Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Day the Trees Fell   Leave a comment

On September 29, 2003 Hurricane Juan landed on the shores of Nova Scotia, causing what many describe as the worst storm to hit Halifax since 1893. I was living in Virginia at the time and other than what appeared on the nightly news and photographs posted on a variety of social web sites, the devastation was incomprehensible to me. This is often the case of the effects of natural disasters seen only through the lens of the internet. I recall distinctly my first trip back to Nova Scotia the following summer and was, as many still are, awe struck by the force of nature and the wrought it had on one of Halifax’s most famous parks, Point Pleasant.

I visited Point Pleasant this past summer, some 12 years later, and was again taken aback by the new landscape. My memories of this place still deceive me and my expectations, despite my familiarity, trick me into thinking what was once there still is. Ironically, that very notion is what drew me back to write my first blog entry in two years. My hiatus broken, literally and certainly figuratively by the once towering park I grew up near.

Despite the ravages of the storm, some trees still stand, as monuments to our memories and reminders of natures wrath. Peeled of their nature,  sculpted by wind and time, these trees stand tall with a new meaning and resolve.

These are the trees that remain.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

_PAC6407

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2015 Paul Coffin Photography

Thanks for stopping by and please, your comments are most welcome.

The Big Easy   1 comment

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I recently returned from a trip to New Orleans with my youngest son during his senior year high school spring break. New Orleans offered a varied mix of culture, history, food and local flavor deserving of  any southern city of its size.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

My son and I avoided the decadence often associated with the city and instead, walked along the alley ways of the French Quarter meeting a few of the eclectic people and places along the way. Street musicians dotted the streets and entertained passerby’s as the sun warmed the day. I have always been intrigued by street performers. These are individuals who do what they love and despite the obvious financial hazards of street performing, are willing to entertain with a smile in the hopes of a small contribution to their well being.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Eager to venture off the beaten path, we took a day to travel outside the city. At the top of our list of places to visit was the Oak Alley Plantation.  Cameras in hand, and tripod at the ready we waited until each room emptied or the view was unencumbered so that we could quickly set up the shot and take a few photographs. Strolling the grounds after our tour, we walked the length of the walkway lined by the live oaks, stopping as we went to photograph the plantation and take in the beauty of the magnificent trees.

Oak Alley Plantation

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

The trip to New Orleans was a short one, but my son and I squeezed in a drive through St. Bernard’s Parish, a trip to a the marshes on Lake Pontchartrain, Oak Alley Plantation and plenty of walking through the city. We ate well and enjoyed each others company. It will be a lasting memory we will share.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

The Beacon – Cape Florida Lighthouse   Leave a comment

Cape Florida Lighthouse

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Growing up on the east coast of Nova Scotia, lighthouses held more than just a symbolic notion for me. Long since replaced by modern technology, the lighthouses of the past have become a tourist attraction and destination for history buffs and photographers alike. This particular lighthouse has an interesting history related to the Second Seminole War in 1835 as the keepers were trapped in the tower while they were attacked by the Seminoles.

The Unchanging View

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Imagine back in 1836, looking out these very windows and knowing it could be the last view you ever saw of your home. John Thompson and his assistant, Aaron Carter faced that very reality and sadly it was indeed Aaron’s last moments in the tower before his death.

A Room With a View

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

As luck would have it, I arrived just in time to walk the 109 steps to the top of the lighthouse. In 1855, the tower was renovated adding an additional 30 feet reaching to a height of  95 feet, it’s current height at the observation deck.

The Beacon

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Finally, with a little squeezing, I made it to the top of the lighthouse where the lens of the lighthouse sits, commonly known as the focal height, 100 feet up. Clearly not constructed for someone who is 6’3″, it was a space I could barely walk around in. It’s not often you get a chance to climb to the very top of a lighthouse and it was certainly a lucky chance that I was able to. These monolithic structures make great subjects for photographs and I am always on the look out (pun intended) for an opportunity to photograph them.

Thanks for stopping by.

Abandoned and Forgotten   1 comment

The Nolan Plantation, Bostwick, GA

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Time it seems, takes its toll on all things living and not. No doubt, life lived here, in this place, now seemingly lost and forgotten. The history of this place like many other abandoned structures in the south, is rich with storied wealth and comfort amid the impoverished and lowly. It remains a stark contrast to its surroundings as much today as I am sure it did in 1910.  Built in the early 1900’s, the Nolan Plantation was surrounded by a 2000 acre farm and country store across the road. Today it barely holds its own and the decaying facade is met equally with softened floor boards and broken windows. It is now a home to scores of pigeons.

Two Doors Down

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I’ve been known to venture into an abandoned building from time to time for the “sake of the art” and as is often the case, it scares the heck out of me. The eerily quiet home was lit only by the mid morning light piercing the cracked windows and warmed the otherwise cold interior. Colors, only partially faded, textured with cracks and graffiti remained vibrant and willing. It was the only way the walls could talk.

