Editors note: Currents is delighted to introduce “Island Images,” a new monthly column by photographer Andrew (“Andy”) Bergh, a long-time Bainbridge Islander. He will be sharing with you his photos capturing the beauty and community of our region and beyond. Andy started his transition from law to photography over a decade ago, and in 2018 he opened Bergh Images gallery in Winslow. He and his wife, Carol, regularly participate in the monthly First Friday Art Walks.
Ferries, Part One:
When you live in the Pacific Northwest generally and Bainbridge Island specifically, there is no dearth of photographic opportunities for those wielding a camera. My passion for digital photography is shared by popular island photographer Paul Brians, who for the past year posted his “Photo Album” column on Currents featuring scads of wonderful images that he has made over the years. Paul has now wrapped up his column, and I’ll be writing this new monthly series called “Island Images.”
Like Paul’s offerings, each month there will be a different theme. For the most part, my image selection will be “Bainbridge Island-centric” – but I can’t rule out that we might take an occasional detour or two.
My inaugural article focuses on the subject of ferries which, as far as choices go, seems like a no-brainer to me. Notwithstanding the existence of the Agate Pass Bridge connecting us to the Kitsap Peninsula, the fact remains that we undeniably live on an island reliant in substantial part on the Washington State Ferry system to get from Point A to Point B. Being surrounded everywhere by water is what makes our domicile so uniquely desirable – and the ferries an integral part of our ecosystem and daily lifestyle.
I happen to remember the exact date of my very first ferry ride. On July 4, 1986, my family and I were visiting Seattle en route to the San Juan Islands and staying at the Inn at the Market Hotel near the Pike Place Market. When we asked the front desk clerk about holiday plans, she recommended that we take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and check out the hokey – her exact word – Fourth of July parade. That’s precisely what we did. We loved what we saw. The seed was planted. And though it took a while to get our ducks lined up, we moved to Bainbridge Island two years later from Southern California.
Before the waterfront redevelopment project began in Seattle, there was a wooden stairway at Colman Dock connecting the main vehicle holding area to the upper story of the ferry terminal. This image – taken from the stairway landing right as the MVV Tacoma was docking in Seattle – is what I consider to be one of my more iconic shots of Washington State ferries. (NOTE: the MVV Tacoma was the first of three Jumbo Mark II class ferries to be introduced to the system starting in 1997. When my family and I crossed the sound for the first time in July 1986, we were most likely riding one of the two Jumbo class ferries consisting of the MVV Spokane and MVV Walla Walla which were introduced in the early 1970s.)
“MAKING THE TURN”
Many photographers have their favorite “go-to” spots for taking certain photographs – and I’m certainly no exception. If you google “bainbridge island creosote plant map” and zoom in close, you should see a pin labeled “Creosote Park Bench” just east of the old Wycoff wood treatment plant. From that location, you have an expansive view looking past Wing Point to the north; Mount Rainier to the south (with a peekaboo view of Mount St. Helens on a real clear day); and the Seattle skyline in the smackdab middle. It was from this vantage point that I shot the MVV Wenatchee making the turn before sunrise one morning. Photographing a moving object in low lighting can be tricky, which is one more reason why it made sense in this case to take the shot when the ferry was coming right at me so the movement would be minimized.
The MVV Tacoma once again gets the spotlight as it makes the crossing heading back to Bainbridge Island. While it’s something I should probably know independently after commuting to Seattle for 25 years, I confirmed at the WSF website that on weekdays there are 22 crossings each way on the Seattle-Bainbridge Island run. This assumes two-boat service, of course, which nowadays is a lot more iffy.
As you might have surmised, this image predates the pandemic and depicts one of the “cattle car” runs filled with commuters. With West Seattle visible in the background, one might think the ferry was in the middle of the sound when I grabbed this shot. In truth, it was just about to enter Eagle Harbor, which goes to show how a good telephoto lens can really compress distance.
Time for a quick quiz: Do you know how many parks call Bainbridge Island home? Time’s up, according to the website of Destination Bainbridge, the number is 25 – and I’ll bet I couldn’t name half of them. There is still so much to explore! One park I do know from living in the Wing Point area for over 25 years is a sleeper called Hawley Cove Park, located on Wing Point Way. The 11.7-acre conservancy park has a quarter mile walking trail which takes you to the shoreline on Eagle Harbor, which happens to be where I was standing when I took this next image. As you can tell, the tide was extremely low that day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the 17-foot, 3-inch draft of the MVV Tacoma came perilously close to scraping bottom.
I’ll bet most Bainbridge Islanders know about the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility located just south of the ferry terminal. For one thing, it’s pretty hard to miss! When you consider that a fleet of 21 ferries crosses Puget Sound and its inland waterways carrying nearly 24 million passengers annually to 20 different ports of call, the need for a single hub where all vessel and terminal maintenance can be performed should be fairly obvious. But unless you work there or know someone who does, I’ll also wager that what you don’t know is that the complex employs over 100 skilled laborers in 10 different trade shops: electric, pipefitter, machine, sheet metal, weld, lock, radio, carpenter, insulation, and shore maintenance. Though mostly hidden from public view, that is quite a beehive of activity!
On the morning I took this shot, the water was still calm enough to peacefully reflect the blue sky and the whites and greens of the ferries. From left to right, there is the MVV Wenatchee (Jumbo Mark II class), the MVV Yakima (Super class), and a runt whose name I can’t quite make out. To me they are the poppa, momma, and baby ferries – which explains my name for this image.
“FERRIES AT DAWN”
One of my favorite “go-to” places in Eagle Harbor is Pritchard Park, whose eastern end abuts the aforementioned – and ever the @!#$% eyesore – creosote plant. Sometimes, a photographer is in the right place at the right time simply thanks to blind luck. In my experience, however, capturing the desired image usually involves some preparation and preplanning. That was the case with my “Ferries at Dawn” shot. I knew I wanted to photograph the resting ferries with a pastel pink sky in the background, so that meant getting to the location at some gawdawful time before sunrise. (The best pinks are usually before the sun actually appears over the horizon.) Timing also was a factor because the Olympics can be much more bashful than Mount Rainier in terms of making an appearance. Lastly, sharp detail in the peaks was a must, which called for a crisp, clear morning with minimal haze. So between The Weather Channel and intuition, I kept tracking the conditions and only showed up when I thought they would be optimal for the shoot. And while I admittedly don’t bat a thousand and always leave with the hoped-for killer image, I still win because an early morning communion with nature is always enjoyable.
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NEXT MONTH: We will continue with the ferry theme but instead of displaying images of ferries, I will instead show shots taken from ferries. Those 35-minute rides across Puget Sound rarely disappoint when it comes to gorgeous views!
ABOUT ANDREW BERGH: Local artist Andrew (“Andy”) Bergh is a long-time Bainbridge Islander (33+ years), whose successful transition from law to photography began in 2010. After displaying his unique and evocative images at different venues, including the Bainbridge Island Studio Tours, the Saturday Farmers Market, and various local businesses, Andy took the big plunge in September 2018 when he opened his own gallery – Bergh Images – in downtown Winslow. His prints are offered in different mediums, including metal, canvas, and fine art acrylic prints; matted prints; and custom-framed black and white prints. Andy has an online presence at https://berghimages.com/, which also features his entertaining travel blog. The gallery is open every day but Monday, with Andy and his wife Carol regularly participating in the monthly First Friday Art Walks sponsored by the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association.
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