About this work

“ Cranography®, The Original Collection”

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas

What can a photographer do with a crane? No, I am not talking about those beautiful feathered creatures gracefully flying over lakes looking for fish. Instead, I am referring to those giant man-made structures made of steel, towering over partially constructed buildings, often a symbol of human innovation and progress. Understandably, most photographers would prefer to keep these somewhat awkward structures out of their carefully composed photographs. Thus, the answer to my original question may often be: “Not much!”

Call it odd, but given the frequent presence of construction cranes in the landscape of various cities and towns, I often wondered how one could breathe life into these otherwise drab structures, and transform them into exciting objects d’art. During the day, this goal may be a bit challenging. But what if the same cranes were lit at night with multiple lights that could serve as tips of a drawing instrument, creating virtual art in the sky either by blending their lights with those of the surrounding architecture, or by going “solo” with only the dark sky serving as its canvas? You might then find yourself engaged in a different kind of photography---literally meaning drawing or painting with light---which I have named “Cranography®” (trademark registration pending). The “artist” in this case is the photographer who uses his handheld camera as a brush to create images from lights from construction cranes. Given the variability of the parked position of these cranes at night in relation to the lights from adjacent structures and/or the photographer’s position, and the imperfections of human hand movements, the images created are often unpredictable, exciting, and above all unique to that moment (too much caffeine may indeed result in a different image!). In addition, given the temporary nature of construction cranes and the aforementioned factors, many of these images cannot be recreated.

The work displayed herein is a culmination of photographing construction cranes at night in non-traditional ways for over a year. Except for occasional adjustment of contrast or cropping, no digital manipulation was performed. Feel free to browse through the entire collection. You may never look at construction cranes the same way. And if someone asks what's the best way to photograph a construction crane, just tell them “Wait till the night falls!”

Thanks for your interest.

Farrin A. Manian, MD, MPH