Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cambridge: Massachusetts or England?

Context. In photography, cropping out the context can transport a scene in time and space. In movie making, we know that the shots are framed to crop out the suspended microphones, crew members and other equipment. Placing old cars on a cobblestone street with period buildings can transport you in time to the 1930s or ‘40s. Toronto is frequently used for city shots, as its urban architecture is similar to that found in many US cities.

Cropping the surrounding buildings from a photograph of a garden in the city may give the impression of being in the country. It’s what you leave out that often defines the shot.

Here in Cambridge, the campus of Harvard University features many architectural styles that illustrate the school’s English roots. Cropping out the busy streets of the city (with obvious American cars and signs), produces scenes that could as easily be encountered in England as in Massachusetts.

Above and below: Scenes from the Divinity School.

Above and below: scenes from Harvard Yard.

Below it's the Charles River, not the Thames. But the Weeks Footbridge would be equally at home over either river. Some high rise towers in the background hint this is an American scene.

Below, this Harvard hall could be right out of a London scene, perhaps with Peter Pan leading the children out of the dormer window to Never Land. The US style traffic signal and sign say otherwise.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Waterscapes Along the Charles River

The Charles River provides a surprisingly great variety of waterscape backdrops to the urban fabric of palates of greater Boston. The classic view of the Charles Basin includes the Hatch Shell and the Boston skyline. Yet a short 10-mile bike ride along the riverbank pathway system rewards you with a variety of vistas.

Below: marshes line the north bank in this view from the Brighton section of Boston.

Above: a willow tree on the Esplanade near Back Bay is silhouetted by a Marsh sunset.

Below: a month later, a woman and child relax under a different willow tree on the south bank in Watertown.

Above: One of my favorites is a view into the sunset at Charles Station on the Longfellow Bridge. Taken only a few hundred yards from the Hatch Shell, this view is something you will never see on a post card. I just love the warm, yellow backlighting of the setting sun (eclipsed by the light pole).

Below: The falls at Watertown, framed by the wonderful spring palate of leafing trees on a warm Saturday in April.