Crossings Near & Far | Bridge Art Photography

In the course of our day-to-day lives, the bridges we cross often go unnoticed. Perhaps it is an overpass that leads you over a highway, or an unremarkable span crossing a small stream. In the metaphorical sense we travel over bridges all the time, making decisions that can carry us from one avenue of possibility to new paths entirely. With these ideas in mind, here’s a journey through my archives of bridge art photography.

I have spent many years of my life in places with waterways to cross, and I have enjoyed photographing several notable and beautiful bridges. When traveling, bridges often stand out as particularly photogenic landmarks in foreign landscapes. Bridge art can bring to mind the symbolism of transition, change, overcoming obstacles, or reaching across a divide.

An abstract view of the Bixby Bridge with the coastline of Big Sur, California beyond
A friend crossing a bridge of driftwood over a creek at Oakura Beach, New Zealand

Endless Inspiration at the Golden Gate

Photographing bridges is a fun way to study their structural elements. Steel, stone or concrete details become even more interesting when juxtaposed with their surroundings, human figures, or atmospheric details like the swirling fog that often engulfs the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

The Golden Gate Bridge emerges from a blanket of summer fog as a sailboat passes beneath in a patch of sunlight

One of my favourite angles for creating Golden Gate Bridge art photos is from below, at the Fort Point National Historic Site. Here I always find interesting abstract bridge details and can play with the sense of scale the bridge span overhead provides.

Three abstract Golden Gate bridge detail views and one wide shot, from sunny days to misty morning light, studies in structure, light and shadow.

Linking Cities by the Bay

Joining Oakland and San Francisco is the Bay Bridge, which I have photographed a few times in many years of taking the ferry to and from ‘the city’ and spending time along the Embarcadero waterfront.

It is a stately suspension bridge at one end with cantilever structures at the other. The nighttime photo is from a waterfront hotel, as an evening light show illuminates the bridge cables and water below.

Winnipeg Bridge Art Studies

My current home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba is on the Canadian prairie where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. As a result this is a city of many bridges. Many neighbourhoods are nearly inaccessible without crossing at least one span. The most recognizable and visually inspiring of these is the Esplanade Riel Footbridge crossing the Red River in downtown Winnipeg.

Different compositions are easy to find here. A new framing of the suspension cables is revealed when taking a few steps in either direction.

Can you spot the restaurant on the bridge? This is the only bridge in North America with a restaurant, and I’ve enjoyed a meal or two there while overlooking the river.

The bridge art photography possibilities at this location are made even more interesting as the light changes with the seasons and time of day.

Bridges from Darkness to Light

There is a rather unique set of “bridges” in Winnipeg at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. I enjoy the abstract photography opportunities presented by the alabaster ramps that lead visitors from darkness to light and up through a vast interior space. Moving across these illuminated connecting ramps offers a beautiful physical and symbolic experience.

Western River Crossings

Further west in Canada, crossing the Kootenay River in Nelson, British Columbia, there is a local landmark known as the “Big Orange Bridge”. These photos are from a snowy road-trip through the forested mountains of interior B.C., and I can confirm, it is indeed a big orange bridge.

Art Deco Details Downtown

In Vancouver, British Columbia, the Burrard Street bridge may be a familiar landmark to locals and visitors alike. Anyone visiting False Creek and the nearby downtown attractions of the city is likely to cross over or under this bridge at some point.

The Granville Bridge in the foreground frames the art deco Burrard Street bridge beyond, Vancouver, B.C.

A Mix of Old and New, Bridging Time

While traveling in the summer of 2018, I collected many bridge art photos in Italy and San Marino. There was a fascinating mix of modern and ancient styles. In the tiny mountaintop nation of San Marino, I marvelled at the arching stone spans in castle walls, bridging the way from tower to tower. In Venice, there were an endless variety of ornate steps over the canals. While boating along the Amalfi Coast, there were dramatic cliffside bridges and beautiful natural arches over aquamarine blue water.

