The Woman Who Wasn't There

Sony A7s with Zeiss 24-70 f/4 
1/100 sec @ f/8 @ ISO100

Over the years I have always been fascinated by images which have an enigmatic quality – where something in the shot is slightly strange, or unexpected. I call these Enigma Variations, and I even wrote an essay about this back on 2002 on LuLa.

In Cologne, Germany on a Saturday following a week at Photokina 2014, a friend and I took a long shooting walk around the town. The Dom cathedral is one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Europe, and one of the few historic sites in Cologne that escaped Allied bombing in WW2.

But the rest of Cologne, as is the case with many major cities in Germany, has a concrete drabness born of being rebuilt in the decades after the war. The train track leading to the Hauptbahnhof are another form of visual clutter, with dozens of overhead electrical wires.

As we began our walk across one of the Rhine bridges I saw this weekend painter, and was curious what he was finding to paint amidst the visual cacophony. 

What I saw was a painting with a quite realistic rendering of the scene in front of us but with an elegantly dressed lady of about a 1920's vintage to the right of the image, standing in a non-existent part of the scene. (Ahh – the freedom of painters!)

Post-processing in Lightroom consisted of using "Upright" to correct perspective and then mainly luminance tools to create a hard and high contrast feel. It had to be Monochrome, and I added a slight warm tint to the highlights to add a period feel.

It's a simple image in many ways, but yet a complex one. I find that in a print my eye keeps exploring the image looking for new information, and that is one of the hallmarks of a photograph that "works".


This image and its analysis may be discussed on the LuLa Forum