The image that took over 6 years to create

The image that took over 6 years to create makes another appearance, this time in Photography Masterclass Magazine


I’ve wanted to tell this story for some time, but first:
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The story…
2008: After my first trip to Sweden, which is incredibly beautiful, I started looking at all the photographs made around the country. One name kept showing up in every search, Håkan Dahlström. Through him, I looked at tons of photographs of Sweden, and Öresundsbron, and was blown away. Pretty humbling frankly…it was a moment where you you realize you have a lot more to learn.

2009: A few trips later I drove 4 hours out of the way just to see the bridge. There is was! I couldn’t believe it. Took a few photographs in 5 minutes and had to leave, but felt pretty good about it just to have been there.

2010-2011: Went to Sweden but didn’t make it to Malmö or Öresundsbron, and I can’t remember why.

2012: I meet Håkan in Malmö (who was a gold Flickr friend at this point) and we go all around to some of his favorite spots in Skåne, a county in southern Sweden. On my own time I go to Öresundsbron several times over three days. I really liked several of my shots, one in particular had a dramatically slanted horizon line.

Later that year I participated in the Vision Explorers workshop in NYC. The last night, and I’ll never forget this, I had a unplanned image critique with Sharon Tenenbaum at a bar. Like all good critiques she told me what she thought and didn’t hold back. She said “Who took this photo?” A bit stunned I replied “I did.” Sharon said “Wow. I’ve never seen a seascape work with a slanted horizon! Hmm. There are too many “stars” in this image. You’ve got the bridge, the water, and the clouds. It’s too much in my opinion. What is this image about? You may want to try this one again with a longer exposure time to give more presence to the bridge and reduce all other distractions. Just a suggestion.” Now that made me think because I thought I was done with this shot, but I realized that Sharon was right. It could be much better and my current shot was well composed but still “snappy”.

Here’s the image of mine that Sharon saw and critiqued.


An Iron Connection – Mabry Campbell

2013: My next trip to Sweden I went straight to the bridge, took my time, and remembering Sharon’s suggestion and other things I had learned, made some longer exposures. I ended up using a 6 minute exposure. Let me tell you that the SOOC was total garbage! It was noisy and had horrendous fringing. But when you’re 5,000 miles away you’ve got to make it work. So after months, and untold hours, of processsing using modified techniques taught to me by Sharon, Joel Tjintjelaar and Armand Dijcks, I was finally done. The image, and later my series on the bridge, was very well received by my peers, publications and competitions — making as high as Second Place IPA/Bridges/Professional and the same for PX3. Regardless of its positive reception, which is great of course, this remains one of my favorite images in my portfolio. Thanks to everyone here that encouraged me!

There’s not a big moral here, but I suppose the take-away to this story of Iron Connection I is that hard work pays off and that absorbing criticism and suggestions of competent artists (not a “yes person”) is invaluable, particularly when it feels like a punch to the stomach. There you have it. 🙂

Final Image reshot and processed after the critique in 2013.


Iron Connection I – Öresundsbron – Mabry Campbell

Photograph by Mabry Campbell, Malmö, Sweden, 2013

Mabry Campbell Photography: Website ⎟ FlickrFacebookGoogle+ ⎟ LinkedIn


5 thoughts on “The image that took over 6 years to create

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