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table and window

…a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in.

So sings Leonard Cohen, one of my favorite songwriters.  And like most good song lyrics, they can be taken literally or metaphorically.

I couldn’t help thinking of those lyrics as I was shooting in an abandoned building on Moloka’i last April.  It was precisely the cracks and the holes in the wooden walls that let the late afternoon sunlight come streaming in, created those beautiful sunbursts, and softly illuminated the scene.    (This image was shot with only existing light.)

I have no idea what this building was used for.  I don’t know what was in the bottles and jars on the counter.  You can see that everything had a thick patina of dust on it.  I didn’t move a single object, but shot it just as I found it.

If it wasn’t for the cracks and the holes in the walls, this image would be dark and lifeless.  It is precisely the cracks that make it beautiful…at least to me.



  1. Beautiful shot. I love your composition (and it’s amazing how the items of the table were in place for a like of still-life look). The effect of the light coming through and the texture of the wood really add to the overall effect.

    • Thanks Mike. 🙂

      If I had to re-arrange the things on the table, I don’t think I could’ve done as good a job. Plus everything I moved would’ve left a tell-tale dust-free footprint! I wanted this to look like no one had been by for a long time, to enhance the air of abandonment.

      I too love the way the sunlight pours through every nook and cranny in the wall. To me it gives this image an almost church-like feel. Could the table be an altar? Nah, that’s a bit of a stretch…

      RPRT Photo

  2. Very nice still life! Did you use a small aperture for this image, or were those flares created with one of those special lensfilters?
    I think it fits really well.
    Have a great day,

    • Hi Charlie,

      I’m glad you like the image. 🙂

      Yes, I did use a fairly small aperture to get the sunburst. This was shot with an 18 mm lens at f 16, 2.0 second exposure, ISO 1,000. (And I would’ve used a slower ISO and made a longer exposure, except that I had someone waiting for me in the car! I’m not used to having company when I shoot.)

      I did NOT use any filters on the lens. For the record, the only filter I use is a circular polarizer, and that usually only when shooting outdoors. I’ve found stopping down the lens gives a nice “ray” effect to small bright areas, and I use that technique often in night photography.

      I did play around with starburst filters briefly a couple of decades ago. I discovered I didn’t like the way they over-accentuated all the bright spots in my images. I felt like the look was contrived and phony. If there were 100 “suns” coming through the back wall in this image, they would detract from the counter and the objects on it. The effect I got from stopping down is more subtle, and I think more pleasing.

      Thanks for asking! 😉
      RPRT Photo

  3. A magical appearance to an abandoned location. Grabbed my attention immediately; well done!

    • Thanks Jake! Glad you like the image. 🙂

      I’m looking forward to some fun photo ops up your way in July…

      RPRT Photo

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