PACTO

PATCO in-depth analysis: Philadelphia Waterfront

This is easily the photo I’m most proud of out of the entire essay because it works so well on so many different levels. For this particular photo, I turned the motion blur off since my photos were already being filtered through the window’s rain-encrustedness.

There lies a certain level of symmetry in the photo between the sky and the water; if the image were flipped, they could both pass for one another, given their cloudiness. The depth of field effect also lends to its eye-catching nature. The crescent-shaped waterfront begins in the bottom left at the docks and a boat in view with three talls buildings not too far off for scale. And our eyes also naturally follow the “leading line” along where the water meets land/buildings and brings us to the five tall buildings aligned way in the background. And, lucky for me, the water wasn’t empty that day, and the two boats in the frame serve as balancing elements to the otherwise overbearing cityscape.

Interestingly, the waning landscape trailing off to the right edge of the photo serves so many purposes. Not only does it frame the water on this cloudy and rainy day, but it also frames the sky and the part of the city that is in view from everything else, bridging together and yet separating all these distinct elements. The diagonal lines overlaid on the left side (cityscape dynamism).

Above all else, I think, the photo comes together so nicely thanks to its adherence to the rule of thirds. If divided into the nine equal parts according to the rule, the divisions would appear over the prominent buildings on the vertical lefthand line, and the top horizontal line would cross the photo just where the skyline and the horizon meet. The righthand vertical line and the top horizontal line would intersect at the buildings in the background, and the bottom horizontal line would cut through the two boats on the water, lending a wonderful balance to everything. And, even if it was not by design (as I had no choice but to go over the bridge), the viewpoint also ties into the photo’s beauty. Taken from high above the Delaware River and far away to form the wrapping effect Philadelphia waterfront, I couldn’t have taken this shot (or at least gotten the same feeling from the same objects) from another perspective.