To use a subject, I must be able to truly see it. Sometimes, I experience the presence of a striking subject, yet try as I may, I simply cannot make it into an image where color and line, form and balance come together into something that works. At times like this, I always think, “A real photographer could make this work” and go away frustrated.
Yet I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to come back. At times, I have to wait for my mind to climb out of its rut and see in a new way. Other times, the light changes, a cloud moves, or a cat wanders across the square, and suddenly everything falls together. Most often, it’s a bit of each, as in these images of the Denver Art Museum complex.
I have visited the Denver Art Museum several times, and been drawn by the dramatic upthrust of the museum and its attendant metal sculptures, as well as the striking architecture of the other buildings in the complex. I have struggled to capture the drama of this site, yet my images always failed.
Yesterday, while on a family visit to the King Tut exhibit, I walked out the front door to face a downpour with thunder and lightning, accompanied by soft light and gray, wispy clouds contrasting with the sharp lines of the museum and the upthrust of the metal sculptures. I began snapping digital images with my point-and shoot, the only camera I had, and suddenly, everything began to fall into place. I began seeing the buildings only as abstract shapes, and juxtaposed the spear of the museum’s North wing with the gray streamers of cloud. I then moved to the neigbouring buildings with their stylized, toylike structure contrasting with the hooks of the lampposts. I abandoned the horizon, and positioned squares and triangles in the corners of the frame.
Uploading the images, I increased contrast in the image of the museum’s north wing to accentuated the ribbons of cloud. With the buildings, I cropped, jacked up the contrast, then tweaked Curves in Photoshop to boost the darkest zones, giving an unreal, posterized appearance to the buildings.