People walk in Chattanooga a lot. It’s part of the city’s identity. It’s also part of the reason we ended up here. Chattanooga offers total coolness when it comes to places to take a walk–both literally and figuratively. The Walnut St Bridge tops the charts for popularity. Connecting downtown to the North Shore, Walnut St Bridge was converted from an old wooden bridge for cars to a pedestrian walkway. The entire bridge is dedicated to people-not-in-cars–imagine that! Paralleling Walnut St Bridge to the West, the Market St bridge also has sidewalks on both sides and a good share of its own pedestrian traffic, although there is plenty of car traffic too. There aren’t many places that you can’t walk safely in Chattanooga. Maybe that’s why they don’t have traffic problems?
I intended to shoot the moon (I know it’s a pun, but it makes me giggle) after hang gliding last weekend, but I missed the true full moon because hang gliding was so exhausting that I slept right through the moonrise. So, I shot the almost-full moon the next night instead. [Photography lesson learned: a monopod is not the right solution for long-exposure shots with a big, heavy 100-400mm lens. That said, some of the blurry shots are still interesting.] We raced out to the Market St Bridge to find a place to shoot just before moonrise.
Standing on the bridge after another hot day provides the relief of the cool breeze that seems to be constantly blowing over the river. I admit that when we visited last January, we didn’t find this breeze so refreshing, though. People go by in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and fashion styles. My favorites are the cops on Segways. The blue lights on the Segways always make interesting light patterns as they travel across the bridge. You can hang out on the Walnut St bridge–there are benches. The Market St. bridge is not so hang-out friendly. As we wait for the moon to rise, our fellow pedestrians rush by without pausing, although usually with a friendly greeting.
No one seems to wonder what we are doing there–I suppose a camera offers it’s own explanation. I imagine this town is familiar with gawkers and photographers alike. I have seen photographers far better equipped than me wandering around the riverfront, shooting the fantastic views of Chattanooga’s downtown area–there are a lot of subjects to choose from.
Shooting requires concentration. Trying to hold a big lens still in a strong breeze becomes a sort of meditation: position yourself, take a deep breath, set up for the shot, breathe out, hold everything as still as possible, snap the shot. The moon rises quickly–as if it’s worried it’s late for it’s nightly appointment. In the fading sunlight, it glows big and orange. I see the man in the moon clearly through my lens and wonder who decided it looked like a man. But, I feel the pull of it’s magic. What is it about the moon that makes my blood run at a different pace? It looks so naked hanging there in reflected light, yet what does its nakedness reveal? That the moon still seems mysterious in a time when it has been picked clean of all its secrets speaks to just how magical it is. This night, it looms large and poses for me only briefly.