People stroll past a restaurant along a narrow street of Altstadt-Heidelberg
Here is another photograph from our 2013 visit to Heidelberg, Germany. (And London, and Bavaria, and Salzburg. Can we go back, now?) We stayed within walking distance of the altstadt section of Heidelberg, the old town area along the Neckar River and near the castle, and we walked over by way of the Philosophen Weg many times, hiking up and over a small hill between where we stayed and this popular area.
Being in the old town, it is no surprise that the streets are very narrow here. In most of this section of the town there are no cars, and people walk everywhere — except for the many folks on bicycles — and restaurants spill out onto the streets.
Brick buildings along narrow streets, Bear Gardens, Southwark, London
Yes, another London photograph. We had a bit of time between appointments and we ended up wandering around this area for a while in the evening. Here there are very old brick buildings along narrow streets that twist this way and that. This wall lined up almost perfectly with the setting sun, which glanced across its surface, highlighting the texture and catching an edge of the bricks straight on.
I didn’t share this photograph for a long time. I continued to go back and forth between a black and white rendition — which may allow the forms to seem a bit more abstract — and this version with its warmer colors and more subtle gradations of tones. (On an unrelated topic, why do I keep wanting to write “beer gardens” rather than “bear gardens?” ;-)
A person wearing silver sandals walks across wet concrete and stone, Trafalgar Square, London
We ended up in Trafalgar Square in the late afternoon. If I recall correctly, we were sort of between planned activities, so we just wandered around here a bit without any particular goal in mind —I think the plan was to meet up with others a bit later and head of to do something. Trafalgar is a busy place, surrounded by traffic and filled with tourists and others. This can make provide quite an opportunity for street photography, with the potential for just about anything to happen and for any sort of person to walk by.
Before long a cleaning crew showed up and went to work on a section of the square when lots of people had been congregating, using high pressure water to clean off the accumulated grime. Their method of clearing the area was fascinating. They blocked off a small section and then began spraying, gradually pushing out the boundaries, and spraying enough water to persuade those close by to move away. In the aftermath of some of this spraying, a person wearing silver sandals walked along this linear section of the square, with alternating stone, reflections, and shadows beyond.
A Salzburg, Austria street scene including a woman with an umbrella
This is one of those photographs that you could see in any number of ways, I think. It is a narrow street in Salzburg, Austria, not far from the main square and the Salzburg Cathedral and perhaps right in front of the building that is described as the birthplace of Mozart. (Somehow the juxtaposition of a shopping district with that place seems just a bit jarring.) You could regard it as an almost random scene from this street, though I think there is a bit more going on.
One of the things I like about street photography is working quickly and spontaneously, reacting quickly to people, events, and juxtapositions that may last only for a brief moment. If I recall correctly, I perhaps began simply by thinking “there is a shot here somewhere, with all these people on this narrow street.” Then things began to coalesce a bit when I noticed the bright backlight streaming almost directly down the street and stretching long shadows toward me. Then I saw the woman with the dark umbrella — and who can resist a photograph of umbrellas!? As she walked past I quickly made a brief series of photographs, trying to instantly place her and her shadow in some kind of compositional relationship with people and objects in the scene. From this series, this one has her standing slightly apart from others and with her shadow stretching toward the lower part of the frame, and a similar shadow from another woman almost parallels it. The people at front right were in shadow (yes, some work in post makes them more visible) but I felt like they provided some balance to the brightness on the left side of the frame and, to me at least, there is something a bit odd and interesting about their intense gaze at something behind me. Looking closer at the people in the scene — closer than I could consciously look when I pressed the shutter release — I find the dark figure on the right margin interesting, and as the people stretch into the distance several of them seem to have stories to tell, too.
A street lamp and its shadow between two windows, Salzburg, Austria
In the summer of 2013 we spent three weeks visiting London, Heidelberg, and the Berchtesgaden area of Bavaria. Since we traveled there from Heidelberg by train, we arrived and departed at Salzburg — and since Salzburg was so close we managed to visit that city on other days during our stay. With our musical backgrounds, the first thing we think of when we think of Salzburg is Mozart, since this is his birthplace and the city is still something of a musical center. Of course, once we arrived we realized there is a lot more to the place. (Did someone say “coffee?”)
I love wandering around in virtually any city with a camera, and I did a bit of that sort of wandering here. It was only after photographing in different areas and on different days that I began to recognize these characteristic lamps showing up in many photographs of diverse subjects, at which point they became a bit of a subject for me.
Pedestrians along a walkway leading toward Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London
St. Paul’s Cathedral is an obvious landmark at any time, but at night it is even more so, especially if you approach it from across the River Thames by way of the Millennium Bridge. We visited the bank opposite the cathedral on several evenings, so I can no longer remember precisely what we had been there for on this evening — The Old Globe Theater, meeting up with relatives for dinner, a visit to the Tate Modern? I’m not certain.
In any case, we ended up crossing the river in this direction after dark on a warm summer evening when many people were out strolling around. This was one of the first times when I realized that my little mirrorless camera was good enough in low light that I could actually do handheld night photography.
In England on the Fourth of July (a bit ironic for an American, no?) we were out along the banks of the River Thames as the summer evening came on. We had wonderful weather during this visit — if anything it was too warm. A low deck of broken clouds covered the sky, but to the west the sky was clearer and the light streamed through the hazy air.
I think this photograph is probably more about the light than anything else. For some reason, when I found the image in my archive and began to work on it I barely thought about the subject at all — the light seemed to be enough. When I did look at it more closely I realized that the content of the image is really fairly ordinary — a dock in the foreground, a bit of the river bank. a tall building on the right and urban buildings across the river on the left, a bridge (a central subject in my view), the clouds, and the warm color of the evening light.