Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Climbing the Ladder Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

27 August 2019

We couldn't resist trying to frame this shot as we passed by the other day. It spoke to us. The imposing barrier that, frankly, would discourage most people from even trying. The allure of a ladder. The bridge's arching promise of a miraculous crossing.


Climbing the Ladder. Captured at f8, 1/160 second and ISO 200 with the Olympus E=PL1 and Olympus 12-100mm f4 Pro at 35mm. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw.


In real life, of course, the three elements in this shot have nothing to do with each other. The bridge sits well above it all and remains oblivious to the waterfront below. The ladder merely ascends to the roof of the building and no further. That gate just closes off the roadway next to the building.

But from this angle they seem to be in conversation.

And tied together in this tall and narrow composition, we have to ask if the effect is to inspire or depress us.

The idea that if you surmount difficulties (the gate) and by your own effort (the ladder) ascend, you can span great distances (bridge) with ease is, as an idea, inspiring.

But seeing the attraction of the bridge only from outside the gate with an old wooden ladder required to get anywhere would, in contrast, be depressing.

Which element you give more weight to affects your reading. And that's where color comes into the equation.

In the color version, the building with its ladder suffers quite a bit from the worn paint. The bridge, however, looks rather attractive against the blue sky while the dark gate is a very discouraging counterpoint.

But in the monochrome version, the ladder stands out brightly as the way up. You want to climb it.

Which is a good thing because, as a species, we're always looking for a way up.

That's what the little window in the side of the building suggests. In the color version is reflects the color of the sky. Which is lost in the monochrome version.

Is there a middle way? Take a look at our Split version, which paints the shadows in black, the highlights in white and the midtones in cyan. That links the sky and the window together in a tritone image. But perhaps it's just a bit too subtle.

As anyone who has ever climbed a ladder can tell you, that's the way it goes. You can't be on the roof and on the ground at the same time. And standing on the ladder in between them is not much of a solution.

BackBack to Photo Corners