A memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment on the edge of Boston Common commemorating the first black regiment to serve in the Civil War
As a son of the South I have a particular attachment to all matters pertaining to the American Civil War or, as it was referred to when I was a child, the Late Unpleasantness. There were some other more derogatory terms used to describe the war, but that is to be expected when your side is describing its own losing effort.
All that said, I’m an American first and a Southerner second. Truth be told I’m a child of God first and everything falls somewhere well behind. But, this is a photography blog and I’m getting to my point, so let’s move on now…
In addition to being a bit of a Civil War buff, my favorite type of literature is history. I love to hear the full details of historical accounts. Those details – even if imagined but informed – help me establish context. And context is very, very important to me.
So, when I first saw this memorial in Boston many years ago, I took it for the northern equivalent of a southern staple, the Civil War veteran being honored for his service. Only after watching the movie Glory and visiting the monument for a second time did I realize that this memorial is actually very special. For the people represented in this memorial are not your typical Civil War veterans. In fact, if this memorial were a painting it’s significance would be instantly obvious. But, since the memorial is cast in bronze, it’s not so easy to notice that the soldiers on foot are black and the officer on horseback is white.
In the movie, Edward Zwick does a masterful job telling the story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-black regiment in the Civil War. Given that a central theme of the war was slavery and that Shaw was an abolitionist, the story of him training and leading a black regiment into battle is powerful. The actors portraying the black regiment (Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman among many other excellent African-American actors) only add to the visceral emotional reaction that the viewer gains knowing that these freed black men fight not only for their lives and their country but also for their race.
I still remember being emotionally wrung out after watching the movie and its powerful climax. I feel confident that you will have the same reaction if you’ve never had the privilege to watch the film. Hopefully this simple image will be the impetus for you to do so. Enjoy.
Matt Joyce of the LA Angels plays left field in front of the famous Green Monster
I have a love/hate relationship with baseball. When I was growing up, the Braves made their first appearance in the playoffs in the newly created division championship series. Baseball was still played in the daytime back then. Even playoff games were played in daylight for the most part. Atlanta was electric with its relatively new team having a chance to go to the World Series. Unfortunately, we ran into the buzzsaw that was the 1969 Mets – the Miracle Mets.
Since then, I’ve lived through some absolutely awful Braves teams. And, I’ve had the good fortune to experience thirteen straight playoff appearances and one World Series championship in 1995. Through it all, I’ve maintained a love for the game. And love the Braves as I do, there’s still something magical about day baseball in some even older ballparks – Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in particular.
So, when I realized that Taylor and I would be in Boston for a day game in May of this year, I immediately found some tickets. Fortunately, Taylor understands my obsession and wanted to go as well. What I couldn’t have anticipated was the absolutely perfect day that we would have to experience a day game at Fenway. The food was great, the weather was perfect, the home team won, and I got to take my camera into the park to record the spectacle.
Here are a few of my favorite shots from that day. I hope they bring you a fraction of the enjoyment that I had in capturing them.
A sign on the brickwork of venerable Fenway Park
The Red Sox host the Angels on a perfect late spring day at Fenway Park
Mike Napoli takes a huge swing at historic Fenway Park
The first baseman for the Boston Red Sox stretches for a thrown in a routine out against the Los Angeles Angels
A statue of Ted Williams and a young boy with cancer outside Boston’s Fenway Park
The Red Sox second baseman makes the turn at first base to begin a double play
Boys look in from center field at Fenway Park dreaming about playing baseball on that perfect surface
A statue of Samuel Adams adjacent to Boston’s Faneuil Hall
Just after school was over earlier this year, my daughter and I took a trip to Boston and New York. For each of our children I’ve taken a father/daughter or father/son trip with them after they turned sixteen. Taylor, hereinafter referred to as T-Hol, wanted to go the urban route. Her favorite place in the world is New York City. But, since she has been there a few times, she wanted to include another East Coast city in the trip. After much discussion and research we settled on Boston.
We stayed in the Back Bay and rode the T to various parts of the city. Of course, being a history freak, I wanted to walk the Freedom Trail again. T-Hol hadn’t been on it before. So, we took the better part of a day to explore Boston on foot via the Freedom Trail. It’s truly amazing to walk through America’s past and to be on the same streets that were trod by Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, Samuel Adams, and a whole host of other American patriots.
I was struck by this statue of Samuel Adams. I’m sure it’s been photographed hundreds of thousands of times, but framing the strong image of Adams against Faneuil Hall made for a very compelling image to my eye. I normally don’t like strong shadow, but for this image, the shadows seem to intensify the strength of Adams that seems to exude from his likeness. I hope you enjoy the image. And don’t miss the opportunity to connect with America’s past by walking the Freedom Trail the next time you are in Boston.
A lead reproduction of an altered Bernini sculpture of Louis XIV
I think I could have spent a full day photographing just the exterior of the Louvre. It’s an incredible architectural masterpiece and filled with statues, ponds, and all sorts of other gorgeous artwork. I had to be satisfied with a brief hour or so, though. I spent that splendid hour mostly in the courtyard looking for interesting angles to shoot the glass pyramids added by I.M. Pei in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, none of those images really came out as I had hoped. Fortunately, this image of Louis XIV on horseback did come out as I had hoped.
I used my 70-200 lens to isolate the statue against the beautiful facade of a wing of the Louvre. the overcast skies eliminated any harsh shadows. I was left with an almost monochrome image that is loaded with texture and details. I like the image very much. I hope you do too.
A pair of these lions guard one of the many structures in Beijing’s Forbidden City
Although I didn’t have a lot of time for sightseeing while in China, we did take one day to visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I honestly had no context for how grand and large the Forbidden City proved to be. It was enormous and beautiful. And, even though it was packed with people, it was still highly entertaining to visit.
The amazing thing to me is that so vast a complex was inhabited by a relative handful of people. The amount of wealth that was concentrated in one family is simply astounding. Of course the same is true of European and other royal families. Even though there is income inequality today, it doesn’t seem to compare to the vast chasm between the working class and the royal family in imperial China.
This lion is one of a pair that stands in front of one of the beautiful structures in the Forbidden City. While it proved difficult to isolate buildings from the crowds, it was a bit easier to isolate this lion. I hope it conveys a sense of the beauty of the place to you. Enjoy.