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Shape

Color

Last time, I wrote about color.  Color attracts.  It always grabs my attention.  It pulls the eye.  But as this image illustrates, it is about more than just color.  This image is boring.  Mundane.  In fact, pretty awful to be displayed on a photographer’s blog.  But I hope it illustrates my point.  Color is a big part of my imagery.  But there are other important ingredients. 🙂

Rose
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Color alone will not make an interesting or compelling image

As the opening image illustrates, color, alone, will not make an interesting (and most certainly not compelling image).  Indeed it is so mundane that I didn’t copyright notice it or claim “artistic” credit.  I am sure I am not the first to have created an image very like this one.  So what’s missing?

Rocks, Lake Superior Shoreline
Copyright Andy Richards 2004

There are a lot of things that will bring interest to an image.  Line, horizon, animation (either illustrated, or in the case of many animal images, imagined).  I want to talk about shape today.

Elliot Falls
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

When I started to look through my archive for illustrations, I thought I was going to have a lot more illustrations that said “shape.”  I also thought about writing about “line.”  A topic to come.  But I was surprised that I was able to find many examples of line, or line and shape.  But fewer that shape alone provided the interest.  Some good examples appeared in the last blog.  The pottery in the shop in Istanbul was really all about color and shape.  Likewise the fans in Japan.

Shiawassee River, Owosso, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

The Rose image has plenty of color.  Two primary colors in fact; red and green.  A blob (or an uninteresting shape) of red and green would not be interesting.  As a photographer, its presence would perhaps pull my eye.  But upon closer inspection, it would not tickle my photographic fancy.

Parking Structure on Wabash Avenue, Chicago
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Nature presents us with unique and interesting shapes and textures.  The Lake Superior rocks image is another example of nature’s unique presentation of shape, texture and color.  This image might be interesting without all three of the elements.  Maybe the shape and texture would still make a viable image.  But the color attracted me, and the shape and texture of the image prompted me to make it.  Likewise, shapes make the Elliot Falls image in my view.  This Michigan U.P. waterfall is oft-photographed and it is difficult to find a unique perspective.  But the scallops in the sandstone really make this image.

Street Shops
Madrid, NM
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

I was looking for color the morning I took the Shiawassee River photo.  The background was cluttered and not very picturesque.  So I started looking for reflections.  The shape of the log creates enough interest to the eye to make this image work.  Sometimes you have to “help” nature just a bit.  The Noyes Pond bubbles image is a favorite of mine.  Without the bubbles, you have another “record” shot of fall foliage surrounding a pond.  The familiar shape of the bubbles adds interest.  I must confess that although I was involved in making the bubbles, my photograph was not the primary reason for them on this morning.  This image was made in memory of a dear friend, and enthusiastic fellow Vermont shooter.  But I think George would have loved this image. 🙂 .

Moulton Barn
Mormon Row, WY
Copyright Andy Richards 2012

Man made shapes often lend themselves to “shape” composition.  Architecture often lends itself to some dramatic images.  I visited Chicago several time over the years and always loved to walk around downtown in the early morning hours.  This well-known parking structure can be seen in the background of many images of downtown Chicago.  Its unique shape and physical prominence makes it visible from a number of viewpoint around the city.  Color once again drew my eye to the back street shops in Madrid, New Mexico.  Pastel colors abound in much of New Mexico’s architecture.  But again, without the juxtaposed rectangles throughout the image, it would be just a blob of color.  I liked that this image is made up of essentially all rectangles and straight lines.

Canadian Air Force
Fleet Week Air Show
San Francisco, CA
Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Shapes in a image can sometimes be serendipitous.  Without the contrails in the Canadian Air Force image, we would just see a handful of red dots in an shapeless, monotone sky.  The contrails make this image.

Starburst
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

And, sometimes you just have to make your own shapes.  The starburst image was taken at Christmas time of a lighted outdoor tree display in front of a large commercial building.  It just wasn’t doing it for me, so I played.  The image is shot at a slow shutter speed, on a tripod, while a zoomed the zoom lens.  But in the end, my favorite shapes come from mother nature and her random, unique artistry.  The Whitefish Falls image is but another nearly ubiquitous single drop waterfall in the Michigan U.P.  There are many of them that all look essentially identical.  To make a more unique image, I walked in close for my favorite “intimate” perspective.  I like the result as much as any shape I have ever shot.

