Everyone should have a St Johns Bridge of their own
Now lets just assume for a moment I did the identical journey opposite to the way I would usually, would they still be so different? -- Jasontheaker
I enjoy browsing quite a number of contact's streams here on Flickr. I love seeing other work, it opens doors for me, allows me to see the world in new ways. I daresay I learn more about photography in the time I spend looking at other photographer's finds than I do in the time I spend with my own cameras in hand. I am just that way.
So it was with this shot. Some of the photography I like looking at the most are photos of places I am familiar with, the more so the better. This bridge for example. You might think that since I spend so much time there that I might get tired of looking at photos of it after a while. Quite the opposite actually. I am fascinated when others photograph this bridge and their views of it. When you know someplace as well as I know this bridge, you learn a tremendous amount being able to compare your vision of it against another's.
Ok, so to tie that in now with a commentary I recently read on Jasontheaker's stream. We easily fall into patterns. We develop familiar paths to negotiate the waking hours between morning and night. And not just in the physical sense in terms of the routes we walk or drive, but mentally too. We develop a familiar train of thought, a familiar way of looking at the world and perceiving it. I guess we have to, it is just the way our brains interpret what we see and reference it. But these familiar ways can also be a cloak that hinders our perceptions as well.
Without getting too much into that philosophical argument, let us just apply that idea to photography. We get into a comfortable perception when it comes to our photography as well. And in a certain sense, there is nothing wrong with this. Do what you know and do it well. But what about what you don't know and might be able to do well?
That is one of the reasons this bridge is so valuable to me. It is my control group. It is the place I can go to that I know so well, yet continue to learn so much about. Where I can experiment and learn. Where I can study the perceptions of my local peers and learn even more, not just about this bridge in particular but about sight, which we do with our eyes, and seeing, which we do with our minds and imaginations.
I have been shooting this bridge off and on (more on than off I think) for about six years now. And before one dusky blue evening about a week ago, I had never realized this shot was there. Until a couple of photos here on Flickr, and some choice commentary on a friend's stream helped me at least momentarily step off of the familiar path and to see this bridge in a new fashion.
This shot was taken with a borrowed Hasselblad SWC and a 20 minute exposure on Portra 160VC.
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