Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reflecting on Service

Reflection of Coast Guard Cutter

I love reflections. I love photographing them. There is something about how light and surfaces interact to form reflections that captures my imagination. Perhaps it is how the reflections are changed from the original yet are still recognizable. Kind of like glancing into Alice's Wonderland for a brief moment where the mundane gets transformed or warped into something completely different. Reflections hint at other possibilities that we are not normally aware of in our daily experience. Walk down the street, catch a faint sparkle of yourself in a puddle, and wonder if that other self is as harried as your mundane life or is it in a land of wonder where imagination is made real?

More after the jump.

I also enjoy how light plays off of and through materials in a scientific manner. It obeys very specific laws and can be predicted with simple mathematical equations. Optics has always been an interest of mine. Give me a flash light, some lenses and prisms, and I will play with them for hours. Better yet, add a laser pointer and the potential fun is compounded. I guess that is why I like photography. I get to play with and capture light.

The above photograph is of the decommissioned Coast Guard Cutter U.S.S. Ingham at Patriot's Point. It sits near the U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Laffey destroyer, and U.S.S. Clamagore submarine. The Ingham was the most decorated Coast Guard cutter at the time of her decommissioning including being the only cutter to receive two Presidential Unit Citations. It was built in the 1930s to combat the opium smugglers of the time, but soon found itself embroiled in WWII. It escorted supply ships across the Atlantic protecting them from German U-boats. It also served as a flagship in several Pacific Theater island landings. She provided naval gunfire support in Vietnam and rescued Cuban refugees during the Mariel boatlift in 1980. Her 52 years of service ended when she was decommissioned on May 27, 1988. Over those years, thousands of sailors served aboard her and were the key to the success of her missions. Remember that she was a Coast Guard ship, yet she served during wartime. During peace she and her crew protected the US's shores while also providing aid on the open seas. For every Ingham, there are countless other Coast Guard ships and service people that have served without recognition. The Ingham's presence at Patriot's Point is as much for those service people as it is for those that directly served on her decks.

That is what I think this photograph captures. While it is the Ingham's reflection, it also reminds us that there are others who serve in the same role with little acknowledgement.

Keep shooting.

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