Friday, April 06, 2007

Going vertical

Escape
San Francisco, CA, March 2007 [Click to enlarge]

As I walk around this richly detailed city, I find my eyes constantly drawn to small elements of architecture and landscape that just don't seem to exist anywhere else. I want to shoot everything in sight, bring it home and arrange it in such a way that will allow me to replay my visit.

That, of course, is impossible. Photography necessitates a certain degree of editing, of cutting down the experience into a limited number of views that somehow manage to cover the bases. The folks back home don't have the time or the energy to sit through 1,200-image slide shows - indeed, it's nightmarish memories of endless slide shows that have helped me become an absolutely ruthless editor of both words and photos.

So I walk, and shoot, and walk some more, and shoot yet again, letting my gut decide when to level the camera and preserve the moment.

I don't often crop my images. I try to compose them as close to final-form as I possibly can. But sometimes, a scene just screams "crop" as soon as I spot it. In this case, the geometry of this fire escape is such that no conventional layout would accommodate it. So I'll pull out the crop tool when I get back home.

As I stand on the sidewalk, I wonder if anyone ever actually uses these stairs. And if they do, for what. I wonder if the architects who designed these utilitarian additions to the facade gave much thought to their fascinating pattern. I wonder if the San Franciscans who walk by this building every day - and there are a lot of walkers in this burg - ever look up at it and wonder the same thing.

Whether it's this stairwell or some other micro-aspect of their city, I sure hope they do. There's so much to see, so much to be inspired by.

Your turn: What do stairs say to you?

16 comments:

kenju said...

I like the repetitive pattern of the stairs, but the only thing they say to me is "escape!"

Bob-kat said...

I'm exactly the same with composition Carmi. I always try and take the image as I want to see it. I think it's the fact that I used to use film adn also I don't actually enjoy sitting and cropping photo's. Somehow it seems like cheating too.

Michele sent me to admire your fire escape pic. Now that one defintely did loan itself to cropping! Great pic :-)

talj said...

Great image and certainly suits the crop perfectly! Stairs to me these days are a complete 'no go' so I suppose the represent a 'hurdle' I intend to jump once I have 2 good legs again!!

Have a great weekend Carmi :o)

daisy said...

Fire!

caramaena said...

Most recently stairs said 'guilt' to me.

To explain: I recently went on holidays with my mum and dad and we stayed in a 3 bedroom apartment with the main (very big) bedroom upstairs. Mum and dad said they were happy to let us have the upstairs room but I still feel a bit guilty about taking it.

Anna said...

I like the way you cropped this Carmi.

Stairs say.....WORKOUT! :)

Rainbow dreams said...

I like this picture - we don't have many high buildings here....
stairs mean sitting and admiring the view to me...
either that or exercise! :)

Anna said...

BTW, I gave you props on my post tonight. :)

Jef said...

Fire escapes make me wonder about the last time a crack-addicted hooker had to flee down the stairs from her physically abusive pimp, which probably says something Freudian about me.

I love San Francisco for its architecture and bay. However, when you cropped the pic, it created much more tension that made me notice a pattern I would have most likely overlooked.

Sarch said...

It is so strange to read how often you think the same sort of things I do.

The question you asked yourself about if the architects actually THOUGHT about the pattern of the steps....that is exactly the kind of thing I would have asked myself.

I'll bet that scares ya!

Paul said...

Now, is it Up the Down Staircase or is it the other way around? Either way, nice shot. All those photos are nice. Good going.

America the Beautiful, huh?

Stacy said...

This picture brings to mind the movie "Rear Window" (Oooooo). But I like seeing pictures like this. Each window represents a space that a person or family has made their own, their little safe place in the world. As always, your pictures inspire the imagination!

Thanks, Carmi!

Sweetie said...

Ahhhh, I love San Francisco -- such a great city. What a cool composition!

Gyrobo said...

Stairs often tell me that elevators are unreliable, that those cables could snap; but it's all just propaganda.

carli said...

These particular stairs remind me of Pez.

Most stairs remind me I have to get back into shape so I can zoom up them again.

bluemountainmama said...

yes...this one definitely benefited from the crop- wonderful!