Sunday, May 24, 2009

Unnatural Photographic Angles in 9/11 Imagery

Where were the photographers standing when they took the following two images at "Ground Zero" on September 11, 2001? It would appear, given the great height of the point-of-view that they were on the second or third story of some building, shooting out a window or balcony.

The problem, however---there is no building on the North-West corner of Vesey Street and West Street. The first image is attributed to the New York City Fire Department, while the second is credited to Shannon Stapleton, a photographer working for Reuters who was very active in this quadrant of Ground Zero.

Finding images that depict the conditions at this north-west corner are rare in the record---not surprisingly so, given the action taking place on the cater-corner. But we are given some oblique views in a few high-resolution aerial shots, where it is clear, the corner holds only a parking lot:

One photographer active in this area was Anthony Correia, and his work allowed for shots with views of the north-west-corner of Vesey and West Street taken in several different directions---but at street level.

These images make clear that there was no structure that provided an elevated perch from which photographers could take such pictures. In fact, Google Maps shows us that even a block further north was only playing fields.

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It is conceivable that the Stapleton image was taken from the building at 250 Vesey Street, but I don't think so, given the unusual angle and geometry of the structure. The fire department picture looks as though it were taken from nearly dead center on the median of the extremely wide thoroughfare of West Street. If so, did they use an extension ladder truck to accomplish this feat? Is this normal in an emergency?

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