Whitefish Falls
Trenary, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2007

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The Sun Rises; Reprise

Bay Bridge Sunrise San Francisco, CA Copyright Andy Richards 2014

Bay Bridge Sunrise
San Francisco, CA
Copyright Andy Richards 2014

It seemed like 16 images were too many for a single blog post (really, 8 is probably too many, and my blogs tend to be longer than a blog should be 🙂 ).  So I split my sunrise images into 2 installments.

Bean Pond Barton, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Bean Pond
Barton, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

In 2010, I again visited Vermont for a fall color photography excursion.  My good friend, fellow photographer, fellow blogger, and co-author of the 2nd Edition of Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage, Carol, acted as my host and guide for the first couple days.  One magical place she took me too was Bean Pond, a small, unremarkable roadside pond near here home in Barton in the “Northeast Kingdom” of Vermont.  Unremarkable, that is, unless you are a photographer looking for fall foliage venues.  Since my first trip there, I have been back to the pond several times (and I am certain Carol has been there almost daily when she is in Vermont in season).  Our morning broke very cold, with frost on the ground, after a prolonged spell of heavy rain.  We knew the conditions were ripe for fog and steam rising off the pond and she had us there by twilight.  The resulting images (only one here) made the cold, early morning well worth it.

Bay Bridge San Francisco, CA Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Bay Bridge
San Francisco, CA
Copyright Andy Richards 2011

In 2011, we visited San Francisco, to visit our daughter.  She lives in downtown, which put me in the middle of one of the best photography venues I have ever visited.  Once again, the 3 hour time change worked in favor of early rising, and a 15 minute walk brought me to the Embarcadero, at the eastern boundary of the city, and one of San Francisco’s seaports with a closeup view of one of the two major bridges leading into San Francisco, the San Francisco Bay Bridge.  There are San Francisco Bay shooting opportunities all along the Embarcadero.  We returned again in 2014, and I couldn’t resist a couple more early morning walking trips to the Embarcadero.

Mocassin Lake Munising, MI Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Mocassin Lake
Hiawatha NF
Munising, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

I have been traveling to the Michigan Upper Peninsula (U.P.) for many years for fall color photography.  As many readers here know, I think highly enough of the photographic potential that I have co-written an eBook on Photographing the Michigan U.P., with my good friend and fellow photographer and blogger, Kerry Leibowitz.  I have photographed Mocassin Lake many times and never cease to find it photogenic.  My writings on the U.P. and some of my imagery captured the attention of a professional photographer and teacher in Pennsylvania, James Moore.  Inn 2012, he decided to host one of his workshops in the U.P.  He asked me to be his guide.  These images were all made during the 2012 trip.  I appreciate his inspiration and I think that week was the most rewarding of all of my trips to the U.P.  I was there from the beginning to the peak of color, perhaps the only time in my shooting career.

Pete's Lake Hiawatha NF, Munising, MI Copyright Andy Richards 2012

Pete’s Lake
Hiawatha NF, Munising, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2012

Pete's Lake Hiawatha NF, Munising, MI Copyright Andy Richards 2012

Pete’s Lake
Hiawatha NF, Munising, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2012

In 2013 we went on two more cruises.  In January, we joined a group affiliated with the O’Brien Estate Winery in Napa, Ca, on a Caribbean Cruise.  We didn’t know a soul when we boarded.  We were fortunate to have some very friendly table mates and we ended up not only spending most of our time on board with them and another couple, but we have made lifelong friends.  We have traveled to Napa together, and they have recently visited us in our Florida home.  It was a great cruise.  As we arrived home in the early morning hours, I was able to capture this sunrise image of the Miami Skyline.

Miami, FL Copyright Andy Richards 2013

Miami, FL
Copyright Andy Richards 2013

Later, in September, we took what was my first trip out of the U.S. (Canada doesn’t count 🙂 ); a Mediterranean Cruise.  We started with a few days in Venice.  My only sunrise shot during that trip was the famous gondolas in St. Mark’s Square, which took some doing.  We were staying on the mainland, so I had to take the early train to Venice and then find my way through the maze to the square before the sunrise.  I had practiced a couple times.

