Roaming the Streets

Roaming the Streets.jpg

As you may have read on my Instagram feed recently, I'm still pretty new to Kansas City. I've been in KC the past two summers for internships, but I only moved here permanently this past June. Various life circumstances have kept me very busy over the past few months, and I have had very little time to explore my new city. It has only been just recently that I was able to clear a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and explore Kansas City.

There are dozens of iconic buildings, statues, parks, and memorials around KC, but one that I had been particularly excited about photographing was the Western Auto building. This building, or more specifically its large sign on the roof, is one of the most iconic pieces of the KC skyline. Naturally, this means that there are hundreds of photos of the structure.

For a while, I wandered around the building, trying to come up with a unique composition that could set my photo apart from the rest. Frankly, I really struggled. However, I got very excited when I turned around.

A few blocks away, I saw a building with a grid of wonderfully reflective windows. Rather than shoot the Western Auto building directly, I could get a photo of its place in the KC skyline reflected off of another building! I raced down the sidewalk to get in the proper position to catch my desired subject's reflection, but was at first quite disappointed. I could get the rough composition I had pictured, but the windows were warped, producing a far from perfect reflection.

However, on a second look, the warped windows actually made the image more interesting. The result may be warped and chaotic, but actually in a rather beautiful way. Limiting my composition to only include one, iconic building, the scene was still recognizable as a whole. However, the image reflected in each individual pane of glass is fluid, abstract, and unrecognizable. I love this juxtaposition, and ultimately walked away with a very unique image of this KC icon.

After covering the Western Auto building, I continued to head north through the Crossroads district. This area of KC is known for its art, which even shows itself on the sides of many buildings. I was hoping to get photos of several different iconic KC murals, I only ended up getting one that I was happy with.

Right off of Main and 17th (I believe...I could be off by a street) is a huge mural, taking up the whole side of a building, celebrating the local MLS team, Sporting KC. (Side note, Sporting games are a blast and you need to go if you are in KC.) Again, just like with the Western Auto building, I had a lot of trouble at first finding an interesting image. Ultimately, I found that the best option was moving down the street a little further until another building blocked most of the mural. Now, it simply showed KANSAS CITY in big, bold letters beneath a clean, blue sky.

I'm quite happy with the results, and have both a horizontal and vertical version of the image that makes me happy. However, when it came to editing, I could not make up my mind on how to represent the image!


First, I tried editing the photo in full color, adjusting a few of the brick tones to be more pleasing, but staying fairly faithful to the actual scene. However, on a whim, I tried pulling out all of the reds and oranges, and was left with a really neat, single-tone image. It makes the blue in the mural really pop, and it feels somewhat abstract, yet not unfaithful to the scene. Finally, I tried pulling all of the color out of the image, and I still really like it in black and white. I honestly still change my mind on which version I like the best just about every time I look at these three photos! Let me know what you think is best in the comments.

Many more photos I took while roaming the streets of KC also gave me trouble in choosing how to edit. In the end, I really liked quite a few of them in either black and white, or with blue as the only color. Below is a short gallery with some of those results.

After walking through the Crossroads for a while, I ended up trekking uphill to another KC icon: The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This huge, beautiful building has two enormous performance halls, each housed in a shell-like dome. A large, glass-walled lobby comprises the south side of the building. It really is a beautiful piece of art in itself.

The problem is that, since it is so beautiful, there are people all over. In fact, There were at least two other photographers there at the same time I was, though they were shooting portraits on site instead of the building itself like me. 

Fortunately, my wide angle lens allowed me to get some unique perspectives of the entire structure without getting any other people in the photo, and my telephoto allowed me to isolate specific parts of the building. I still couldn't get all of the shots I wanted, but I am still very pleased with the results, which you can see below.

I was hoping to get a few more photos of the city after covering the Kauffman Center, but I severely underestimated the speed of the sunset. I'm definitely excited to go out and get some more photos of my new home city soon, but for now, I hope you enjoy these photos!