Built For Man’s Abscence

“this was an environment built, not for man, but for man’s absence.”
― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Wells Fargo Tower in Fort Worth, Texas. Click on image for a higher resolution image in Flickr.

Wells Fargo Tower in Fort Worth, Texas. Click on image for a higher resolution image in Flickr.

I have always been fascinated with the view of skyscrapers, looking up, from the sidewalk beneath. They cease to be buildings and are converted into insane abstract constructions.

Love/Hate – what amazing examples of man’s imagination, ambition, and effort – yet they are also the least human of buildings. From the street they are nothing but glass walls with tiny openings guarded by armed guards. Man is not welcomed into his own creations.

(title paraphrased from High-Rise, by J. G. Ballard. I wrote about it here).

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Dallashenge Photographs

The day was here, Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Dallashenge. I had done the calculations via suncalc.net. I had done the test shots.  And now, today, according to my best ciphering, the sun would set exactly in alignment with the canyons of highrise buildings in Downtown Dallas.

It would not be as spectacular as the very well-known Manhattanhenge, of course. As far as I know, I am the only person that recognizes this phenomenon in Dallas.

The forecast threatened thunderstorms. All day the sky was cloudy; fog wrapped the city. I had set 3PM as my decision time (I was thinking that maybe Friday would be a better day anyway for photographs) and as if by magic, the Texas sun burned the fog away, leaving the sky blue with only a few wisps of long rope-like clouds. The best I could hope for.

So I left work a little early and lugged my tripod and camera downtown on the train. It was very awkward – I need to find a way to carry/strap my tripod in/on a pack with my camera. After my test shots, I had decided to set up on a little spot of sidewalk at the intersection of Pacific, Live Oak, and St. Paul. It wasn’t the most “canyon-like” intersection, but it was impressive looking, gave me a spot to stand without dashing back and forth across the street, and Pacific Avenue isn’t blocked at the end by the Lew Sterrett Jail like the other downtown streets.

I set up the camera and tripod right at six and waited for the sun to set. Suncalc.net gave the sunset time as 6:13, which turned out to be the time the last bit of sun dropped below the horizon. Even on Pacific, the horizon isn’t unblocked, so the apparent sunset time was earlier; I took my last picture at about 6:10. It happened quickly – I was snapping, changing the camera position, adjusting the exposure, zooming in and out, and checking my photographs on the screen on the back of the Nikon.

I saw nobody else that was aware of the ‘henge. Only one person paid any attention to me. A man out walking his dogs stopped and I told him what I was doing. He said, “I walk my dogs every day at this time, and I noticed the sunsets were looking nice recently – but I didn’t realize it was because it was setting along the streets.”

Dallashenge (click to enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge) This is my new desktop wallpaper

Dallashenge (click to enlarge)

The Henge through a bus window.

I think I was there a day or two early. Even if this is the “official” henge date, the sun will be a little higher and a little more to the right in a couple days and that might make for better pictures. Next evening henge date I’ll go a little later. Also, I want to try some other intersections, especially the Elm and Harwood intersection by the Majestic Theater. I want to try and get into that pedestrian overpass – that should give a good shot.

This summer, on August 23 (6:57 AM) is a morning Dallashenge. Looking at the city maps, there is a parking garage at Lew Sterrett that might give a great view straight down Elm and Main. Sometime over the summer I need to check it out – see if the garage is public, how high its guard wall is, and if it is open at that hour of the morning.

Taking pictures of something this fleeting is sort of an all-encompassing activity. One henge day I want to go without a camera and just look at the thing.