Hidden Worlds I, The Mass Pike - lightsongfineart


The Massachusetts Turnpike, Weston, Massachusetts

I BEGAN PHOTOGRAPHING IN 1974 from the top of Mount Mansfield in Vermont, expecting that the grand vista would yield something special. Once there it was clear that unless I wanted to make prints 200 feet long, that there was little of interest to photograph. I then visited several of the iconic locations in the west (Brice Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon among others) and realized that only if I lived there could I expect to make photographs that had not already been made.  I returned home to Massachusetts and I began driving essentially randomly searching from something that would have a visual and emotional impact and yet had not been photographed.

I TRIED HIKING IN THE WOODS but for the most part you could literally not see the forest once you got among the trees. 

One of the roads I drove on often was Interstate 90,  known locally as the Massachusetts Turnpike. It was early spring in 1981, seven years after I had started photographing with a view camera. I have no idea why I suddenly started to notice spring, except that like everyone else I had concentrated on the road ahead. But with my view camera in the trunk of my car I was paying greater attention and I saw an image very much like the one to the right.

THERE ARE FIVE ASPECTS OF THIS IMAGE that are important to me.

I. It was a view at rush hour from one of the most heavily traveled highways.

2. The picture was taken with me standing against the guard rail, a few feet from the traffic.

3. It was to me a stunning image: a maze of silver branches with a dusting of pointillist buds.

4. I was not aware of any other location from which a photograph like this could be made. The highway was passing through a valley that had been filled and so placed me at the level of the tree canopy and close to the tree canopy. I later found a second location on the Turnpike, the eastbound entrance ramp in Millbury, that provided a similar perspective.

5. It was the textures that made the image and the image seemed to have no boundaries. This experience affected all my future work. It was perhaps my single most important lesson in photography.

You can go to the gallery of Spring on the Mass Pike by clicking HERE.

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