France 2006: An Example of Layers in a Photo

Shoes - Saint-Paul-de-Vence France - 2006

I had a great time this afternoon catching up with my good friend Doug Kaye. Doug’s recently had a pretty serious illness – and we were all worried about him during that time. But, based on my visit today, he’s almost back to his usual self – and about 20 pounds lighter. I hope we’ll be out shooting together again soon.

While we were getting caught up, Doug talked about this reaction to this particular photo of mine that I posted on Google+ last week. It’s kind of a strange shot – taken in a village in Provence, France in 2006 using one of my early Canon Powershot cameras – an S500. I was casually flipping through my portfolio of images in Lightroom when I stumbled across the original and something about it caught my eye. I brought the original image into Photoshop, tweaked it a bit (Tonal Contrast primarily) in Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 before taking it to black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2. A bit of vignetting, some subtle toning, and it was complete.

Doug’s reaction was what stimulated our conversation this afternoon – his comment on this photo was:

Love this one! The foreground bars give such a twist to the story. Lighting/vignetting really place the emphasis well. Great composition & crop.

— Doug Kaye

This fall, I’ve been taking a photography course at Stanford and one of the themes the instructor has educated us to is the notion of layers in a photo. I think that’s what Doug saw in this photo – and, perhaps, what I saw when I originally spotted in among a mass of older photos in my library. There are several layers at work here – the outer bars, the wall and ledge with the shoes, the windows, and the reflections in the windows – or both the bars and a more distant wall. Almost seems hard to imagine squeezing more layers into an image like this!

Another area of interest which caught my eye as I was scanning was the two window panes above the shoes with the whiter borders – as if the glass in them had recently been replaced. I like the checkerboard pattern those two panes add to the visual interest of this image.

I suspect I had no clue about any of this when I originally took this shot! But, it’s great fun to look at it now – and to appreciate a bit of what it teaches us about the power of layers and the treats those layers provide to our eyes!

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