Out of the Comfort Zone

From Lair of Sorrow

Sometimes scheduled going out of one's comfort zone is needed. I did so for the 2019 summer holiday.

By comfort zone I mean taking pictures of people and other clearly defined objects, which is what I normally do. This time, however, I wanted to think outside of the regular stuff and look for photos elsewhere.

For example, I had a chance to visit the Baltic Container Terminal in Gdynia during their public day. There were countless clearly defined objects to take pictures of - from monstrous cranes to locomotives and ships. Which is why you see none of those on the picture.

Containers - raw photo

The alley of nicely stacked containers was not available to the general public during the day. In addition, the staff was mostly occupied with the visitors. That meant there was nobody at work between the containers - a surprising contrast to the area filled with people. But looking at this picture you do not know that, it just is a nice background story.

What drew my attention - apart from the focus point at the end of the road and the lines that lead to it - was the lack of symmetry. As I looked through the containers I noticed patterns in the arrangement, and quite a lot of empty space on the left. I was also able to tell apart different colours that were in the shadow, but it did not really matter. It struck me that there was both balance and imbalance in the same frame.

Of course, the image needed some work.

Step 1: Crop

Panoramic crop is perfect for this photo. Together with low view-point and wide-angle lens it gives an impression of the containers being enormously large, it also takes away those empty areas that are disturbing the geometry of the scene.

Step 2: Black and white

The most important parts of the picture are lines and their arrangement. The colour is secondary, so I decided to take it away. Now the shadows are more evident, but it is something that can be fixed. Having a monochrome image helps, as the changes in contrast can be a little stronger than in case of a coloured version.

In such abstract scenes conversion to black and white also gives another creative option - colours can be mixed differently to produce much stronger effect that would not be possible otherwise. Overly saturated colours would look really weird, but here they are just converted to various shades of gray.

Step 3: colour and contrast

The image has gone a long way from a frame taken on a bright, sunny day in a middle of the harbour to an industrial, abstract scene in black and white. However, the end result looks the way I remember the scene - quiet, empty space full of lines heading towards a single, mysterious point.

Final version of the Containers.

All in all I consider the experiment of going out of my comfort zone a success. I took a slightly different path to my picture taking and some of the results - like these containers - turned out to be a really valuable experience. I ended up having a weirdly satisfying image I would be happy to have printed on my wall. I will most likely go out of my comfort zone a bit more often in the near future.