Sunday, August 01, 2010

Catching your eye

click photo to enlarge
A couple of evenings ago, during the course of a talk I was giving about photography, I made the observation that the human figure placed in a photograph will usually catch the viewer's eye before anything else. This is something that seems to be part of our natural makeup, and probably has its origins in the hundreds of thousands of years of our development when there was no rule of law. If you lived in a world where other people could be a mortal danger to you the ability to spot humans was one that you developed and honed as a matter of self-preservation.

Today, in our complex world there are, in countries where peace prevails, few direct dangers from other humans, but there are many other hazards. These range from fast moving cars to electrified rails and bottles of lethal liquids. Consequently societies have had to invent systems that warn people of these dangers, and which draw their attention to them. The other day, during my walk around the Brayford Pool in Lincoln, I noticed one such device. It was a multicoloured vertical chequered strip fixed to a wall just above the level of the water in the river. At the bottom it was white, the central section was day-glow yellow, and at the top it was day-glow red. I assume it was a variation on the depth gauges that are frequently seen by the edge of freshwater, but which more usually measure depth in metres, and presumably the colours showed the level of danger associated with the rise in the water level.

I say I saw it, but that's not strictly true. It was inaccessible to me, and what I saw was its reflection in the water just past the underside of a bridge. The very bright colours, moving from side to side with the waves, caught my eye, and their stark juxtaposition with predominantly earth colours suggested  a photograph. So, adjusting my position, and zooming in on a section, I composed this image.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On