Griffin, Castle Hill, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 2009
I moved in on the head of this statue to stress the raindrops that cover its surface. Although fearsome in its demeanor, the huge beast seems to be weeping here. It is one of two statues that flank the back entrance of a mansion once belonging to the Crane Plumbing family.
Joan of Arc, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 2009
Sculpted by Anna Hyatt Huntington, this statue was presented to Gloucester by the French government. It stands on a traffic island in downtown Gloucester, surrounded by parked cars and utility poles. I used a 400mm telephoto focal length to zoom in on the upper portion of the statue, using a mass of trees as a natural background, and revealing the sheet of rain that was falling at the moment. Joan of Arc, her sword raised over her head, seems to be looking into the curtain of rain, as if to dare it to fight. The wet bronze adds surface texture that enhances her armor and the muscles in the head and neck of her horse.
At rest, Jacksonville, Oregon, 2009
The 32 acre Jacksonville Cemetery is a Victorian treasure, its gravestones often echoing the sadness of untimely deaths. I was drawn to the shining star and open gate on Myra Simpkins’ stone, which also notes that her “bridal song and burial hymn were sung in one short year.” Her stone was brighter than the others around it, which fade here into the darkness of time itself.
Grief, Jacksonville, Oregon, 2009
Still another gravesite in Jacksonville’s old cemetery featured a classic Victorian angel, kneeling in prayer upon a draped column. It marked the graves of three children, all of them dead within a year or so. To intensify the expression of grief, I photograph it in dappled light. The shadows abstract the scene, adding a mournful mood.
The angel, Bisbee, Arizona, 2009
A bronze angel, its wings and arms spread wide, rises out of the trees on one of the many hills that shore up the old mining town of Bisbee. The sculptor has the angel looking down, possibly to locate its potential customers. I was drawn to the colors and textures of both the bronze and the trees – they seem to feed on each other here. The trees provide energy for the angel, and the angel enjoys the protection they afford her.
World War I Memorial, Kingman, Arizona, 2009
This bronze statue stands before the Mohave County Courthouse, which was built in 1914. The statue commemorates the Kingman soldiers who died in a war that was being fought across the seas just as the building was dedicated. Two bronze figures stand upon the memorial. At the moment I made this image, one of the figures was in the morning light, while the other was in deep shadow. I built my image around the light that plays on the front of the soldier as he rushes towards his objective, his mouth open and his hand about to launch a grenade. I place the column of the courthouse directly behind his upraised arm, as if by his heroic actions, he is preserving his country’s traditions and institutions.
The nature of war, American Legion Post, Kingman, Arizona, 2009
This image of a World War I soldier with bayonet at the ready, was painted on the cinder block wall of the American Legion Post’s building, along with figures of soldiers from other wars. I moved in on the figure, and echoed it's “L” shaped form by comparing it to the “L” shaped form of the wall itself, and the softly focused steps beyond. I remove all traces of color by converting the image to black and white, abstracting the soldier and the steps and stressing instead the play of light on the roughly textured wall that now divides the image. Both walls and wars divide us, and I use the rough, stark nature of this wall as a symbol of the nature of war – a painful, divisive and costly barrier. A memorial tribute to soldiers of the past becomes, through my own lens, an image questioning the validity of war itself as a means for settling our differences.
Pioneer Cemetery, Congress, Arizona, 2009
Joseph Vietti’s gravestone is probably taller than he was at the time of his death in 1897. He was, as the stone tell us, “aged 2 years, 10 mo, 13 days.” The stone is a poignant sight in this out of the way cemetery, hard by a dusty track known as “Ghostown Road.” I moved my vantage point so that life and death are juxtaposed – the stone is propped in front of a an old Saguaro cactus, and a thorny plant embraces it from the front. I abstract the image by converting it to a sepia toned black and white image, very much in the style of the time when Joseph Vietti was briefly alive. He is not forgotten – a candle in a small glass can be seen at the base of the stone, no doubt left by someone to mark the 112th anniversary of his death just the day before I made this image.
Façade, New York City, New York, 2009
The sharply focused trees provide a layer of symbolic reality to the softly focused ornamental façade in the background. By placing the façade, with its reflective windows and its decorative classical statue in soft focus, I suggest a dream like memory of New York’s past. The bare trees imply the inexorable march of seasons that stretch into years – years that bring constant change to the city, yet that past still somehow endures.
The Martyrs, Sousse, Tunisia, 2008
A monument to those who died fighting against the French for Tunisian independence stands at the gate to the medina of Sousse. It is grouping of rough-hewn figures, one of which is slumped in the arm of his fellow patriots. It is best-seen and photographed in early morning light, which casts deep shadows, bringing out the figures in relief, and casting the background into the shadows. The golden color is in keeping with the heroic nature of the sculpture. Symbolically, the shadows come to represent the darkness of
Tunisia’s colonial past, while the sunlight represents its independent future.
Statue of the poet, Tozeur, Tunisia, 2008
A string of flags leads to the statue of Tunisian poet Abu Kassim Chebbi. I photographed in this statue in backlight, and played it against a cloudscape in the background. It is difficult to make an image of poetry, yet I feel that this photograph expresses a poetic feeling of its own. The abstracted figure of Chebbi and the beautiful pattern of the late afternoon clouds seem to fit each other well.
Wind Vane, Old State Capitol, Phoenix, Arizona, 2008
The Old State Capitol opened in 1901, impressively demonstrating that the Arizona Territory was ready for statehood. When Arizona entered the union in 1912, this imposing building housed all branches of its government. The structure is topped with a copper dome, and at its pinnacle is a skylight that illuminates the rotunda below it. At the very top of the dome, a huge wind vane rotates in the form of a sculpted stone “winged victory.” Mounted on the center of skylight, the wind vane can be dimly seen through the glass from three stories below. I use my 400mm telephoto to enlarge detail, and make the huge statue seem larger than life. I frame the sculpture with the diagonal steel arms that hold the dome and skylight together. Those arms echo the outstretched arm of the statue itself. Very few visitors to the old capitol see this sight, since few bring long lenses or binoculars with them. This image does what any good travel picture should do – offering viewers an insight into its subject that they might never be able to experience for themselves.