A natural bridge over aquamarine water, seen on the Amalfi Coast, Italy
View of the bridge at Fiordo di Furore on the Amalfi Coast of Italy
A stone arch bridge in San Marino, overlooking the Italian countryside
View from below the modern Ponte della Costituzione, spanning the Grand Canal of Venice Italy
Graceful Venetian bridges arching over canals, Venice, Italy

Around the world, over and under, we move across and through the avenues that bridges provide. Linking neighbourhoods, cities and landscapes, bridges are often striking in their structural beauty, making them a wonderful fine art travel photography subject.

Thank you for joining me on this rambling journey through the archives. I hope my bridge art photography has brought some new perspectives on the bridges your life may bring you to cross.

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Descent, architectural detail | San Francisco, California

Wandering the streets of San Francisco with a camera has always been a rewarding experience; along with being an interesting, often picturesque urban environment, there is endless opportunity for the unexpected.

This is a favourite image from my archives, captured on a relaxed summer afternoon of city exploration. I had never ventured far into one of the commercial complexes near the Embarcadero Plaza, and was wandering through the network of bridges and walkways that linked shops and restaurants in a canyon of office buildings and hotels. At one crossing of paths, I noticed a stairway leading down to the level below, and paused to admire the echo of form, texture, and tone in the large fern that grew in the curve of the stairs.

Architectural urban detail, a woman walks down a spiral staircase in downtown San Francisco

While composing the frame and trying to balance shapes and leading lines, a woman walked down the stairs, and as she reached the bottom I captured a single frame. I had not planned on the human element, but I love how it adds a sense of motion to an otherwise static scene. In black and white, the texture and tone of the mosaic floors and fern become more cohesive, and the spiralling, circular structures of concrete, plant, railing and tile frame and compliment each other, tying it all together.

This image is included in my Black and White Prints collection, and offers both architectural interest and a timeless moment full of details that invite reflection.

Love at First Light | Venice, Italy

Arriving in Venice, Italy is no small task; by plane, train, or car, one must reach the edges of a more familiar modern landscape, and then step onto a boat that will draw one into a world both foreign and familiar. I was immediately entranced by the narrow passages, absence of cars, and sunlight cascading past crumbling walls, illuminating colours and textures that could only exist in a floating ancient city miraculously moored in a marshy, shimmering lagoon.

Everything you have heard about Venice is true. It is romantic, multi-faceted and incomparable. It can also be crowded – there is one other way to arrive in Venice, and that is on a cruise ship – as I work my way through a few other batches of photos from my Italian adventures, I will have some specific observations to offer about that particular mode of travel and the impact it has on these magical places.

I managed to avoid the masses of summer tourists simply by committing to a daily routine of picking a direction, and getting lost in the winding streets of the city. Around every corner interesting architecture, delicious food, and more inviting avenues awaited.

Off-the-beaten-path, grittier scenes could be found, although overall Venice is remarkably tidy, with clean streets and canals. Graffiti is a part of the urban Italian landscape, as it is all over the world, and in some instances it offered unique photographic opportunities.

Staying in a palazzo on the Grand Canal afforded me central access to many different districts of the city, and even within a short distance from the palazzo gates, the variety of cafes, restaurants, shops and sights was abundant. In the evening, the canal glittered with golden light as boats plied romantic sunset waters; I could have sat by the ornate windows and watched the passing gondolas for hours.

From a photographic perspective, Venice is astounding, and of the hundreds of images captured over the course of three days there, I still have many more to edit. See more of my photos from Venice, Italy here, where fine art prints and licensing are also available.

I will be sharing more images and thoughts on this special city, as it was such a remarkable and photogenic experience. I am already thinking about my next visit to Venice, and would love to hear in the comments if you have ever visited and what you might recommend I explore when I return!

Fano, Italy

Where the landscape of pastoral, rolling hills and fortified villages perched on small craggy peaks meets the Adriatic Sea, the ancient city of Fano offers a unique Italian experience, far from the throngs of summer tourists who tour the country.

