Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Picture This: Caltrans Photos Receive AASHTO Awards

An iron worker suspended from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge by a thin cable leans over a metal beam with a cutting torch, a brilliant orange cloud of sparks erupting from the tool and surrounding him. The blue-green water of the bay ripples gently below him, in sharp contrast to the heat and fire of the work occurring just a few yards away.

This scene is the subject of a photo that was recently awarded the Grand Prize in the Faces of Transportation competition sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation (AASHTO) officials. The prize was awarded to Caltrans Engineer Martin Chandrawinata.

That's not the only honor Caltrans received. The People’s Choice Award was presented to Caltrans photographer Bill Hall, who captured Caltrans Engineer Matt Bruce inspecting the cable band installation near the top of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge:

Twenty-eight transportation department employees from 21 states and six private citizens submitted 121 photographs in the competition.

While it's rewarding to receive recognition in AASHTO's annual competition, we take photos 365 days year as a necessary part of our work. Whether it's taking simple snapshots to document a striping operation or photographing an entire freeway corridor from a helicopter, cameras are an essential tool for many Caltrans employees. 

Plus, photos allow us to illustrate and explain the work we do — work that is frequently invisible to the public and often occurs in dangerous and inaccessible locations. Many of the photos on this blog serve that purpose. For example, we can't take you inside a burnt freeway tunnel and point out the repairs underway, but we can show you photos like these. A picture can instantly communicate. ("Oh, so that's why the connector tunnel is closed!")

To see some great examples of transportation photography, check out all the entries in the AASHTO competition here.