If you're intrigued by architecture
and its interesting details, chances are that you enjoy photographing stairways.
You can capture interesting design elements, both in structure and in detail.
Stairways can be depicted in their entirety with curved, sweeping lines, or
can become an abstract subject if you zoom in on a close-up of line patterns.
If stairways are interesting to you, a variety of photographic opportunities
view of a stairway illuminated by window light was turned into
a work of art via the computer.
Reader photo by Stan Kaufman, Bayville, NY
To determine the best compositions,
it's best to explore a stairway from different viewpoints. It's
easy simply to photograph a subject straight on, but changes in your viewpoint
will offer different interpretations of the stairway's design qualities.
Find a pleasing angle that spotlights whatever features made you decide to photograph
it. You might try shooting from a low angle to place the slats of a stairway
against a colorful background, such as an industrial staircase against a blue
sky. Photographing a spiraling stairway from above can reveal a striking circular
design that draws the eye into the center of composition. For variety, you could
also take a picture from partway up the stairs or from underneath. The graceful
lines of the stairway would still be apparent, but the design impact would be
totally different. You could also shoot images of the angular stairways and
landings on the outside of urban buildings. Then come in closer and photograph
the shadows that these strong lines create.
If you're shooting a picture that encompasses a wide view, it's
a good idea to use your camera's zoom lens on a wide-angle setting like
28--35mm. Another approach is to zoom in for a tighter view of a staircase
and isolate a detail or compose an abstract design. You'll want to use
the telephoto end of your zoom lens to bring a small area in close, such as
a focal length of 80--100mm. (You'll also want to utilize the close-up
mode on your camera.) Stairways sometimes offer the chance for you to simplify
your composition by looking for patterns created by lines or shapes.
rustic image of a ladder was enhanced with Photoshop Elements.
Reader photo by Harvey Morgan II, Santa Fe, NM
In a photo, lines can be used to
lead, connect, separate, define and unify. In the rungs and railings of a single
staircase, lines of varying shapes and designs may occur--curved, straight,
horizontal, and/or vertical--which offer opportunities to capture eye-catching
abstracts. Your job is to take time to find a viewpoint that organizes these
elements into an eye-catching design.