Gondolas San Marco Piazza Venice, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2013

Gondolas
San Marco Piazza
Venice, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2013

I grew up in the Northern Michigan town of Traverse City.  It is a resort town, and by all reports, beautiful in all seasons.  The city sits at the base of a peninsula of land (Old Mission Peninsula) which creates two deep bays (East Bay and West Bay) into Lake Michigan.  It has unique, sandy coastline and a climate similar to that of Northern California (except that winters up there are brutal and snowy).  I moved away from there shortly after I graduated from High School in 1975.  But I still have family there, and only live about 2 3/4 hours away.  It occurred to me at some point that I had spent little time photographing up there, and so, in 2014, with no major fall foliage outings planned, took a long-weekend trip up there.  I was on the high point of the peninsula, where it is possible to see both bays, at sunrise.  This sunrise image faces (perhaps obviously) East Bay.

Center Road Old Mission Peninsula Traverse City, MI Copyright Andy Richards 2014

Center Road
Old Mission Peninsula
Traverse City, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2014

 

The Sun Rises, Too

Sunrise; Ft. Myers Beach, FL Copyright Andy Richards 2017

Sunrise; Ft. Myers Beach, FL
Copyright Andy Richards 2017

I wanted to title this, “The Sun Also Rises,” but given all the preaching I have done here about copyright, I thought Hemingway deserved my respect 🙂 .  Last week, I blogged about Florida sunsets, and waxed philosophical about sunset photography in general.  While much of what I said applies to sunrises, they are unique.

Photographing a sunrise takes a certain resolve and commitment which most people just don’t have

As noted previously, lots of folks (including some I know very well) never see the sun rise.  I am here to assure them that is does, indeed rise.  🙂 .  And sometimes you get really lucky and get to see a moonset and sunrise in the same location on the same morning, like I did at Pete’s Lake in Michigan’s U.P. a few years ago.

Pete's Lake Moon Set Hiawatha NF, Michigan U.P. Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

Pete’s Lake Moon Set
Hiawatha NF, Michigan U.P.
Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

One thing that makes sunrises different sunsets is atmospheric conditions.  Sunsets follow the warmth of day and sunrises often follow a cool or even cold night.  The warmth of daylight often produces thinly cloudy atmospheric conditions which can create beautiful pastel colored skies.  Or, a sudden clearing or opening can yield a surprise dramatic lighting condition, as happened at the Ft. Myers Beach harbor.

Port of San Francisco Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Port of San Francisco
Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Other times, the fog or cloud cover can diffuse the sunrise and create a “dawn of a new day” kind of look.  The San Francisco Ferry leaving in the early hours is backstopped by such a sunrise.

While much of what I said about sunsets applies to sunrises, they are unique

Sunrises, because they normally follow the coolest temperatures during a 24 hour period, can often be seen in foggy or misty conditions.  This is particularly true near water, which is why water is my preferred sunrise setting.  But sometimes, it is just a matter of perspective–literally.  The shot of the city of Tokyo at dawn was taken from a high floor in my hotel window as daylight was beginning to emerge.

Tokyo Dawn Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Tokyo Dawn
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Yet there is another, more esoteric dynamic which distinguishes sunset and sunrise.  In most parts of the world, even when the days are at their shortest, sunrise happens before most folks are out and about.  Indeed, in order to see and capture a sunrise at its best, you will need to be up and about, and on location before the big event.  So it takes a certain resolve and commitment which most people just don’t have.

Split Rock Light Sunrise Lake Superior, MN Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Split Rock Light Sunrise
Lake Superior, MN
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

But what they miss is perhaps the most magical time of the day.  What you learn from experience is that sometimes the most dramatic light–and images–come just before the actual sunrise, in the twilight minutes.  And when the sun does rise, if it is exposed, it is usually much more intense than sunset, which occasionally means very contrasty conditions and challenging exposure issues.  But it also means drama, and sometimes, star patterns.  As we scouted the Split Rock Lighthouse one morning following a rainy night, the cloud cover suddenly broke behind the cloud cover behind the light to yield a pretty dramatic silhouette.  I was able to stop down enough to get a diffuse starburst effect, too.  It was still raining that morning when we rolled out of bed and it would have been easy to just sleep in more, or go to breakfast.  But I were weren’t there I would have missed this shot.

