the commons

January 15, 2010 boston, diario/journal

1st entry – boston 2010

Boston 012It was late afternoon and grey only as New England can be grey in winter. I’m slowly beginning to learn how to shoot in this light and some of the images I got, I like very much. Also processing them through Photoshop can alter them enough to compensate for the grey and the diminished light.

My goal in walking the Common was to shoot the Augustus Saint-Gaudens relief – The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial – commemorating Shaw and the Afro-American 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Saint-Gaudens is one of my favorite sculptors. (The other piece I’m determined to shoot is the Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC.) I shot the relief with little light remaining and yet I think the image works.


Boston 009I walked through Boston Common with Ryan Oliver. The area is a great place full of people – students, street performers, policemen on horses and workers heading home. The Common is dotted with great statuary and they were fun to shoot in the dying light. The last time I was here must have been some thirty years ago and never in winter.

The second pic is of Mr. Oliver walking towards the Massachusetts’ State House. (I had to get stern with Mr. Oliver who wanted to turn and mug while I shot.) I’m using the pic to place the Shaw Memorial. (Sorry Mr. Oliver.) The back of the monument is on the left hand side, in the middle of the pic. It sits across the street from the State House facing the golden dome.

Oliver had lived in Boston for a good six years so it was great to have him guide through the city. Boston is more like New York than it is like any other city I know. However, it doesn’t have the oppressive feeling of NYC.

I always think of Boston as America’s Jerusalem – the Golgotha where England was killed and a new nation resurrected.


January 16, 2010 boston, diario/journal

2nd entry – boston 2010

Museum 0109

The first time I ever shot in a museum was last fall in Portland. That experience was interesting mainly because I ended up using the wide-angle lens and focusing on items I could shoot with the flash. And by getting real close, the lens gave me some great pictures. (I keep forgetting the adage – walk to the subject, don’t zoom it.) On Saturday, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into the Boston Fine Arts with my camera. This time I mounted the 18-200mm – f/3.5 not sure what the results would be. This is my work-horse lens. What I didn’t expect was a well-lit environment. Can you imagine, it never occurred to me that objects in a museum would be well-lit. Once I figured that out, I shot everything I liked.


The image on the left is probably my favorite. It’s my ‘Antonioni’ picture. I’m referring to the poster for the film BLOW-UP, Antonioni’s first English language movie, released in 1966. I may not be straddling super-model Veruschka, but the image is as close as I’ll ever get to the iconic pose on the famous poster.

What you’re looking at is a reflection. I am shooting the image in the mirror. The mirror is the base of the display – Endless. The bottles above the mirror are the actual display. The black swirls are in the wall paper I’m kneeling in front of.

with mac

January 16, 2010 boston, diario/journal

3rd entry – boston 2010

Boston 078After the cemetery Mac and I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. All the time I visited Mac in Boston when he was in grad-school, we never went to the museum. Forty years later we head to The Fenway. The museum is undergoing a huge renovation almost doubling its size. In the process it is surrounded by fencing. The sculpture, with its green patina, is in front of the museum’s original entrance, now re-opened to the public.

I’m using this image of the Indian pleading to heaven, because to me it has some of the same sentiments as The Shaw Memorial of the Afro-American Volunteer Infantry in the Common. I find it strange that prominent in this first of American cities are two pieces – one to the conquered and one the oppressed. After all, it was the colonist who took the land from the people they found in the new world and in ’67 Boston was the site of some of the most violent race riots of the era. Yes, Massachusetts is one of the most politically liberal of states, but I never think of it as progressive towards its people.

I will add pictures of the museum in the Additional Pages on the places text-section of the webpage.

the cemetery

January 16, 2010 boston, diario/journal

4th entry – boston 2010

ForestHills 032Saturday morning, Mac and I went first to Forest Hills Cemetery and then to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts .

Forest Hills, chartered in 1848, is among the first ‘park-cemeteries or rural-cemeteries’ in the nation. (Allegheny Cemetery, opened in 1845.) The entrance is Victorian and massive. What I really liked is the bell-tower. In the pic, it’s on the left in the background. It’s a functioning bell-tower and tolls the hours. I haven’t found any other cemetery with a working bell-tower. The picture composition was serendipitous, the car drove through as I was shooting. And I must have shot at the right time to capture the car without any streaking.

I will add pictures of Forest Hills in the Additional Pages on the cemetery text-section of the webpage.

and the south end

January 16, 2010 boston, diario/journal

last entries – boston 2010

The pic on the right is taken from my window at the Clarendon Square Inn, a B&B that I stayed at.

Boston 026

The neighborhood is full of Second Empire houses, old brick five-story structures with mansard roofs that have been reclaimed and made beautiful again. The B&B is located in Boston’s South End. I had a room on the 5th floor and from my window I could see the high-rises of downtown Boston. The South End reminded me a lot of New York’s East Side.

We have little Second Empire housing in Pittsburgh. One of the owners of the B&B was surprised to know that the Western Pennsylvania region has more Arts and Crafts housing than French influenced architecture. (My neighbors across the street have a mansard roof on the third story.) Pittsburgh, the original gateway to the west, is European in character but American in architecture. The European, upper-class look isn’t here, but Frank Lloyd Wright and H.H. Richardson have left great legacies.