Light, Light, Light

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Under the Clark Bridge

I tried to take this photo a couple of times, but it just never seemed to come out right (see similar photo below). I’m a bit obsessed with this bridge, so I’ve visited quite a few times.

This photo was taken after sunrise, as I was leaving the park – a park that I’d only just discovered even though I’ve lived in this area for more than 20 years! Moral: Drive down random roads.

The color of the sunrise was gone, but the sun was still low in the sky, casting oblique rays onto the river. Suddenly the light worked! I was getting reflections that I hadn’t seen before, the edges of the concrete pillars had a glow to the silhouette, and there was a focal point of light at the end of the tunnel.

Under the Clark Bridge spanning the Mississippi River at Alton, Illinois. Afternoon light.
Looking for Confluence Point. Similar photo, different light

With photography, location counts for a lot, but LIGHT counts for more! There’s nothing special about this bridge’s support structure, but in the right light, the photo becomes something special.

It’s no accident that most of the epic photos are taken around sunrise or sunset. It’s not just the colors of the sky, but the angle of the light. Shadows are enhanced.

I listen to the Improve Photography podcasts a lot and I want to acknowledge how influential Nick Page has been in my understanding of photography. On many occasions, Nick has talked about how the epic photos are those that show the world in a way that isn’t normally seen. At times of day that most people aren’t awake, places where most people don’t travel, from a perspective they don’t use (e.g., macro). I think this idea is key. I seek to see the world in a way that most people don’t – make the ordinary, extraordinary.


Photo taken near Alton, Illinois. Clark Bridge spans the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois. Taken with a Sony Alpha A7II.

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