Black and White Columns

There are half a dozen images of Cairo minarets in my album of 1940s photos. One in particular of the citadel in Cairo shows the thin twin minarets that are less like the towers on other mosques and more like pencil-shaped columns. I looked for a structure where I live that resembles them, in order to see what kind of black and white photo it makes. The Australian-American Memorial is good for comparison:

The minarets on the citadel in Cairo are thin and columnar, like the Memorial. Both images illustrate the power of a tapering column soaring into the sky, visible from far away, and indeed more impressive from a distance. The memorial in Canberra, affectionately known as the obelisk, the Eagle, or the chook on a stick, is prominent in the background in my previous black and white post about towers.

The modern digital image on the right highlights the cloud detail while the 1940s image better shows the decorative sculpture of a minaret rising into what appears to be a clear sky. My photo of the monument in Canberra was taken at about 11 am with the sun behind the top of the column so its detail is not as visible; it’s more of a silhouette. For a better black and white photo I should return to it one afternoon. One thing I noticed immediately is the sharpness of the windows in the newer photo, the clearly visible cars and trees in the background, compared with the soft blur of the older photo, which is actually more charming (to me). Not knowing exactly what’s in the blurred part makes me linger longer and wonder.

In contrast to the Turkish-style minarets with vertical grooves and tiers, the memorial is a hollow octagonal column covered in aluminium sandblasted to look like stone, quite featureless except for the eagle and sphere on top. Here they are, in the photo below, and for readers who’d like to know what we’re called to remember when we see it, here’s a photo of the plaque:


Published by Trish

Literary translator

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