Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunset on the Columbia

Westbound Union Pacific intermodal train at Bridal Veil, Oregon.

Heading back to Portland following an afternoon of hiking in the Columbia Gorge, Maureen and I stopped at Bridal Veil to enjoy the sunset, where I photographed this westbound Union Pacific container train at twilight. When my mind wandered to photography today during our hike, I often considered the differences between content-driven and emotion-driven photographs. I've enjoyed working in both throughout my almost 12 years of photography, although the pendulum usually swings more to one side than the other. When I started in 1999, content or perhaps documentary photography was my primary aim, then around late 2003 or 2004, conveying emotion became increasingly more important to me as a photographer. Over the last couple of years, I feel that I've gravitated back towards content-driven photographs, although hopefully with a heightened sense of formalism and greater care in composition. Still, I have hardly abandoned emotion in my photographs.

After spending most of Friday afternoon in documentary mode, I felt a strong urge to attempt something more emotional this Saturday evening, especially as I saw the western sky flaring up at sunset. This train came too late for peak color in the sky, but the darker scene allowed for other emotional effects, like the soft glow of the lead locomotive's headlights in front of the train, and a slight blur to the traffic on I-84. I feel an inner tension between content and emotion in my photography, and I often wonder which is more important to me. Many of my own favorite photos achieve elements of both.


LouT1501 said...

Enjoyed your commentary on the different facets of photography. As such, I'd never heard it described in that way. And I've always been content-driven, using photography to record places and things - and sometimes exceptional scenery.

Fortunately, we have photographers like you who have an artistic eye and can bring both aspects to a single image again and again. And take the time to explore geographically and emotionally.

BTW, great image!

annielamarmotte said...

j'aime beaucoup ce coucher de soleil