Sunrise, Hateras National Seashore, Hateras, NC copyright Andy Richards

Sunrise, Hateras National Seashore, Hateras, NC copyright Andy Richards

Another plus to sunrise shooting is that you are out when there is virtually nothing moving.  The only thing that is is the wildlife that is often active at that time.  It can be an incredibly serene time of day and it is without a doubt, my favorite time to shoot.  The morning I made the Cape Hateras image, I (and another solitary fisherman) was the only human for miles of beach.  The surf was quiet and all that could be heard was that gentle wave break and the seabirds.  It was a pretty amazing moment.

Bridge to Canada Sault St. Marie, MI Copyright 2005 Andy Richards

Bridge to Canada
Sault St. Marie, MI
Copyright 2005 Andy Richards

Shooting into the sun is challenging under any conditions.  But it is often rewarding.  One issue that often arises from this perspective, especially with short and mid focal length, lenses, is the phenomena called lens flare.  In many instances, lens flare can be an image killer.  But sometimes, it adds to the image.  Especially when it produces colors.  I got not only the starburst effect, but also lens flare in the Sault St. Marie image.  One of the wonders of post-capture digital manipulation is the ability to retouch these out of the image.  But sometimes lens flare actually adds something to the image.  I like the effect here.

“Playing” with Photographic Imagery

Daffodil Closeup Copyright  Andy Richards  2015

Daffodil Closeup
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

As I have said here before, I started seriously shooting in 1977, using mostly color transparency film as a medium. After a hiatus in the 1980’s (some casual shooting only), I rekindled and embraced the new equipment then available, eventually moving on to digital in the early 1990’s. As I got back into the swing of things later in the 1980’s, I developed a fascination with close up flower imagery – not necessarily true “macro,” but close up.

One of the cool things about digital is the freedom to “play”

Maybe it was because it was an easy subject. Close up on the frame, flowers are colorful and there is much less work trying to isolate the subject, place it properly in the frame, and eliminate distracting or detracting elements. And, it was a great way to “study” all of the foregoing. As you examine a close up shot, you begin to see details (many of them unwanted in the image) that your eyes may not have seen. Because of the close proximity, you quickly learn about depth of field. At the same time, you see the beauty and advantage of a lens that renders nice bokeh. In the early years, I used to keep a notebook on conditions and go back to the same place and subject and re-shoot. I still use them as a primary “test” subject when trying out new lenses, and cameras. Flower close ups are a great learning tool, and sometimes make great art.

But after a while, it seemed like it was time to move on to “bigger and better” things. When I cannot get out to somewhere photogenic, but get the “itch” to shoot, I still seek the backyard flowers that are ubiquitous. But I don’t shoot them with the “innocent” joy I once did. I find that these days I discard many more than I used to. Sometimes the images I retain are marginal.

One of the cool things about digital is the freedom to “play.” I mostly don’t, because I mostly prefer more traditional photographic presentation. But the image here, seemed draw me to want to “play.”

Cropped Daffodil Closeup Copyright  Andy Richards  2015

Cropped Daffodil Closeup
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

A few years back, I grew lazy (for good reason, I think). I had worked to learn selection, blending, masking, and other Adobe Photoshop skills to work with my imagery. Then along comes a company called NIK Software, and takes all that work and does it for me, with a simple, easy-to-use, interface that works 96.49% (I measured it) of the time. I still need to resort to PS for some things, but less and less. Again, I use my NIK (now Google-owned) package primarily to make traditional photographic adjustments to images. But there is plenty of room inside the software bundle to “play” (it is worth noting that there are a number of other “plug-in” software programs out there today that do similar, or complimentary things. Most of them are made to work with Photoshop, LightRoom, or both).

