Edit – it seems my information was incorrect.
I do regret to point out an error. The famous photo “Lunch attop a Skyscraper, 1932″ was not photographed by Lewis Hine. It is from Charles C. Ebbets. It is also not the Empire State Building, it is the Rockefeller Center. I read this error frequently.
Michael Ebert, university lecturer in photojournalism in Magdeburg/Germany
19 – 25 Feb
This week I decided I’d participate in the Digital Photography School‘s weekly assignment. These assignments are open to anyone, and are a great inspiration to try something new. This week the assignment called for a re-creation of a famous picture – painting or photograph. I chose a well known shot by Lewis Hine, the photographer who documented the construction of the Empire State Building in 1930-31.
He wrote in the introduction to his book Men At Work (published in 1932),
“I have toiled in many industries and associated with thousands of workers. I have brought some of them here to meet you. Some of them are heroes, all of them persons it is a privilege to know.”
My chances of rounding up eleven steelworkers to pose on girder in Ashhurst seemed slim.
So instead I opted for a group of neighbourhood kids. I gathered up hats, boxes, gloves and a paper as props and we headed for the school. I knew that there were several likely places on the playground that I could set up the shot. Billy the Kid was staying at his mate’s place for the weekend, so on the way we called in to see if he and his friend would like to join us. They didn’t really want to, but it seemed a good way to get them out of the house for a breath of fresh air. Kids in tow I arrived at the school and scouted out the perfect location – one of the confidence course beams in the Big Kid’s playground. I had my models perch on the beam with their feet dangling, gave them each a hat and arranged them similar to the original photo.
Billy declined to participate.
This is the original picture, SOOC.Exif:- F-stop f/6.3 Exp Time 1/160 sec ISO ISO-200 Focal Length 18mm
Now the fun began. I knew that in order to achieve the feel of the original I was going to have to carry out some major manipulations.
First off was a quick conversion to black and white, then a level correction to bring out those blacks. I also made a start on blurring the back ground and cropped the composition a little..
Next I used the clone tool to remove the supports under the beam, and to extend the end of the beam out the edge of the shot. I isolated the kids in the foreground and blurred the back ground some more. I also adjusted the tone of the background below and behind the subjects.
But the picture still looked too ‘new’, so lastly I added a little noise and Gaussian blur over the whole picture. I also played about with Photoshop’s Lighting Effects til I got the look I was after. A final crop to size and I’m done.
With thanks to my models Brianna, Bryleigh, Cat, Danika, Georgia and Hirini.
Gallery of shots