Last month marked the centennial anniversary of an important moment in the history of the Panama Canal: the May 1913 completion of the two-level lock system at Miraflores on the Canal’s Pacific side.
Ingenuity in design and engineering are particularly apparent at Miraflores, the tallest of the three sets of locks comprising the Canal as it has existed since officially opening in August 1914. (Expansion of the Canal to accommodate post-Panamax ships is slated for completion in 2015.)
At 54 feet (16 meters), the Miraflores locks system guides vessels through the extreme tide variations of Pacific-side Panama. Atlantic-side tides are, by contrast, very small.
Constructing the Panama Canal was a colossal undertaking involving false starts, massive expenditures, and worker death tolls in the twenty-thousands. The milestones along its journey to completion are worthy occasions to remember both the shadowy and bright sides of its history.
Enjoy the photos and guest blog below, contributed by travel photographer and hotelier Brendan Caffrey, in honor of Miraflores’ centennial anniversary as an operational part of this iconic man-made wonder.
Capturing the Canal: Photographer’s Notes
As a photographer, visiting the Panama Canal was actually a very frustrating experience.
First off, good light is essential to compelling photography and we arrived at the Miraflores locks on a dreary, overcast day with exceptionally flat light. When confronted with bad light, I find it’s best to concentrate on the details and patterns of a subject, which typically requires a perspective change. However, being at the museum and observation deck, I was limited in my options for places to shoot from, particularly when the crowds came and any change in my location resulted in a lost “front-row” seat.
Because of these challenges, I was personally disappointed with my shots that day, although I did get a lot of 1080p video that will convey the experience of visiting the Panama Canal pretty well, just as soon as I find the time to put that together. (I do work a full-time job managing a hotel.)
For now, enjoy a brief timelapse I shot at Miraflores last April:
(You can also view on my blog, One for the Road.)
About the author
Brendan Caffrey is an aspiring landscape photographer and travel writer based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. His passion for travel developed early, through living in the Netherlands and exploring Europe when he was very young, and is now a dominant aspect of his adult life. When not managing his hotel at Beaver Creek Ski Resort, Brendan can be found wandering on the road, ideally on the other side of the world. For more of Brendan’s work, visit his website One for the Road and follow his travels on his blog and Facebook page.
All images captured using Nikon D7000 with Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX Nikkor lens. © Brendan Caffrey 2013.