©Bert Gildart: Once again the artifacts of modern society present a photographic challenge: How to photograph the Alamo and convey the haunting history that its walls should suggest?
During the day, with literally thousands of people streaming past the entrance, with the glitz and glare of lights from the Davy Crockett Hotel and department stores of all shape size and description actually surrounding this iconic American shrine, it seems an impossibility to project drama. But night–and late in the evening at that–provides a wonderful opportunity.
Still, there’s a bit of a challenge, for you have to lower the camera enough to eliminate the gaudy lights from the Crocket Hotel, and you’ve obviously got to secure your camera long enough to illuminate the walls with the low lighting fringing the Alamo.
Securing my camera on a tripod, I exposed this image for one second at f-4, using a 28mm lens. And though it was about 10 p.m., still my biggest challenge was finding the narrow window when no one was present. Seemed many people would walk to the front of this ancient structure built in 1718 and simply stare. I understood their fascination for as most everyone knows, this is where approximately 200 Texans held off a Mexican force of thousands, and did so for several days running. They were brave men and this haunting old mission fills most Americans with pride, part of the lure, I am sure. Unlike the other four missions along the San Antonio River, which are managed by the National Park Service, this mission, once known as Mission San Antonio De Valero, is under the care of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and has been since 1905.
Remember the Alamo? Though it’s hard to forget, still, creating an evocative image remains the challenge for today’s photographer. I believe night photography may answer that challenge.