Picture Analysis – Red Bridge, Okawa

Red Bridge, Okawa (Toshio Shibata via theguardian website)

Question 1

Take a close look at the photograph above (linked). What do you see? 

Red iron girders. Triangular shadow in background. Misty background, foliage showing through. Trees, lots of trees.

Red triangles on the bridge (lots of them). V-shapes linking each triangle to the next.

Bright path, golden path, from lower left front towards middle of image. Hidden by bridge architecture.

Rectangular rails on side of footpath.

The front most part of the path peaks at the top, centre of the photograph.

The uprights of the bridge are highlighted on the inside of the left side girders. This must be paint or something similar because the light is brighter towards the top left of the image and the shadows, formed because of the bridge uprights, across the footpath lead to the conclusion that the sun is to the left of the bridge and slightly behind it.

Question 2

What drew your attention first?

The red uprights of the bridge, their colour and strong lines drew my attention. The lead the eye to the hazy background.

Question 3

What is the main subject? 

The main subject is the bridge structure. The red iron structure, the pale path. The hazy background forces you to focus on the bridge and not something that might be in the background.

I think that the misty background adds an extra dimension to the image as you can’t see where the bridge leads to, does it actually lead to anywhere. The indistinct details in the background could mean that this bridge actually goes nowhere, it could simply end in mid-air or even against a rock face.

If we were to travel across this bridge would our journey suddenly stop. Will there be somewhere to go when we reach the other end? Would we be able to carry on, do we need to re-trace our steps and take another path? Or will we find ourselves stuck and unsure of how to go on.

Question 4

Describe the quality of the light and shadow.

The light is very good, the main focus of the photo is highlighted and clearly lit. The shadows are dark with very little details. The background is more of a midtone.

The mood of the picture is very bright and cheery despite the dark background.

Question 5

Explain the pictures composition using an annotated sketch.

Red Bridge Okawa question 5

Question 6

What does the title tell you?

The title is descriptive and not embellished. The bridge is indeed red. “Okawa” indicates that it isn’t local unless you happen to live in Japan.

Question 7

Name every object in the picture.

Footpath, railings, bridge, girders, trees, shadows, uprights, supports.

Question 8

Is what you’re seeing and describing the same thing?

I think what I’m seeing and what I’m describing are different. What I “see” is much more, it encompasses the photo from the tiniest details to the image as a whole.

I know that if I look at the photo again and again I will notice more details. If I read somebody else’s opinion of it then I will see it in new ways. Seeing it is much more, it includes the feelings and ideas I get when looking at it in light of my own perceptions and thought processes.

Seeing the photo also depends on different conditions. In low light there are elements that aren’t easily visible but in bright light so much more comes out.

When I’m describing the photo I’m looking at individual elements and picking them out. I’m being more analytical. How do lines flow? How has the photographer composed the image so as to draw the eye of the viewer through it? What colours are there? How does light and shade appear across the image? What can I work out about the time the photo was taken from the image before me?

Question 9

What is your personal response to the photo?

I like this photograph. It makes me want to find out more about it, about the person who took it and their thoughts. It also appeals to be the part of me that likes structure, organisation and technology.

It also appeals to the part of me that likes nature. This would be a part of the world I would love to visit and see more of.

It’s also like to be able to turn around and see what was behind the photographer, to see what they didn’t photograph.


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