I’ve been taking this photo for years. In 2009 when I started filtering through the 10,000+ photos I’d taken up to then, I literally found this same composition repeated multiple times, going back to around 2002 or so. It makes sense, too, since this is such a beautiful scene and the overhanging branches frame the walkway out to the dock perfectly. When I finally got a real camera at the end of last summer this was one of the shots I was most eager to get a “definitive” version of, meaning a picture that’s properly exposed and taken from a decent camera on a tripod. The HDR aspect of this pic really comes through in what would normally be the dark areas of a typical photograph – in this case, all of the green detail in the foliage and texture under the shadow on the deck would ordinarily be dark gray or completely black. Shooting this photo made me realize that the concept of a definitive photograph, at least from a subjective personal standpoint, is illusory. My point-and-shoot snapshots from years past reflect how I perceived the scene at the time; likewise, this is a reflection of the scene after I’ve gazed at it for so long that I feel compelled to spend hours meticulously reproducing its image.
Note: This photo is one of many I’ve taken on Figure 8 Island in Wilmington, NC, although until recently I hadn’t tagged any of the photos as such. For the rest of them, you can click here. There should be more to come later this year.
What most people don’t realize about this famous scene from Iwo Jima is that it was actually the second time the Marines raised the flag; another had gone up earlier in the day on top of Mount Suribachi, but afterwards the Marine brass decided they wanted to claim it as a souvenir and sent up another group of Marines with a larger one to replace it. Along with the troops went war photographer Joe Rosenthal, and the rest is history. The world set upon the metaphorical significance of the picture as a hallmark of victory with little regard to the actual circumstances surrounding its capture. It was only after another month of hard fighting and heavy casualties that the island was finally secured, and during that time three of the six men here were killed. Of the three that returned home, only one man (John Bradley) really adjusted to civilian life and prospered after the war. There’s an excellent book called Flags of Our Fathers that sheds light on the entire story, and a movie was made with the same name. Bradley is depicted here as the second soldier from the left. Flags of Our Fathers was written by his son.
In taking this picture I tried to get a unique perspective on the monument that emphasizes the men who are its subject, since after you read Flags of Our Fathers you’ll never look at the memorial the same way again. The irony here is that I’m taking a picture of a statue that is itself based on a photograph.
I took the picture. The Marines took Iwo Jima. – Joe Rosenthal
A note on future posting: As you may have noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated in a while. Future posts will be intermittent, as I focus on other priorities that are less artistic and more pragmatic. I’m still shooting quite a bit though, and hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule later this year.