One of the NIK programs that I use occasionally is ColorEfex. It has functions, like one called “detail extractor” which allows you to make images appear similar to oil paintings. Of course the capability already exists in PS, but again, the NIK program makes it very easy to use and “play” with. I have an image of a Venice canal that looks like a blend between an oil painting and a photograph. It hangs in my office as a 24 x 36 framed and matted print, and it came out pretty nice.

Daffodil Close Up - ColorEfex Copyright  Andy Richards  2015

Daffodil Close Up – ColorEfex
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The first image here, is the uncropped, image, originally capture as a raw image, and post-processed to look as good photographically as I could make it. It has some issues, including composition and critical sharpness. I have learned that yellow flowers (and white is a close second) are very difficult to expose and get sharp looking, particularly in contrasty or bright light conditions.

Canal, Venice Copyright  Andy Richards  2013

Canal, Venice
Copyright Andy Richards 2013

So, I cropped it, which is the second image. I like the composition better here (one thing that I dislike about he image as a whole, is that the flower just seems to “float” in mid air. I wish I had done a better job of portraying the stem to anchor the flower to something). To me, it was still kind of “eh.” Certainly, it was not going to make it to my wall or to my website.

San Francisco Fishing Harbor Copyright  Andyr Richards  2011

San Francisco Fishing Harbor
Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Time to play. For the third image, I took the cropped image and used the NIK ColorEfex “detail extractor” tool and began to play. The result looks something like a chalk sketch. I would like to have the petals a bit whiter, but that was more work than I wanted to do for this exercise. I rarely like these “play” results. But this one, I kind of do like. I can only think of two other ones that I have felt were successful – the Venice image, and an image of fishing boats in the SF commercial fishing harbor. Both made successful prints.

The Signs are Everywere

The "iconic" Guinness sign Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland Copyright Andy Richards 2014

The “iconic” Guinness sign
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland
Copyright Andy Richards 2014

Signs may seem like an odd subject to photograph. Yet signs are certainly a ubiquitous object. Some years back, I started photographing signs as a kind of cataloging technique. The intent was to use them as place-holder images in my image catalog that would show where I had taken a series of images. In the back of my mind, I may have thought they might be useful in a future photo essay (these thoughts happened long before the word “blog” had any meaning).

Though a standard traffic sign, I thought the context here spoke "Wyoming" Jackson Hole, Wyoming Copyright Andy Richards 2012

Though a standard traffic sign, I thought the context here spoke “Wyoming”
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Copyright Andy Richards 2012

The problem was (and is), it didn’t really work well for a number of reasons. Primarily, I just wasn’t very good or consistent about doing it.  🙂   But it is also pretty much the case that not everywhere I photograph has “descriptive” signs. And some places have many signs – so which one should I use?

Lighted for Christmas Frankenmuth, MI Copyright Andy Richards  2009

Lighted for Christmas
Frankenmuth, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

Occasionally, a sign would catch my interest, and I would photographic for its own sake. Over time, I began to pay more attention to signs; especially when I was traveling to new places. These days, I actually seek them out as matter of subject.

This historical sign speaks volumes about our history and culture Alcatraz; San Francisco, CA Copyright Andy Richards 2015

This historical sign speaks volumes about our history and culture
Alcatraz; San Francisco, CA
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

What is a sign? Like essentially everything else on earth, the apparently simple answer is really more involved. At first blush, one would say the function of a sign is to direct us somewhere, or tell us where they are. At the lowest common denominator, I think that’s a pretty good “definition” of signs. Of course, we can use the word in other contexts.

Sometimes signs can just be funny Knock, Ireland Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sometimes signs can just be funny
Knock, Ireland
Copyright Andy Richards 2014

The word, “sign” can be used as a noun or a verb. Here I am obviously referring to the physical structure type of sign, with a graphic of some type. Dictionary.com defines “sign,” in the context used here, as “a notice bearing a name, direction, warning or advertisement, that is displayed or posted for public view.”

These days, I actually seek them out

Sign on the Turquoise Trail Madrid, NM Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Sign on the Turquoise Trail
Madrid, NM
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

So what? For a photographer, it seems to me that a sign can be so much more. Signs can be art. They can be whimsical. They can be humorous and unique. They can depict history and culture. Some signs are (or have become) iconic. And sometimes . . . . they are just a sign. 🙂

A "whimsical" sign Chicago, IL Copyright Andy Richards 2005

A “whimsical” sign
Chicago, IL
Copyright Andy Richards 2005

Signs can be affixed to a structure, a vehicle, or can stand alone. Sometimes they can be on very unique media.

