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The Eerily Empty Eastern Seaboard

Oct 30, 2012
Originally published on October 30, 2012 10:05 am

In bracing for Sandy, the East Coast effectively shut down. For the most part, that was a good decision: We've seen an abundance of photos showing devastation brought by flooding and heavy winds — and the damage is very real. Those photos — the ones with sunken cars and high water levels — are effective because they relay the message quite literally.

But there's also the coverage that seems less literal. Media photographers expecting a major disaster Monday, for example, attempted to relay feelings of anxiety that were rippling across the East Coast.

Those living on the East Coast know how eerie it feels to see an empty New York street during rush hour. That never happens. So here are a few photos from yesterday and today that evoke that sensation of desolation.

Here's the thing: A strategically captured photo of an empty Brooklyn Bridge conjures up feelings of loss and desolation. But a photo taken a few seconds later — of runners continuing their daily routine across the bridge — conveys signs of recovery and even normalcy. Same place, same situation — but with minor adjustments to detail, entirely different meanings emerge.

As Erroll Morris puts it: "You can never see the absence of something in a photograph. And isn't there always an elephant just outside the frame? A photograph decontextulizes everything. You see this swatch of reality that has
been torn out of the fabric of the world. And the only way we can know
what we're looking at is to investigate."

So what do you think? What did you find to be the strongest imagery over the past few days? News? Your friends on Twitter?

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