Inscription, Miletus, Turkey, 2011
There are hundreds of broken columns among the ruins of Miletus, but this was the only one that was inscribed with a message. Although I can’t read the words, I know that someone once expressed an idea upon its stone face. The inscription reminds us that actual people lived here more than two thousand years ago. Miletus dates back to Minoan times, and later flourished under the Greeks, Persians, and Romans. Alexander the Great once walked its streets. By tilting my camera, I made the column run diagonally through the frame, adding energy to the scene. I converted the image to black and white to also make it seem timeless.
Village street, Lindos, Rhodes, Greece, 2011
Lindos is a small town of whitewashed buildings and narrow twisting streets on the Greek island of Rhodes. The historic Acropolis of Lindos, which features Greek and Roman ruins and a medieval castle, towers above it. Since I was unable to make the long and steep climb to the Acropolis, I stayed below and roamed the streets of the village instead. I found late afternoon light illuminating the textured walls running along narrow, cobblestone streets, and looked for a spot to use one of those walls diagonally within my frame. I found such a wall, and then waited for a passing person to make the scene come to life. As this man trudged past, I used his long shadow to echo the diagonal flow of both the wall and the street.
Mosaic, Pafos, Cyprus, 2011
Pafos is known for the remarkably well-preserved floors of its Roman villas, which were unearthed after 16 centuries under ground. This one, from the House of Theseus, was partially hidden by the powerful diagonal shadow cast by a viewing platform. It seems to be peering at us from out of the past, seeming both vulnerable and tentative. The detail is amazing – every tile adds meaning to the whole.
Among the ruins, Caesarea, Israel, 2011
Herod the Great built Caesarea between 25 and 13 BC. Today it lies in ruins, half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Once the largest city in Judea, its first house of worship was a Roman temple. A Christian church was built upon its ruins on the sixth century. That church, too, eventually crumbled. A white cat now climbs among its ruins, no doubt a descendant of the cats that have inhabited Caesarea since its inception. I found the cat tentatively peering over a fallen slab. I layered the image with a diagonal fallen palm branch, echoing the diagonal curve of the inquisitive cats posture. The curious cat may be seeking a meal, but I’d like to think it is also exploring a bit of its own history.
Under the Red Sea, off Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, 2011
Sharm el-Sheikh, a tourist mecca at the tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, has become a favorite spot for scuba divers and snorkelers from around the world. It is on the Red Sea, which offers stunning underwater scenery, warm, clear water, and many fish. I am not an underwater photographer, but I was able to express some of the beauty under the Red Sea by shooting through the window of a submersible tourist boat. During a half hour of shooting, I made least 400 images, and this one was my favorite, largely due to the diagonal flow of both coral and fish. I could not control my vantage point, or the behavior of the fish. I could only hope that my moving camera position, the position of passing schools of fish, and the placement of the coral landscape, might eventually form a coherent moment in time within my frame. Everything came together for me in this image – the diagonal flow of bubbles from our boat in the upper left hand corner is echoed by both the diagonal procession of variously sized fish and the diagonal thrust of green and black coral that rises from below within a frame of deep blue water. Together, they coalesce to express the beauty of the Red Sea itself.
Stalker, Lindos, Rhodes, Greece, 2011
The feral cats on this Greek island will usually follow people in the hopes of a handout. Knowing this, I waited for a group of tourists to walk through my frame, hoping that one of the many cats in the vicinity would follow along. This black cat obliged. I moved in with a 24mm wideangle lens to stress the cat, including the thrusting curb beside it. The curb, the cat, and the shadows of the tourists leaving the frame create four diagonals that pull the eye through the picture.
Ted Shawn Theatre, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Becket, Massachusetts, 2011
The paired roofs of this 620-seat theatre, built in 1942 as the first in North America constructed specifically for dance, form matching diagonals. The weather vane above them features the silhouette of a dancer, which in itself is a study in diagonal thrusts. The clouds above echo the flow of both the roof and the weather vane. I exposed for the bright areas, allowing the theatre itself to become a backlighted abstraction.
Roosevelt Dam, Roosevelt, Arizona, 2011
This dam, dedicated 100 years ago by former president Theodore Roosevelt, has created one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. It is responsible for much of Arizona’s water. I photograph it here from behind, so as to take advantage of a diagonal contrail in the sky. The contrail leads the eye from the burst of sun flare that I include at the top edge of the frame, down to the point where the dam meets the mountains on either side. The white flare and the white contrail echo the white highlights that glisten on Roosevelt Lake in the foreground. The contrail also fills what would otherwise be dead space in the cloudless sky overhead.
Colors, St. Barts, French West Indies, 2011
I was working on the wonderful colors on this building when I noticed the repeated diagonal shadows playing upon them. I walked backwards, expanding my vertical wideangle frame, to embrace the diagonal parking space line on the street, as well as to stress the diagonal slant of the hilly sidewalk. The building becomes a study of colorful geometry at work.
Contrails and wind sculpture, Downtown Civic Space Park, Phoenix, Arizona, 2010
Whenever I photograph this controversial netted sculpture by Janet Echelman, I find it strikingly different. The sun brilliantly colored the piece, intended to symbolize the winds of Arizona’s distinctive monsoon, when I photographed it last year. (See http://www.pbase.com/image/111968245
) When I visited again this year, while shooting with a tutorial student, the sun was behind a cloud, and the nets of the sculpture showed no color. Instead, I was able to gain expression from a powerful diagonal created by jet contrails in the sky behind the sculpture. These contrails dissolve in the winds of the air stream, while the sculpture itself is based on the swirling thrust of Arizona’s desert winds.
Snack Time, The Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix, Arizona, 2010
When I am photographing animals in zoos, I try to do more than just describe their appearance. I try to tell a story, and relate that story to the context of their captivity if I can. I saw this elephant enjoying the peanuts being tossed at it by zoo visitors from the top of a wall encircling her enclosure. I also noticed that there was also a thin stake in the wall next to the elephant’s head, and that stake was casting a powerful diagonal shadow on the wall, passing right through the animal’s trunk, which was constantly in motion. I shot this image just as the curling trunk pulls back to snare a flying peanut, rhythmically echoing the diagonal shadow of the stake and the diagonal slope of its forehead and open mouth. The mid day sun reflects off the wall, softly illuminating the shadowed folds of skin, and contrasting its textured color to the textured color of the wall. I cropped the image into a square format, which intensifies the diagonal flow, as well as linking the glowing curving end of a fallen tree trunk to the front leg of the elephant. My eye keeps going back to thrusting diagonal of the stake’s shadow, as well as the diagonal slope of the trunk and thrust of the open mouth. The elephant may be a captive, confined to this spare pen, yet it seems to be enjoying the pleasure of the moment.
Cactus, The Westward Ho, Phoenix, Arizona, 2009
I made this image because of the two diagonals – the slanted roof of the Westward Ho, built in 1929 as a luxury hotel, and now converted to low income senior housing, appears as a dim reflection in the window behind the cactus. Another diagonal appears as a shadow on the wall just below the cactus. The pair of diagonals echo nature’s design etched into the central cactus – the plant is ribbed with twisted diagonal furrows.