Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wings Over the River

The battleship New Jersey, alone but for the photographer and some seagulls.

Wings Over the River

I've been known to look kindly on pigeons in my street photography. Sometimes when taking pictures, of say the exterior of a bank building for a business story, I'll wait for one - or a bicycle messenger - to enter the scene before snapping the shutter.

So when I was shooting the USS New Jersey for a story (by Inquirer writer Edward Colimore) on the historic battleship's latest fight - to pay its bills and fend off attempts to move it from Camden to North Jersey.

I and my photo colleagues at the newspaper have photographed "Big J" hundreds of times since BB-62 was moved back to the Delaware River in 1999 (for restoration work in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she was born just before WWII).  I just needed an "updated" photo of the ship, which is only open for tours on weekends during the winter. So I couldn't go onboard, and there was nobody around on the cold waterfront that morning but me.

...and the seagulls (kinda like pigeons).

Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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