Archive for the ‘ photography ’ Category

The Iwo Jima Flag Raising

“- where uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, speaking on the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Today, February 23, 2010, marks the 65th anniversary of the raising of the United States flag on the Island of Iwo Jima. This video was taken from the documentary movie “To the Shores of Iwo Jima”. This is authentic footage that was photographed by US Navy and Marine Corps personnel during the actual battle. The motion has been slowed down and the famous Joe Rosenthal photograph, “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima”  superimposed at nearly the instant it was taken.

However, Rosenthal’s photograph was taken of a second flag raising, not the first one. Another photographer, Louis R. Lowrey took an equally iconic photograph of the first flag raising, but the Lowrey photograph got delayed in its processing. Then, when the Rosenthal photograph was released to the public, the Marine Corps got several names transposed from the first flag detail to the second one which was used as the caption in the newspapers. This mistake took several years and an official investigation to get corrected. Not much was known of the first flag raising for many years. Today, both flag raising details and both photographs are given equal credit by the Marine Corps and academic historians. In the right side of the movie frame, men from the first flag detail can be seen as well as a brief glimpse of the first flag’s stanchion.

The movie footage was photographed by Marine Corps Sergeant William H. “Bill” Genaust.  On March 4th, 1945, Sergeant Genaust was killed (on Iwo Jima) when he entered a darkened cave and was shot to death by Japanese soldiers. He had volunteered to use his camera light so that he could light the way for other marines entering the cave when he was killed. The cave mouth was covered over by bulldozing equipment, and his body has never been recovered.

The Rosenthal photograph became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and ultimately came to be regarded as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time. To the Marine Corps, it is the most iconic symbol of their sacrifice and dedication in what is perhaps the Corp’s most formidable battle they have ever engaged in.

The necessity of taking Iwo Jima has always been controversial. However, Imperial Japan spent several years heavily fortifying the island before any US attack was possible, so they saw some significant importance to the island long before Allied planners did. These extensive and well-planned fortifications were completely missed by Allied Intelligence estimates. The Japanese defended the island with their best troops under the command of perhaps their best field commander, Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi. He was aided by the equally capable Colonel Baron Takeichi Nishi. Opposing them was a force of the most seasoned US Navy and Marine Corps forces.

Both men had spent significant time in the United States and understood the American psyche. In fact, Kuribayashi’s personal sidearm was an ornate US M-1911 caliber 45 pistol, the same sidearm carried by US forces. It had been given to him by the US Cavalry Regiment he had been assigned to during an officer exchange program in the 1920s. Nishi had competed in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games and could count several American movie stars as personal friends.

Although it was impossible for Kuribayashi and his forces to repel and win the inevitable battle, he succeeded in his strategy of inflicting more losses upon his enemy than were inflicted on him. The severity of the US losses dispelled any notion among Allied commanders of what an invasion of Japan would cost. It was a main factor in the decision to use the atomic bombs to end the war.

It is now believed that as many as 3,000 Japanese soldiers survived the battle, hiding out in the tunnel networks by day, foraging for food and supplies at night. The last surrender of Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima occurred in 1951.

The importance of the battle to US Marines today is demonstrated in pilgrimages made to the island, and specifically the summit of Suribachi. Marines will often leave dog tags, rank insignia, or other tokens at the monuments in homage.

During this one-month-long battle, 27 U.S. military personnel were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions, 14 of them posthumously. Of the 27 medals awarded, 23 were presented to Marines and four were presented to United States Navy sailors; this is 28% of the 82 Medals of Honor awarded to Marines in the entirety of World War II.

In Morris County: New Flint Hills Landscape

In Morris County, 7x17 Contact Print

It was a busy Fall but I managed to squeeze one photo outing into the schedule. I had photographed this location before with the 8×10, but from that photo, I knew this scene was perfect for the 7×17. Not much had changed here in four years. Fortunately, the weather was good for this one day. Loaded up the trusty 7×17 into the trusty Ford Ranger pickup and off we went. The location is a few miles northeast of Strong City, Kansas.

A Black and White Landscape from Western Kansas

Monument Rocks #2

Monument Rocks #2

Monument Rocks, Gove County, Kansas. This is what black and white photography is all about. Taking the seemingly bland and lifeless and transforming it into an abstraction of tone and texture. This was taken in full afternoon summer sun. The shadow in the lower parts is from the adjacent rock formations.

