Fierce-throated beauty

Image courtesy of Natasha Vladimirova, published with permission

Winter doldrums aren’t particularly inspiring, especially if your home is being rebuilt and you have to spend the so-called “Season” in a temporary place. You squint at the camera bag, which is gathering dust in the darker corner of your den, sigh and think: perhaps not today. You don’t even succumb to the almighty Gear Acquisition Syndrome. The long-awaited gimbal will have to wait another two(!) planned house moves.

But once in a while, morning email brings an image of outstanding quality and you mumble: here we are, let that camera rest a bit longer.

Everything is good about the above shot: the subject, sinuous aerofoils perfectly lit by the overcast sky, the countersubject: the straight pipeline laid across dry vegetation on the side of the track, also perfectly lit. The Dutch angle firmly anchored by the countersubject, the latter pulling the eye to give the image a sense of scale. The monochrome rendering that lends the composition a somber look and enhances shapes. And finally the dramatic sky that balances it all out.

I don’t particularly like Walt Whitman, but nothing fits better a picture of an American railroad cutting across limitless prairies of Colorado. Here’s the final part of Whitman’s rather famous “To a Locomotive in Winter” (1876). Try substituting curves for sounds — and the intervening century and a half will suddenly disappear:

Fierce-throated beauty!
Roll through my chant with all thy lawless music, thy swinging lamps at night,
Thy madly-whistled laughter, echoing, rumbling like an earthquake, rousing all,
Law of thyself complete, thine own track firmly holding,
(No sweetness debonair of tearful harp or glib piano thine,)
Thy trills of shrieks by rocks and hills return’d,
Launch’d o’er the prairies wide, across the lakes,
To the free skies unpent and glad and strong.

One thought on “Fierce-throated beauty

  1. The century and a half made track even more firmly holding. That and better links between cars made modern trains producing much less rumbling and noise.


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