The San Diego Vietnam War Memorial


The Vietnam Memorial at Balboa Park

The Vietnam Memorial at Balboa Park

The wind wasn't blowing when I entered the Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego's Balboa Park, but it was gusting when I left. I should have known better and made my photographs during the stillness, but my excitement at finally seeing the Flor Gorduno exhibit got the better of me. I should have waited.

The San Diego Vietnam War Memorial was only a five minute drive from where I was parked, and I navigated there quickly. Hiking my camera up several flights of outdoor stairs of the multilayer parking lots, I came upon memorial, which resides along the side of the Veterans' Museum. There was something I hadn't counted on. The American flag was flying at half mast due to Nancy Reagan's passing. My first image of my newly restarted project would always be connected to the former first lady's passing. Politics and the memorials are always unavoidable.

I started this project in earnest over a year ago, and nearly finished it. Then I realized that my photographs at the end of the project were much stronger than those at the beginning. As I was preparing to reshoot the early images, I bought the 8x10 camera. So instead of redoing just the early images, I'm reshooting everything, and the San Diego memorial is the first in the new project.

As I set up my 8x10 and Ries tripod, the wind was still. Then I focused and pulled my head out of the dark clothe, and gusts appeared. The flag shook and the trees waved. I waited patiently for a pause and took the first image. Then I decided to take a second with a wider aperture and faster shutter to arrest any movement, just in case. That took an extra ten minutes of waiting. 

During the shoot many visitors walked by, looking on with curious amusement, but  keeping a respectful distance, allowing me to focus on the image the way I needed. This is the sort of start I like.