A portrait, a pan, and a zoom.
BLDG 92 Visiting Artist Randy Duchaine spread the love broadly to three different styles of photography in picking winners for this winter’s seasonal photo contest at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. But as far as colors go, Randy was pretty specific with his choices. The winners are comprised almost solely of grays and reds, displaying a stripped-down approach that draws attention to formal and symbolic aspects of each image.
This palette reminds me of a rock band with a minimalist approach to music, The White Stripes, who used only the three colors in much of their production and stage design. Their music is classic blues rock with an edgy twist. It’s occasionally chaotic, but tempered by restraint and a steady drumbeat. Under the steely winter skies of January 18, our troupe of photographers may have benefitted from a little rock and roll. The White Stripes as photographer soundtrack? It does sound like a reoccurring theme on Navy Yard tours: classic timelessness mixed with a healthy dose of new innovation. Our buses do have speakers. Hmmm … but on to the winning photos:
In the photo above, tourgoer Alexander Kok exploited the shades of red that stood out against the cloudy sky.
“I wanted to combine the poetic idea of a stairway going to nowhere with the industrial feel of the Navy Yard,” he said. The photo has a gothic feel to it — everything pointing to the heavens, reminiscent of this 1818 paint Caspar this 1818 painting by Casper David Friedrich (see above right). But unlike idealistic situations like these foggy peaks or the top of a church steeple, these points come to an abrupt end. The stairway to heaven and its mechanical sidekick are stopped in their tracks. It’s like an industrial exercise in the sublime… 2014 Brooklyn style.
Arthur Newberg is the first of the fifteen finalists (dating back to last winter) to have a black and white photo selected. In this case, formal elements take over the frame and the subject becomes the large metallic mass that reaches into the sky. Perhaps this scene is the fulfillment of the aspiring duo in Alexander’s photo? Or perhaps we can negate storyline altogether and focus on the shapes that are constructed by Newberg. A chain hangs straight down from the top of the crane and stops short of connecting with the corner of the distant building. An inferred rectangular shape is cut out of this top corner. It snuggles into the rest of the composition like a happy tetris piece.
Nick Hirst rounds out our winners with his zoomed-in, wandering downspout. Texture is the name of the game here: cracking, growing, creeping, and bending. The site is in the old Naval Hospital campus along an exterior brick wall of the old Surgeon’s House. The dark vines growing on the building mesh into an irregular grid of cracking paint. This is a color photo, but appropriately enough the paint is gray. Hints of green moss cover some of the composition, and some rusty red (in the form of old chipped brownstone) accent the maroon shades that makeup the downspout. The house was constructed in 1863, and layers of its life are documented here by Nick. The house was used until about 1980, but has since been abandoned. Ambitious plans have been drawn up for this quirky corner of the Navy Yard, but for now nature makes its own quiet progress.
Thank you kindly to all participating photographers. All photos were carefully crafted and greatly appreciated (see all the submissions here). As for Nick Hirst, Arthur Newberg, and Alexander Kok: your big congratulation comes with a little something extra. You’ll each receive two free tickets on any future tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard offered by Turnstile Tours. And, your photos will be entered into a year-end competition with a chance to win a private tour of the Yard with up to 30 people! (If you didn’t catch how our first year of photo competitions ended, click here.)
We at Turnstile are eagerly awaiting the next Spring Photography Tour. And despite that shadow-seeing groundhog in Staten Island, we suspect the greenery and sun will return by April 19. Enough grey, dramatic effect – bring on the colors!
Turnstile Tours offers the Seasonal Photography Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard four times throughout the year. The first tour of the 2014 season will be Saturday, April 19 at 11am. Get more information here, and advance ticket purchase is highly recommended. We also offer our Past, Present & Future Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard every Saturday and Sunday 2-4pm, and other special themed tours of the Yard. All tours are offered in partnership with and begin at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, which offers free admission to three floors of exhibitions on the yard’s past and present, the Ted & Honey rooftop cafe, and a host of great special events and programs.