Thursday, Debtember 12, 2002
Neon trails along the Florida TurnpikeYears ago I worked as a stage hand at FAU and when working the spot lights I would be working on a platform about fifty feet above the audiences' heads. As long as I was busy, I was fine. But during the times I had to sit up there waiting my cue, my thoughts would wander, inevitably to the fact that I was fifty feet above the audience on a thin metal platform and the only thing holding the platform and cat-walk system were a series of poles bolted into the ceiling some fifteen feet above my head and what would happen if that bolt, right there, would suddenly slip?
My grip about the metal railing would tighten at such times, waiting for my cue (or the show to end so I could climb back down to earth). But as long as I was busy, I was fine. Such thoughts entered my mind tonight as I snapped pictures of the Florida Turnpike from an overpass, mainly when a fast moving vehicle or a large semi-truck passed by and the overpass would vibrate.
The sidewalk was covered with a chain link fence (as this false colored image shows) but even so, my attention was drawn to the concrete walls along each side of the walkway. The one separating me from the road was about three-three and a half feet high while the one separating me from a fall of about thirty-fourty feet was only six inches high (as you can see in this enhanced false-colored image). I suppose that since the entire walkway was covered with chain link fencing and that a car along the overpass is more likely to slam into a person than a car flying up from the Turnpike below to slam into a person, that only devoting 6″ of concrete is more cost effective than putting 3′ of concrete on both sides.
I still found it rather disconcerting.
And it doesn't help that I'm rather susceptible to vertigo.
To take the pictures, I (again) set the camera to night scenes, artificial light, no flash and ASA 100, and while the camera was on the tripod, leaning it against the fencing so that the lense had a clear shot through a link. Then it was waiting for a suitable number of vehicles to pass and hitting the button at the right time. For the vehicles coming towards me the trick was to find the right time to hit the button—too soon and I wouldn't get a good streak of light. Too late and I'd miss them entirely. It was easier to time the vehicles going away from me—as soon as I saw the headlights appear from below the overpass, hit the button.
What I really find interesting in these shots is that you can't even see the vehicles—they're just not visible, which I find fascinating.