Glazed and Confused - Mysterious Windows (August 2019)
As a photographer I’ve always been intrigued by windows. I think it’s partly because they already provide a naturally framed picture, but it’s also because there’s scope for something a little ethereal, with interesting and confusing reflections, and the sense of something beyond, maybe just out of sight.
While I was thinking about doing this blog I looked up the origin of the word “window” and discovered that it’s derived from the old Norse for Wind’s eye - I liked that idea, that connection with the elemental and the unseen.
When I reflected (no pun intended) upon it I realised that I’ve been taking photographs of windows and reflections for years. In this blog post I’ve put together some interesting examples, with details of the context and what I like about the picture.
There’s also a link to a Glazed and Confused gallery, with more examples of what will be an ongoing project:
This was in East London. I was exploring the streets on a quiet Sunday morning and spotted this slightly spooky window. There was just something mysterious about the curtain and the way it was folded; it reminded me of photographs I’d seen of Victorian seances with (supposed) ectoplasm flying through the air.
This is a great example of the kind of thing I like. It’s actually the window of a high-end clothes shop in Rome. The window had a single dress in it; it was an unusual design and a very striking yellow colour. I was curious how it looked when I converted it into black-and-white, and was really struck by the result. It suddenly looked quite ghostly and ethereal, almost like a cocoon. I lined myself up so as not to appear too obviously in the shot, and I think that adds something to the cocoon idea, that hint of metamorphosis.
Here I’ve taken the shot to combine something in a window with a reflection so it‘s not clear which is which. This was the window of a fashion shop in Munich. I noticed that if I lined everything up carefully it would look like the mannequin was hovering out on the street. I waited for someone to pass by, to provide a human element and a juxtaposition with the dummy.
Another example where what’s in the window and the reflection blend together. This was a shop in Shoreditch, East London. I’m not quite sure what the shop was but the interior was already quite striking, with geometric designs on the walls and floor. I lined eveything up to include the interesting reflections of the street and even when I look at the picture now I find it difficult to work out what is shop and what is reflection!
This was in New York, on Fifth Avenue. It’s another shot where a careful composition made it look like the shop dummy was out on the street. I liked the arch look of the mannequin and the retro-looking clothes - with the skyscraper reflection it gives the shot a 1920s feel.
Another picture from New York, this time in Chinatown. The reflection was doubled up, which gave an interesting effect - the man looks slightly crazed. Whether that’s because of the reflection or man himself is unclear...
I can’t take too much credit for this one, in Dublin, as it’s mostly the window display that makes the shot, but converting it to black-and-white and some extra work in Lightroom has given it that extra ethereal something.
Sometimes I like to get into the picture, too! This is in Temple Bar, Dublin. I liked the complexity of the reflection - the different layers, the cracked pane, the people on the left, that general sense of grittiness. Without my reflection to anchor it all I don’t think it would be as interesting.
This was a window in a back street in Ghent, Belgium. No strange reflections or tricks - it’s just the contents of the window that are completely baffling!
“You can but not”. What does it mean? Does it mean anything? Or did I compose the picture to exclude some of the text? Taken in Brussels.
One of my all-time favourite pictures, taken in Belfast years ago when I was just starting to take photography more seriously. Like several of the other shots in this series it’s of a clothes shop (now derelict). This was on the upper floor, presumably some kind of store room. The arrangement of the three dummies looking out the window was so spooky and ethereal; it felt like they were reflecting on the fickle nature of fashion. I think the shop went bust shortly after this, so it’s an entirely appropriate sentiment.
For a more pictures in this series follow the link below: