Posts Tagged ‘Shadows’

I’m under Minnesota Highway 60 and this bridge spans a road, railroad tracks and a river. If I was pressed to name the river, I would say “Zumbro,” since that is the name of most rivers in eastern Minnesota.

Unless its name is “Mississippi,” of course.

This bridge sang to me so clearly that I was forced to make an unplanned stop and check it out.

Two things: a very clean community here. There was underbridge graffiti, of course, but it was apparently mostly trash-talking between rival Lutheran gangs.  (I felt the Missouri synod group really had some good stuff and most definitely zinged those ELCA guys big time, though dissing Aunt Lena’s jello dish was both hurtful and unnecessary.)

Secondly,  unlike bridges that I like to haunt at home, I had only one opportunity and a sharply limited window to take these pictures. So, I was forced to go with the lighting that was given me: bright gorgeous full sun…grumble grumble grumble. All well and good if you are out and about like regular folk, but not so good if you are a troll and trying to expose for both shadows and brilliance.

In processing the pictures, I’ve decided that the sharp differences turned out to be a good thing and if queried, my story will be that I planned it for exactly these effects.

And I expect you to back me up on that.

I played with the exposure and white balance quite a bit while I was taking these shots, so that in part accounts for the different looks.

The only things I did on the computer to process these pictures was to play with exposure some more (up and down) and clarity (up and down.) And, of course, some cropping to square things up.

And finally:

Because I love the idea of dressing the concrete with a dreamy other-world softness.

Back under the bridge, this time in full glorious color.

Thought you might like to see a long shot of the structure that I keep going on about. This shot was taken at about 8 a.m.  No clouds, very little wind.

I’m standing in the mud on the east bank of the Fox River, looking toward downtown, risking my very life in order to get these shots.

(I am no longer concerned over that whole stray-cigar-igniting-my-hair issue while I am mucking about under the bridge. Seriously…I’ve moved beyond that.)

You see,  there’s no actual shoreline available once you move out from under the bridge. No…as I pick my way carefully through the mud and offal, grabbing on to wierd swamp grass in order to keep my balance,  I realize that the danger I face comes in the form of hidden quicksand pools. Pools that have the potential to suck my entire body and a bag full of photo gear right down into the bowels of the earth with nary a bubble left to mark my disappearance.

I haven’t seen any of these Pools o’ Death yet nor have I heard of any quicksand-related incidents along the Fox, but that merely underscores the whole fraught-with-danger vibe I’m feeling: by the time I recognize one, it will be too late.

Anyway…I love this next picture. The bridge and reflection package combine to create a kind of Star Wars/scary war machine robot/mechanical legs illusion.

Giant robot war machine legs

Or perhaps……the legs of the really big troll who lives under the bridge?

As I started looking for great reflections, I found the traffic up top to be a real annoyance. I’m all lined up and some truck is moving up the bridge, eating up all sorts of time and I’m waiting and I’m grumbling and I’m waiting and then…Duh! Lightbulb moment! Why not fold the big vehicles into the pictures?

And so we have this shot:

Blue sky, yellow bus

Kind of fun. Now…what if you flipped one of these reflections? You’d get something like this:

Red dream truck

A real troll’s eye view of the world, don’t you think?

For days, I studied the Weather Channel app on my iPod, waiting waiting waiting for the promise of a sunny no-clouds low-to-no wind morning and on Monday, finally scored on all counts.  By 8 a.m., I was under the bridge.

This time I was looking  for bridge reflections. I ended up with two very  different styles, so today:  Shadowplay between the bridge and the water.

The Fox River continues to be a most eye-poppingly brilliant green. Because I wanted to concentrate on lines and shadows and the geometry of some of these images, I’ve either converted my pictures to black and white, or desaturated to the point that there is little color. I really didn’t want you to be considering the image only to be interrupted by that voice in your head (yeah, THAT voice) hollering “Holy Mother of Pearl! That water is sooooo crazy green!”

The water wasn’t crystal quiet and flat, which gave a nice zig-zaggy pattern to edges.

As I’ve been playing with these images, I keep thinking they would look good printed on a pearl metallic paper, really making the water pop.

Next post: full-color reflections, no more of that artsy stuff. I’m talking smoke stacks, semi-trucks and the Fox River in its full head-twirling  green glory.

( Whoa. Just writing that made me want to scratch and spit with manly enthusiasm.)


Behold the Mighty Fox!

Last post was from an eastern-facing position, my back to the river.

Turning around brings us to:

I’m pretty sure that if Edward Hopper hung around in Green Bay under the Mason Street Bridge, this is how  he would paint the scene.

Maybe the old guy I scared away earlier was channeling Edward Hopper’s ghost. Or maybe that was Dennis Hopper’s ghost.

(And you can prove me wrong how?)

Technical aside: On the three pictures above, I have adjusted both exposure and saturation in order to get more pleasing results. Right now the Fox is an astoundingly brilliant shade of bright green and I tried to dull that as much as possible. Nothing else was changed.

Finally, on a completely nonartistic note, I offer what would appear to be one of the sacred pyramids of Green Bay, located on the west bank of the Fox River and also visible from the same under-bridge spot. The ancient Egyptians built their pyramids and buried their dead on the west side of the Nile because that is where the sun died each evening.  Ancient Green Baynians believed that coal was far more beautiful than…oh, let’s say boardwalks and cafes and funky little shops,so they built huge mountains of coal on the west bank of their main river.


In the interests of full disclosure, I will say that I buffed out the various and sundry wires that destroyed the whole sacred mountain illusion. The cloud and the bird just showed up and volunteered for the event. My thanks to both of them.

Storage tanks in an industrial part of town. I always am vaguely uneasy when I’m out there taking pictures. Nothing but tanks and tankers, chain link and barbed wire. Lots of railroad tracks. No random cars and rarely a human in sight.  (Toyota Camry: Not the vehicle of choice out here. )  Each time, I’m pretty sure that bad-ass security guys who talk into their watches are going to come rolling out and accuse me of violating Homeland Security regs.

Probably wishful thinking, as in “I wish I actually looked dangerous.” I suspect the only time I look dangerous is when the person in  front of me waits until the total bill is announced and THEN  begins to search for exact change.  I have perfected the “Glower of Death” for those folks.

Meanwhile, everytime I process pictures in this group, I start to hum THAT SONG and then I’m stuck. You know the one: everyone’s go-to tune when you pick up a guitar in a music store. I’m trying to replace it with “Tanks for the Memory,” but it just isn’t going to happen.


Posted: July 16, 2012 in Shadows
Tags: ,

Parking Ramp Art. I’d gone up to get a better perspective on the world outside, but the view was pretty boring. The really cool stuff was at my feet. Soooo…”Allegory of the Parking Ramp?”  Sometimes I choose the shadows over reality.