Tag Archives: Teddy Roosevelt Island

Teddy Roosevelt Island – single frames

Just some random thoughts from walking around Roosevelt Island. The south end of the island anchors one end of the bridge that carries Route 50 over the Potomac River. Looking through the arches of the bridge, you can see the Lincoln Memorial. Without a twin-lens reflex camera like my Rollei, I wouldn’t have been able to take this photo – to get the Lincoln to show more than a hint of a roofline, I had to hold the camera above my head, upside down, my arms outstretched. Doing this, I can use the waist-level finder to my advantage and gain an extra two feet of height. I’m sure it must look as utterly awkward to a third party observer as it feels when you’re doing it, but sometimes there’s no better way to see over a crowd (or a wall, in this case).

Route 50 Bridge, Lincoln Memorial
Route 50 Bridge, Lincoln Memorial

Turing around 180 degrees from where I was pointing the camera for the under-bridge shot, you can look up the estuarine inlet on the island, and feel like you’re a hundred miles from civilization. If you look very carefully you can see a snowy egret crossing the stream in the center background.

Estuarine Inlet, Roosevelt Island
Estuarine Inlet, Roosevelt Island

And then there’s the Roosevelt Monument in the middle of the island. It feels a bit like a Soviet Realist architect was designing a set for 2001: A Space Odyssey. White marble monoliths ring the perimeter with quotes from Roosevelt chiseled into them. Looking at them I half-expected to hear the strains of Also Sprach Zarathustra come wafting out of the woods if I stood there long enough.

Monoliths, Roosevelt Monument
Monoliths, Roosevelt Monument

And thinking of Ubermenschen, the statue of Roosevelt really feels like you could swap out his head for Lenin’s and nobody would even notice. This monument would be equally at home in Moscow. Of course, the placement within the natural environment and the environment’s intrusion into the monument belie its non-Soviet origins. When was the last time you saw something like this with so many trees and shrubbery dedicated to a Communist icon?

Vladimir Iliych Roosevelt
Vladimir Iliych Roosevelt

The bowl of this fountain is monumental in itself. It kind of reminds me in a weird way of Napoleon’s tomb at the Invalides. Fortunately nobody is buried in the fountain. But it is big enough to be a bathtub for William Howard Taft.

Fountain Bowl, Roosevelt Monument
Fountain Bowl, Roosevelt Monument

I saw this man sitting, reading his book, attended by his thermos. I think it’s a fitting image to close with as it re-humanizes the monument and makes a statement about how public places can have meaning and emotional resonance for the people who use them.

Reader, Bridge, Roosevelt Monument
Reader, Bridge, Roosevelt Monument

Teddy Roosevelt Island – Infrared

This past weekend I took a hike on Teddy Roosevelt Island. For those not in the know, Roosevelt Island is an island in the Potomac River across from Georgetown in Washington DC. The island is accessed from the Virginia side of the river. I have driven past TR for the past 35 years but never stopped to visit because I was always on my way to something “more pressing” and/or I was on the wrong side of the expressway passing it at the time I thought about stopping (The parking lot is only accessible from the northbound side of the expressway). Well, on Saturday, I had no place I HAD to be at any specific time, I had the Rolleiflex with a bunch of film, and no better excuse to not stop. So I pulled in and parked and took a walk around the circumference of the island.

Bridge to Teddy Roosevelt Island
Bridge to Teddy Roosevelt Island

I loaded up the camera with some Maco 820c Aura infrared film. I’ve had this film sitting in my fridge for eight, nine years, (it outdated in 2007) so I wanted to try a couple rolls and see if it was still any good. I was concerned because other Infrared films I’ve used have NOT aged well. The infrared sensitizing dyes apparently are the bits that degenerate quickly and help build base fog (a bad thing). Obviously, this has not been a problem with the Maco IR.

One downside to the Maco is that it is a VERY slow emulsion. Using the Hoya R72 filter, consensus judgment is that it is best to set your meter to ISO 1 and use those readings, or if your meter won’t go that low, use the Sunny 16 rule and base your exposure on 1 second at f16 and go from there.

In this image, I was winging it on the exposure – my meter doesn’t have ISO 1 as an option. I was in some pretty deep shade, so I figured I would have a very long exposure, just guessing from overall lighting conditions and knowing that the film has very poor reciprocity failure – an indicated 1 second exposure needs two seconds, an indicated two needs four, a four second exposure needs eight, an eight second exposure needs 24 seconds, 15 seconds needs 60, and 30 seconds needs 180. I guesstimated this would require between 30 and 60 seconds, accounting for the reciprocity. Well, I overestimated by a good 50-75%. But as you can see that wasn’t that horrible a thing – I got a very useable image.

Boardwalk Path, Teddy Roosevelt Island
Boardwalk Path, Teddy Roosevelt Island

This is the view from the north end of the island, with Key Bridge and Georgetown University in the background. I took a gamble on this photo because there were two kayakers in the river and I would normally have expected them to turn into indistinct blurs with a two second exposure like I gave this scene. But I took a chance as they were in a spot in the river where they could effectively “hover” – and they did. So it worked.

Key Bridge, Georgetown, Kayakers
Key Bridge, Georgetown, Kayakers

What is it with me and safety cones? I keep finding them everywhere and photographing them. This time, in infrared.

Safety Cone, Marsh Overlook, Teddy Roosevelt Island
Safety Cone, Marsh Overlook, Teddy Roosevelt Island