Now that I am living in Melbourne I have been spoilt for choice when it comes to my passion for photographing bridges. There are so many interesting architectural designs in Melbourne city alone. It was difficult to narrow my choice down to two bridges to compare for the sake of this article. I decided to focus on the Bolte Bridge at Docklands and the Seafarers Bridge at South Wharf.
Seafarers Bridge Distorted Perspective
Distorting Perspective with a Wide Angle Lens
In this image of the Seafarers Bridge, I used a wide angle lens and positioned myself and my camera close to one end of the bridge. This way the section closest to me would appear much larger due to distorted perspective.
As the bridge is actually symmetrical in design this created a more interesting portrayal. I filled the frame with the entire bridge so that it is easily recognisable despite the distortion and took it from side on as the diagonals created by this position produce a dynamic composition.
Choose a viewpoint with an interesting background
Seafarers Bridge Dynamic Background
Walking around this bridge and viewing it from all angles allowed me to discover this strong graphic composition as the straight, crisscrossing lines of the building behind, contrast the sweeping curves of the bridge.
The bright colours make the white arches stand out powerfully. This viewpoint also allowed the whole composition to be reflected in the water below, with just the right amount of wavy distortion.
Use lines creatively to enhance a composition.
Seafarers Bridge Front View Leading Lines
In this front on view of the Seafarers Bridge, the overhead sunlight throws diagonal shadows cast by the many supporting wires that form part of the bridge structure.
This works as a design element by repeating the lines at the top and bottom of the composition. The lines themselves being diagonal are dynamic, implying movement, and they serve to lead the eye through the composition.
The following images of the Bolte Bridge were captured at the opposite ends of the day. The magic hour of sunrise and sunset creates a dramatically different view of this well known Melbourne icon.
Sunrise from South Wharf
Bolte Bridge Sunrise from South Wharf
In this example captured just after sunrise the sun is falling directly onto the bridge. This lights it vividly and accentuates the warm light colours of the bridge, making it stand out against the mostly white elements in the foreground.
By placing the harbour as foreground interest and positioning the bridge where I have, the cross shape connects all the separate elements of the boats and the arched hand rails. This ties the compositional elements together nicely.
Sunset from Docklands
Bolte Bridge Sunset from Docklands
By capturing this amazing sunset with the bridge across the water the composition has two dominant elements, the bridge and the clouds. By taking this image from the edge of Victoria Harbour there are no distracting foreground elements to detract from these two features.
The sun setting behind the bridge throws it into complete shadow, making it appear almost black; so different from the sunrise composition.
The composition works so well because the cloud formations follow the same diagonal downward line of the bridge from the tall end to the short end. The clouds appear to mirror the shape of the bridge which adds great interest and allows the eye to follow both elements through the image.
Always be conscious of the shape of the clouds in your image. They can give a landscape image that element that speaks to you without you even realising why. Also be conscious of the way the light falls on your subject at different times of the day and you will be able to better control the outcome.
You can also create some amazing compostions by positioning yourself directly above or below a bridge. The underside of many bridges holds a fascinating viewpoint that many people don’t usually see.
Seafarers Bridge Dynamic Lighting
Remember to revisit the location in all weather conditions and at different times of the day, and explore your subject from as many angles as possible. It is the best way to truly become familiar with the structure and learn what makes the most visually pleasing compositions.
Enjoy your own explorations of your city or towns fascinating bridges.