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Learning to see the world in a different way

“Look at everything as though you are seeing it either for the first or last time, then your time on earth will be filled with glory” .

― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Come along with me on a bit of my journey as an artist...

You may have seen the image I'm featuring on this post on my Facebook page, but I thought I'd tell you a little more about how I created it. I'm writing this post to the casual photographer, or someone who just has a passing interest/knowledge of the details. I won't go into a tutorial here.

I recently purchased a new lens. I've been coveting it for years and finally had a good reason to buy it as we're planning a family vacation. Those of you who have been seeing my photos know that I tend to take close in pics. I like seeing the details and have a fairly narrow angle of view.

Well, I bought a wide angle lens. For the non-photographers out there, that means you see a lot more out to the sides, top and bottom. If you imagine looking through a cone, this is a wide cone and all my other lenses are varying degrees of narrow cones. This different field of view requires envisioning the world in a very different way. Many of the vast landscape shots you see are taken with wide angle lenses.

I know that I need to get used to this new lens before I take family vacation pics with it. Those memories can't be recreated, so I'll need to be an expert. So I took the lens out to a local park. This lens is great for landscapes, but I have to admit that our "beautiful landscape" shots in Naperville, Illinois are relatively limited. However, there's a bridge at our local park that has intriguing lines. I normally shoot pics FROM the bridge, not OF the bridge. But this new lens - a 16-35mm - offered a perspective I thought would be interesting.

I shot from below, at a point on the river bank that's down about 1/3 of the length of the bridge. I took a few shots focusing at different points on the bridge and with different apertures - meaning different points and portions of the bridge would be completely in focus.

When I got home and pulled them up on my computer, I felt the compositions were ok, but that they were busy and didn't project the drama of the bridge the way I wanted. So I decided to try a black and white version. I picked my favorite of the four images and started playing with some different black and white settings. I wanted to highlight the clouds and pull out the shadows of the bridge deck. I wanted the reflection in the water to show, but not be immediately obvious. I was going for drama and mystery. I wanted a picture that drew the eye in, rather than just allowing a glance. This is what I ended up with...

bridge at Knoch Knolls Park in Naperville, IL
Knoch Knolls Park Bridge

It's quickly become an image that I enjoy looking at over and over. And that to me is the threshold for the images I offer for sale on prints, cards or gifts. After all, if I don't want to look at it, how can I ask someone else to pay their hard earned money to do the same?

I hope you found this foray into how I created this image to be interesting. Sometimes our favorite shots are not specifically planned, but rather just happen (with a little help). Every time I get the camera out I try to see the world as if it's the first time - and sometimes magic occurs!


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