Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Into the city canyons

click photo to enlarge
The other day I ventured into the canyons of the city of Peterborough. All large cities have these places, precincts where tall towers, flats and blocks of high offices crowd the streets on every side, blocking out the light, casting almost perpetual shadow, giving a feeling of enclosure and oppression. In Peterborough the canyons are not so great and grand as in, say, London, but they are there nonetheless.

Architects and planners try to ameliorate the gloom and overwhelming domination of these big buildings in a number of ways. Some cities insist on the upper storeys being set back from the main walls, elsewhere plazas and urban spaces are required to let periodic pools of light illuminate the street level. Glass curtain walls, clear or tinted, and mirrored glass seek to bounce the available light around, from building to building, making the most of what is available. And, where the towers are not so tall, trees are planted to soften the imperious rectilinearity of the architecture.

Today's photograph shows a tree in such a setting. Its irregularity and diagonals break up the horizontals and verticals of the residential flats, the offices and a reflected hotel. The mirror wall's reflection makes one tree into two, and shows the sunny face alongside the actual tree's shaded side. In summer its leaves will soften the architecture still further, and, whilst it will add to the ground level shadows, at least it will be at a time of year when the light from above is stronger than it was on my recent visit.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On