Wednesday, July 29, 2009

History or Junk

Last week while greeting visitors at the maritime museum, I had one gentleman ask me why the government doesn't require the removal of the old piling from the river. My first thought went something like this, "why don't people ask questions for which I have a ready answer!" After pausing for a few seconds, I explained that many of these pilings were driven down to a depth of at least twenty feet through the river's sand in order reach bed rock. I went on further to explain that given the presence of endangered salmon species in the river, the work period for such a project would be so restrict and thus quickly become cost prohibitive. He was unimpressed and returned to his original question.

As our conversation continued, I told him that as a thirty-plus year resident of coastal Oregon,
I hardly even noticed them. To me, the old pilings are as much a part of the river as the water and the rocks. I could tell that he was still unimpressed.

Finally, I explained that many of these piling date back to the 1870 and once supported one of the thirty-nine canneries that once lined the lower Columbia River. I further explained that in large measure, they were a large part of the local history and surely he was not advocating the removal of local history. At this point, he smiled and thanked me for my time.

My photo depicts how the"bones" of the Samuel Elmore Cannery appeared on a warm and hazy morning in July of 2009. The concrete structure that dominates the image once housed the oil storage tank which kept the cannery's massive boiler operating. Is it history or junk, you decide.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From The Earth - To The Moon

Like many youngsters of the 1960s, I was fascinated by anything related to the exploration of outer space. Many a youthful night was spent gazing at the stars and dreaming of the possibilities. I remember vividly President Kennedy's 1961 speech challenging the United States to land a man on the moon and to safely return him to earth. I watched the launch of every project Mercury astronaut beginning with Alan Shepard in 1961 and ending with Gordo Cooper in the spring of 1963.

The anticipation built again in early 1965 when NASA began project Gemini. Over the course of the next twenty months, man returned to space ten times accomplishing feats barley dreamed of in the early 1960s. Can you imagine the thrill astronaut Ed White experienced when he open the capsule door in June of 1965 and became the first human to float into the vastness of outer space!

Finally on July 20th 1969, man reached the surface of the moon and in a sense, the dream ended as the mission was accomplished. Unfortunately, I missed the live television coverage of the historic landing and walk; at the time I was camping with the Boy Scouts in the wilds of northern Idaho. By the end of 1972, man returned to the moon six more times but no visit was more exciting than the first!

I began college in the fall of 1972 and left the dream of outer space behind; instead I choose to pursue a career in forestry. Trust me, that's about a far from the moon as it gets. Like all good dreams, the story doesn't end there. In the fall of 1985, I visited the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. While there, I stood before a capsule from project Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo and for a moment, I was able to relive the dream!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

While riding my bike last summer, I passed a local fish cannery and my eye was drawn to their plastic storage bins wrapped in plastic. I returned later in the day and made a number of images; I found the contrasting lines interesting. As the bins had just been placed on the pier, the plastic wrap was neat and tight. I made a mental note to return following several months of weathering to see if the image would improve.

This past Monday, I rode by the cannery once again and was pleased to see that the wrap had become more interesting with several months of weathering. Since the sun barely lite the eastern sky, photography was not an option at the moment. My plan was to return later in the week at a convenient time and to document the change. Alas, I waited too long because when I returned Tuesday, the bins were gone because the cannery had commenced their summer production schedule.

The moral of the story is simple, if you see a subject that is of interest to you, jump on it now because tomorrow may be too late!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In The Land Of Shadows

As I have said before, the shadow an object cast is often more interesting to me than the thing its self. Early one sunny morning, a rare event here, I noticed the magic created by a huge tulip popular on an office wall. I was busy with another mission that day so was unable to return with the camera. Finally, on May 5th everything came together and I spent nearly an hour capturing the shadows.

Now that summer is here, the tree is fully leafed-out and the finely detailed shadows are lost. Rest assured, they will return next spring!