You don’t have to live on this planet very long to be inspired by many of the naturally beautiful landscapes. The natural world was the reason I was originally drawn to photography. How naive I was to overlook the beauty that can be found even in the man-made environment. Enter the world of DeShaun Craddock, a man made environment that creates its own micro-climates. I believe this may have been the inspiration for the title of DeShaun’s photo: Like Night and Day.
One person who commented on DeShaun’s photograph made the observation that it looked like a “natural diptych”. I think that really describes the photo perfectly (I only wish I had thought of it on my own). The overpass (or elevated rail, not sure which) is a part of city life and it’s shadows cannot be avoided. These bridges aren’t just a visual barrier or a nuisance. They really do divide sub-cultures within the same city. And so the photograph is quite the social commentary. The approach and the sentiment is very bold.
On the technical side of things, this photograph is more complicated than it seems. Timing is the primary concern here. As the sun moves across the sky, that shadow will slide from one side of the street to the other, so DeShaun had to shoot at the precise time that would make it look like the street was perfectly subdivided. Lining the shadow up with the edge of the bridge is an important detail to the success of the shot. It required some patience (and, I’m sure, a tripod). In the field, getting that perfectly straight line is quite a challenge. But the photograph isn’t done there. We’re looking at some stark exposure contrasts here. Direct sunlight can reach up to 10,000 footcandles while that shade is probably dropping down to probably no more than 1 or 2 footcandles (for perspective, a typical office is lit to about 30-40 footcandles). Your camera sees that as a difference of 5,000 to 1, and it really can’t handle it. You can see it to some degree in DeShaun’s photo as much of the detail in the shade has disappeared. But I would expect it to be far worse under typical circumstances. So either DeShaun used a stack of Neutral Density filters to bring the ratio much closer, or he did some zone adjustments in post processing. The latter is probably more likely. Besides, there’s a very clean line dividing the two exposure zones. Like Night and Day is clean and simple, but that fact shouldn’t undermine it’s power or the skill behind the shot. DeShaun has great talent in making a photograph like this look easy.
Editors Note: As it turns out, DeShaun did not use a tripod or any on-camera filters. He was able to pick up the tones through a few tonal curve adjustments in post and that’s all. When we write these articles, we don’t always know the actual process, and I am most often taking an educated guess on the approach. We don’t always get it right. That said, DeShaun’s approach is possibly more challenging which only makes us admire the work even more.
In the world of photography, DeShaun Craccock seemingly does it all: Candid portraits, event photography, architecture, landscapes, editorial and photojournalism (though the list continues). In my opinion, his strength is in his creative composition; it doesn’t matter what he’s shooting, he is able to use composition to create the story in a way that many would overlook. The result is that his photographs have a presence; they pull you in and make you want to take the time to explore each photo in greater detail. To see some of his incredible compositions, roll on over to DeShaun’s photostream. Also be sure to visit his personal website.