As Americans celebrate the 4th of July, I thought I would share some old photographs of the Statue of Liberty. Well over a century after its inauguration in October 1886, the colossus continues to shine — a symbol of freedom and hope, not only for Americans but for the rest of humanity. I am including a poem by the American Jewish poet and activist, Emma Lazarus (1849 – 1887). The poem is inscribed on a plaque at the entrance to the statue’s pedestal.
There are so many pictures of lighthouses online — probably thousands — that one can grow tired of looking at them. It’s a kind of ocular fatigue summed up in the expression “when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”. Once in a while, though, one comes across a lighthouse photograph that has a certain quality, a certain atmosphere, that is hard to ignore. One sits up and takes notice. The following are some examples:
Men who are obsessed with manliness can learn a lesson from tugboats. These mean little machines are capable of pulling ships and barges that are many times their size. They can navigate through narrow canals and shallow waters. Their power and adroitness more than make up for their relative lack of bulk. The best tugboat, however, is a wimp on the water without an experienced skipper at the helm. It all boils down to how one uses the power available.
Shakespeare and all the other writers who said beauty fades spoke the obvious. Unless they are properly maintained, even beautiful lighthouses eventually fall victim to the ravages of time. But some old photographs of such structures, thankfully, are here to stay. The following pictures were all taken more than a century ago. Yet, they still retain the power to captivate and prompt the viewer to think about the beauty and splendour of lighthouses
Time, it is often said, changes everything.. This is not exactly true. As the following pairs of maritime photographs show, some things change dramatically after the lapse of many years and others, little or not at all. The American-British poet T.S. Eliot was right. “Time the destroyer is time the preserver.” he wrote in The Dry Salvages, the third poem of his famous Four Quartets.
As any avid shell collector knows, seashells are the hard exoskeletons (external coverngs) of marine molluscs which serve both as their home and their armour. They are the remnants of creatures that have long passed away. As a photographer, my aim in this set of pictures was to try to give seashells a new kind of life and vitality. These are actual photographs, not manipulated digital images. I hope you enjoy viewing each one.
Before the advent of passenger air travel in 1914, there were only ships to carry people across the ocean. Voyages were long, and they could be dull and dreary. But they had a sensory and emotional dimension that made them quite unforgettable. The blare of the ship’s horn before it departed… the multitude of hands waving farewell on the wharf… the sound of undulating waves… and, yes, the heady smell of salt water as one stood on the deck. The following photographs are a reminder of what it was like to travel by sea back in the day.
Some photographs do more than delight the eye. They make you pause and wonder. Something in the picture bids you to take a closer look. It could be the unusual subject matter or the way the photographer captured the scene. The following maritime shots from long ago have such an effect on the viewer. They demonstrate what the English author Joseph Addison wrote in his 1712 essay, ‘Pleasures of the Imagination’: “Everything that is new or uncommon raises a pleasure in the imagination, because it fills the soul with an agreeable surprise, gratifies its curiosity, and gives it an idea of which it was not before possessed.”
If one can admire the beauty of seashells and see in them the grandeur of cathedrals, why can’t one adopt the same attitude towards the female body? As the English artist and poet William Blake wrote in his Proverbs of Hell (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell), “The nakedness of woman is the work of God.” The following photographs of nude women at the beach are stricty for those who can view nudity as art.
Why anyone would want to linger inside a mall mystifies me. Malls are cold and boring, even dispiriting. There is more life, more energy on the piers and wharves as the following old photographs show. Time has taken its toll on some of these pictures. Yet each one still speaks volumes about the vibrancy of commerce on the waterfront and the sedulous stevedores who keep the cargoes moving.
Most men are fascinated with cars. I am fascinated with seashells. Odd as it may sound, they remind me of the grandeur of cathedrals. I find the shell of the nautilus particularly interesting. Its spiral form is simple yet beautiful and elegant. Indeed, it is an architectural marvel as complex and enigmatic as the sea itself.
Old sailors and old fishermen always fascinate me. The former are often referred to as “sea dogs” or lobos de mar in Spanish. Sailor or fisherman, the appellation is entirely appropriate. These men are hardy spirits who cut their teeth on boats and spent many years at sea.