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Friday, 1 July 2011

Dorothea Lange: San Francisco, seen from the Bay Bridge, July 1955


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Dorothea Lange: San Francisco, seen from the Bay Bridge, 18 July 1955 (Dorothea Lange Archive, Oakland Museum of California)

6 comments:

curtisroberts said...

I love the way you've arranged these quiet July shots, which summon up all sorts of thoughts and interpretations of the scene and the event of shooting it. I think about how I (both of us, actually) were alive and somewhere else when Lange was photographing this, that Lange was actually seeing colors while she was photographing it in black and white, and wondering whether Lange was alone or had a companion when she was capturing this, whether she was silent or in conversation. When we lived in Brooklyn Heights, we used to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Chinatown in nice weather. When we were on our way to a government hotel
in Wuhan, China to adopt Jane, I recall the minibus trip across a very long bridge that apparently was an engineering/architectural marvel and the racing, unarticulated thoughts I had looking out at the water. Crossing bridges and looking at bridges is the best. This is splendid.

TC said...

Curtis,

My guess would be that she took these shots as a passenger in a car moving westbound on the bridge. She and her husband, Paul Taylor, a UC economics professor, were living in Berkeley; perhaps Paul was driving the car. Still there remains the logistical question of having to space the shots in the intervals between passages of the bridge structure. I think her object was to capture that luminous sheen of light on the water. The remarkable ageing of the photonegatives into that faint and somewhat eerie pink tonality lends the pictures a dimension which she probably never intended (or for that matter even imagined). A case perhaps of happy unintended consequences? The pink glow by the way also tints the adjacent negatives in her abundant archival file. As, for example, this equally unemphatic and restrained image of a man in a beanery in Oakland, taken, I think, at that same time, or thereabouts.

curtisroberts said...

The diner shot is just great. Thank you for filling in the direction information about Lange's bridge crossing series. I was trying to figure that out in the early morning haze and came up against my own early morning haze. I expect you're correct about what Lange was trying to capture, but the evocative nature of images without words takes you many places.

TC said...

Curtis,

You can say that again.

(Often your morning haze is a good deal sharper than my morning clarity, such as it is.)

VINCENT FARNSWORTH said...

Speaking of luminous, I have been advised the lily is not a Tiger Lily but a Day Lily, given it has not spots, and so-called I think because it closes every night.

Spent poetry reading weekend at Bernadette Mayer's, Tom you were well mentioned.

TC said...

To have no spots and close by night, even just the once -- my sole remaining desiderata -- said the incredible shrinking tiger lily.