Ever take a photo that is deeply satisfying? This one does it for me. OK, there was a bit of post processing involved and cropping involved to get the image as I wanted it, but the simplicity of this is something I really enjoy. No fancy compositions, no foreground interest, just three towers from a few hundred meters away.
I think it works on two levels – composition (in terms of the position of the elements within the frame), and the shapes and texture, two things you’ll see talked about if you can be bothered to read books on black and white.
Composition – three cooling towers in a line. Job done. Actually, the long end of the LX-3’s miserable 24-60 zoom has compressed the perspective, albeit only slightly. But that’s largely irrelevant, of more impact is the fact there’s three, which gives a nice balance, especially as the central one is most visible, and the other two are slightly obscured. Three, in fact any odd number to a point, is a good number of objects to have in a composition, and of course the leading and end towers are cut off, thus adding visual tension.
Shape and texture – this was obviously taken in colour, and the sky was a lovely shade of deep blue. If anything though, this dominated the composition, so I converted to monochrome, and the entire image took on a whole new look. The deep shadow on the second and third towers become more prominent, and the lovely sweeping curves became more obvious. The spidery white lines in the concrete are a curious distraction.
What’s missing? Well you would intuitively expect to see clouds of steam billowing out of the top of the towers, but in reality, the towers have been disused since 1994 when the power station closed. There are two ways of looking at this I suppose – as most of the photos on my main website at www.theviewfromthenorth.org are displayed as a set of images (rather than as just one offs), then there is a context – disused cooling towers in a rubble strewn derelict landscape. However, viewed in isolation, the lack of steam challenges the viewers expectations and takes away the distraction of function, leaving just the aesthetics to consider.
What’s the image saying? I’m not sure it’s saying anything in isolation. It’s more of a study than a statement. If I’d taken a wider view, or one from further away, you could see how the towers absolutely dominate the flat rural landscape for miles around, and I could make some pretentious nonsense statement about carbon emissions, natural landscape etc. But I won’t.
So there you go, a more considered post than usual, not something I’ll be doing regularly!