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I shamelessly monkeyed around with levels to turn a drab city scene into a contrast of nearby poverty and distant wealth for this week’s photo challenge, near and far.

A grim city view in which the distant skyscrapers sparkle in early evening light.

I feel like a cheater for this image, because anything with a city skyline or receding beach or mountains in the distance is going to be a rather trite and obvious fit to the theme. I didn’t want to do that. But my brain is not so functional this afternoon, and I really couldn’t come up with much else.

So I tried to frame the image differently by adjusting the levels until you could really feel how gritty, empty, and sullen the area was around the shabby hotel window from which this photo was taken. But in the distance–which is so relative when you’re traveling on foot in a new place–the city center glimmers and promises.