The 4th of July, Some Rain, a Bridge, & a Happy Accident

(Originally posted October 22, 2012)

Under the Gay Street Bridge - Phoenixville, PA
Under the Gay Street Bridge – Phoenixville, PA

Now that the Schuylkill River Highlands Association show is over, I can share the two images that were included in the show!  The picture of The Colonial Theater was quite popular at the show (it’s the theater where the original version of “The Blob” was filmed), it’s this shot of the Gay Street Bridge has a better story to share because of circumstances and happy accidents.

Since we had a really busy summer schedule, there wasn’t much time available to set out on some shooting sessions in the Schuylkill River Watershed to prepare for the show and the last-minute invite I got, so I used the restored downtown area of Phoenixville as my inspiration.  I had always wanted to shoot the steelwork of the reconstructed Gay Street bridge, but never had a chance to… and this was my chance… at sunrise on July 4th!

Alas, the sun wasn’t cooperative that day.  As daylight began to break, there was very little of it because it was cloudy and raining.  Sure, it made for less than ideal situation, but the bridge provided some cover.  (My husband came with me and we brought our dog, so she loved dragging him around sniffing along the trail and the creek underneath the bridge in the light rain!)

Even though the scene wasn’t what I had hoped, I took my shots, only reasonably pleased with what I came home with.  As I processed my shots the next day, I started to play around with some techniques that combine several images of different exposures into one and can make a shot look really cool or really awful.  My results were somewhere in between.

So… I continued playing with the images.  I made it understated.  I changed it to black & white.  I changed it back to color.  I reprocessed it with different settings.  And again with yet different settings.  I exaggerated it.  Still, nothing grabbed me.

Then I decided to take a really, really over-exaggerated color shot and twist it into black & white… and found what I had been looking for all along!  I think I almost fell out of my chair I was so pleasantly surprised by the result of that experiment!  The glow the processing had given to the bridge – the glow I had hoped to get when the sun came up – was back, and with some funky dramatic license!!

I think I learned a few lessons with this shot.  First, the world of photography is wonderful in that you can play and play and play around with a shot and try some really fun things – you just need to try things out and sometimes odd combinations really do work well together.  Second, the weather hardly ever cooperates when you really, really, really want it to (or need it to).  And last – and definitely not least – it’s simply awesome to have a supportive husband who will get up with you at the edge of dawn on a holiday, wrangle the dog, and serve as a watch/bodyguard so I can do these fun and creative things at weird hours in all kinds of locations!

 

-JC

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