Home Alone

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I have a rule when I enter a building, and that is not to disturb anything. I don’t move objects to enhance the composition and I leave little evidence of my presence. It’s my way of paying respect to the place and its history. And so it was with this chair, in the corner of the room, the only piece of furniture I found, that sat waiting, as if its owner would one day reappear, kept company by the sunlight casting long shafts of contrast along the weathered floor marked only by the wood framing.

Inside Looking Out

PAC_4072_HDR

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Room after empty room the natural light shone through. Scratched messages from previous visitors littered the walls. It is regrettable that such a magnificent structure has fallen into such disrepair. Strangely, its beauty remains despite the peeling paint, cracked walls and sunken floor boards. It is isn’t lifeless yet and appears unwilling to “go down without a fight.”

Thanks for stopping by.

i paparazzi   Leave a comment

Dinner For Two

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I am often struck, as I travel throughout the world, how often I feel like any one place feels like another. That where I am in that moment could easily be a thousand miles away and look and feel exactly the same. It underscores how very much alike we all are. How we want the same things for ourselves and the ones we love. That we need to fill our hearts, minds and bodies with nourishment is no different today than it was 50 years ago. This scene is being repeated a million times over as you read this text. Don’t you think that’s crazy? And even more mind noodling, is that it will take place again and again and again beyond our days.

A recent epiphany came to me. According to a Google search I just conducted, the oldest person alive is 115 years old. That means that 116 years ago not a single living soul on this planet existed. No one, not one of us existed. Very likely in 116 years from now, none of us will exist then. It’s not a morbid fascination, but the realization that life really does go on and that this scene will be not much different in that foreseeable future. People eating, socializing, laughing, and crying, all the while as time goes by.

This is why photography so fascinates me. It stops that moment and cements it into history. A record of a single brief 1/125 of a sec when time stood ever so momentarily still.

Today we reflect on what was by comparing the history of things to the present. Black and white photography helps us put some perspective, albeit of an infinitesimal amount,  of that recorded history.

And so it is, that history repeats itself, and will again in the future, with or without me to help record it.

Dinner For Two

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

Machu Picchu   Leave a comment

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

I recently returned from a two week trip from Peru, where I had two vacations in one. The first week I visited Machu Picchu and the second week, I traveled six hours up river from the city of  Pucallpa into the Amazon rain forest to help build a church in a Shipibo village along the banks of the Ucayali river. I’ll post more pictures from that part of the trip in the coming days.

After a plane to Lima and then the next day to Cuzco, we took the train to Aquas Calientes to spend the night before getting up early for the sunrise at Mach Picchu. Unfortunately, and I suppose as is typical, it was clouds, heavy fog and rain. The sunrise would have to wait for another time. After five hours of miserable wet and rainy weather, during which time my camera barely made it out from underneath my rain poncho, the sun finally broke through and my second trek through the ruins began.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

As many of my frequent blog visitors know, I am a big fan of HDR photography, and I knew the only way I was going to capture some new and unique images of a location that must be photographed thousands of times a day was to capture the place using this technique in liberal, albeit not over the top fashion.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

The most challenging aspect of my photography that day, was avoiding the many hundreds of visitors in the ancient ruins. In one instance, I waited for close to 40 minutes in the hopes of capturing the sun-dial without the distraction of the throngs leaning into it in the hopes of extracting some cosmic energy. I pulled two shots off.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Machu Picchu is truly a magnificent wonder. The Inca’s were clearly master masons and their work remains today as a testament to that dedication. The Princess’ Palace is one such area that illustrates their mastery.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

At every turn the vista’s that greeted us were amazing and it is not hard to understand the many reasons the Inca chose this location to build the Palace. It was a sight to behold.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

It was one of the most amazing places I have visited and will forever be an adventure to remember.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

The Decisive Moment   1 comment

Henri Carti-Bresson has always been an inspiration to me. His iconic image “Behind-the-Gare-Saint-Lazare-1932”, shown here, is the quintessential example of the decisive moment. The moment when light hits film and epitomizes the peak of the scene observed in front of the photographer in the frame of his camera.

I have written in the past that I tend to be less technical and deliberate on compositional rules than I am for instance on tone and color. I am  inspired by Carti-Bresson when it comes to the moment in time that best represents what I see and feel and am keenly aware of the very moment when I press the shutter release and what is happening in time and space in front of the lens.

Walking by …

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

As I was setting up this image, in the corner of my eye, I observed the man about to enter the frame. Walking briskly in shadow and without notice of me on his right across the street, I clicked one frame. There are a few things compositionally wrong with this image, yet it resonates with me. I wish I had framed it better to include the bottom of his leading foot for example. This particular image is a visual juggle for me. The shadows falling on the facade of the building juxtaposed with the silhouette of the walking man.

Finally, I am left wondering who was this guy, where was he going and where is he now. The photography of strangers always leaves me with these questions. The image is all that is left to document a moment when our paths crossed, and he will forever be a stranger to me.