Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Inspirations #2

Installment number 2 in my "Inspirations" series. We're talking Wings today.

Pelican's Wing, 1931, Edward Weston

Pigeon, Ellis Island, 1984, Richard M. Coda

As I mentioned in Inspirations #1, I had started studying Edward Weston's work after graduating from college in 1982. In 1984, I was accepted into a summer Independent Study program at Montclair State College in conjunction with the National Park Service. The program lasted 6 weekends and the objective was to assist the NPS in documenting and interpreting Ellis Island prior to its first major restoration. The first part of the project, documentation, was to do whatever the NPS asked us to do for the first three weeks. We were each given an area or building to cover each weekend. We were to photograph as much as we could, develop the negatives (or slides), make prints and turn everything over to the Park Service. Our reward, the interpretation, was that we would be allowed to do whatever we wanted to photographically, the final three weekends (within safety and NPS bounds, of course). While most everyone focused their attention on architecture, I was drawn to the peeling paint patterns on the walls. I actually have a set of images that I plan to print as a portfolio of 4x5" contact prints titled "The Faces of Ellis Island". I found many anatomically correct faces and profiles in those peeling walls. I will post those in another blog entry in the near future.

One day, in search of more paint, I found a large room that had huge windows. Most of the windows had holes in them from decades of abandonment, neglect and vandalism. Pigeons, by the thousands, had found their way into the room, but many did not find their way back out – knocking themselves silly trying. They were lying everywhere. Many were too far gone to be of any use photographically, but I did find one that was still in pretty good shape. I moved it into better light and made a few photographs with my 4x5" camera. This is the best of them. Printed on the old Oriental Seagull graded paper, this image has deep blacks, brilliant whites, and steely grays all in one image.

When I saw the pigeon, the first thing I thought of was Weston's Pelican Wing. It, too, had deep blacks, brilliant white quills, and beautiful grays. I thought "here is my chance to make a Weston". I am pleased with this image... I hope you are, too.

1 comment:

memorris said...


Thanks for doing these posts. I am enjoying reading the source of your inspiration.