View Full Version : In the Shadow of the No. 7 Line

September 11th, 2005, 05:13 AM
September 11, 2005

In the Shadow of the No. 7 Line


Downtown, Flushing.

Long Island Rail Road, Hunter's Point.

5 Pointz, Long Island City.

Iron Triangle, Flushing.

Chinatown, Flushing.

69th Street, Woodside.

Sohncke Square, Woodside.

7 Train Terminal, Flushing.

61st Street, Woodside.

Fruit Vendor, Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside.

For six years, Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao has been riding the No. 7 train, the New York City subway line that connects Times Square in Manhattan to Main Street in Flushing, Queens. Looking out the windows at the densely packed ethnic communities along the six miles of elevated tracks, he has come to think of the train as a kind of river, like those along which ancient civilizations formed.

It was this vision of the train line, and his execution of this vision, that earned Liao's submission, Habitat 7, the top honor in The New York Times Magazine's second annual "Capture the Times" student photography contest. This year there were more than 200 entries from undergraduate and graduate students across the country. Liao, who was born in Taiwan, completed his master of fine arts degree at the School of Visual Arts in May.

Liao has lived along the No. 7 line in Queens since he moved to the United States in 1999. He started working on this series in 2004. To create the images in this series, Liao used a large-format camera that allowed him to photograph a relatively broad visual field while also capturing elaborate detail. But that was only the first step.

For each location, Liao took several photographs over the course of a few hours. Then, using digital editing software, he fused them into a composite panorama, usually two to three times the width of a single frame. The images appear to be documentary, but, in fact, the final landscapes incorporate details from different moments in time. Liao says he feels like a painter as he selects elements - a train passing by, a man standing by a pile of spare parts - from this or that photograph. His finished pictures convey the sense of a community in motion that extends beyond a single click of the shutter.

Liao uses this process to capture the hum of the Iron Triangle, a cluster of chop shops near Shea Stadium; the thriving street-level commerce in ethnic neighborhoods in Woodside and Flushing; and a graffiti artist adding his handiwork to the technicolor building facades in the industrial section of Long Island City. "I set out to photograph the habitat of the 7 train as I came to see it," he wrote in the statement accompanying his submission, "with a focus not on the individual but the people as a whole, as well as their relationship with their environment."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

September 11th, 2005, 12:53 PM
Great Great photos