Charming, narrow, cobblestone streets? Check. Quiet neighbourhoods and bustling market squares? Check. Colourful details, textural walls, doors full of character and the occasional friendly dog in a window? Check.

The first historical mention of Fano dates to 49 BC, when Julius Caeser ruled the region. By 2 AD a wall and large arch had been constructed around the city, which can still be seen today at the main entrance to the older downtown district.

Wandering the streets it is easy to get lost, but taking note of some of the distinctive churches throughout the city can offer useful waypoints. Cafes offer sunny nooks for enjoying an afternoon espresso and around every corner is another arched passage, revealing more colourful buildings and the sort of elegant patina that Italy is known for.

With so much to see in and near Fano, Italy, this city and its history could fill the better part of an Italian vacation. I enjoyed how easily one could find quiet places to explore between the layers of old and new. While many Italians know Fano for its beaches and holiday atmosphere along the waterfront, if one ventures toward the heart of this ancient place, there are many beautiful, meditative moments to be discovered.

See the full set of my photos from Fano, Italy in the APK Photography archives, prints and licensing available.

Colourful Corinaldo | Italy Travel Photography

Sunny village and cobblestone street, with steps leading away down a hill between charming buildings, in Corinaldo, Italy
Looking down a long flight of steps through the charming village of Corinaldo, in the Marche region of Italy

Corinaldo, Italy is a quintessential, charming, enchanting hilltop village in the Province of Ancona. Surrounded by well-preserved 15th century walls, the maze of quiet, narrow cobblestone streets are a welcome escape from more crowded Italian destinations. Simply by wandering with no plan in mind, I was able to indulge in some easy-going documentary travel photography for an afternoon.

The views are remarkable, whether from the ramparts or from the hilltop heart of the town. All around, one can see the lovely pastoral countryside of the Marche region. A little cafe sits at the top of these picturesque steps, and offers a wonderful place to pause for a refreshing drink and lunch.


The array of colourful vintage Italian doors and the textural, faded patina of the buildings provides countless creative photography opportunities, and the sheer variety of door designs were quite remarkable,

As one wanders through a narrow cobblestone passage, the sudden appearance of ancient stone walls can come as a surprising juxtaposition, and when these medieval structures are viewed from slightly further, the position and layout of the village makes even more sense.

A visit to Corinaldo, Italy is highly recommended; it may offer a more intimate Italian experience during the busier travel seasons, and even hosts some remarkable festivals that bring its medieval roots to life. I was only able to spend an afternoon exploring, and as a brief stop on a driving tour of the Marche region it was my favorite experience of the day.

See the full set of my photos from Corinaldo, Italy travel photography in my archives; with prints and licensing available. A collection of door and window photo prints collected while travelling through Italy are also available.

Fort Ross, California

On the wild, rugged coast of Northern California sits an unexpected historic site, a fort and trading outpost founded by Russian settlers in the early 1800’s. At a time when the colonial and enterprising interests of the Spanish, British and American nations were converging on the region, and Mexico also laid claim to Alta California, the Russian-American Company sought to establish settlements in a part of the region populated only by the Kashaya Pomo Tribe, from whom the Russians negotiated the purchase of the land for Fort Ross.

 

I grew up in nearby Petaluma, California and have fond memories of visiting the Fort Ross State Historic Park as a child. The most active years of the fort ended in the mid 1800’s, but I always found the buildings, walls, and grounds to feel as if the history of the region was not quite so distant.

 

While driving North along Highway 1, it was a spontaneous decision to visit the park on a late summer afternoon. The path from the visitor’s center winds through a pine forest, down along a creek and past a grove of eucalyptus, then across a clearing to the entrance of the fort.

