Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Overpass Mecca Part 1

Despite hectic schedules and lousy weather, Jenny and I have been looking for opportunities to return to our light painting experiments, and finally we found time to get back on the road this past weekend. Better still, we focused on one of Jenny's photographic goals, taking pictures of overpasses. The results suggest a terrific site for future shoots.

Jenny often says how much she loves things that tower over her. That's one reason she digs our trips to Monument Valley; she's inspired by soaring expressions of natural or human power. So she recommended that we turn our camera toward San José for a reasonably close urban approximation of that feeling. For me it was an obvious choice. I too am drawn to highway overpasses as sweeping icons of omnitopia. Thus we began our trip with a sense of optimism.

Conducting no research on an ideal shooting site (a common lament for us) we nonetheless agreed that we required a place where we could safely park with plenty of compositional opportunities. In short, a cluster of overpasses twisting around each other. Beyond that, we were unsure of our specific itinerary as we cruised over the hill. Luck for us, our first stop far surpassed our ambitions: an intersection of Highway 85 and 87 that even has a no-fee lightrail station parking lot.

View Larger Map

For about four hours we took turns and practiced techniques, struggling (as ever) with long distance/low-light focus issues and the need to establish a proper white balance in a zone flooded with ugly yellow sodium lights. The results reminded me of mid-century futurism: a world of blurred cars amid urban canyons.

I can't wait to get back to that retro tomorrow.

Update: Overpass Mecca Part 2

(Photographs by Andrew and Jenny Wood)


Jenny Wood said...

Thanks for the great words to go along with our pics! It makes me want to go back and take more!

Andrew Wood said...

Definitely we've got to go back there - and plan for dinner, this time!

Evan said...

Wow, how did you get so close for some of those (particularly the third one)?

The photographer Catherine Opie (well-known for her portraits) did a series of black and white photos of LA freeway overpasses). Monumental subjects in terms of scale, but the prints were very small. MOCA here showed them (along with some black and white photos of mini malls).