On the road to Newcastle I met a bridge. It was an unexpected encounter, but one I felt I couldn’t let pass. For it was a most pleasing bridge.
Luckily I had the photographic equivalent of an Elephant gun in the car (for I was hunting an Angel of the North). A choice subject like this with only a few minutes to make a memorable image meant I had to think fast, so I thought I would share my thought process.
I was working with my Bronica medium format camera and a fixed 50mm lens (a moderate wideangle) so I where I stood was my only real variable in the composition of the final image.
Shot 1 – I stood on the road bridge I had originally seen the bridge from, in the foot prints of someone else who had pulled over with a similar photo opportunity in mind. The old road bridge brings an interesting foreground but leaves the final image a bit too fussy for my liking.
There is a lot of geometry in this image, but it lacks order or a clear focal point. The background and foreground elements overlap and the eye is left wandering about not quite knowing where it should settle.
Shot 2 – I repositioned myself on the bridge to try and simplify the scene by moving over the rive and lining up the two bridges.
The result is much cleaner and there is an obvious foreground and background that tends to settle my eye on the furthest bridge. I find this image very balanced and easy to look at, however with my elevated position on the bridge the subject starts to get lost in it’s background. It is only the bright highlights that pick out the multiple arches that make the bridge stand out.
Shot 3 – This time I am stood on the bridge that was the foreground of the previous image. A much lower vantage point with with a much simpler composition.
The subject is very bold in this image, the shadowed arches stand out against the bright grass on the left and the highlighted arches stand out against the darker vegetation on the right. Great composition, but it doesn’t convey the size and majesty of the bridge that caught my eye in the first place.
Shot 4 – I’m now stood on the grass in the left had side of the previous image now much lower down with a view up towards the bridge.
That’s more like it. More of a classic type of view, but now the bridge is big in the frame and the perspective gives it a greater stature than in the previous images. It still has the same elements as the previous images (bridge, river, trees, grass) but in a more considered composition with just enough of each to give context to the subject of the image.
So there we have it, four steps that lead me to the image I was looking for. I could have gone through that process without tripping the shutter the first three times but I prefer to work with groups of images as there is always something to learn from comparing shots and thinking about why you made the choices you did. Each of these four stands as a workable image, but I think each also improves on the previous for a definable reason.