Richmond Shipyard #3, Point Potrero, Richmond California (2020)

A view of Kaiser’s Richmond Shipyard #3 from Canal Boulevard, Richmond, California, deep in Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park.

This is one of the busiest urban landscapes I’ve taken in a long while, I think, with so many industrial shapes and … things … spread out across the middle distance. And almost nothing in it is new, with much of it — the Red Oak Victory, the old red crane, the Streamline Moderne General Warehouse in the distance behind the Victory, and the concrete docks in the foreground, at least — dating from the Second World War. Back then Richmond was shipbuilding central, and Rosie the Riveters and Wendy the Welders were a real part of everyday industry here (the understated Rosie museum is well worth visiting if you’re in the area). Shipyard Number 3 is still in use (it’s basically what we’re looking over in this photo), but mostly for mooring things like barges and dredges and marine construction gear (and the Red Oak Victory) rather than as graving and construction yards. The old docks are not in the best condition, as you can see, but they’re still standing. More or less.

When I took the photo I thought it would be all about the verticals and the diagonals and the arches (and, really, just a snapshot from one of my Sunday morning bike rides), but since looking at it at home, it’s turned into something more about the busyness and that beautiful crumbling set of stairs going into the water. And, of course, the color and texture of the concrete, always one of my fave photo subjects. The scene is a great stand-in for Richmond itself in a lot of ways.

I used my little Sony RX100 VI point and shoot to take the photo; it’s turned out to be the best point-and-shoot I’ve ever had, a small, convenient camera that produces tack sharp images at all points on its zoom range. It complements my iPhone for this sort of photography, an unobtrusive presence on bike rides like this; I almost never take my DSLRs out nowadays unless it’s for a longer trip into the desert or something like an outdoor people shot where I really need to get things right first try.

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