Better Bridge Photography
Photographing architectural projects, cityscape, old buildings, firehouses, parks, monuments are all great photo projects, but like I have mentioned many times, almost anything can be photographed and almost anything can become a photographic project.
Bridges are an integral part of our infrastructure and almost anywhere you go and in every part of the world there are bridges. Sure, most bridges today are made from steel and concrete, but there a lot of places that still posses those old quaint wooden bridges.
I have seen countless times the postcard with a photo of an old wooden bridge painted a rich red color through which horse pulled wagons still travel that although taken many years ago, even today is a favorite for postcards.
When undertaking bridge photography, you need to realize that it cannot be done only from your car, you need to photograph them from several angles. Their support structures, the look from under it, the shot from one end to the other are all good shots that capture their importance and can turn out to be pleasing photographs.
Bridges are marvels of technology and represent an important phase in the growth of modern civilizations. Architects and designers are always striving to create not only structurally sound bridges, but ever so growing is the desire to make them structurally and visually pleasing.
The plan is not to photograph bridges by themselves all of the time, unless they are truly magnificent works of technology or reminiscent of times gone by. Bridges are most always associated with well crafted and planned gardens. One just needs to visit Japan to see the beautiful incorporation of plant life which complements the bridges and the other way around.
Many bridges, probably the majority of them, were erected to allow for the passage between bodies of water. Including water elements in a bridge photograph makes the image even more stimulating. Most if not all bridges are illuminated, some with various degrees of colored lights and most with exceptional lighting fixtures which can also be photographed by themselves. This is done not only for aesthetic reasons but for the sake of everyone's safety.
Take the opportunity of photographing them during the night hours too, and if possible, include the reflections from the body of water for which they were constructed. The bridges do not have to be the center of attraction in the photographs.
Sometimes the natural landscapes that surround them can be just as photogenic and including the bridge in these photos make the image even more stunning. There are some bridges in South America that are near waterfalls, the view of the natural landscape is breathtaking, a photograph of the bridge that also includes the waterfall is extremely pleasing.
If you have the means to travel to exotic destinations, make every attempt to visit some of their bridge structures. Jungle crossings for example, usually have rope type bridges to cross vast jungle expanses or rocky terrain, rivers etc. From these bridges one can envelope themselves in the beauty of the lush jungle surroundings. Make it a point to capture images that show the vast area, their length, their structure. Give the viewer an idea of what it feels like to be there.
Also to be taken into account are bridges located in gardens, although they are mostly for decorative purposes , their construction is often quite elaborate and beautiful. Take the opportunity of photographing bridges during bad weather such as fog. The bridge outline makes for some stunning images.
If the bridge is surrounded by landmarks or city sites, do add them to the photographs. They make for great images, especially if photographed during the night hours.
Take for example a span of Interstate 95 that parallels downtown Miami. The span of the Metro Rail tracks that also run parallel to the interstate are brightly colored in what seem like holiday lights. This photo which I have photographed several times is predominately featured in many televised events that take place in the city.
Also consider taking photos from on top of the bridge to incorporate the view from above of its surroundings.
Regardless of what bridge you are photographing, be alert and use care since these structures are mostly for vehicular traffic. Don't get so involved in its photography that you forget to be mindful of the traffic.