Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Archive for the ‘cityscapes’ Category

Hey Indy!

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Many people hardly look out the window when they fly, but I make it a point to request a window seat and watch the landscape below as we cruise along.

I want to know where I am an I enjoy seeing places where I once lived and/or know.

I was en route from Cleveland to Phoenix aboard a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 when the captain said we were over Muncie, Indiana.

At the time, there was a cloud cover so I couldn’t see anything. ¬†But I kept looking and soon the clouds parted and I was able to pick out Indianapolis, a city where I lived in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

That is the White River meandering just west of downtown.

Written by csanders429

June 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm

New York at Night

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I made my first and only visit to the observatory of the World Trade Center in early November 1981. I was visiting a friend who lived in the Big Apple although we had met back in Springfield, Illinois, when we both worked for the state.

We visited the WTC twice on the same day. The first visit occurred during daylight hours. I might have said something about what a nice view it would be at night.

Whatever the case, we returned that evening and I made this image. I don’t remember having a tripod. Perhaps we went back to Mark’s apartment to get one. I can’t imagine that I was traveling with a tripod.

This image was made on slide film and over the years it has badly faded. I scanned it anyway and through some Photoshop work was able to regain some of the image.

It would not only be the last time I visited the WTC it would also be the last time that I saw Mark. In fact, I can’t remember his last name or how to get in contact with him. Our last visit, though, was a memorable one.

Labor History Was Made Here

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Behind these locked gates once sat a massive General Motors complex where generations of Flint, Michigan, residents worked.

Known by many as “Chevy in the Hole,” the site is slowly being transformed into an urban park that will be known as Chevy Commons.

Work on the transformation began in March 2015 and is expected to cost nearly $2 million for its first phase.

Development of the Chevrolet Flint Manufacturing plant began in 1916 and at its peak the complex had 20 buildings of which eight were used for automotive assembly. Employment was 8,000 here and 89,000 in the Flint region.

Aside from building Chevrolet automobiles, the complex also produced engines, AC spark plugs and other automobile components.

GM began closing plants in Chevy in the Hole in 1984 and the last shift ended in 1992. Most of the buildings were demolished, the last of them being Plant 4 in 2004. The site became a vacant 13-acre brownfield.

The Chevy Commons park will be on the site where labor history was made with the start of the GM Sit-Down Strike that began in December 1936.

A marker along Chevrolet Boulevard tells the story of the strike and how it resulted in GM recognizing the United Auto Workers as the bargaining unit for GM workers in February 1937.

One surviving buildings has been donated to Kettering University, formerly the General Motors Institute while the other is still used as a GM tool and die shop.

Beauty Along the Flint River

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The Flint River water crisis was still nearly three years into the future when I made these images of the Flint River in downtown Flint, Michigan.

For years the Flint River has been one of the most polluted in the state as a result of decades of dumping industrial waste into it.

Then the waterway made national news in 2014 when Flint began drawing its drinking water from the river. News stories told of high levels of lead in the blood of children and residents were given bottled water to drink.

The top photograph shows Riverfront Center, which is now part of the University of Michigan-Flint complex along on the Flint River.

The 16-story building has academic space, student housing and banquet/conference facilities. Owned by the Upton Reinvestment Corporation, it was donated to UM in 2015.

Prior to that UM had been using the building, which houses the business school. Upton had purchased the building in 2009. It had been built in 1981 as a Hyatt Regency Hotel and soon became a landmark building in downtown Flint.

The bottom photograph shows the Garland Street-Beach Street bridge over the river in downtown. The building in the distance is the Northbank Center on the UM campus.

Do You Like Your Cities Wide, Medium or Close Up?

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Photojournalism textbooks often talk about wide angle, medium and telephoto shots. Each has its own pros and cons, but ultimately the reason for doing one or the other depends on what you are trying to show.

Shown here are three different views of essentially the same thing. I’m standing on A Mountain overlooking Tucson, Arizona.

My focal point is the city’s downtown. In sequence, the images are progressively becoming wider in scope.

By zooming out, the perspective changes as the frame becomes narrower on the focal point. It becomes a tradeoff between detail and a wider sense of place.

City of Many Bridges

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With three rivers flowing through it, it is no surprise that Pittsburgh has a lot of bridges carrying highways and railroads.

You could spend days in Pittsburgh just making images of bridges because there are that many of them. There also is a wide variety of bridge designs to be found in the Steel City.

Shown is the Smithfield Bridge in a view made from Mount Washington. It was built in 1846 and designed by John Roebling.

This bridge was the first wire rope suspension bridge over the Monongahela River to carry a highway. It is still a widely used bridge today that also is open to pedestrian traffic.

Roebling is probably best known for having designed the Brooklyn Bridge but he also designed bridges in Cincinnati and Niagara Falls.

Good Morning, Fargo

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I can count on my right hand the number of times I’ve been in Fargo, North Dakota. In all instances I was passing through Fargo on a train.

And so it was with my latest visit in May 2014. I awoke in my sleeping car compartment aboard Amtrak and became aware that the train wasn’t moving.

I pulled back the curtains on the window and spotted a train station. Yeah, that sign on the depot told me where I was.

You’ll notice the image is crooked. I could have leveled it, but wanted to preserve the outline of the window of my compartment to give the sense that I was aboard the train.

I also didn’t want to lose the early rays of the rising sun at the far left edge. That light is what I find most interesting about this image. There are some clouds in the distance over downtown Fargo that also show early morning light even if effect is not as dramatic as it is over the station.

It is that hour of the day when daylight is dawning but the night has not yet relinquished its grip. Like the twilight, this transition from darkness to light has a mystique all its own.

This would be an interestingly day. I would spend all day riding the train and capture sunrise and sunset as the train made its way toward Seattle.