Another Brick in the Wall

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Three Windows. Windows reflect the sky from the upper story of a modern building in Parker, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 104mm, 1/750 sec, f/8, ISO 500.

I like to have some kind of theme for each of my blog posts. In looking through my pictures from my meanders in downtown Parker, I decided that I had a enough images featuring brickwork that bricks got the nod. Despite the narrow-seeming theme, I think there is enough variety in the images that they are not repetitive—at least not with only six of them. Also, in most of them “brickwork” is not really the subject, but the setting.

Last week’s post featured a curved portion of the building above, a composition with a lot more asymmetry; this composition is perfectly symmetric with just some subtle variations in the window blinds to break the pattern (something that I think it benefits from). Since I was not using a tilt-shift lens on this outing, I did have to correct the perspective to avoid having keystoned windows. And in actuality, I don’t think my 85mm tilt-shift lens—had I been using it—would have had enough shift ability to completely eliminate the perspective challenges.

This next image puzzles me a bit, to be honest. I am not sure which I would prefer, but I would like to compare this composition with one where the window was further to the right. As it was, I was concentrating on trying to position myself to get the glare on the boards in the window so their texture would stand out a bit. I think the dark shadow is in a good spot in the frame: the converging rows of brick lead the eye to right to it and it forms a hard stop. But I still have some nagging doubts that could be set to rest with some alternative framing. I keep telling myself that any time I take an image, I should take another three variations, but I hardly ever do.

Shut. A boarded-over window matches the color of its brick wall in Parker, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 73mm, 1/1000 sec, f/8, ISO 500.

When I am composing images, I tend to fiddle and adjust my position a lot. It is a clichéd bit of photographic advice to “zoom with your feet” but that is flawed advice—and deeply so near cliffs—changing your camera’s position changes your perspective, not just the framing. Good composition is a function of both perspective and framing. It is hard to generalize, but I usually consider perspective more important than framing, although this is less true with straight-on compositions like the windows at the top of this post. That is why photographs from classic viewpoints tend to get repetitive—if you are stuck in one spot then all you have to work with is framing. Part of the challenge of using a prime lens is that your perspective and your framing can’t be changed independently, whereas with a zoom lens you can iterate between adjusting your position and adjusting your framing until you get what you want. It’s not that one is necessarily better, but a zoom is certainly more flexible.

In this next image, things that are dependent on perspective—rather than framing—include the gap between the bottom right edge of the lamp’s white globe and it’s shadow. Framing influences where the mortar lines fall relative to the edges of the frame. Here the bottom mortar line is horizontal and there are vertical mortar lines along both sides. The framing can often be adjusted a bit after the fact by cropping and some perspective changes, but the relative positions of things in the frame is something you are pretty much stuck with.

Black and Blue and Brick. The late afternoon sun rakes across a lamp mounted on a brick wall in Parker, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 105mm, 1/250 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

This next image is kind of an unusual one for me: it is basically a study in textures and patterns and shadows. I think it is a lot more interesting for the shadows of the tree that soften what would otherwise be a very high-contrast image. They also provide an irregular overlay on top of a background with strong repeating patterns. The irregular stucco pattern—very evident in the strong sidelight—is also very distinct from the brickwork.

Chiaroscuro Overlaid. Spidery shadows fall across a brick and stucco wall in Parker, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 115mm, 1/1500 sec, f/8, ISO 500.

On the other hand (I couldn’t bring myself to say “In contrast,…”) there is nothing to mitigate the high contrast of this next image with its deep shadow that fills half of the frame. I am glad that the lower part of that shadow does have some detail before it recedes to a deep black. I don’t tend to have many images with such large, deep shadows, but I do like this and will have to try more of them. Shadows like this seem to be a more common feature in black and white images (and, I suppose, Vermeer and Caravaggio) but I think in this case, especially with the narrow earthy color palette of the visible areas, it works well.

Wasted. An empty planter basks in the last sunlight of the day in Parker, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 120mm, 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 500.

I left this next image for last because, unlike the others, it was not lit by direct sunlight but only by the blue sky: consequently, it is a bit of an outlier from the others with a very cold feel. This is particularly evident in the blueish hue of the metal fixtures. This contrasts nicely with the warmer light from the bulb. (This picture is much better for the light being on!) I also like the way that the light casts a little warmth on the brick below it. Since we were discussing framing earlier, this is a case where I wish I had allowed a little more space at the bottom of the frame so that the warm light on the brick would be more prominent.

Overwhelmed. A lamp casts little warmth over a brick wall under a cold blue sky in Parker, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 120mm, 1/60 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

I hope you enjoyed this collection of images! Thank you, as always, for reading.

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