Saturday, May 22, 2010

Von Phister By Night

I left the police station at one in the morning on my lunch break with no idea where to go or what to do. Indecision sometimes is my friend. I stopped on Von Phister Street for a walk with camera in hand, and as I walked I thought to myself how easy it is to sop on almost any Key West street and find something to look at. A Triumph Bonneville for a start, well worn at 38,000 miles but still running just fine:Key West's houses take on a slightly mysterious air at night. Imagine if you will how quiet and serene the street is,the air warm on the skin and the humidity is high enough to produce a light sweat. From the street there are no sounds.
Some homeowners like to burn electricity all night long illuminating their porches and keeping Keys Energy Services (the old City Electric Company) happy. It cheers up a photographer who wants no part of using an electronic flash. This was a hand held shot at one second's exposure.This next one could have used half a second but I like the challenge of taking multiple exposures and erasing the wobbly fuzzy ones. It takes a surprisingly long time to gather enough pictures for an essay at night.
According to J. Wills Burke's The Streets of Key West there are two William Von Phisters buried in the Key West cemetery, one who died in 1850 and owned the building that houses the Green Parrot on Whitehead Street. He dabbled in real estate and ran a store in that building and according to Burke he was one of two men who was responsible for platting much of the island. If you have no offsets today on your lot you should apparently blame Von Phister. This is the eponymous street looking east toward New Town.
Von Phister's offspring was elected a Judge just as the Civil War was about to break out and he refused to serve according to Burke when Florida seceded. He stepped up to the bench once more when Key West was declared Union territory by the soldiers at Fort Zachary and after the war he went on to be elected to the city commission. As Burke reports rather dryly it did not seem to matter to the voters that the younger William Von Phister had been a Union sympathizer.
I took the shot above with the appropriate setting for artificial light but I thought it looked rather cold so I reset the camera for daylight and got this orange glow. I did finally pop the flash on the Bonneville and got this rather stark rendering of my motorcycle.
Or this without the flash. A group of young loud people on bicycles pedaled by laughing and shouting on their way. For those that like to think the streets of key West are a place of peril at 1:30 in the morning I am sorry to disappoint. There was no drama.
I went back to the station and napped for 20 minutes, and awoke refreshed and ready to answer the phones until 6am.