Bright Reflections

On a whim, not having an idea about what I wanted to photograph, I got in the car and drove. It had been a long time since I’d photographed along the Grand River in or near downtown Grand Rapids. And I found myself there wondering whether I’d see anything in a new way.

The first thing I noticed, near the city’s blue bridge, was how calm the water was and how nicely it and the bright like showed marvelous reflections of buildings in the water. Here’s an image that’s pretty much straight-up–i.e., processed pretty much realistically, except for pushing the exposure into high key, albeit with a fair bit of contrast.

As soon as I saw this one on my computer, and processed it realistically, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest: High key, strong contrast, and a slight soft water-color sort of look, with reflections in the water emphasized, rather than sky. Think of it as dreamy realism.

My favorite, perhaps, is the blue bridge image. It seems to float in the air, almost, and the image has a touch of the surreal to it. The other two are a bit different. The first is abstract, with reflections, but not enough context so you’d know what you’re looking at. The second is grungy, a bit of urban grunge leavening the dreamy.

I love, too, how this building turned out. The colors are a bit surreal, the slight softness dreamy, the high key idealizing the scene. The strong contrast grounds the image. The two that follow are more purely high key and water-color-like, one with a bit of grunge to it, the other cleaner and dreamier.

Finally, the last two have a cool, ideal feel too them. These two, and in some way the whole series seems less like a “real” world and more like one conjured up in a film set a bit in the future.

There is just enough detail in these images–parked cars, utility lines, e.g.–that you know you’re in the real world. But the feeling is more an idealized cityscape.


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