This photograph is about as different from my usual photographs as it can be, but in going through my photo catalogs from April, this is the one I kept returning to. I found myself studying its lines, its color, the subject matter, perhaps a hidden meaning, trying to decipher why this particular photograph caught my attention, and my heart, and so qualified as April’s photo-heart connection selection.
(Kat Sloma from Kat Eye Studio encourages photographers to pick a photo once a month for sharing — a photo taken in the prior month that best makes a photo-heart connection.)
Now to work my way through the feelings/thoughts attached to this photo:
- The subject matter is less typical for me than many other genres. I shoot macro-botanicals with passion and abandon; I am ever fond of architectural photos; I’ll drive miles to explore a landscape – particularly those in the wilderness, in National Parks, often with no sign of human activity; and yet here is a rural scene, a scene that is agricultural in theme.
- I take 95% of my photographs with my Canon DSLR and then spend extra time in post-processing. I am a tinkerer of the post-processing process. I love to use software to create new ways of seeing a routine subject. I will consider many options regarding a small aspect of a photograph, and then go on to another small aspect, and another, and another. When I photograph with my DSLR, I love to take my time, study possibilities, set up my tripod and try lots of options before going on to the next subject. I shot this photo with my iPhone using a Hipstamatic app preset. Sherpa and I were on the long drive home, and we stopped briefly on a country road for a truck to make a left turn. I opened the car window, grabbed my phone, and took a single photo before the car began to move.
- I like bright colors and focused, close-up details. And my love for the colors associated with the US Southwest has deepened since I began living in Arizona part of the year. I see more color in my photographs – the bright cerulean skies, the turquoise and orange buildings, colors that make a strong statement. But in this photo, the colors are muted. There are a few patches of a rusty color and the remainder is in soft greens, whites, browns.
- I love the play of light and shadow in photographs, and this photograph hasn’t much light nor shadow. It was taken mid day under a cloudy sky, not typically a good time for photography.
So why this photograph?
- Well, I am attracted to the composition. It feels satisfying to me, the blocks of different colors, three almost equal rectangular spaces, plus the darker colors as contrast. I do not often take symmetrical photographs, and honestly, I would probably not have composed this photograph as it is if I had been taking a more deliberate photo. But the symmetry provided by the grain elevators, and the strong horizontal and vertical lines seem to emphasize the subject of farm work and transportation in the country’s Midwest.
- I like that the train car is marked with the logo of the Burlington Northern line. I grew up in the Midwest not far from Burlington, Iowa – the train company’s namesake. And several of my relatives – a grandfather and two uncles — worked for the Burlington Northern. I remember bits of their stories, I sometimes saw them return home from night shift duty with coal stained coveralls, and I associated the smell of their smoky clothes with a night of hard work.
So, an atypical photograph can be a favorite. A photograph with the vaguest memories of family can add a strong sense of human connection to a seemingly straightforward scene. And perhaps there is special thrill about a photograph taken on the run, the knowledge that taking a photograph isn’t only about f-stops and sharp focus and the rules.
Maybe it is also the appreciation of timing, good instincts, and a little luck!
Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. After three months in the Southwest, Bo is back home in the Midwest. And just in time — her first art show of the summer season is tomorrow — Madison’s Audubon Art Fair at Warner Park on Madison’s east side. Seeded Earth Studio’s booth will be inside in the glassed-in annex. Hours are 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.