Category Archives: Photographs: Structures

Lower Manhattan, Bridge Cables

Lower Manhattan, Bridge Cables
Lower Manhattan as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge

Lower Manhattan, Bridge Cables. New York City. December 26, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Lower Manhattan as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge

In late December 2015 we spent a week in New York, staying in Brooklyn very close to the Bridge. For most of the week we mostly didn’t pay a lot of attention to this landmark, but near the end of our visit we had some time to kill one morning before meeting our sons in Manhattan, so we decided to take the famous walk out onto the bridge. It was a fairly cold morning, threatening rain, so the scene had a wintry appearance. That didn’t stop the crowds though, and we shared the bridge with lots of other walkers.

Photographing from the bridge I made a conscious decision to not make “that photograph” of the cables leading up to the towers. Instead I looked to subjects that included the cables and other elements of the bridge structure either as the primary subject or as part of the setting for other subjects. I decided to “play” a bit in post with this photograph. One way to stretch post-processing skills is to think about how to replicate effects that we see in the work of other photographers. This isn’t about imitating them — it is about trying to broaden one’s skills as a photographer. In this case, I went towards (but not all the way to) a kind of processing that I see in some currently popular urban and architectural photography… and I learned a few things by doing so.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Construction Site, Hudson Yards

Construction Site, Hudson Yards
Construction work on the foundation of a new building at Hudson Yards

Construction Site, Hudson Yards. New York City. December 28, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Construction work on the foundation of a new building at Hudson Yards

Along a section of the west shoreline of New York City there is a monumental construction project, mostly above the Hudson Yards, where there is a huge train yard. As I understand it, because the train yard cannot be moved, the gigantic towers being constructed here must be built on top of the rail yard, which seems like an almost unimaginable construction challenge. When finished, the train yard will still be there, but beneath the absolutely huge collection of towers housing businesses and residences. The project has already been going on for years, and I understand that it will not be complete until something after 2020.

Since the new upper end of the High Line Park wraps around the site, there are plenty of opportunities to photograph the work from good vantage points. Most of my photographs were looking across the site or up at the towers, but in this case I simply leaned out over the edge of the High Line and pointed the camera almost straight down, where a small crew was working on the foundation of some new structure amidst a scene of great complexity.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Concrete Shadows

Concrete Shadows
Light and shadow play across the surfaces of concrete structures, night

Concrete Shadows. Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, Vallejo, California. November 7, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Light and shadow play across the surfaces of concrete structures, night

This is another of my “quiet” photographs from this nighttime visit to the Mare Island Naval Ship Yard near Vallejo, California. Driving to the place this time I had decided that I wanted to spend some time not photographing the familiar subjects there. (Later that night I did photograph some of those, too.) I had some vague ideas in mind that involved textures and angles and effects of light, along with some other thoughts. As I drove into the area in the late afternoon I picked out a few likely spots to return to after dark.

The area of this photograph turned out be a productive one for me on this evening. I have always walked right past this building on previous visits, but one thing led to another and I ended up pausing there this time. The spot is a perfect example of how the mysterious light of night can transform a truly pedestrian subject into something interesting. This is the corner of a building and a short concrete pad that runs up against crude concrete walls that apparently hold a hillside at bay. But at night an overhead security light casts illumination straight down across the surface of the concrete wall, and produces a pool of light at its base. The nearer walls pick up subtle and colorful light from across the bay in the town of Vallejo.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Rope, Shadow

Rope, Shadow
Shadows and a rope tied off on a concrete wall

Rope, Shadow. San Francisco, California. September 5, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Shadows and a rope tied off on a concrete wall

This is a simple bit of minimalist street photography. I was walking along a San Francisco street late in the day, with low light slanting across the fronts of buildings from the left, when I saw this tie-off for a rope to a flag mounted higher up on this wall.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Another Corner, Night

Another Corner, Night
A meeting place between planes of concrete, night

Another Corner, Night. Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, Vallejo, California. November 7, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A meeting place between planes of concrete, night

The historic Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, especially at night, is a visually compelling location with a lot of large eye-catching features. This include the towering ship yard structures near the dry dock, the tower of the old power station, the huge factory buildings, old officers’ housing, and the ships that are sometimes tied up here or in dry dock. It is easy to spend a lot of time photographing these subjects with wonderful results.

On this visit I was, at least initially, less interested in those things. Instead I slowed down and went looking for hidden surprises — textures, pools of light, juxtapositions, color, and quiet places. Before long I found myself in a small area near the front of a dark building where concrete formations were lit by security lights and by the glow from the town of Vallejo across the water, and I stopped here for almost an hour to quietly make quiet photographs.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Staircase, Window, and Shadows

Staircase, Window, and Shadows
Shadows from artificial light amplify the forms of a staircase at Mare Island.

Staircase, Window, and Shadows. Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, Vallejo, California. November 7, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Shadows from artificial light amplify the forms of a staircase at Mare Island.

I made this photograph in an area that was actually so dark that I could barely see the subject — a long exposure and a higher ISO made the photograph possible and allow the camera to see what I cannot. I could see well enough to know that there were some unusual and interesting shadow patterns, including the organic shaped shadows of nearby trees and the angular shadows duplicating the lines of the stairway railings.

With a dark subject like this the first challenge is to make a composition out of things I can barely see. The broad outlines are visible, but it was not easy to see details… and focusing can be a major issue. (I have a bag of tricks for this. One technique is to simply shine a brighter light into the scene and focus on the lit area. An alternative if the subject is further way is to place the light inside the frame, focus on it, and then remove it for the exposure.) This whole area was just a bit spooky. I got to it by ascending a dark stairway and then walking across what seemed like it may have been an abandoned parking terrace that was littered with construction (or destruction?) debris.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Fire Escape, Shadows

Fire Escape, Shadows
Shadows from a fire escape fall across the front of a San Francisco building

Fire Escape, Shadows. San Francisco, California. September 5, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Shadows from a fire escape fall across the front of a San Francisco building

I made this photograph late in the day back in early September, on a street photography shoot with a group of like-minded folks in San Francisco. We met in the late afternoon, wandered about for a while in the beautiful late-day light, then broke for dinner before going back out to photograph after dark.

One one hand, you could probably find a similar scene in many other cities. On the other hand, it also evokes the architecture of San Francisco, where buildings are packed tightly together, often with seemingly little regard for their aesthetic appearance when viewed from the street — with the result being very utilitarian facades, often featuring metal gates, fire escapes, and sometimes a worn and weathered appearance. This street runs almost directly east-west, so late in the day the sunlight was falling across the front of the building at a low angle and casting strong shadows.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.