A Micro-Nikkor 55mm 1:2.8 lens sat unused in my basement, on a dusty ledge, in a plastic bag. It is the last thing that I have from my grandfather on my father’s side. He liked to take photographs of flowers, rhubarb, and small toys in his backyard, so a small macro lens made sense. I decided to take the lens out for a spin of the docklands.
The photographs are of the Port of Saint John, founded in 1785 by loyalists to the crown fleeing the American revolution of 1776. It is a deep natural harbour abutting the Atlantic Ocean.
I wanted to take beautiful shots of the harbour, but alas, the day I arrived it was blanketed in deep fog.
A feature of many port cities of the era is that they can be very hilly, because what is important is a deep water, sheltered harbour, not the land. Saint John is very cramped in it’s port area because when it was built in the late 1700s, you don’t have cars and trucks, only horses and boats, so all the important stuff such as warehouses, banks and markets is crammed into boundaries defined by the distance a person could walk from the docks in about thirty minutes. This leads to many alleyways and tucked away places.
There is a lovely coffee shop hidden down this alleyway, carved into an old brick warehouse, ten minute walk uphill from the docks. The aluminum circle in the middle of the frame is a outdoor seating spot for the coffee shop.
Opposite view, showing a large multi-story mural of a squid or kraken on another old warehouse.
I love the oddities of old cities. In the foreground, bottom left, is a tiny patio for precisely one person to stand and have a drink.
One street up from the harbour, before you get to the warehouses, there is a series of old banks and financial institutions, as well as the customs house. You had to pay your customs and taxes before bringing goods on shore. Abandoned most of my life, this magnificent building currently houses a hipster axe-throwing club.
Beautiful (in my eyes) architecture leading down to the harbour. There is a lovely Irish bar in the yellow building, as well as an army surplus store.
This green door leads to a dockside warehouse. In the 1990s it lead to coffee shop, then later a tavern. I have passed through this door exactly one time in my life.
One last photo, not taken by me or this camera. This is Donald Montgomery Vye, born 1900, died in 1987. It is with his Micro-Nikkor 55mm 1:2.8 lens that I took these photos. He worked as an Engineer at the Port of Saint John for multiple decades. Below he is taking a selfie of himself, with a timer, in his basement. I miss you Pops.