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Archive 2012 · Bridge to the Past. IR
Matt Ward
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Bridge to the Past. IR

I found this bridge on a long abandoned stretch of single lane IL-250. When I was a kid these bridges were common and the ones with large wood planks and arching rails could still be found on country roads, but that is also in the past. Most country bridges have been replaced with large wide concrete bridges to accommodate today's large modern farm equipment.

I do kind of miss them.

I felt that IR was a very good light source for this image because it really draws attention to the large steel beams, rivets and the strong towering trees.

Please provide your thoughts.

Thanks Matt

Apr 25, 2012 at 12:54 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Bridge to the Past. IR

What helps pull and hold attention on a focal point of a photo is contrast, and here using IR and rendering the trees white helps do that. Referencing your previous shot of the cemetery the IR had the opposite effect of making the focal point headstones blend in and the darker one in the background contrast strongly. So this shot answers the first important question, "What is most imporant and how can I make it contrast?" very effectively.

With the regard to composition of the shot, the upper left corner reveals a hint of the tree line which makes me want to see a wider view showing the tops of the trees and sky framing the bridge. As for the bridge itself, at the angle at which you shot it the front and back trusses become a confusing jumble rather than in interesting geometric pattern.

A problem compsitionally with bridge or fence shots is that they create a linear path cutting the frame in half. The viewer follows the line out the other side of the photo. If they do go back they see the same thing, so they are less likely to go back that in a shot that has a curved leading line like a country road or meandering stream.

Here there's not enough of the foreground or background to pique curiosity and get the viewer off the strong linear path to explore it. A solution for that and the "been there, done that" when following the line is to put the leading line at a diagonal to the frame cutting it it half. I fnd that when the leading line leads into a corner vs out the side or top of the frame it is more inclined to bounce back into the background context and explore it. The corner is a subliminal clue to slow down and reverse direction.

Seen presented on a page with text my eye scans photos like text, left to right. So given the perspective my eye travels in reverse from the POV of the camera. In a situation like that I would compose the shot so the perspective diminishes from left > right, the opposite of what you have here. This right / left dynamic has been discussed / debated here in the past and I don't want to renew it, but what I'd suggest is flipping the image horizontally, comparing, and forming your own option/preference. The flipped version would work better for me.

If you have a change to revisit the location you should explore other points-of-view. Moving cameara POV to the right onto the road looking down the bridge, or moving left for an up the creek sideways view would have revealed the structure of the bridge better and give the viewer the feeling of traveling down the bridge. As a kid growing up before the Interstate system I can remember vacation trips and crossing rickety bridges like that which scared the heck out of me. A view down the road showing the wooden planks and dip in the middle would revive those "I think I'm gonna die on this trip." memories

Another interesting alternate POV would be a low angle up creek sideways view. If shot from a 45 upward angle you should be able to only show the near side of the iron work creating a stronger pattern with the treens and sky framing it. The sideways view would change the implied message to one of "Brigde to Nowhere" but that would be approriate.

A higher vantage point would also add interest and increase composition options. If practical with your vehicle you might want to consider strapping a step-ladder to the roof rack. I convert my 7' Wagner ladder into a 7' tall shooting platform....


... using a piece of 1" x 8" board in which I counter-sunk a 1" 1/4"-20 bolt. I screwn my tripod ball head to the board and attach to the top of the ladder with A clamps. The board is necessary vs. just attaching the ball head to the ladder because the top of the ladder flexes too much. I can get even higher by hand-holding the camera. I'll also use the board with camera attached on the ground to get a "worm's eye" POV. A low angle like that with a WA lens would be interesting for the down the road bridge shot.

Just some food for thought to chew on .

Apr 25, 2012 at 10:34 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Bridge to the Past. IR

Not sure why you havent had more feedback on this image.
I like the comp. The pano view follows the stretch of the bridge, moving my eye from right to left. As Chuck said, the IR allows for fine contrast. My main critique is that there appears to be loss of detail in some of the brightest areas along the bottom and lower right. If I look closely, the whites may not be blown but a bit more detail and a slightly less bright bottom would work better, IMO.

May 05, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Matt Ward
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Bridge to the Past. IR

Thanks for the comment. It is a tad over exposed in the grass, I did that to allow for a little more contrast and detail in the iron on the bridge.

I plan to go back and shoot this bridge again, I may even do an IR HDR image to prevent the over exposure. This was shot at 950nm, tends to blow highlights if you are trying to draw from shadows. I will also shoot it at 850nm.

Thanks Matt

May 07, 2012 at 03:19 AM

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