Photography – Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Carol A. Hand

I have to admit, I wasn’t able to take very interesting photos related to today’s topic: “Street” – Establishing Shots. Time and weather limited choices to my immediate neighborhood, but I did learn something about the importance of perspective and light. I also became more aware of the varied nature of my neighborhood.

Duluth, Minnesota is a long narrow city nestled between Lake Superior and St. Louis River on one side and a steep hillside on the other. The vista one block from my house is that of a busy avenue – the major artery for lengthwise city traffic on my side of town (the “west” side).  It’s a street one typically travels to get somewhere else.

WP Street 1

Grand Avenue (3rd Street)

In case you’re curious about the sign on the left side in the photo above …

DSC01518

The sign post for the church often changes messages. Although I have often been tempted to take photos, I have never had my camera with me. But today, I did.

My street, West 4th, is only a few blocks long bordered on one end by an elementary school and on the other, by the high school. The street is often filled with children on their way to and from school or the nearby playground. Today, it was noticeably empty.

WP Street 2

West 4th Street facing east toward the high school

The alley behind the house did have more activity, but I felt as though it would be invading people’s privacy to include their photos without their permission. So this is the best I could do today.

DSC01503

I found myself tempted to label this “An Alley of Strangers.” It’s surprising how few people I have been able to meet in my four and a half years here. (Horizontal with zoom lens)

This is the same alley from a slightly different vantage point (Vertical with a wide lens)

WP Street 3

These are not exciting pictures, but I’m not sure I would have learned as much about photography if they had been like those in an earlier post of street views. The contrasts between wide and zoom lenses, the variability of light due to very slight shifts in my vantage point and the changing weather, and vertical/horizontal camera shots all captured incredibly different perspectives and evoked very different feelings.

(Photos taken with Sony Cyber-shot camera. The only processing involved the rotation of vertical shots.)

***

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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11 Responses to Photography – Wednesday, July 13, 2016

  1. As a photographer with nearly 40 years’ experience, I can offer some assistance. I may be jumping the gun on your course, but just in case they miss this point, remember the Rule of Thirds for composition. This fundamental rule applies to almost all art except the more abstract forms. Take an image on a sheet of paper and divide it evenly into thirds, vertically for a landscape scene, horizontally for a vertical scene. This then helps you compose the image that carries the most “weight” in your photograph. Whatever you decide is the subject of your image must fill two-thirds of the frame. So if you were shooting mountains, decide: is it the sky I really want to make the subject, or the mountains themselves? If the sky, then it must take up two-thirds. If the mountains, the opposite is true.
    Another important lesson is perspective. I see you starting to do that already with your 4th Street shot, where you wisely shoot the street on an angle and in diminishing perspective, never straight on. This carries the viewer “into” the scene, which means you also need to consider where it is you’re leading them. Ideally, it shouldn’t be a dead end unless that’s your point. It should lead to something. The classic example of this of course is railway shots.
    And finally, watch for telling or unusual details. A photo of an alley or street can be quite boring unless you train your eye to pick out oddities that will draw in your viewer. Has someone put out trash that has something interesting in it, like an old broken doll, or a TV set with a broken tube? For this you’ll likely want more close-up rather than perspective shots. Go for the gritty details, up close and personal. In a street scene, is there an old business sign with a few letters faded out, or a neon sign that no longer spells out what it’s supposed to? Go for that.
    And go for the people in the urban landscape; after all, without them, most cities are just plain ugly to look at. Don’t be afraid to ask people if you can take their picture, and again, get in close with your lens. “Character” is the watchword here.
    Finally in my mini-photography course (you may want to take them one at a time), look for TEXTURE. For this you’ll again want to favour the close-ups: the grain of broken pavement on a road; a half-rotted wooden sign; the glitter of sunlight on an oily puddle on the blacktop; etc. Use your macro lens and get as tight as you can. The subject then becomes the texture itself, which can convey all sorts of impressions: roughness, smoothness, dirty, clean, ragged, etc. Blown up into a good-sized enlargement, it becomes a work of art unto itself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I appreciate your thoughtful comments and suggestions a great deal, Art. This is really the first opportunity that I’ve had to contrast the composition of photos and think critically about the results. I know I’ll never develop the expertise and skill you have. Yet even this course is already helping me think about lenses and perspective in new ways that have metaphoric relevance for cultural differences. (It’s something I’m dealing with in my manuscript edits right now…)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. sanpha says:

    so quiet neighborhood , beautiful pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim Brennan says:

    Some terrific shots. Love the alley and church sign

    Liked by 1 person

  4. inesephoto says:

    I like the perspective in the shot #4, Carol. It is a nice slice of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughtful perspective, Inese. I’m grateful for you comment given your incredible skill as a photographer.

      Shot #4 does show a slice of life close-up – as it is. Shot #5 softens the reality by showing a similar view from a more distant perspective, hiding some of the “messiness” of life. (I think…)

      Liked by 1 person

      • inesephoto says:

        It is the road I like the most in the shot #4. It looks like a ribbon disappearing somewhere, and it has its own life, oblivious to the ‘messiness’ 🙂 People with their life, and the road without end. Just love the composition with this message.

        Liked by 1 person

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