11 July 2010

And now for something completely different...

Those who read the blog regularly know that I usually stick to color images. I have nothing against black and white, it's just that I usually want to show nature's splendor in its full glory or my goal is in educating the viewer as much as in producing art, and I want to reproduce what the viewer could see in the wild. Every now and then, I do come across a nature image that I feel works better in black and white.

I also tend to shoot mostly natural subjects, i.e. without the "hand of man" being obvious. But I do like to photograph human interaction with the environment when the right images present themselves.

This post then represents a relatively rare convergence for me, where I have photographed both a historical object (although intimately related to human interaction with the environment) and photographed it specifically with the idea of converting to black and white during processing.

It started this Friday with a planned trip to Great Falls National Park for sunrise.  I arrived well before civil twilight to find the gate closed to the park (and there is no parking along the entrance road).  I swear I've arrived this early to the park before and found it open, but a quick check of the park website showed the official opening time as 7am.  After a little indecision and back and forth on the entrance road, I decided I couldn't wait until potentially 7am for the gate to be opened and I headed back towards I-495 and other access points to the river.  I decided to try out Lock 10 of the C&O Canal National Historical Park which is found just downstream from the American Legion bridge (I-495).  I had never photographed there, but I've witnessed some beautiful sunrises over the river from the bridge on my way to work in the morning.  Unfortunately, by the time I drove there and found a viable route to the actual edge of the river, the sun had pretty much risen and I had missed the best light.  I spent some time photographing there anyway.  The river is wide and relatively slow at this point (at least at this water level) with lots of picturesque rocks scattered across its width.  I managed to capture one image that I was reasonably happy with.

After getting completely sweaty and eaten alive by insects, I decided to call it a day and headed back to the parking lot.  Just before the parking lot the trail crosses the canal at the remnants of Lock 10, which is the third of seven locks in just about a mile that gives this area of Maryland its name, Seven Locks.  The history of the canal and the historical artifacts along it are fascinating, but after my first trip to the canal I generally pass them by on my way to the natural splendors that line the canal and the river.  This time, however, I was drawn to the mostly intact system of wheels and gears that once operated this particular lock.  The locks in this region were drop-gate locks, rather than swing gate locks, which allowed faster operation and the use of only one operator.  I was drawn to the graphic quality of the gears and wheels used to control the gates, as well as their severely rusted and pock-marked appearance.  The entire 184.5 mile length of the canal is a testament to early engineering and humankind's quest to modify nature to their advantage.  I hope you enjoy this little photo essay from Lock 10 as much as I enjoyed creating the images.  For further information on this particular section of the canal or other sections, I found this website helpful.

Lock 10, C&O Canal, July 9 - Images by Elijah Goodwin

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