This photo was taken at Joe Patti's Seafood in Pensacola, FL. where many locals purchase fresh seafood (shrimp, whole fish and fillets, crab, clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, etc.). The scene has changed since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 but in 2007, when this photo was taken, shrimp boats tied up to the pilings shown in the photo to be unloaded. Gulls, Terns, Brown Pelicans, Grebes, Cormorants, American Coots and other birds fed on the debris that went overboard during unloading.
During most of the day workers serving customers inside the building could be seen through the window. But in the late afternoon the sun angle was such that vivid reflections of external objects appeared on the window and obscured the sight of inside objects. By carefully choosing a position on the opposite side of the docking area it was possible to have the reflection of two pelicans in the window with only one of the birds directly in front of the glass. Cropping produced images such as the first one in this series.
Why is the first image one of my favorites? I was intrigued by the ability to generate photographic images of apparent diplopia. Most of my research career was devoted to trying to understand how the brain controls movements by studying the neural control of movements of the eyes. Diplopia (double vision) is usually the result of an impairment in the function of the muscles which move the eyes. If the movements of the two eyes are not precisely coordinated, visual signals arising in each eye will not reach corresponding points in the retinotopic maps found in visual areas of the central nervous system but will simultaneously activate different, non-corresponding areas of the maps and, thereby, produce double vision.
These photos were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 camera and for various reasons have a number of technical flaws. Later, after acquiring my first DSLR camera I returned to Joe Pattis to try to duplicate these photos. To my surprise the building was being renovated and the glass in the windows had been replaced. The new windows either failed to show the reflections I wanted to photograph or the reflections were very faint. This dramatic demonstration of the transience of the visual world occurred early in my development as a photographer and I learned to make the most of the scene before me for, as I learned from this experience, I knew it could be impossible to replicate in the future. Karl Lagerfeld's observation that "photographs capture a moment that's gone forever, impossible to reproduce" was verified and, for me, this was a vivid demonstration of Susan Sontag's statement that "Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”