Monday, February 25, 2008


Sometimes the difference between a regular snapshot and a striking photograph is the perspective. Instead of taking a shot from 5 feet off the ground, why not take it on the ground? Different angles force interesting perspectives in different situations. Here, more than half the scene is dominated by the tiles of this plaza, giving us an ant's-eye-view of the distant gate. With this super low angle, all the lines draw the eyes up and into that gate.

I like how all the bright illumination on the gate is mirrored in the ground as a watery reflection, giving the photo as a whole more body, and adding another element of interest to this already full frame. It doesn't become overwhelming, though, helped in part by the photo's predominantly monochromatic blue tone. And while the focus is soft, there's a feeling of sharpness as a result of the great contrast throughout. And yet somehow, the brightly lit white gate hasn't been overexposed.

If you can read Chinese, you'll be able to just make out the four characters that have since been taken down and replaced. "The Golden Mean and the Way of Righteousness" have given way to "Liberty Square" and what was once the CKS Memorial Hall is now the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall. I only lived in the country for three years, so I feel like my understanding of the politics behind the changes go way over my head. Nonetheless, the controversies revolving around words and monuments in Taiwan help to further throw images like this into greater perspective.

It's been a little over two years since I first saw and was inspired by this great shot. This, and a handful of other photos, all shot by a plastic camera called a Holga, convinced me to purchase my first "toy" camera, and simultaneously dive into the awesome world of medium format film. While the Holga is known as a lo-fi toy camera that produces selectively in-focus, heavily vignetted, square photographs, I love the Holga because of it's sometimes surprisingly crisp and high quality results. With a list price of $50 (cheaper on ebay) the camera is capable of producing stellar photographs. Like this one.

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