Being from the east coast, I never had much of an opportunity to explore all things western: states like California, Nevada, Arizona, etc. But once I moved to California, it's was time to explore. On a short trip to Las Vegas for my birthday weekend, a trip to Hoover Dam was on the list. Admittedly, one of the reasons I went, aside from it being an historical and architectural marvel, was that I was always a big Friends fan. Huh? Stay with me..being a Friends fan, I was inevitably a Matthew Perry fan...Matthew Perry starred in one of my favorite romantic comedies, Fools Rush In, opposite the wonderful, Salma Hayek. I remembered a few of the scenes they filmed at the Dam, so much like sites in LA, I was excited to see the place in reality.
I didn't allow time or budget to take a full tour (saving that for next time), but it was a wonderful experience to walk and take in the concrete miracle that is the Hoover Dam:
Inevitably, I came across, and was happy to photograph the Winged Figures of the Republic statue by Sculptor, Oskar J. W. Hansen:
A cool thing to find was the engraved marble inscription at the base of the figures. Very motivating and uplifting there were a few key words I wanted to photograph. This was a nod to, and in homage, to my friend from Tennessee, Amber, who I traveled to Washington D.C. with in 2012. When we saw the Boy Scout Memorial there was an inscription in stone and we photographed a few of the keywords that stood out to us.
Check this out...( I mean you're already here and committed, reading this page, you're going to see it anyway, but this excites me) these following images show you the massive scale of the Dam. I always remember in architecture school when they taught us to "always include scale figures in your drawings." I don't remember which professor said it (they probably all did at some point) and I wish I could give proper credit where it's due, but it's a great piece of advice.
For non-architects or artists, "including a scale figure" means drawing the likeness of a human being within an architectural drawing to be able to show the size and scale of a room or structure. "We'll have this massive auditorium space! It will feel so grand!" or "The hotel lobby is going to be very wide open!" That sounds great, but...how big exactly? You will include the measurement in the drawing, of course, but how will others know what the space feels like? Include a scale figure. When you draw the space, you include what a person roughly 5' or 6' tall will look like in comparison to the space. This will give the viewer an understanding of how tall that auditorium space, or how wide the atrium will feel. Example:
[Image Copyright: Jenny Jones. I very easily could have just sketched a quick example of a scale figure and included it, but instead I googled and found this image by architect, Jenny Jones. She is a British architect with a really cool portfolio. I have no intentions of besmirching her by using the image. If she asks, I'd certainly take it down, no trouble. But after doing this search, she's someone I'd like to meet someday. She has a great design sense. Check out her website: Studio Jenny Jones. Anyhow, moving on...]
Those little black figures in the Jenny Jones drawing above are scale figures. You can see how big that proposed space would be based on the figures.
So I was excited when I said, "check this out" because I try to include the concept of scale figures in photography whenever I can. At the Hoover Dam, the opportunity arose: some construction workers were working on some kind of conduit that leads underground, under the Dam. I don't know the conduit's purpose, but look at how massive it is...
My last part of the experience of Hoover Dam was going to be walking on the Mike O'Callahan, Pat Tillman Bridge to get a view of the Dam from far away/above. While you're touring the Dam, you can see the bridge the whole time. It calls to you, "come, photograph the Dam from my great heights." Compared to the sacrifices these men made for our country, my fear of walking across that bridge was absolutely nothing. But it was still a harrowing experience: cars are traveling relative fast, there's not much between you and the road, and well...it's high. But as always, the desire to get a shot trumps fear, heights, etc.
Last but not last, a repeat. I actually took a better image from the bridge on my cell: