From Street to City Landscape Photography
Recently I’ve been shifting my photographic focus from the generic feelings of street photography to city landscape photography. Well, I live in a city, so that’s not so easy without a trip out of town. The pandemic can be a real pain in the butt if you want to travel. Hopefully, soon.
To overcome the problem, I’ve set my self the challenge of finding small corners of Berlin where I can treat what I see, and how I look at it, as if it were really out in the deep countryside.
It works for me, and I think that you’ll find the same idea useful if you are looking for a change of what you view through your camera lens.
I like the photo below. It’s interesting, but very simple. Two Dandelions in the grass. Right in the middle of Kreuzberg, and close to a main road full of heavy traffic. Outside of the frame a lot of stuff is happening – thank god that photos don’t have sound qualities, otherwise it would be impossible to capture the beautiful silence of a moment.
When you walk around town, just like you do when you’re on a street photography jaunt, your eyes are flitting about. I’m always looking at the shapes and shadows that seem unusual, or a couple of people who are doing something that catches my attention. In this case, I’m looking for interesting motifs that represent silent corners in a city, or calm compositions that remind us of nature.
Part of the wonder in photography, as in all arts, is that when we have a strong intention we tend to see what we are looking for. The stronger the intention, the more sensitive we become to our surroundings. At first, the surroundings can appear chaotic, and confusing. The brain is tuning into the obvious, then tuning out and finding only those useful sights and compositions that we can use in the frame.
I was looking for hedgerows, and grass, flowers – there are a few naturally growing flowers in Berlin. Some people would call them weeds, but they are quite beautiful when you stop and look.
Taking a photograph can be a little like learning to ride a bicycle, but it’s like that each time we take a new shot.
Every sight we see, each time we lift the camera and adjust the frame, the settings, we are creating something unique. It’s as if we have never taken a photo before. The feelings of sensitiveness towards the subject can become so intense that it frazzles the nerves, in a good way. The feeling just before taking the photo can be like going into a free fall and hoping everything will be alright after the click. Occasionally, I fall of the bike when I wait too long. I think too much, and click, and I feel the sway in my legs. That happens. Know it’s right, then take the shot. Don’t allow the mind to make second choices.
A photo can be taken in many different ways. All the angles, the different tones that are possible, bring up the highlights and drop the shadows down. Always feeling it, always being so close to pressing the button, but knowing that it must be done at the decisive moment when you know that you “have it in your sights”. You do this, and you know that it’s your shot, and you are responsible for the outcome – no happy accident. Just photography.
It’s because I work this way that I return home with a couple of good shots. I always feel that I’ve learned something new, also. When I look in my camera and transfer to computer, I have about twenty shots, or less. I don’t use the camera as if was a machine gun on a tripod. I take each shot because I deliberated, quickly, and took a shot of what I wanted, always with a strong intention to the outcome.
If visual experience was easy to put into words, I’d tell you about it, but it’s wordless. You must experience it to know what your own intentions are when taking photos.