Monday, September 6, 2010

Assignment 3.3 Underpass

I make another diversion here, from what is perhaps intended as the subject matter of this assignment.  Another form of building is an underpass designed to enable people to safely cross under a busy road or railway.  However, frequently these become very threatening places and rather than convey a sense of safety as intended, they imbue dread.  With this idea in mind I decided to photograph a subway that leads under one of the bridges crossing the River Isar.  This underpass, one of many, acts to enable people to continue to walk along the river bank without having to cross over bridges carrying heavy traffic.  The underpass is well lit and not really very threatening as the following photograph shows.

My first task was thus to find an angle that makes the area look a lot darker and forbidding.  To do so I have closed in a little, eliminating the brightness on the right of the tunnel and avoiding the light shining through the gridded tunnel on the left:

I have also desaturated the image a little and processed it with darkness as a goal.  This then is the building which now needs to be used (the two photo's were taken at the same time).  The first image in the sequence shows a cyclist, good use, but this is not what I had in mind.  With my wifes help my plan was to illustrate the vulnerability of one user, a single woman wanting to use the subway, contrasting with that of another, a hooded figure loitering with ill intent in the tunnel.

To do this required some planning.  First of all I needed to use a zoom lens with a good focal range (24-105) and prop it in some way that would provide a suitably threatening angle.  I chose to place the camera on the floor of the tunnel and propped the lens up a little on a bean bag.  Heidi then posed to make sure the framing was what I wnated:

We then swapped places as I was the stand in for the mugger.  I attached a remote cable release to the camera and once in position Heidi hit the trigger for me.  I tried three different positions, each with my head bowed to emphasize the hood:

I then stood a little more upright and also changed to face the camera

Of these, I think the second image is the most threatening, head bowed, somewhat in the middle distance.  what was then needed was a victim, Heidi's turn to pose.  I asked her to walk in and out of the tunnel and shot a variety of different frames

Of these the third image works best for me, the graffiti is visible and adds to the dereliction of the tunnel.  Heidi is in silhouette and small in the frame adding to the sense of vulnerability.

So my use case is a mugging, a reflection on the times.  But not a true reflection of Munich, one of the safest cities in Europe.

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