it’s been snowing all winter in chicago, and i’m just now getting around to posting a chicago snow picture. that’s pretty embarrassing. with all the gorgeous possibilities (the frozen river and lake, snow-covered brick buildings throughout the north side, a frosty bean, and so forth), there’s really no good reason i haven’t been out every weekend taking pictures.
i finally got out yesterday evening, and went on a walk from millenium park up across the lake shore bridge to the edge of navy pier. there were a ton of great possibilities, but thanks to my forgetful self not brining a key component to my tripod, my success was limited in the low light scenarios. i was able to leverage the wide aperture capabilities of my new favorite lens to salvage the trip and capture some quality shots.
when you’re shooting handheld in low light situations, there’s going to be some camera shake and resulting blur. this, coupled with the fact that you’re probably shooting with a wide open aperture (and thus a very narrow range of focus), means that you’re probably going to get an image that comes across as soft. things that were sharp when you were experiencing the scene as you clicked the shutter have soft edges when you look at what the camera captured. if you have a good sense of this, you can leverage this effect and play off of it when you’re deciding on your shot.
for example, the picture above is something of a subject-less shot. yes, the bean could be considered the subject under different circumstances, but this picture isn’t really about the bean…it’s about the mood. if the bean was in perfect focus, it would be the subject of the picture and the viewer’s eye would be drawn to it and it alone. but because it’s slightly out of focus, its reflections are blurry and the eye isn’t drawn to those details. instead, the eye moves around the contours of the bean, intrigued by how the falling snow comes to rest on the slopes of the sculpture. it’s drawn to the warm light that shines through the underbelly of the bean, which keeps the viewer’s eye close to the people and keeps the viewer’s imagination close to the experiences those people were having in that moment.