A Photographic Metaphor

February 05, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

These images were in my head for weeks.  I knew what I wanted to show and what to say, but there was a reluctance to walk out onto the car-packed overpass with expensive camera gear and not knowing if someone might decide to relieve me of it.  Anyway, I mustered the gumption to do it today - twice!  The first image was captured during a morning hour while the second was soon after sunset.  I shot them with a slow shutter speed to emphasize movement.

Compositionally they both have converging straight lines and a curved line, all of it being symmetrical.  And there is a functional contrast.  The straight highway, which is I-40 at Southpoint, has lots of people zipping to and from somewhere in their goddam contraptions as Edward Abbey called them.  Maybe they're going to and from the big filing cabinets in Raleigh or Cary or who knows where.  On the other hand, the distant arch is part of a bridge in the American Tobacco Trail.  The ATT is over twenty miles long through Durham and Chatham Counties, built mostly on defunct rail beds that once connected Durham's tobacco industry with points south, and serves a great many walkers, joggers and bikers.

It seems that these scenes are a metaphor for life in the Triangle.  Rush, rush, rush!  An interstate is built which attracts more "development" which puts more contraptions on the interstate.  At least three large tracts of land within five miles of where these images were captured have been purged of trees in preparation for consumption centers.  I-40, probably not unlike other urban interstate highways, becomes a slow-moving parking lot in the morning rush hours and during the evening exodus.  Probably helps to sell lots of Enalapril.

The ATT on the other hand is a great health resource for the people of the Triangle, at least for those who have access to it and want to use it and despite having "tobacco" in its name.  Hikers, joggers and bikers in the latest helmets and sweat soaking attire are on it for most of every day.  I like to sit on the benches and watch; it's better than the airport.

Here's the morning shot. The left lanes of the road are inbound toward Raleigh and Cary or points further east.

And here is the evening image with the ATT bridge being lighted.  Difficult to say which side has more contraptions, but it's too many either way.

I think that I prefer my horizon to be finger-pointing distances away with the fewest possible signs of human occupation between it and me.  Nothing spiritual about contraptions!


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