When You Find the Right Light Even the Sewers Can be Beautiful

By Lane Erickson

“The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Haas

“Light turns the ordinary into the magical.” – Trent Parke

This article begins with two quotes rather than the normal one. The reason: both are applicable to the photo I want to share with you. 

I truly believe that beauty can be found just about anywhere. As evidence, I present to you an image I created of a sewer manhole cover.

In previous articles I’ve mentioned that I am an attorney by profession. Most of the time I enjoy being a lawyer because my practice involves helping people solve their problems. However, just like with any job, sometimes the pressure and stress is just too much. When this happens, it doesn’t matter whether its summer or winter, or whether the sun is shining or there is a blizzard . . . I go for a walk. Usually, it’s a lunch-time walk.

On a particular day in July of this year (2019) I went for a walk with a camera in my hands to get away from the stress of the day for a few minutes. The sun was high in a clear blue sky, and it was hot. 

Just in case I want to take a photo walk during lunchtime, I always keep a Fuji X-M1 mirrorless camera with the Fuji XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II, lens at my office. This is an inexpensive set up. I bought both camera and lens used (separately) and the total cost for both was about $380. 

As I was walking along, trying to sort out work-related issues in my mind, I happened to look down and I saw this manhole cover for a sewer. The light was coming almost straight down, making small but stark shadows on the letters. I was struck by what I saw. I took a few moments until I found the right composition and I created the image above.

I love the color and the texture of this image. Everything came together turning this ordinary sewer cover into art.  To me, in that moment, and in this image the ordinary became magical. 

I hope you too can find magic in the ordinary parts of life around you. Always open to comments, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and even your critiques.


  1. Thank you Pete. I am constantly surprised by the beauty I see around me, usually in the most unlikely places. That’s why it’s important to always have a camera close by. This is one of the main reasons I love the Fuji system. The equipment is both light and superb.


  2. I’ve tried to find beauty in my surroundings in the office park where my client has an office. But … it’s just too ugly. Imagine a “business park” where the only window view is of other office buildings and parking lots and a few trees in-between. I’ll look for sewer covers the next time I go for a walk.

    The views near the client office in Manhattan are much more enjoyable.

    I had considered purchasing a used X100F for my “walkabouts”, but your mention of the cost of our X-M1 has me re-thinking that idea. I had utterly forgotten that Fuji made lower cost bodies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment Khurt. You are right that finding and seeing beauty is easier is some places than it is in others but I still believe it can be done in most places. If you are thinking of a small Fuji for a walk-around camera the X-M1 is excellent. It is a little plasticky but I love the flip screen on the back. If you need something more durable I’d suggest a used X-E1 or an X-E2 (but they don’t have a flip screen). All of the Fuji lenses are excellent. I haven’t used a bad one yet.

      Liked by 1 person

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