For the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to travel out to Boston's Harbor Islands, most notably Georges Island, Peddocks Island and Lovells Island. Georges Island and Fort Warren have been transformed into the hub of the Harbor Islands State Park and thus has been rendered a tourist destination as opposed to the once idyllic getaway it could be just a few years ago. Peddocks, my favorite, has suffered a worse fate as most of what once was Fort Andrews has either been torn down or boarded up. The magical home to my first photographs, my World War Wonderland has been snuffed out. So I was left with Lovells Island as my location of choice this summer. Lovells is a hardscrabble strip of land facing out towards the outermost harbor and the Brewster Islands. It sits across from Fort Warren along what was once the main shipping channel entering Boston. It's shape has been severely reconfigured by erosion since WWII though. As a testament to this a large communications bunker lies in a massive heap on the beach having been ripped from its original hillside location by the savage winter surf. Unlike the other islands I mentioned nothing really has been done to despoil this rugged place which on a blazing hot summer day can bring to mind some desolate Southwestern Pacific island in 1944...if one is so inclined.
I had not been to Lovells or the concrete remains of Fort Standish for about five summers. Any time I traveled to the Harbor Islands I would opt to go to Peddocks as even in its diminished state there were certain challenges yet to be conquered. (See The Summer Campaign blog below) In fact this year my first visit was to Peddocks where it became abundantly clear that the challenges were pretty much exhausted.
The part of Fort Standish that I find most compelling is known as Battery Terrill or Battery Terror as I prefer to call it. It was originally a triple six inch rifle battery and it managed to survive in service until 1943 when its sadly antiquated weaponry was removed and replaced with more modern armaments. Now it is wildly overgrown and crumbling like so many of my locations,,,only more so. Its great appeal is that it is a wonderful spot to occupy for hours as one can watch the sadly beautiful light change from lurid green to golden yellow and pink with shades of blue as the afternoon progresses. It is a subtle but spectacular shift in tones to witness particularly in late August. The light at that time is most like that which used to inhabit Peddocks Island in its luminescent heyday. The other very notable quality the rooms of the emplacement have is a remarkable sound quality with an extraordinary echo developing the deeper one ventures into the bowels of the structure. On certain days the sound of jet engines at Logan Airport is amplified in such a way as to sound like the rumble of an angry volcano constantly on the verge of erupting.
I was fortunate to get number of "picture perfect" days for my travels to the islands this summer, but three of the days suddenly ended with thunderstorms, one of which was particularly nasty. On the day the photo above was shot as the violent storm approached the vibrant colors that illuminated the bunkers became dark with shadows and drained of coloration. I had attempted to shoot the image above another time, but it was too bright even in the seemingly darkened casemate to get a clear projection. While the thunder rumbled ever closer I worked feverishly like a camouflaged Dr. Frankenstein to set up the shot. I knew I couldn't rush things but I soon had to get back to the boat which involved an arduous hump across the island. This included crossing a significantly large enough wide open area that it seemed like it could called Lightning Alley under such circumstances. The oncoming shitstorm became an ideal time not only to get the right lighting effect for the shot, but also it created the perfect setting to create an image of a war criminal about to be executed.