The Bane of Reality: When Your Brain Sees Different From Your Eye

UPDATE: since writing this blog, I’ve discovered a better angle from which to shoot the intended effect. It is at the other end of the bridge where the express lane pops out. You get a great, unobstructed view from a bridge and as a bonus, get to see downtown Seattle.


I like shooting traffic at night. It offers me several things:

  1. A chance to slow down and really think about the shot.
  2. Using a tripod so I have no choice but think about the composition and all the elements it takes to get a good shot. Here’s a good example: Interstate 5 Traffic.

The several times I’ve been over the East Roanoke Bridge that straddle Interstate 5 in Seattle, I’ve noticed this cool effect of how the express lanes slithered under the south and north bound lanes as they merge to go over the bridge.

Traffic flows on Interstate 5 looking north from the East Roanoke Bridge.

It’s a cool sight watching the cars as they slide under while the others zoom by.  I’ve always wanted to shoot it and tonight I had a chance as I had extra time on my hands.

So with tripod on my shoulder and camera at my side, I parked and sauntered over to the crest of the bridge, only to notice a sign blocks the main part of what I thought was cool.

The sign was in the dead center of the part I found interesting. So I figured since I was there, I might as well shoot something. After all, I did cross the street when the sign say “No Pedestrian Crossing.”

Honestly, I don’t like this shot.

Let me tear it apart for you:

1. The sign to the right covers a major part of the interesting part. This is the sign when you positioned yourself in the center blocked the interesting portions. Without the sign, you could get a nice symmetry of the traffic flow.

2. The light pole on the left is incredibly distracting. It’s just there. Again moving to the right to try to eliminate it would just cause the sign to get in the way.

3. The time of night. This would look better if it was during rush hour so all the lanes were occupied by traffic.

Sometimes, your brain sees better images than what’s actually there. But learning from our failures is just as important as celebrating our successes.

Thank you for visiting and reading

Paul Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography


  1. What is really cool about how you broke this down and explained what you don’t like is i can now see in my brain what you were thinking .. its a lesson in that old saying about sometimes the pictures in our heads are the best shots we can take .. i know you well enough to know that you’re not gonna rest till you get the shot in your head . and that Pablo is another thing i love about you ! keep at it till you get it . i love this shot even if you hate it … its still well composed and stunning in many ways .. i cant wait to see the shot in your head when you get it !
    Keep shooting Pablo .. you inspire us ALL !!


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