In 1981 I encountered this photographer who was working on the busy streets of Chelsea, Massachusetts, shooting and processing his photographs on the spot. His camera appeared to be home-made — fashioned from a sturdy equipment case. The simple lens was triggered with an air release, exposing a small sheet of positive-exposure photographic paper mounted in the box. A negative was not required. Also in the box were a couple of tiny trays containing print-processing chemicals. He reached through a port in the back of the camera to swish the exposed print in the chemistry. The paper sign on the front of the camera reads, “30¢ A photo, Frames 5¢ Each, Finished in 4 Minutes While U Wait.” I regret that I did not pose for a photo myself. I do recall seeing a young couple pose happily in front of a brick wall on this side street, returning a short time later to pick up their photo. A worthy memory in these days of digital everything, don’t you agree?
As tonight’s six inch storm was winding down I walked the nearly empty Main Street of Wakefield looking for photographs. Imagine my surprise when a snow plow disguised as an alien spacecraft passed me by. A police office pulled over, rolled down his window, and showed off a great photo of he had just taken with his phone of a home decorated in a pretty Christmas display. He said that he would later remove the utility wires in Photoshop. No mention of the spacecraft. A few minutes later a fellow approached me to show off the photos he had just taken with his phone. He was dispatching them immediately to friends at home in Turkey. I also admired some images he had made a week earlier in Bermuda. A plow driver waved hello and suggested that I not stand in the middle of the street. Another terrific hour in the snow.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of flying over Toms River, New Jersey, where I had been retained to photograph a bridge on the Garden State Parkway. My client builds temporary bridges to support emergency or planned construction of highway sections. Recently, I’ve photographed bridges on Martha’s Vineyard, the Merrimack River, and The Connecticut River. After shooting the bridge from the ground, I went to a local airport where I had arranged a private flight with an instructor and a Cessna 172, single-engine, top-wing airplane. I was impressed that my pilot Tom asked if I wanted the left or the right seat. He observed that since most people have a preference to turn one way or the other, that photographers he’s flown with have a preference for left or right. No planes were queued up at 2 PM so we headed straight for the runway and took off. We flew east over some of New Jersey’s vast Pine Barrens, and in the distance saw Lakehurst, NJ, the town made famous by the Hindenberg disaster. Atlantic City was visible about 30 miles away to the south. The Toms River section of the Garden State Parkway has multiple construction sites and from 1500 feet they all look similar. Had I not visited my client’s job site earlier in the day, finding the right spot would have been challenging. Finally I spotted the right cluster of trucks and heavy equipment. Tom dropped the airspeed down to about 125 and I opened up the top-hinged window on my left. Before the flight Tom removed a small restraining arm from the window so that it would open far enough to give full clearance for my camera. I ensured that I had a good grip on the Nikon D7100 and its strap before I pointed the wide-angle zoom toward the ground. As the pilot banked the plane to the left, making small right circles around the site below, I was perfectly positioned to get the shots I needed. I took care not to stick the lens beyond the edge of the window frame where the strong winds would buffet the camera and blur the shots. Based on prior experience I set my shutter speeds between 500th and 1200th of a second. I took care not to rest my elbows or any part of my arms on the plane’s door—which would transmit the intense vibration of the plane into the camera. I punched off a 100 or so frames with an 18-50mm lens, bracketing shutter speeds throughout. I was confident that the even light of mid-day would not pose a challenge for the camera’s advanced metering system. After a few loops around “the target” with the short lens I switched to a 70-300. I’d considered taking a 70-200 but in the end opted for the lens with the shorter overall length. In hindsight, the heavier lens might have been easier to hold steady. Real aerial photographers sometimes use gyroscopic-balanced systems for stabilizing the camera. I had to…
On the morning of August 16, 1978 I took the subway from Manhattan to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to visit and photograph my friend Myra’s public school classroom. A few blocks from the school I stumbled upon the scene of this fire, now under the control of firefighters. I was able to walk into a gaping hole in the front of the building to make this photograph with my twin-lens Rolleiflex.
Fishing boat on the lift at Gloucester Marine Railways. Oldest continuously used shipyard in America
Today I was drawn to the light. shapes, and color at Cynthia Curtis Pottery in Rockport, MA on Cape Ann.
The first photographs I ever made, with my Dad’s guidance, were of tugboats and barges moored at piers along the Manhattan side of the East River in New York. I loved the deep rumbling sound of their diesel engines and most of all, the piercing “toot” of the tugboat whistles. I watched as teams of powerful tugs nudged huge vessels into piers on the Manhattan and Brooklyn shores and wondered what it would be like to take a trip on a tug.
It was a perfect cloudy day for roaming the Gloucester Marine Railways on Rocky Neck in Gloucester looking for patterns, textures, and shapes. Here is the oldest continuously operating shipyard in the USA, and to my eyes it is full of character and life.
Three giant wind turbines are being erected in Gloucester, MA. Reaching 492 freet from the tower base to the top of the rotor, the turbines will be among the highest in the Northeast. Two turbines will power public buildings in the city of Gloucester, which is expected to save at least $11 million in electricity bills over the next 25 years.