Creating dramatic photographs at night
Recently in San Francisco on one leg of the international attorney portrait project, Gittings photographer Jason Yoerg was captivated by this dramatic, softly lit building. Working with the negative space around the building and experimenting with exposures became the highlight of his evening:
This photo is as much about the shapes that are made by the light as it is by the negative space created by the darkness. I like the dark spaces as well as the bold shapes made by the warm light. There is a great deal of order created by the straight lines and a rigid sense of structure. But there is also a reddish, roughly horizontal line that runs along the bottom portion of the image that has a bit of an arc to it. This line adds an organic feel to the image, and the two dark shapes that run along its length above it and below it provide great organic feeling negative space; nice curvy lines, much less rigid. Another example of the use of negative space are the large rectangular shapes above the outer rows of windows. These dark rectangles help define the shape of the building, but it is very subtle. And really, the delicate patterning on the door and the window above becomes part of the negative space.
I photographed this scene many times. I probably stood across the street from this set of windows for about 20 minutes just trying to get the right crop and a sharp exposure. Each time I would check the back of the camera to see if the results were acceptable. I did get some good results before I decided I had the "right" image, but I really liked this scene a lot and wanted to make sure that I got what I needed.