Barrio Viejo Lamps


Lamp and Shade. A scrollwork door hides in a shadowed entryway in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

This post is the second of three featuring photographs from Barrio Viejo, a historic neighborhood in Tucson, Arizona. Whereas last week’s post primarily featured softly-lit photographs of the shaded side of buildings, most of this week’s photographs feature the other side of the buildings, the side exposed to direct sunlight that results in strong shadows. Predictably, most of the images are more graphic. For example—while others may disagree—I like the visual tension of the following composition where the two elements are widely separated into opposing corners. This is a difficult image for the viewer to take in at once—the eye really wants to switch back and forth from one corner to the other.

Taupiary. Fixtures cast shadows on a stucco wall in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

The direct sun also opportunities to add areas of glare as a visual element to complement the shadows. I like the way this makes an inherently contrasty image even more so, especially when most of the image area is mid-toned:

Bronzed. The low direct sunlight casts stark shadows in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.
Glare and Shadow. The late afternoon sun rakes across a wall in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

Here is an image that straddles last week’s and this week’s themes—doors and lamps—that both tells a story and is graphic at the same time:

No Soliciting. A large step and a cactus guard the front door of No. 633, Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

Stepping away from the high contrast and deep shadows of direct sunlight, the next image is more subdued, with a beautiful color palette and a variety of textures. Even though the lamp post is dead center, the diagonal lines and the dark window give an otherwise static image some life:

Post in Pastel. A slightly rusty lamp post stands among the muted colors of an alleyway in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

I will end this post with an unusual image that combines so many interesting elements—the splotchy sunlight that gives the wall a two-toned coloring, the blurry shadows of the tree branches, and the overall color palette. I find the lamp and its crisp shadow to be rather mesmerizing. It took me a while, but I finally figured out why: the lamp is skewed and asymmetric, yet it’s shadow on the wall is perfectly symmetric—it is almost like the shadow belongs to a different lamp and it puzzles the brain. And, of course, I am so glad that, for whatever reason, the light was on; the yellowish light inside the lamp’s reflector clashes just a bit with the rest of the color palette, giving a nice contrast:

Dappled. A wall lamp’s shadow mixes with a tree’s in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

Thanks for reading! Next week we will wrap up Barrio Viejo with a somewhat more varied set of images.

Technical notes. The photographs in this post were taken with a Nikon Z7 and the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S. All were processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

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