If my job as a photographer is to report not just what it looks like, but what it feels like, then let me start at the beginning. Spring, Western Ireland, County Mayo, the sheep had given birth just a short time before we arrived and the weather was predictably chilly, damp, and variable. It might be bright blue skies at 7am only to turn to heavy clouds and rain an hour later.
On our first day we traveled from Ennis, a small town just north of the Shannon Airport, to our home-away-from-home in County Mayo, just outside of Westport. I was traveling with three other photographers from southern California and our guide the venerable Cormak (Connie, or just Conn) Cullen. Connie would tell us, in his lilting Irish brogue, to just ask to stop if we saw a scene we wanted to stop and photograph. It was all new to us. It was all green to us.
On the side of the road we saw our first, of many, ruin sites. An abandoned stone house, now used as open grazing land for the sheep and cattle. This is the beginning of how Western Ireland felt.
The Prado, a wide pedestrian walkway which leads from Havana Central to the Malecón, is always busy with people talking and playing. Down each side runs the one-way traffic of the busy Paseo de Marti. Lining the street are grand Spanish-colonial style 4 story buildings which are used as shops, churches, schools, and family apartments. Most of these buildings have ornate balconies onto which spills the everyday lives of the residents of Havana.
Upstairs, Downstairs by I Nancy, on Flickr
When I saw this situation, I was reminded of one Alfred Steiglitz’s famous photograph The Steerage. Steiglitz, in his photograph, perfectly juxtaposes Jewish men in full morning prayer on the lower, steerage, deck of a ship against the more casual crowds in bowlers and straw hats above.
In this scene, I was able to use the lights and hand railings in the bottom part of the image to draw the viewer all the way through and into the scene. With the woman rushing up the ramp set back as well. The upstairs scene needed to take care of itself, as I was concentrated on the woman below and her positioning against to get her lit within the tunnel. I like the man on the left, his face full visible between the bars, and I think he brings a sense of order and meaning to the top image.
The image is divided by the dramatically stylized art-deco STATION sign that is so characteristic of Los Angeles Union Station. Travelers familiar with Union Station will recognize this sign immediately.
As are typical of islands, even though these islands are in close proximity to each other, each has a unique habitat and feel. I visited Anacapa Island, the smallest in the chain. All five islands are “cliff” islands (think Alcatraz) and have few (if any) natural predators to the species on the island. On Anacapa this time of year, during the brief precipice between the barely wet spring and the dry dry summer, the island is covered in a red flowering succulent commonly known in southern California as “ice plant” and a huge colony of mating and nesting Western Gulls.
From the looks of the island, we were just a couple weeks late for some of the other blooming flowers. It has been an extremely short spring this year in So Cal.
This image is my first installment. I will be posting several over the next days/weeks.