This is Why

Why do I leave more time than necessary to get to downtown appointments? This is why.


Well, considered specifically, it’s just one of the reasons. Considered more generally, the original statement stands. The reason is not this particular photo, it’s the chance at photos like this. Ottawa’s downtown — almost any downtown — offers cool reflections in office towers.

In the old days, I used to snap them off and then crop them to adjust the framing, usually to center something that I had seen (but not captured) as centered. It’s amazing how picky I am after the fact about little differences in alignment that I didn’t even notice when I was squinting at the glare off a phone screen angled over my head, with my back arched in an unsteady and unsustainable position.

Nowadays, when I can see that a symmetrical framing would be appealing, I try to adjust for that before hitting the shutter button. But this sort of shot introduces new problems with something called, I believe, linear distortion. In general, things can start looking weird when the camera is not aligned with the horizon, as it clearly was not in this shot.

In this case, weird is part of the fun and unavoidable in any case since I did not have access (quick or otherwise) to a bucket truck or drone to gain altitude on the shot. Why cities don’t provide this service for photographers is beyond me.

But I was amused to see the optical illusion aspect of this photo: Easier seen in a small version, perhaps. The photo’s vertical sides really are parallel.


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6 Responses to This is Why

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Remember reading somewhere that Michelangelo allowed for the distortion induced by perspective when carving his monumental statues. Seen from ground level, they look just right; seen from above, the heads and shoulders are disproportionately large.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Interesting. And clever. (That is, something that would never occur to me.) Folks with a visual gift, honed by years of work, are quite amazing.

  2. What a fabulous shot! Fascinating bonus in the optical illusion. However, I don’t see how your picture is tilted regarding the horizon. The reflected building is not a symmetrical image: the left facade of the reflected building is shorter than the facade reflected on the right. But the horizontal bars of your primary architectural focus and the piece of sky at the top and the radiating verticals are almost identically symmetrical. Almost. Close to perfect. Not a detriment to the overall effect, which is powerful!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Good eye – the two legs of the building being reflected are *not* the same size/length. I hadn’t even noticed that before I took my first shot and then checked it. Great fun, anyway. What did people do for entertainment before the cheap-photography era?

  3. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – just as parallel lines seem to merge somewhere out there in the distance, the converse is equally interesting. During one of my trips to CFS Alert back in the 70’s I had the opportunity to hop a 20-30 minute helicopter flight to a point of land north and west of the Station. Standing there looking south, and if the earth had been flat, I would have been able to see Vancouver out of my right eye and Halifax out of my left eye. While I can’t conclusively prove it, I believe that at that point in time I was also the most northern person in Canada standing on land.

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