Night Works

by Ian on July 28, 2010

I have recently been in a very long dry spell creatively. I have not shot a significant new image in many months. There is no denying that this is partly due to the fact that this past spring has been extremely busy. I worked two TAships while also prepping for, and then writing, my comprehensive exams for my PhD programme. I managed to find time to participate in, and win prizes at, my University photography club’s annual exhibition, launch this blog, and to get a publication in B&W Photography Magazine. However, there is no denying that I have been sorely lacking in the sort of day to day creative inspiration that gets things done with regard to creating new images. This is not good and I have been endeavouring to get off of my lazy butt and get to work.

I have a variety of plans for future projects of some significant scope. However, I can’t seem to make the time to get into these at the moment. So, I have returned to familiar grounds, packing my camera and tripod in my car’s trunk and stopping to photograph in the quiet of the night after I take my dog out for his last run/swim of the day. I would prefer a project, but simply working on art and being creative are important and help keep you in the right frame of mind for future creativity, at least in my experience.

So here are a few of my recent returns.

The first image, above, is of Riverside Missionary Church on King St. E. between the Eastern/Richmond/Adelaide bridge and overpass and Cherry St. I have long been interested in this building as a possible subject for photography because of the strong horizontal lines of brick and the glowing red cross above the entrance way. To the human eye, that cross glows solid red in the night air. Unfortunately, while our eyes can continually adjust their sensitivity to light, camera lens can’t be quite as dynamic. I knew that the sign would either blow-out mostly to white or I’d have to stack images to get the solid red. In the end I am quite happy with the mostly white result and feel no need to try and piece-in more red from another frame.

When I first arrived, I tried a variety of compositions with the building and a neighbouring house across the street to the right (basically behind the pillar which is the focus of the posted image). This house had a blue wall and emerald cedars all illuminated brightly under a very green/blue-white light. Unfortunately I could not overcome awful flare from where I was and all other vantage points would have put me in the middle of the road. I tried for quite some time but, even in the middle of the night, I couldn’t get an uninterrupted window in which to take the exposure from on the street-car tracks.

Feeling a little dejected, I began exploring to try making a photograph of the overpass above me (see below, after the break). While doing so, I stumbled across these interesting marks on the concrete support pillar nearby. I was struck by the implied violence of the marks which had clearly been made by something hitting the pillar with force. The marks and the iconography of the church seemed a compelling juxtaposition and drove the composition along with the strong, crisp geometrical lines of both the church and the roadway support pillar and guardrail. In developing the image, I tried to work with the surprisingly pretty light as a counterpoint to the other elements.

(One more after the click.)

The image below is much more prosaic, but I’ve never done anything of the like before, myself, and it seemed as good as anything to get me going again. Its pretty, there is plenty of texture, and the lines are good. Plus, it has put in my mind the thought of doing more photos of these elevated roadways. There aren’t too many in Toronto, but certainly enough for a wide variety of settings, lighting, and other elements. It might make a compelling little series once all assembled, and easy enough to do piecemeal and without need of too rigourous a framework.

Another image soon. It’s my favourite of my recent creations.

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