Unique Bay Bridge Project Photos on Display

Regular ferry commuters saw a number of new faces when the Bay Bridge was shut down for overdue retrofitting.

Photo by Tom Paiva

Published: October, 2009 
Regular ferry commuters saw a number of new faces when the Bay Bridge was shut down for overdue retrofitting. It caused a good deal of disruption for many of us, but there’s no denying that this huge engineering undertaking was not without its beautiful moments.

For those who wish to relive some of those moments from a distance and in a wholly un-stressful environment, there’s “The Art of Steel: The New East Span Photos” by Tom Paiva, now on exhibit on the second floor of the MetroCenter at 101 Eighth Street, Oakland (located at the Lake Merritt BART Station).

Paiva said that, over the past year, he has been exploring the construction of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge while also looking at two facilities in the vicinity of Shanghai, China. In addition to the Bay Bridge photos, the show also features 39 of Paiva’s stunning shots of the projects in China. Some were taken outdoors at night or in twilight conditions, while others were taken in cavernous indoor, hangar-like facilities that create conditions similar to night and twilight. 

“I am drawn to the power and monumentalism of major industrial projects,” he said. “But unlike most art photographers who focus on the industrial landscape, I enjoy working at night and twilight, and in color.” The commercial sites are often still functioning, but the glare and energy of the day have subsided. What is raw and ugly in the noontime sun is transformed by night into an evocative landscape Paiva wants to explore and linger in.

“I adore the large format, four-by-five negative, which captures an unbelievable amount of detail and tonality,” he said. “On the other hand, it is incredibly hard to do, especially at night. Because my exposures can be as long as 15 minutes, I rarely get more than three or four images completed in a night’s work. I actually like the technical challenges of working with film at night. You cannot be sure what the film will pick up in these environments of complex mixed light sources, diverse intensities and deep shadows,” he said, adding that the available light sources of sodium vapor, mercury vapor, metal halide, tungsten and fluorescent intensify the yellows, blues, greens, and overall depth.

“I do not use computer manipulation in my work,” he declared.


Opera Simulcast Wows At&T Park Crowd

With the San Francisco Opera season barely underway, Bay Crossings readers were out in force at last month’s simulcast of Verdi’s Il Trovatore live from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House to AT&T Park. Conducted by San Francisco Opera’s new music director Nicola Luisotti, Il Trovatore starred Sondra Radvanovsky, Stephanie Blythe, Marco Berti and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

With seating offered on the field as well as in the stands and traditional game concessions available, fans—who paired world-class opera with garlic fries and beer—enjoyed a picnic in the outfield while taking in this riveting opera classic. Although attendance figures are not yet available for this year’s event, nearly 27,000 music lovers attended last June’s “Opera in the Ballpark” experience; a hearty crowd turned out once again in September to experience glorious music and great fun in one of San Francisco’s most beautiful locations.

For more information on Tom Paiva’s photo exhibit, contact the gallery at (510) 817-5700. The exhibit is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through January 8, 2010.