Onlooker Views the River

Today, I went downtown to capture Ottawa in the afternoon sunlight. Out of the several shots that I did, I found this particular one to be very appealing because of the slight resemblance to Caillebotte’s painting The Europe Bridge. In this certain painting, the onlooker is focused on the railway, more or less the industry that developed in France in the late 1800s. In my photograph, I find that my onlooker is viewing the river without the remenents of industry because of the greenery that covers most of the background and foreground. There is still a divide between the onlooker and society which is similar to that of Caillebotte’s work:

Although not seen in my photography, I still had a chance to capture an essence of industry as seen here:

The smokestacks and the surrounding buildings suggest an account of industry. Another interesting element that is seen in Caillebotte’s work is the use of the push and pull effect. In the painting, the couple walking on the bridge seems to almost push away from the perspective lines into the viewer’s space, whereas the dog seems to be pulling the viewer into the perspective. While I was walking around the Byward taking some shots here and there, I spotted a push and pull effect formed by a bunch of standing bikes and a oncoming car. The bikes serve the purpose much alike the dog in the work, as a pull effect. Pulling the viewer into the perspective, while the oncoming car pushes away the perspective lines to suggest motion:

The angle of how I did the shot seems similar to the painting as well. I suppose because of my tentative learning of art history, I seem to spot these kind of things even when I want to just use my creative eye. The final shot in this series would be the central pathway where the people in the background are similar to the Flâneurs seen in the background of Caillebotte’s work.

Even if I am able to find ways to incorperate art history into photography, I still find other artistic merits to judge these photos on. I try to focus on angles, cropping, and lighting in order to establish what I would decree a decent shot. We are our worst critic, if you can imagine, I had 50 shots to go through in order to pick the best lot. It seems that the best shots are always the ones that are more spontaneous or happen by accident. That is why on a weekly or biweekly basis I go downtown to do a few shots of Ottawa. Never planned, and never with a tripod.

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