Friday, March 19, 2010

The Familiar Explored

"Downtown Upstairs"
I've been photographing my city for a couple years now. It provides no end of interesting subjects. And although I know I'm overly familiar with it, I always come away with fresh views caught in the lens that I hadn't anticipated.
The image above was taken the other week, and although I've longed to photograph this subject really well for such a long time, THIS time it finally seemed to work. I looked at this familiar scene, and realized that I had all the right elements... great light that day, a light rain added a grainy affect, I had my tripod (which I normally won't take downtown since it screams "lone woman wandering the streets with expensive equipment") which allowed me to tighten and straighten a better crop than handheld, and good position. Whew. Needless to say, I was excited to convert this image to B&W and see how gritty and truthful an image it was.
I have mentioned I'm beginning to wander back through some of the masters or pillars of photography... right now I have been really looking hard at the work of Berenice Abbott, an American photographer. Her work largely takes place in the 30's and 40's.... but such work!!! Her images of New York city on the cusp of exploding development and city growth, the first skyscrapers and bridges being built, the population growing almost overnight... incredible! And I was taken with a quote at the beginning of a book on her work called "Berenice Abbott, American Photographer" by Hank O'Neil, that says this about
her work;
"Berenice Abbott is a photographer who is exceptional in her determined avoidance of subjects whose inherent interest - their unfamiliarity, their bizarre nature, their startling juxtapositions, their exceptional beauty- would arrest the observer's attention even without the benefit of isolation and emphasis a good photographer can supply. An artist whose eye is the super-eye of the camera."
When you view her work this is very evident. "Images unmodified by tricky exposures, eccentric and overused angle shots, removed from any clever device."
The image posted above was inspired by reading about and studying Ms. Abbott's work....
and it motivated me to spend the day exploring my own city as she had, documenting much of it just the way it is, exploring the familiar.
What part of your passion do you need to re-explore today?
Thanks for letting me ramble,
have a good one folks!


  1. Good for you to work an area over and over, and keep getting something fresh. I really love the shot, and your post processing. Urban decay is such a wonderful subject. Your compo here really works, with the lines, shapes, textures. Well done for sure.

  2. Urban decay is such a great label for this image Bob, this is an rooftop entrance for a somewhat abandoned building. I was able to take it with my modest telephoto (55-200mm) from the rooftop of an adjacent building. Thanks for stopping to comment, I appreciate it!