Signs can be art. They can be whimsical. They can be humorous and unique

A moving, iconic sign Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta; Albuquerque NM Copyright Andy Richards 2008

A moving, iconic sign
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta;
Albuquerque NM
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Looking at my LR catalog for the topic of “signs,” I was surprised to see that I have cataloged more than 200 images of signs (some of them admittedly duplicates). I am sure I have others that I have “missed” because they are part of another image and my feeble mind has not “seen” the sign in there. SMILE

Jameson Distiillery Dublin, Ireland Copyright Andy Richards 2014

Jameson Distiillery
Dublin, Ireland
Copyright Andy Richards 2014

I will bet that a number of my readers would count many times the number I have cataloged.

Sometimes its just a sign Dublin, Ireland Copyright Andy Richards 2014

Sometimes its just a sign
Dublin, Ireland
Copyright Andy Richards 2014

I would be interested to hear about – and see – your signs.

Bridges

Bridge to Canada Sault St. Marie, MI Copyright 2005  Andy Richards

Bridge to Canada
Sault St. Marie, MI
Copyright 2005 Andy Richards

Of all the architectural structures that lend themselves to photography, there may be no other “wonder” than a bridge. Bridges have been designed, built and used for all of human history. Most often to span a body of water, bridges have brought us the ability to cross water on foot and by vehicle, without getting wet and without the need for watercraft.

Stone Bridge Manassas, VA Copyright  Andy Richards  2010

Stone Bridge
Manassas, VA
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Early bridges were primarily built for pedestrian traffic. Later, they provided a way for our animal-drawn vehicles to cross. More recently, they have been used for train and motor vehicle traffic.  The Manassas Stone Bridge was used to cross Bull Run and was famously used by both the military and “spectators” who mistakenly thought a Sunday afternoon carriage ride out to the battlefield would be great spectator sport and a nice picnic.

Footbridge of Rapid River Rapid City, MI  Copyright 2009  Andy Richards

Footbridge of Rapid River
Rapid City, MI
Copyright 2009 Andy Richards

Bridges can vary from the most simple and utilitarian pedestrian crossing, to magnificent works of engineering and architecture, crossing seemingly uncrossable stretches of water. They can be grandiose, and they can be very simple.

Pedestrian Bridge Somesville, ME Copyright 2009  Andy Richards

Pedestrian Bridge
Somesville, ME
Copyright 2009 Andy Richards

From a photographic aspect, bridges can lend themselves to wonderful reflections, and as foils to wonderful lighting events – both natural and man-made. They can be marvels of architecture and art (yes, art); or rather pedestrian (pun intended) utilitarian structures. For the photographer, they can be presented as the main subject, or they can be used as backgrounds, leading lines from the foreground, and leading lines from the background to infinity.
Bridges draw the eye as an imposing structure in many cases. In my travels to San Francisco, I have been struck by the fact that the city is dominated by two such structures, leading in and out of the heart of the city.  The Rialto Bridge in Venice is one of the most famous of bridges and in the early days, in addition to being the only major bridge over the main canal, housed many local merchants.

Footbridge Limerick, Ireland Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Footbridge
Limerick, Ireland
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

Bridges can often be unintentionally symbolic. In many American cities (sadly), bridges often separate the “good” and “bad” parts of the city.  I don’t think any of the bridges here represent that symbolism.

Rialto Bridge Venice, Italy Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Rialto Bridge
Venice, Italy
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

I have mostly shot bridges because they were there – never really doing a study of them. On my bucket list, I hope, on day, to make a concerted study of bridges. The image that appear here are a small selection of the numerous bridges I have shot. My files contain many more images.

