New Prints: The Wall South and Approaching Storm

The Wall South from the Northwest Florida Collection

Veterans Memorial Park in Pensacola is the first replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Half the size of the original monument, it was created by a group of local veterans who were inspired when The Moving Wall visited Pensacola in 1987. The foundation in charge of caring for the monument counts more than 75,000 visitors to the Wall South since it opened in 1992.

I have visited the Wall South several times over the years, alone and with other photographer friends. While I have seen several excellent photographs taken by others, including local photographer Gordon Levy, none of my own pictures ever captured the emotional response that I feel at the Wall. Then one night, I was doing some studies at the beach experimenting with using a tripod to take long exposures of surf on sand. It had gotten dark, and as I was driving across Pensacola Bay, I decided to stop off at the Wall because the helicopter that is part of the overall memorial site had been recently replaced and I wanted to check it out. It was too dark even with flash to get any decent pictures, so I used the tripod to get a (not very exciting) shot of the Huey. Then I decided to try getting some long exposures of the various small flags waving in the breeze.

Of the more than a dozen images I got that night, this was far and away my favorite. I love the abstraction of the flag as it waves, and I love that the names almost glow – an effect caused by the long exposure of the floodlit engravings. I’m also particularly fond of the way the names go slowly out of focus toward the right of the picture, which abstraction I feel represents the thousands and thousands of names that can never be captured in one single photograph.

Approaching Storm from the Pensacola Beach Collection

It took me a while to decide on a title for this photograph. Approaching Storm was in my mind from the beginning, but I had a few arguments against it. First, Approaching Winter Storm is one of Ansel Adams’s most famous images, and I didn’t want to seem like I was comparing this image to one of his. Second, I’m facing the east in this picture. It would seem that a more appropriate name would have been Receding Storm. But the truth is, the skies opened just a few minutes after I took this picture. So I feel like I’m on firm ground with the title. As for the image, I happen to like it – I’ll leave you to your opinion.

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~ by David Cupp on August 13, 2008.

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