Why are streetlamp so attractive?

Street lamps exert a moderate-to-large appeal on me, especially when I hold a camera and I am wandering about. While it is true that one should always question tastes, I cannot help but wonder why. I believe it is for two reasons:

  • the shape, usually curved but almost always graphically important, that stands out very well because, often, the background for a lamp post is an uncluttered sky;
  • street lamps get usually noticed when they are lit or, ore exactly, when they have just been switched on, around dusk, when the ambient light is generally speaking more flattering, and when it easily blends in, for intensity, with the artificial one coming from the bulbs.

Here, the function of the streetlamp is mostly that of lighting the scene. Its light is generally harsh and not flattering (you would not photograph a woman lit by a streetlamp, for instance) but including the street lamp itself (i.e. the source of light) in the scene helps making it sensible to the eye. Here, an iPhone 5 did the trick – I helped its low-light sensitivity by shooting several identical frames (handholding) that I would eventually merge together for a better and smoother tonality
Night scene photographed in Durham, England
Night scene photographed in Durham, England. Without its traditional iconic spaces (the castle, the cathedral) Durham looks pretty yet quite anonymous and therefore can well embed the concept of “Englishness” when it comes to the look of the cityscape
Florence, Italy: the city is so full of artworks that it is impossible to separate it from the normal, modern urban decor necessary for the functioning of the town. Street sign and streetlamp with some statues situated along the River Arno. Scan from Acros 100
Florence, Italy: the city is so full of artworks that it is impossible to separate it from the normal, modern urban decor necessary for the functioning of the town. Street signs mix with streetlamps with some statues situated along the River Arno. Scan of Acros 100 black and white film
The clear sky makes here an uncluttered background against which the shapes of the lampposts stand out. The seagull definitely helps
The clear sky makes here an uncluttered background against which the shapes of the lampposts stand out. The seagull definitely helps!
Focus on lamp only. Scan from Ektar 100
Durham, England, again. Scan from Ektar 100. Some editing to add some light (that was not there!) in the lantern.
Shadow on a streetlamp (sunny day) on a rusty shop rolling shutter, Italy. iPhone 5
Shadow of a streetlamp (sunny day) on a rusty shop rolling shutter, Italy. iPhone 5
"La fontina" industrial park, around Pisa, Italy.
“La fontina” industrial park, around Pisa, Italy. Photographed from the Carrefour’s car park. One of the times when carrying a camera wherever you go can pay back (be it an iPhone or a more formal one). The image is characterised by strong geometrical motifs: straight lines, triangles, rectangles, and parallelisms
Lit Streetlamp and electricity cables in abstract geometrical composition
Lit Streetlamp and electricity cables in abstract geometrical composition. The key for this image was acknowledging that the light intensities of the sky and of the lamp matched almost seamlessly: an iPhone did not struggle to capture and colour-tone the levels of light.
Some film grain visible. Selective focus on the foreground. AdobeRGB
When colour nuances must dominate the image with soft gradients, often the use of a film can still trump over digital sensors.
Lucca, Italy: some laundry left in the sun to dry. Scan of Provia 100F film
Graphical elements are all that make the image here: be them the patterns on the blanket or the ornaments around the lanterns. An Italian town can only help here
Parrocchia di Sant'Antonio Abate, Pisa - side facade. Scan from Provia 100F, toned into B&W. One lightbulb of the streetlamp is missing
Parrocchia di Sant’Antonio Abate, Pisa – side facade. Scan from Provia 100F, toned into B&W because, again, all that matters is the graphical aspect and colour would hardly add anything
Durham, England - March 6, 2011: From the western side of Palace Green a narrow lane called Windy Gap leads to the wooded river bank. Film grain visible (scan from 120 Delta 3200)
Durham, England – March 6, 2011: From the western side of Palace Green a narrow lane called Windy Gap leads to the wooded river bank. The streetlamp, albeit small in the image, dominates it, both for its placement in the perspective centre and because it is the only slightly more complex visual elements
View of Feethams - Church Row, Darlington, England
Darlington, England. To date, this is still my only attempt at circular images!
These streetlamps illuminate a car park at dusk. Tuscany, Italy, Summer.
These street lamps are again the ones found in Carrefour’s car park. The comparison with the previous image of the same subject, in black and white, reminds us that light and composition can often trump over sheer subject
England, 2012
Durham, England, 2012
This is one of the very first digital images I shot, years ago. Although not great by itself, it shows the importance of retaining as much as possible some detail in the highlights, most important here in such as the highlight is the very subject of the image itself. It helps a sensible understanding of the hardware available; in particular this image was shot with the Fujifilm S3 cameras, famous for its sensor very capable of retaining extra detail in the highlights
This is one of the very first digital images I shot, years ago. Although not great by itself, it shows the importance of retaining as much as possible some detail in the highlights, most important here in such as the highlight is the very subject of the image itself. It helps a sensible understanding of the hardware available; in particular this image was shot with the Fujifilm S3 cameras, famous for its sensor very capable of retaining extra detail in the highlights
The usually elevated position of streetlights helps the photographers in choosing a suitable background. Here I pointed my NEX-5 in such a way to have bare trees only behind my already sober shape of a traditionally English lantern
The usually elevated position of streetlights helps the photographers in choosing a suitable background. Here I pointed my NEX-5 in such a way to have bare trees only behind my already sober shape of a traditionally English lantern
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