I like to show the story of New York vs. Nature, so I always carry a camera. I shot this with my Pentax K-1000 using a Pentax-A 50mm f2 lens and Ilford Ortho Plus film. The orthochromatic film is blue- and green-light sensitive, making it ideal for nature scenes.
There weren’t many places to go for some fresh air in New York City during the beginning of the pandemic. I was sitting in St. Nicholas Park reading a book called Horror in Architecture when I looked up to see a scene straight out of its pages. The text argues that horror is a facet of the sublime, and like the Romantics’ awe of nature, man-made structures invoke the same sensation. We shudder when we’re dwarfed by our surroundings, regardless of who made them.
The man in the photograph is miniscule compared to the trees and the stone wall. Indifferent to his existence, Nature and Structure compete, and the ivy climbing skyward hints at who will win. It’s easy to feel small on this planet, especially now. But the man’s lowered mask suggests he feels safe here. He’s found a place to relax in the midst of a crisis.