Monday, August 8, 2011

Photograph of "Free Bridge," Charlottesville, Va.

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This is a night (time exposure) of “Free Bridge” which is on route 250 as it enters Charlottesville from Pantops Mountain.  This was taken with a rather old 4X5 camera with a Schneider “Angulon” lens equivalent to about a 28mm wide angle on 35 millimeter film. The time exposure was not very long, about 90 seconds on Tri-x Pan at F16 .
    It is called Free Bridge because it was one of the bridges that didn’t have a toll during the early years of Charlottesville.  Since traveler information was scarce, private tolls could be an unpredictable element when traveling.  I have no idea what the original bridge looked like.
    I’ve always thought that Free Bridge is a elegant, simply designed, bridge. You do not appreciate this in the least while driving over it. All you see is the railing zipping by. Only from the river can the arched sides be seen.  The night view from the side, with river reflections, and well planned lighting, is the only way to appreciate how well it fits the River.  It’s difficult to find this vantage point now; as the summer weeds aren’t cut currently (one can guess that money is involved).  I made an effort to find the spot, in summer heat, just a few weeks ago, and came out frustrated, soaked with sweat, and pierced with thorns.  The thicket is almost impenetrable, and you don’t know exactly when you’re going to take that last step all the way down the bank into the mud. 

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