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The UpsideDownBackwards Project


AF-S Nikkor 24-85 3.5-4.5G ED VR @ 24mm ISO100 f/3.5 1/800sec


The above image was a total accident. I hope you aren't surprised by that. I was walking, as I always do (and anyone with a camera always should), with my camera on and lens cap off. The camera was slung across my shoulder on one of those straps that connects to the tripod mount, therefore the lens was looking upside down and backwards. At some point I noticed a faint clicking. Being that I usually have my Nikon D750 on continuous high mode, it was a fairly fast clicking. The heel of my hand was pressing the sleeve of my jacket into the shutter release as I cradled the camera. So, I decided to take a look.

That was the first image on the memory card. I was shocked by how not terrible it was. Look at it again. Leading lines straight to the seemingly randomly placed flower pot creating the subject. The bright spots on the sidewalk becoming a virtual landing strip for your eyes as you are drawn into the picture. It's a little monotone, for sure. I won't show you the histogram on this puppy. The bizarre vignetting on the sides is from my arm and my jacket obscuring the field of view. It's out of focus where the subject is, and yet that's still the subject. It's not a technically "correct" image, but it holds interest and intrigue. At least for me.

So, I kept clicking. I didn't just let it go. If I felt there was something behind me that would be interesting I pushed the shutter release purposefully. I also still made some unintentional releases (not a concern for me usually), so I couldn't tell you which were intentional and which were not after the first few.


AF-S Nikkor 24-85 3.5-4.5G ED VR @ 32mm ISO100 f/4.0 1/1250sec


Some of the images were more extreme. I had zoomed in for an intentional picture at some point before this was taken and didn't zoom the lens back out before returning it to my side. This created an angle of view that was nearly all ground, pushing anything truly discernable into the extreme edges of the frame. Somehow, the resulting disorientation that precedes the realization of what this picture contains works for me. It may not work for you, but it lends to what the entire project began to make me feel as I went through the hundreds of shots I "took" on that walk home.

I began to look at the photos as analogous to memories. Think back to your earliest memories. Hell, think back to last week. Are there bright colors, high contrast, and clear depictions of everything going on in the scene? No. Now you're looking backwards. And, no matter how good you think your memory is, chances are you can't get most of the memory really correct. Perhaps you have the subject clear, but the rest is all over the place. Memories are a bit upside down. They're also shifted by your own perception of the world and of specific events. They're slanted.


AF-S Nikkor 24-85 3.5-4.5G ED VR @ 24mm ISO100 f/8.0 1/40sec


The above image has almost nothing right with it. I had stopped down my aperture to f/8 for some intentional shots and I didn't switch it back. Well, with a fairly thick cloud cover and a base ISO, this translated to a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second. I don't recommend a moderately slow shutter while walking and shooting subjects moving away from you. Actually, I don't really recommend walking while shooting at all. But look at the strides and carriage of what I can only assume must be father and son. They're about as identical as you can get given the different sized frames. The father has more turnout to his feet, but the son could catch up eventually. This is interesting. At least to me. Most importantly, it illustrates the importance of adjusting your perspective as a photographer. You wouldn't notice the similarities from the usual standing perspective. Perhaps it's healthy to adjust your perspective when looking back at memories as well.

I didn't set out to do something different on my walk home. It was just a happy accident. With the hindsight of my mind, and that of my lens, I'm very glad I kept clicking. I'm also surprised by the number of shots that were at least interesting. None of them are good technical pictures, but all 17 in the gallery below grabbed me in some way. They also serve as partial log of my walk home on a grey March day. My memory recorded it with equal precision.

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