Photographing Barriers and Openings
This particular theme involves two opposite concepts; one lets you in the other stops you. Openings and barriers are two subjects that can easily be represented in photography.
A barrier can be anything that stops progress, prevents one from going forward from getting from point A to point B. So in essence a barrier can be something physical or imagined. An opening is the same concept; it can be something that lets you pass, lets you achieve a purpose, so here again it can be real or imagined. Images of barriers can be as simple as a locked gate, a locked door, a mountain, a river, an exam. Images of openings can be just as simple; an open door, unlocked gate, a job, college, a bridge.
Use your imagination and be creative in your photographic representations of each subject. Here is an official definition of a barrier;
"[bar-ee-er] Show IPA –noun 1. anything built or serving to bar passage, as a railing, fence, or the like: People may pass through the barrier only when their train is announced. 2. any natural bar or obstacle: a mountain barrier. 3. anything that restrains or obstructs progress, access, etc.: a trade barrier." Dictionary.com
Photographs that are used in this theme must be clear in their representation of barriers or openings. Beside the usual subjects, aim to capture more of a representation of a barrier and an opening that makes the audience see the subject through their imagination rather than just visually. Some good examples would be two people trying to communicate who are visibly different; two different cultures with different languages. Big tall mountains and a person standing by the base just looking up at the formidable imposing barrier. People standing at one end of a broken bridge that goes across a turbulent river, a car stopped by the middle of a mountain pass and unable to proceed due to a rock avalanche which is blocking the road.
For opening images first an official definition;
"1. The act or an instance of becoming open or being made to open.2. An open space serving as a passage or gap.3. A breach or aperture.4. A clearing in the woods.5. An opportunity affording a chance of success." freedictionary.com
Openings can be represented by the usual subjects of an door, gate, window, but aim to record more eye catching subjects that will make your audience "see" the opening with their imagination rather than just their eyes. Such images would be an open path through a dense forest, a sturdy bridge across a strong river current, a college degree, a clearing through a thunder cloud. More imaginative images may be a hole in a broken window that faces towards a sunny field, a opening to a cave, a welcome sign.
Before undertaking this particular project first it is advisable to do some simple research or even ask around to see what is commonly regarded as being a representation of each; a barrier and an opening, and then record such images. Bottom line, anything that presents a barrier to going forward or anything that presents an opportunity to go forward is a good image. Don't forget tunnels, they can offer samples to both; openings such as "light at the end of the tunnel" and a dark barrier.
Do not limit your photography to only daylight, especially openings. A good technique is to find a suitable subject, place a light source some distance away from it so that it faces the opening and illuminates it, yet is hidden from the camera angle, record it with a slow shutter speed and the resulting image should be a good one, with the light source providing the highlight which is meant to emphasize the clear path ahead.
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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez
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