Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A dozen years ago.

On 16th August 2001, I took this photo:


I will not comment here on the varied meanings, ramifications and emotions that this photo no doubt conjures up for some people viewing it; I have thought to write such a commentary many times before and have not done it so here I am sharing the photograph and its story, a more achievable and less fraught endeavour. It is a view of one of the World Trade Center towers, taken from outside on the roof of the other tower.  This turned out to be less than a month before the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11th, 2001. I took a 360 degree series of photos, creating a complete panorama of the view from outside on the Top Of The World observation deck of the South Tower. As this was in the pre-digital camera age, for myself anyhow, these were analogue photographs. I think I got the film developed after what became known as "9/11", though it may have been a few days before, but being in the U.S.A. looking at these tourist photos in the immediate wake of the attacks, I felt that they were not photos that people would want to see any time soon and I put them away. I intended later to scan the photos and combine them to create a panorama, which, given time after the attacks, I felt it would be valuable to share. Some time later I did scan the photos and, using a quite powerful computer in a university lab, began working to put together the panorama as one photo. Perhaps software that did this automatically had already been invented in the early 2000s but it certainly wasn't easily available at the time so I was putting the photos together using layers in Adobe Photoshop, shifting them around and judging by eye to make them fit. It was slightly laborious as the computer continually crashed, unable to properly cope with combining nine photos of a relatively large size. There was also wrangling with how to stretch and adjust the photos to make the panorama fairly seamless. With many other things to be working on I may not have finished the panorama back then, I'm not sure, and later, lacking Photoshop on my own computer, I could no longer even open the file that I'd been working on. The original scans now seem to have vanished into the digital ether. Every year as the anniversary of 9/11 approached I'd think, it would be worthwhile to get around to completing that panorama of the World Trade Center and making it available. And to writing about it and everything else. But I didn't get around to doing it. So last year I decided to find an interim, actually achievable goal between "doing the thing I intended to do eleven years ago but still haven't" and "doing nothing". I used my now very-of-the-age digital camera, took a digital photo of one of the analogue photos, transferred it to my computer which is easily able to cope now with thousands of photos, and uploaded it on September 11th 2012. Later that month I created a higher quality version of it, using a scanner that ironically I had in 2001, I may have even used it for the original earlier scans. The scanner still works impressively well most of the time. But it crashed twice while I was trying to scan the remaining photos in the panorama. I wrote this blog post then, last year, except this line, but am only now posting it, with a few other words and commas edited but otherwise as it was. This one photo is what we have for now, and it is better than nothing. Here it is, to make of what you will. 


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