Katyń Memorial in the Sky

Katyń Memorial Statue located in front of J. Owen Grundy Pier at Exchange Place in Jersey City. It commemorates the massacre of thousands of Polish prisoners by Joseph Stalin in April and May of 1940 right after the Soviet Union invaded Eastern Poland © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Katyń Memorial Statue located in front of J. Owen Grundy Pier at Exchange Place in Jersey City. It commemorates the massacre of thousands of Polish prisoners by Joseph Stalin in April and May of 1940 right after the Soviet Union invaded Eastern Poland
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

During the summer time around late July 2014, I had a freelancing photographer’s job with the city of Jersey City. The program that I was working for was called the Jersey City Brand Ambassador Team (Creative Civilians). With this position, I would get sent to cover certain events around Jersey City, take photos of the events and have my photos uploaded onto social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest. I would also write stories about Jersey City people at those events and get their thoughts about a certain festival or food market. I was covering a Summer Dance performance by the Kennedy Dancers at J. Owen Grundy Pier on the Waterfront in the Exchange Place area.

It was an early evening event that started at 6 P.M and ended at 8 P.M, so it was still daylight out with the summer sunset looming. When I was finished with the event, I started walking back home on the boardwalk of Grundy Pier. I couldn’t help it, but I kept looking back at the New York City skyline because of these giant clouds passing by. I’m a sucker for giant clouds in backgrounds. When I was at the end of the boardwalk, I noticed right away that a giant cloud in particular was the perfect background match for the Katyń Memorial Statue, located right in front of Grundy Pier.

The Katyń Memorial Statue commemorates the massacre of thousands of Polish prisoners by Joseph Stalin in April and May of 1940 right after the Soviet Union invaded Eastern Poland. There’s a plaque on the statue that explains the entire history of the events, which explains why the statue depicts a soldier being stabbed by a rifle. I had been waiting for the right time to take a photo of the Katyń statue and this was the perfect time thanks to this giant cloud.

In a great haste, I took out my camera out of my bag to capture this awesome image before the cloud past. Shooting in program, I decreased the exposure composition to where the statue was as dark as a shadow and the giant cloud popped out greatly. The white balance was in shade mode and the ISO levels were in overcast mode as I kneeled on my right knee trying to get the statue lined up in the middle of the photo with the giant cloud taking over the entire background.I did my best to zoom in close to just get the statue and cloud; I didn’t want to get the New York City skyline in the way. The most difficult part of taking this photo was keeping the antenna from the World Trade Center from popping into the frame.

I did my best not to include it as you can still see the antenna visible on the corner left side of the photo just a little bit. Other than that, I was extremely happy of how this photo came out and one of the rare moments when I was amazed by my own photo. To me, it’s important as a photographer to not always look straight ahead in front of you for a particular shot because sometimes the best shots are just behind you, so always look back once in a while just in case.

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