by Alison Perry
Nyack, Nov 30 — Last Sunday afternoon the light started to change from dreary and overcast to patches of intense luminosity bursting though intense cloud cover, more so as the day wore on. That damned if you do, damned if you don’t feeling began to creep over me until I gave in and out the door I went. I’d been in most of the weekend working at my computer anyway so it was time for a break, some cool fresh air and hopefully an hour of potentially amazing sunlight to yield something of significance. As I approached the hill top ridge in my car I remembered the Tappan Zee Bridge turns golden this time of day so I decided to try my luck there. In light of it’s impending replacement, as I drove, I considered its economic and cultural impact on so many lives. It’s amazing to consider what a span of steel can do.
Completed in 1955, the bridge derives its name from the wide body of water it transverses know as the Tappan Zee. It was derived from Indian and Dutch origins. The Tappan was a sub tribe of the Delaware-Lenni Lenape Indians who inhabited the region radiating from the Hudson Palisades and New York-New Jersey Highlands at the time of Dutch colonization in the 17th century. The Dutch word “zee,” wide body of water, translates to a wide body of water or “sea” in English.
This large expanse of water is also the subject of my favorite Hudson River School painting seen below, The Hudson at the Tappan Zee, completed in 1876 by Francis Augusta Silva, American, (1835-1886). Silva was a 2nd or 3rd generation HRS ‘€œLuminist’€ painter, self taught, famous for his marine scenes, meticulous detail and expressive color. The painting achieves the brilliant luminosity created by reflected sunlight and moisture off the river’s surface back into the air.
This image was enhanced in Adobe Lightroom. Since it was shot hand held at 640 ISO at sunset, noise had to be eliminated from the cloud line and from the water to soften things up a bit, and in order to draw more attention to the contrasting golden hills and steel. Digital noise was eliminated using the noise reduction and sharpening tool located in the Details panel of Lightroom. I’ve provided a link to a very good tutorial on how to get the most out of this essential Adobe tool.
The same tool in Adobe Photoshop is the blur tool, which allows you to simultaneously or separately enter the three color channels, red, green and blue to smooth out the noise or pixilation, which in turn softens the focus. I’ll admit, I’m not thoroughly versed in Lightroom yet, but the more tutorials I watch and the more I engage with it, the more amazed I become with this one stop software application.
— Alison Perry
Exposure information: 125 @ F9 ISO 640 (hand held)
Canon EF lens: 28-135: F3.5
Many Nyackers aren’t able to view the bridge daily and in changing atmospheric conditions unless we’re fortunate to live in an unobstructed path and catch glimpses from a window or yard throughout our day or weekend hours, but we can and do encounter it en route to work or in other business or leisure travels, running to and fro, or through time spent in the great outdoors, sailing, walking along a hiking path or cycling around the vicinity. The Tappan Zee is in the hearts and minds of many here, although I’m certain, none more than those who grew up in Nyack and other close by river towns regardless of east or western shoreline view. At this point the bridge is iconic and like the body of water it transverses it’s ingrained in our cultural heritage and collective conscious. For many it’s a right of passage en route to places further afield and people we seek to join with there. One of my most cherished childhood memories is crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge with my family to visit paternal grandparents in upstate New York. It was anticipating that point of the journey that made the rest of the trip’s tediousness worthwhile.
In my shorter travels on Sunday I was fortunate to encounter three good locations. First, a scenic view from along the hilltop ridge, then some suburban style landscapes along the east end of Burd Street and finally several dramatic cinematic views from the local “commonplace” boat launch, all the result of low, dark and stormy cloud patterns moving eastward over the valley providing abundant atmosphere and color.
As a rule I try not to avoid any site since much of my inclination is about place and commonplace and since I’ve learned to never say never. You just don’t know when and where the essential elements will come together to form a decisive moment. At the boat launch I drew from the clouds and man made objects floating and standing in the foreground. As compositional elements, they define space, form a context to place and draw the eye toward the bridge as the main focal point. Color works the same way here, the middle ground is made up of warm tones sandwiched between deep rich black, blue and purple foreground and sky tones. A quick response captured the three gulls circling overhead, which filled the empty remaining space nicely and reveals a shared shoreline habitat.
Alison Perry owns a Nyack-based photography business that combines architecture, landscape and formal space and strives to make personal art about time and place. Imagery is for sale through her website. She received BFA in Studio Art from SUNY Purchase and a graduate degree in Library Science from Long Island University. Previously, she worked in journalistic and editorial photography for several different national/regional newspapers in NYC, PA and CA. See examples of her work at http://alisonperryart.com/
- Postcard From New York on NyackNewsAndViews
- Francis Augustus Silva, Hudson-River-School.com
- The Hudson at the Tappan Zee, BrooklynMuseum.org
- How to Properly Sharpen Images in Lightroom, PhotographyLife.com
- Tappan Zee Bridge Historic Overview, NYCRoads.com