Footbridge over Canal Venice, Italy Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Footbridge over Canal
Venice, Italy
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

There are numerous styles of bridges, including floating bridges, suspension bridges, arch bridges, and simple piling-supported bridges. Suspension bridges, like the Mackinaw Bridge – spanning Michigan’s “lower” and “upper” peninsulas – and the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay Bridges, are true marvels of engineering, in addition to being very photogenic.  The “Big Mac,” as it is often referred to by Michigan residents, was once the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Mackinac Bridge Mackinac City, MI Copyright  2012  Andy Richards

Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac City, MI
Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

One of the most intriguing styles of architecture is the covered bridge. Next, I will showcase some of the very few covered bridges I have been able to photograph.

Lighthouses

Point AuBarques Light Lake Huron, Michigan Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Point AuBarques Light
Lake Huron, Michigan
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Over the years since I started this blog, I have covered many subjects. Earlier blogs were more philosophical. Seems like I ran out of gas in that area (probably in large part because of my limited capacity for the intellectual). 🙂  I have done some “travelogue” blogs, recounting my travels throughout this wonderful country, and more recently, abroad. And, I have done the occasional equipment and/or software review.

Port Sanilac Light Lake Huron, MI Copyright Andy Richards  2008

Port Sanilac Light
Lake Huron, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

As I have amassed a collection of images, I have had to find a way to keep some order. I have used Adobe Lightroom since its inception – but mostly as a catalog. It is a wonderful program and if I were starting new today, I would probably use it as my principal software for processing images. Lightroom has a nice capability of organizing images by subject matter. Looking through the images (and for lack of anything more creative to write about these days) I realize that I hadn’t blogged by image subject. That is what stimulated me to post the last several blogs on flower images. In keeping with that general formula, the next several blogs will be about my “landscape-architecture” collection of images.

The primary limiting factors for these images are access and lighting

Lighthouses have always drawn my “photographic eye.” Like outdoor landscape images, they present significant challenges to photograph. The primary limiting factors for these images are access and lighting.

Bass Harbor Light Bass Harbor, ME Copyright  Andy Richards  2009

Bass Harbor Light
Bass Harbor, ME
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

The all-important feature for most lighthouse images is lighting. The best time of day to shoot Lighthouses is generally early morning and late afternoon – early evening. This is because it is when the light is normally best. Exceptions to this rule may be when skies are stormy, or during the winter, when light is often at a low angle during the days.

Split Rock Light Sunrise Lake Superior, MN Copyright  Andy Richards  2010

Split Rock Light Sunrise
Lake Superior, MN
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

This presents a bit of a challenge, partly because of the second factor; access. Lighthouses are often gated, private property, or parts of state or national parks. They have hours when they are closed to the public. Some lighthouses simply cannot be approached or photographed from the land around them. So, getting the image during the “golden light hours” often presents a challenge.

Point Iroquois Light Lake Superior, MI Copyright  Andy Richards  2005

Point Iroquois Light
Lake Superior, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2005

In a limited number of instances, I was fortunate to photograph from a boat. Shooting from the water gives a nice perspective. I hope to do more of this in future years.

Strawberry Island Light North Channel, Lake Huron, Canada Copyright  Andy Richards  2008

Strawberry Island Light
North Channel, Lake Huron, Canada
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Some lighthouses simply cannot be approached or photographed from the land around them

Because they are “light” houses, nighttime photographs of lighthouses – especially when working, are great photographic opportunities.

Alcatraz Lighthouse San Francisco Bay, CA Copyright  Andy Richards  2011

Alcatraz Lighthouse
San Francisco Bay, CA
Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Many Lighthouses are no longer “active.”  Some have been preserved by historical societies and other are still working lighthouses.  One of the best opportunities to photograph a lighthouse while lit at night was during the anniversary of the Split Rock Light on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior.  The Split Rock light is not a regular working lighthouse, but now is part of a Minnesota’s “Split Rock State Park.”  They light it on certain nights.  On this anniversary we were treated not only to the light, but to a fireworks display.

Split Rock Light Lake Superior, MN Copyright  Andy Richards  2010

Split Rock Light
Lake Superior, MN
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Living near the Great Lakes has given me the opportunity to photograph a number of lighthouses. However, there are some East Coast and West Coast lighthouses I would love to photograph.

Mackinac Light Mackinac Straits, MI Copyright Andy Richards  2012

Mackinac Light
Mackinac Straits, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2012