World War II destroyer
Charlestown Navy Yard
From a workshop series exploring the photography of spring light, thru the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, May 16, 2009
To return to reality: yesterday’s Spring Light Photographic Workshop explored the waterfront from the Charlestown Navy Yard to the mouth of the Charles River, the last part of the journey at night. A ferry from Long Wharf at 4:30 PM, 10 minutes later we’re at the Navy Yard (this a suggestion from Frank). Wander around there for one hour, with the idea of the old esthetics—frame, detail, thing, time, vantage point—as given by John Szarkowski. Walk together toward the river, the Zakim bridge (how is Zakim pronounced?). First stop at the rotten dock behind the once sugar warehouse maybe to be an expanded USS Constitution Museum and all photograph the same thing, more or less. This group loves having fun together, all were game to hop the fence and possibly commit trespass.
Walk under the Charlestown bridge on our way to the Charlestown locks and dam over the Charles river, first pausing at a large marina that neither Frank nor I had anticipated. I remember photographing here years ago before the renovations, the new constructions. (I wonder if I can ever find those photos.) Now my eyesight began to deteriorate: a migraine, or is it merely the aura? We performed the 4 directions awareness exercise, a creation of mine as far as I’m aware—face one of the cardinal directions, west, the sun setting, and gaze from ground to zenith, carefully, noting light, shapes, movement, objects, shadows, etc. Then rotate 90 degrees to do this again, south, east, north. And finally, based on those observations, find something to photograph. I forgot to add here, and try to use a method of strategy, how will you make the photo? Use the steps I’d suggested if you wish, but use some steps. Think about what you’re doing.
Let’s meet at the other side of the locks, walking across them, meeting at the now abandoned ferry terminal. On this leg of the junket let’s work on meta photography: symbol, metaphor, synecdoche, and subliminal suggestion (as in phallic symbol). I know this will be hard, but it is vital to understand for good photos.
And we concluded, after watching numerous boats pass thru the locks, the light waning, with nearly 1 hour of free time, meeting at the McDonalds inside North Station. When I found them, slumped against the wall, cheerily chatting together, looking extremely fatigued (I could have collapsed, my legs so weary), some of them munching on burgers or dogs, I had to chuckle, bring out my camera on a tripod (I’d been happily and crazily photographing in the dark),and make a group portrait. As I’d done at the Navy Yard, surprising them from behind after I’d photographed the Commandant’s House (where I’d discovered a robin’s nest with two pink eggs, mother flying off at my approach), to make the first group portrait of the season.
This is a jolly group, very talented, committed, one of the best. As always it will be hard to say goodbye.