If you’ve seen any of the photo features on this site, you know I love pictures that draw the viewer’s eye into the distance, either through a frame or down a long passageway — like the photos in this post. But what I like even better is a photo that draws the eye in more than one direction, like the one at the top of this post: one picture, two worlds.
These scenes don’t come along all that often, and when they do, you can miss them unless you’re tuned to recognize this type of visual jigsaw-puzzle. But I was lucky enough to stumble on this one in May as I was strolling the university district of Basel, Switzerland, in the days before my Viking river cruise (strolling was one of the few things I could afford in that expensive city).
At first my eye was caught by a young boy playing with a ball in the courtyard through the archway on the right — a school yard, I think. Then, as the woman walked out through the archway, I pulled back to take in the whole scene and realized what a visual challenge it posed.
Which way should my eye wander — safely to the right, to the woman framed under the arch? Or to the left, where a winding staircase drew me down a steep incline to an unseen streetscape beyond? For me, the answer is always both — one at a time, and then again, and again. I can look at a picture like this for a long time, noticing small details each time I look back.
Street photography is a time-honoured art. And even in the most ordinary streetscape, you can often find something beautiful, or intriguing. But now and then, you can find one that gives the viewer something he or she didn’t expect — like two worlds in the same photo.
Hint: as always, you can click on the photo at top to see it larger