This winter has not been kind to the streets of New York. Since the beginning of the year, snow has been a permanent fixture, whether in fluffy blankets covering everything, or pushed aside into growing snowbanks that preserve the wintry landscape between storms. Those snowbanks don’t just hold snow, however; garbage bags get lost in there, as does street litter (and worse). This winter, we’ve had street sweeping suspended 28 out of a possible 58 days so far, so as the snow melts, the city feels a bit grimier, as Christmas garbage emerges from a kind of putrid hibernation. But this was far from a record; in 2010-211, we went 17 consecutive days without street sweeping, and in January-March 1978, we went 62. Hopefully we’ve seen the last snowstorm of this winter.
Our Winter Photography Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard was held on January 25, one of these interim days, when the sun was shining and the snow had just begun to melt – what we would call a bluebird day, which you can see in the photo submissions. But in the three finalists, selected by photographer TaraFawn Marek, streets are the common theme. Streets laden with thin banks of snow, barely holding on until the next storm. The photographers used the interplay between the buildings, the water in the streets, and the varied pavements of the Yard, as well as the bright, midday sun. The result is three photos similar in composition, but very different in execution.
Our first photo comes from C. Zawadi Morris, editor of the Brooklyn Reader, where she shared her experience at the Yard. As Tara notes, “[This is a] compelling use of texture and perspective. The broad shadows on the rooftop perfectly capture the cold brightness of the day.” This stretch of pavement between Building 131 – the former Navy Flag & Sail Loft, now home to a collection of artists and manufacturers – and Dry Dock 1 is a patchwork, with blacktop, cobblestones, and vestigial rail lines, as you can see here.
Next, we turn to the marble-faced Naval Hospital, photographed by Farras Abdelnour. All of Farras’ photos were black and white, which added an almost timeless dimension to them. “Beautiful black and white tone used in an affecting way. The contrasting shadows and fading snow disrupt the clean lines of the wall in a symmetrical yet emotional composition,” TaraFawn noted.
Finally, Janet Squitieri captured a favorite subject of our Yard photographers – one of the caches of New York City’s salt stockpile, used to combat winter storms and shorten the lifespan of our cars. This was not Janet’s first visit to the Yard – she had joined our World War II Tour with her sister and father, a Navy pilot during the war – so she knew the lay of the land well and captured all of the subjects of her photos clearly and concisely, almost like portraits. TaraFawn sums this photo up better than I ever could: “The softness of the sky and salt are unexpected and elegant. The textural mirroring is echoed by the perfect reflection in the water, coaxing the eye around an elegant, concise vanishing point.”
Thank you again to our photographers, who have each won themselves two tickets to explore the Brooklyn Navy Yard on a future tour, and the honor of having their photos displayed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 at the end of the year. Our next Yard photo tour will take place April 19, and already half of the 30 places are reserved, so be sure to sign up soon.
Turnstile Tours offers the Seasonal Photography Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard four times throughout the year. The second tour of the 2015 season will be Sunday, April 19 at 11am. Get tickets & information here, and advance ticket purchase is highly recommended. We also offer our Past, Present & Future Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard every weekend at 2pm, 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 and a host of great special events and programs.