From the Archives: Reading the signs on Allens Ave.

Some variants from the RI Photo survey Archive. This is a spot I returned to a number of times. I don't recall if I returned because I was dissatisfied with the first attempt or that I just simply liked the location. Now it's interesting to compare the differences.  A return visit is in order.


Allens Ave, 1992, #1 4x5 Tri-X

Allens Ave, 1992 #2 4x5 Tri-X

These are the first attempts. I typically would shoot 2 sheets. I must have been on the fence about including cars as I tried it both ways. I printed the first, but now I rather like the second with stretch limo and the man and his young companion on bikes.

Allens Ave, 1993 4x5 Tri-X

A year later I returned, this time with an overcast sky. This is the image that I printed and exhibited for the 1994 show "On Land" at the Warwick Art Museum. The tension of the wires literally ties the composition together.


Note that in 1993, at least for one day, the "Diesel Fuel low prices" was upright.

Allens Ave 1994 #1 4x5 Tri-X

Allens Ave 1994 #2 6x9 (120) HP-5+

Finally in 1994 I returned once more, this time on a sunny afternoon. This time a composition similar to the 1993 take, but horizontal. Also on that day, showing what was to come for me photographically, I shot a frame with the Fuji 6x9 camera (machine as Tod Papageorge says). Echoing I'm sure accidentally the alternate of 1992 I include cars in the 6x9 frame.

Allens Ave, June 2006.  120 Ilford HP-5+ // Signage and signal boxes aren't what they used to be.

Ghost bike on Allens Ave, June 2006

I took another shot in 2006 just to compare changes and because I had stopped there to take a picture of a ghost bike that was chained to the railing below the on ramp just to the left of this view. That was the day I was hassled by a Providence cop who pulled up next to me and said "what do ya think you're doing? what're taking pictures of the tanks for?" I said I wasn't taking pictures of the tanks and I was just taking pictures for my self, for history. He asked "is that your car over there?" It was. "Give me your license and meet me there". I handed him my license and crossed the street, wondering where this was going. When I got to his car he had run my plates and was reading my name and address into the radio. He then started in again on why was I shooting fuel tanks and that this was a sensitive area and it's not allowed. I kept quiet, feeling more and more apprehensive, then he says "I could take your film" I say "I don't think that's..." and he cuts me off saying "but I won't, why don't you go take your pictures in some other part of the city", (obviously not understanding this photography of place thing) and hands me my license. He then drives off.  I had a copy of the photographer's rights in my bag and I was preparing myself to pull that out as I had no intention of giving him my film. I knew I hadn't been trespassing or doing anything illegal. I was going to start naming my friends in City Hall and anyone else I could think of but I was relieved that it never came to that. Then I was angry, and mad at myself for not getting his name. I stuck around and shot a little more although I was hardly in the frame of mind for it, thinking the whole while about the chilling effect this sort of confrontation can have. Self censorship is the most prevalent form of censorship and I was determined not to let this incident keep me inside.