The Genesis of Urban Reflections

Reflection 1
The Genesis of Urban Reflections occurred in December 2014, while waiting for my family, Holiday shopping at Union Square in San Francisco. I have long had a fascination with reflection , and on this day I noticed the depth of the reflections in the shop windows, and the contrasting and contradictory juxtapositions that presented themselves in these reflections: high-brow and low-brow, wealth and poverty, culture and commerce. I took out my iPhone and snapped the first two images in this gallery. In late August (again while waiting for a family member) I picked up the original inspiration and have since been taking reflection photographs at every opportunity. This has profoundly changed my seeing as I walk through the urban environment.

Reflection 2

Yes, the iPhone 5s is a surprisingly capable camera, and ideally suited for these projects. Most of my photographic images are created with a Nikon DSLR. It is an amazing instrument that is extremely flexible in both input and output, and takes gorgeous high-resolution digital photographs. The iphone camera does none of this. It has a tiny lens, takes one type of photograph with continuous depth of field and outputs a sub-standard file type (jpg). One can say of the quality of the photographs that they are surprisingly good. There is however one aspect of the iphone camera that is vastly superior: it is practically invisible in the urban environment; most people do not even notice that I am taking photographs. With the DSLR, people become quite self conscious and frequently stop to stay out of the photo. Exactly the opposite of what I am seeking!

Reflection 11

As I work with my puny camera I have learned techniques for getting the imagery that I want, and I have adapted my aesthetic to the capabilities of the camera. Shadows are best captured standing on a corner and pretending to text. No one notices; everyone goes about their business. With reflections, I frequently hold the camera just inches from the surface of a reflective surface (usually a window). This technique both beautifully captures the primary reflection and, while sometimes attracting attention (what is that man doing?), rarely evokes self-consciousness. This ability to be stealthy, is critical to the aesthetic of both the shadow images and the reflection images as I am endeavoring to capture the human form "in the wild"; within the urban landscape.  It is fair to say that it is the camera that has enabled the art.

I'll write More about the human element in future posts. If you have't looked at the Urban Reflections gallery, please do. For those who are following the evolution of these posts, new images have been added since last week.

If you have comments, please email me. Blog comments will hopefully be added soon!