Black And White Pittsburgh: Dumpster Alley

Every city has it's areas that people don't notice but are important to the operation of the city. The alley is one of those places. It's the alley that usually contains the lowly dumpster, a typically unsightly and smelly object that serves an important purpose. It's the alleys and dumpsters in them that collect the trash and keep the front side of the city's buildings looking good. As I was taking my short photo walk in Pittsburgh we passed a nondescript alley that I decided to capture: Disposal Service

Inspiration and Information

Over the last few months I've made an effort to notice things that aren't normally noticed as I walk around with my camera. I think it will help me capture more interesting and unique images. I think I'm getting better at it and this image is proof of that. As Danny Levin and I were walking toward the convention center we passed this alley. As we did both of us noticed it at almost the same time, but for probably different reasons. Danny was shooting digital and mostly looking for things that would present well in color and I was "thinking in black & white" and searching for things to capture on my Rolleicord.

As we passed the alley I immediately saw the dumpsters against the wall. I saw the shadows under the dumpsters and the texture of the building walls. It seemed like it would make a better black & white image than color. As Danny walked further down the alley I spent some time framing the dumpsters and wall. It was a challenge as the alley was pretty narrow so my ability to zoom in or out with my feet was limited. The Rolleicord's 75mm lens is roughly the same as a 50mm lens on a full-frame DSLR. The square format allowed me to get a couple of "levels" in the building walls but my range was pretty limited. I eventually settled on a composition that used the puddles in the alley and roof-line as my leading lines, hopefully drawing the eye down the row of dumpsters toward the interesting wall, vents and boarded-up windows past the dumpsters. I think I succeeded and I'm pretty happy with the framing.

As for post-processing, I cropped a little to remove the corner of a vehicle at the back right of the frame and I adjusted the levels in Photoshop to improve the contrast a bit. I could have done all of that in Lightroom but I'm taking every opportunity I can to use Photoshop so I can become familiar with it.