A Flag for the Fallen

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.

Watching Over the City

At the bottom of the Netherlands Carillon near the Iwo Jima memorial there are two large bronze lions. They have a fantastic view of the city, and since this shot of the monuments lined up is one of the most classic and oft-repeated photos of DC I thought that having one of them in the foreground would make the perspective more unique. Plus, the texture on the bronze is great and the cold looking snow contrasts nicely with the warm light hitting the city.

On a technical note, in order to make the monuments in the background a meaningful size in relation to the statue I had to make use of what’s referred to as the “distance compression effect.” This basically means I stood back from the scene and zoomed in with my lens; I was actually around 20-30 feet behind the statue when I took this shot and was shooting through the bottom of the Carillon.

The Hiker

On Memorial Drive leading up to Arlington National Cemetery there’s a long line of statues on either side of the road. I like this one because I think he looks particularly noble and adventurous, which probably befits the historical romanticization of our “splendid little war” with Spain around the turn of the last century. When I looked online for info on the statue I found out that this shot is way higher resolution than the pic on Arlington Cemetery’s visitor information page. Maybe they’d be amenable to switching it?