 

It was a quiet day on this visit, and I spent some time exploring the buildings and various vantage points throughout the settlement.  Hawks circled over the forested hills while the ocean crashed below the nearby cliffs. When the Russians landed in the area, they found a landscape rich with resources and agricultural opportunity. The Russian-American Company found lucrative fur-trading too, but their activities along with those of the Spanish, American and British fur traders decimated the sea otter population that has only recently been able to recover, with the aid of extensive conservation work.

 

My favorite structure at Fort Ross is the lovely little Russian Orthodox Chapel. It is not entirely true to the original chapel design, as the structure was once modified for use as a stable, knocked down by the 1906 earthquake, and after being reassembled,  destroyed by an accidental fire in 1970. Still it is a striking space, full of texture and interesting architectural design.

 

Interestingly, the current upkeep and operation of Fort Ross State Historic Park is funded by a Russian entrepreneurial company, and in 2012 an unofficial delegation of the Kashaya traveled to Russia. Restoration work and research of the site continues, and this will continue to be a wonderful place to visit, highly recommended as an educational picnic spot on the Sonoma coast of California.

As I left Fort Ross on this visit, I glanced at the ground below the West-facing wall, and spotted the feather of a Red Tail hawk in the red and gold fallen leaves of a giant eucalyptus tree. Despite the history of active settlement and now steady-stream of visitors, Fort Ross is still an outpost in the wilderness, and if one pauses to take it all in, it seems almost possible that time here stands still.

 

To see the full set of my Fort Ross, California photographs visit apkphotography.com – many of these images are available as Open Edition Prints and for editorial licensing.

Meet the Muse: Fort Point, San Francisco

The personally creative side of my photography goes through variations of inspiration and focus.  Sometimes I have the time and energy to create extensive, comprehensive bodies of work, and sometimes my muses emerge over long periods of study, often with many returns to the same subject over many, many years.

My love of Fort Point, San Francisco, began as a child with an old manual SLR camera and countless rolls of black and white film.  It was a place my family would frequently stop to visit on our way into or out of ‘the City’ when visiting with friends or playing tour guide to visitors from out-of-state.  These two shots are from one of those early rolls of film, scanned ages ago when the at-home scanning technology was still rather limiting.

We likely visited Fort Point so often due to my father’s photography hobby, which I suspect led him to love the place then as much as I do now; with an overwhelming array of juxtapositions, angles, textures, layers of light and shadow, the intersection of Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge is a photographer’s paradise.

Now, I’m the one pitching it to visiting friends who want to spend a day in San Francisco, and it’s likely that for many years I’ve always managed to end the day at this historic spot, camera in-hand, without really thinking about my ulterior motives.  Fort Point has emerged as one of my most beloved muses and I never tire of hunting out the details and architectural compositions that I find so interesting there.

Explore more of Fort Point, San Francisco in my archives.  Fine Art prints are available, please note that due to the range of resolutions and cameras used over the years, some photographs will be available in larger sizes than others.

Echoes of the past

Some places have a special kind of nostalgia, often unexpected and off the beaten-path.  San Francisco’s Fort Point National Historic Site offers many angles on both the water and striking architecture, from a strategic spot beneath the Golden Gate Bridge at the entrance to San Francisco Bay.  A photographer’s dream location, the light is always interesting and the compositional opportunities are seemingly endless.  I have rolls of film shot here when I was a child, enthusiastically clicking-away in the echoing halls while sight-seeing with my family. I’d love to work with a model or two in this space sometime, but for now I’m content to explore these familiar arching passages and the dramatic setting for structure’s sake.

under the bridge

Explore this incredible spot a little further in my photo archives – and be sure to visit it yourself on your next trip to SF!

Urban angles

Took a short break from my current series of portrait projects to pull a few images from the archives for some creative consideration. These architectural compositions were discovered while spending an afternoon wandering through San Francisco. Late afternoon light fell between the buildings, bouncing and glittering from one wall of glass and steel to another. As someone who spends relatively little time in larger urban spaces, I find the similarities in structure to be remarkable, as the man-made landscape often echos the world in which it is built.

sunset city canyon