these doors in search of a better life in America, I noticed the Statue of Liberty out one of the windows. If I bent down just a bit, Lady Liberty was perfectly framed. What a sight this must have been for an immigrant waiting in line to enter the country.
I quickly grabbed my camera to capture the scene, which also included some nice shadows from the surrounding window frames. There were a number of tourists, so I dialed in the correct exposure for a silhouette and waited until everyone cleared out. I got lucky in that most did leave when the next ferry departure was announced (I was also lucky to make the departure myself after running back from staying late to nab this photo).
BLACK & WHITE POST PROCESSING
I didn’t originally envision this image as a black and white until I got home and felt distracted by all the different colors. As you can see in the color version above, the light versus dark red of the floor, the yellow railing outside, and even the green trees distract away from the main subject: Lady Liberty. I quickly switched to black and white and was much more satisfied with the effect. It’s as simple as that. Everything else is straight out of the camera with a slight crop. Here’s the image again in B&W:
I hope you get to enjoy the tour at Ellis Island some time and take a peek out this window at the greatest symbol of freedom in the world. Don’t forget to view the plaque at the base of the Statue which reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
PS -> Notice how the images above were all taken with a camera + lens combo totaling less than $500. Many more of my favorites came from a Canon Powershot S100…proof that the best camera is the one you have with you!