Coaching Walk: Aerial Perspective

by Levi Shand


Wow, but was it ever a cold night that last Saturday in January, when we met for a little coaching session on how to hunt aerial perspective. Cold enough to see the exhalations of the passers by, that same exhaled breath mixing with the smokers’ great puffs of cigarette smoke…even before we began the walk some opportunities presented themselves.

Shooting at night can be a bit tricky, and so we spent the first fifteen minutes or so downloading light meter applications and learning how to take readings of well-lit areas. Why well-lit areas? The tiny, densely packed particles that make up the dispersion we’re after, they don’t appear well in the dark. They need strong contrast.

To hunt aerial perspective at night, you must look for the light.

I’d chosen the Plaza de Santo Domingo for the churro stands I’d seen there before Christmas, and sadly they’d packed up and left by the end of January. The plaza was empty, so the mission’s difficulty ratcheted up a notch. Our scope was narrowed to aerial perspective’s most probable sources: exhaled breath, cigarette smoke and steam rising from kitchen pots, as seen through plate-glass storefronts.

Initially frustration bubbled up a bit, as the weight of the task became evident to the attendees. I was first to bag a couple of valid shots, and once the others saw them the competitive spirit was raised and I began to see more and more satisfied smiles.

Two hours later, we as a group of eight or so sat sipping hot chocolate in a classic chocolateria, sharing our shots and experiences. Overall I believe everyone had a productive evening, even if the photos were not easy in the making and even if some went home empty-handed. The effort made is the most important part of exercises like this, and I feel I benefited from the experience.

Here is one of my favorites from this month, that addresses the challenge in expert fashion. Congratulations are in order to Jacinta Mavrikis!

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