Over the years that I have been taking photographs, many people have asked me questions. Not just at clubs and social events but also whilst in the act of taking the image itself. The questions vary from the obvious “What are you taking a photograph of” to the more direct “Why do you need a picture of that”. Most are polite, friendly and always up for a quick chat, usually about their attempt at photography at some point in life. One of the more topical conversations, especially amongst the older generation is discussing the difference between traditional film and digital photography.
It can be quite hard to justify the benefits of modern technology when in deep conversation with someone who started photography as a teenager during the war. Someone who has had experienced world wars and seen photography move from 12 exposure roll film to the modern-day memory card. In their eyes there was nothing wrong with the traditional method. In the end the outcome was that they got what they wanted. There was no automatic exposure, no scene modes and light metering was limited to either a pocket version or if you were lucky your camera would have a guidance built-in. But the images were exemplary….always exemplary.
Without drifting too far off track I will get back to the image above. I didn’t have many shots of the Humber Bridge in my library, in fact I think the last one I got was on slide film back in the eighties. So an opportunity to spend a day on Humberside was never going to be turned down. I knew what I was looking for before the day even dawned. The weather forecast was quite good with a few scattered clouds thus giving some great light. Referring to the picture above, this was the angle that I had based my ideas upon. Without an ultra wide-angle lens getting the whole bridge in one shot from this location is impossible. Below is a screen shot from Google Earth showing the angle and location it was taken from.
For clarification the map is rotated to show the angle of the shot, and the North Bank of the river is at the bottom. There were a number of elements that I had set out as “must-be’s” for this capture. Firstly, the sky had to be at least 70% blue, this was so I could make it a rich black when converting to monochrome. I wanted the image to look top-heavy with the sky. Secondly there had to be some cloud content . Third, there had to be something in the image to show scale. Finally I wanted as much of the bridge in the frame as possible. This is how I tackled the ideas.
1. Firstly, the sky had to be at least 70% blue, this was so I could make it a rich black when converting to monochrome. This was something that I knew was totally out of my control. It would have worked if they had been a little more cloud cover but anything more and I would have had no chance. If you know what I am getting at then fair comment, but for you readers that have never come across filters and the effects they have on your images here is a small introduction on the effects in monochrome. In traditional film work filters were usually added to the front of the camera lens to give the desired effect. In this instance a red filter was applied to the image to darken the blue sky and add more contrast to the scene. It also darkens the reflected sky in the water too without affecting the whites in the image. As I am sure you will agree it certainly gives a dramatic look to the scene.
2. Secondly there had to be some cloud content Yes, the blue sky would have worked alone minus the clouds but in my opinion it was always going to look so much better with some fluffy whites in there. They seem to add another dimension to the whole picture. We slate them when there are too many and we cannot see the sun but in images like this, sunset and sunrises alike clouds make the shot.
3. Third, there had to be something in the image to show scale I was too close to capture anything going over the bridge from this angle so a few shots were obtained from further down the river, this obviously meant I had lost the angle and the along with it the whole point of the exercise. Having pondered for a while I decided that there was only one thing that would show the scale and size of this enormous structure and that was a boat. The waterway wasnt that busy but patience paid off and I got what I was looking for. I would have preferred it to have had a sail hoisted but beggars can’t be choosers can they. I waited for the boat to pass exactly under the bridge, but somehow it didn’t quite look right sitting near the shadow. I waited and tried a few in different positions. In the end I was quite happy with this as it sits on the second and third intersection of the image.
By putting the horizon low in the frame it allowed the expanse of the bridge and the underside of the roadway to complete the picture. I hope you like it and the small description that goes along with it. It was only ever going to be a monochrome shot and once you envisage something its only a case of trial and error until you get it spot on.
The image details are as follows:
Camera: Canon EOS 50D
Lens: Canon EF-28-135mm F3.5/5.6 USM IS
Exposure 1/320 sec
Focal Length 28mm
ISO Speed 125
Exposure BIAS 0 EV
EXIF Date July 21, 2012. 10:56 am