On an overcast Sunday morning several weeks ago, I found myself in the Carlisle, UK railway station, with two hours to spare before the arrival of the train that would take me to London. Having just completed my walk of the Hadrian's Wall path, I was still hungry for the incomparable beauty of the English countryside. Inside the terminal, however, everything appeared to be hard-edged, gray, and lifeless. The details of individual features seemed to be lost in the sheer vastness of the place.
While these were my initial impressions, I abandoned them immediately because I have learned through the years that we limit our perspective when we confine ourselves to beauty that is obvious. Whatever the circumstances, there is always another kind of beauty that is calling us. Its a shy beauty, one that hides from plain sight, one that needs to be seduced. This is the beauty that attracts painters and photographers. Like snake charmers, we want to coax beauty out of the shadows, make it visible, let it speak — perhaps even sing — in its own inimitable voice.
Thus motivated, I set out to see if I could find anything of visual interest in the train terminal. My goal was to find compositions in which something interesting was happening in the dance of light and line, color and texture, shape and shadow. Camera in hand, I simply asked the terminal to speak to me, either loudly or in whispers.
My first shot was beneath the crosswalk that towered above the tracks. I loved the geometrical aspects of this view, the contrast between the intense colors and the neutral stone walls, and the continuity of the blues from the crosswalk's ceiling to the doors and stair rails.
After walking to the other side of the tracks, I took this shot because I loved the juxtaposition of colors and lines — the red bench in contrast with the backdrop of greens (placing complementary colors next to one another always creates intensity) and the diagonal lines of the ramp rail in contrast with the vertical and horizontal lines that otherwise dominate the composition.
The reflections in this window to a small cafe also caught my interest. They seem to create a triptych, with the lower third being somewhat whimsical, the middle third revealing an mysterious interior, and the top third revealing the complex geometrical lines of the terminal roof.
Turning back toward the tracks and looking upward, I found myself entertained by the abstract designs of the steel and glass work in the train station's roof.
I found the above composition to be interesting because it was asymmetrical but balanced, and the three primary colors screamed with intensity against the background of the neutral walls and walkway. The question that remained, however, was whether the photo would be improved by eliminating the yellow cone and thereby simplifying the composition. That photo is below, and I think I like it a little better. There is something to be said, however, for finding three, intense primary colors against a neutral background.
Finally, before boarding my train, I took this little abstract (below) from the face of some kind of industrial storage locker. I liked the texture, the dominance of the turquoise blue, and the radiance that is often exuded from things that have been in use for a long time.
That's it. Nothing more than a few musings about photography — a passion of mine — as I remember waiting in the Carlisle railway station for my train to London.
Have a great weekend, everyone!