Chick’s GBS Adventure – The First Image

In mid-January my husband, Chick, became very ill with Guillain-Barré Syndrome and we began to document his illness and recovery in a blog Chick’s GBS Adventure. In this series of posts, I will explore many of the images from a photographic perspective. You can read the background for this series in my previous blog post The Story Behind Chicks GBS Adventure

The First Image


The Imagery

By the time we received Chick’s diagnosis, he was fully paralyzed from the neck down and I had moved into the role of primary advocate. There are many layers to the story that are told in this one single image. First is my dominance, larger and in the foreground, against Chick’s subordinate role. However, my image is transparent while Chick’s image is lighted, thereby drawing the eye. Chick’s image is also one of the few things in the frame that isn’t impacted by the reflections. The fact that Chick is looking away gives a subtext to the gravity of the situation. The hospital room is also clearly recognizable. The superimposed buildings provide the context of a large medical facility and the two people entering the building in the lower right hand corner could be any visitor. Finally the darkness provide the mood of seriousness and uncertainty.

The Physical Setup

This image is a picture of Chick in his room taken as a reflection while looking out (or at) his window after the sun had set. My image and the room are all in reflection. The building, parking lot driveway and city lights are as seen through the window. Chick’s room was mostly dark with the exception of the light over his bed. The reflection is strongest where there is the most light in room, drowning out the scene outside. Darker parts of the room have the weakest reflection. Since I am only dimly lit, my image is ghostly with the scene and the lights of the city outside superimposed and shining through.

The Composition

Over the course of the late afternoon and evening, I took many images of this scene. As the sun set the lighting and color would change from sunlight, to the blue hour,  and finally darkness with contrast from the city lights. It was well after sunset when this visual emerged. In composing the frame, I had to be ultra aware of the corners and edges, carefully placing myself and balancing the monitor above Chick’s head in the upper right with the parking garage kiosk in the lower left, being careful not to cut off the corners of either of these two elements. The blank white wall in the upper right corner is somewhat problematic and I toned it down in post-processing as best as possible. Inside the room, the scene was rather static, but outside were a changing set of small details. In the end, I carefully held the framing while I watched only the lower right-hand corner waiting for the right configuration of tiny people to complete the composition.

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