This negative is what sold me on the new Kodak Tmax 400 film. Contrast range on the subject was extreme yet the main subject is very flat. Developed in Pyrocat HD with extreme minimal agitation. The negative came out very dense requiring split grade printing.

An 11×14 print of Monument Rocks #2 will be on display at the Emporia Artist Walk along with my Kansas Flint Hill landscapes.

Emporia Artist Walk & Flint Hills Landscapes

I will be located in the Pyramid Pizza building, 11 East 6th, downtown Emporia. The Emporia Artist Walk is Saturday, 18 April from 10 am to 4 pm.

With me at Pyramid Pizza will be Rachel Ferrara, a finely talented up-and-coming young photographer. Rachel is Fine Arts student at Emporia State University majoring in photography. I made this video of her senior project show last January.

I finished mounting the big Flint Hills prints. Quite the project to get that big triptych mounted. The final matted size is 40×20 inches. My Emporia  Artist Walk display will feature Black & White Flint Hills landscapes from Chase County, Greenwood County, Wabaunsee County, and Geary County.

Hope to see you at the Artist Walk.

On Road CR-2, Greenwood County

On Road CR-2, Greenwood County

Near Texaco Hill, Chase County

Near Texaco Hill, Chase County

Another Flint Hills Photography Fan

Discovered Terry Ownby’s photography blog today. Glad I did. Terry is a photography professor at University of Central Missouri. His latest post is about photographing in the Kansas Flint Hills and worth reading. In another recent entry, he discusses the use of the triptych from the classical point of view and its current use. Lot’s of good stuff on Terry’s blog.

A Different Look at the Flint Hills

On Road CR-2 Greenwood County

Near Texaco Hill, Greenwood County

Tully Hill Road, Geary County

Tully Hill Road, Geary County

Hard to believe that I haven’t updated this Blog since October. It’s been a busy year for everything except photography it seems. But, I haven’t been completely lazy.

My latest project on the Flint Hills makes use of multiple prints to form a panoramic display. Using two prints is called diptych (pronounced dip-tick). Using three prints is called a triptych (with similar pronunciation). (People with ArtSpeak  inherently know these pronunciations and meanings, but I was a farm boy and had to look them up.) Using this approach for panoramic landscape departs from the classic construction of a -tych. In the classic construction, each print may be entirely different yet the sum tells a story. I guess one could stretch that classic definition and say that the panorama tells a story about the landscape more adequately than single photographs.

For this technique, I use individual 4×5 negatives and make individual prints. After processing and drying, the prints are trimmed to match, then dry mounted on mat board.

Its really exciting to use multiple 11×14 prints. That brings the image up to a size that’s more in keeping with the feel of the Flint Hills. Using 8×10 prints for an 8×20 diptych or 10x 24 triptych is also nice. The 8×20 format is a standard banquet-camera size, the next step up from the 7×17 format that I use.

I’m participating in the Emporia Art Walk this year on Saturday April 18th. My goal is to have several of these panoramas on display and for sale. Hope to see you there.

Making Hay

August Hay 2003  photograph by Alex Hawley

August Hay 2003 photograph by Alex Hawley

Its Hay season here in farm country. From mid-August through September, the tall prairie grass is cut, raked, then baled to provide livestock feed through the winter. In this area, it’s the sweet, tall, highly nutritious Bluestem grass of the Kansas Flint Hills that’s being harvested.

Compressing the cut grass into a large tightly wound shape serves to preserve the grass’ nutritional value. The outer layer decays a couple inches but serves to insulate the rest of the bale. Thus, the grass holds up far longer than it would if cut and left loose.

It’s only been in my adult lifetime that the large round bales came in to use. Previously, hay was bales into small square bales of about thirty-five pounds each. A lot of physical labor was used to move the bales from bailing machine to feed. Now, weighing a thousand pounds per bale, they are impossible for humans to handle so machinery is a must. In one way it’s a shame that our youth don’t have such a body developing activity anymore. But as one who has thrown a bale or two, I don’t miss the old bales a bit.

The large round baling machine itself is a Kansas invention. Mr. Lyle Yost, founder of Hesston Corp. in Hesston, Kansas was the inventor and brought them to the market in the early 1970s. Now they are the standard of the world.

“August Hay 2003” was taken early in my Large Format experience using 4×5 Kodak Tri-X film. The print was made on Forte Polywamtone fiber base paper.