First of all it has a unique perspective—how often do we get to see a rail yard from above like this? Secondly, just look at those lines and colours; wow. Let’s take a closer look at why this is such a successful photograph.
In some ways, you might say this photo lacks composition: where’s the main focal point? I think it works not just in spite of this, but because of it. I don’t know about you, but my eyes don’t rest anywhere, they’re constantly scanning about for points of interest and, because of that, I seem to find something new every time I look at it.
The colours work really well here, the photographer has done a great job of picking them out whilst avoiding an oversaturated, primary colour explosion which might have made the image look like something you’d hang on a child’s bedroom wall, rather than the grittier look it actually has.
Shooting from above like this makes the subject matter appear a lot smaller than it is. For me, it also completely changes how we’d usually see these objects. Trains tend to conjure up the idea of movement but the rolling stock here, does the opposite—they’re all hemmed in like files in a cabinet.
The layout, with the straight lines and occasional gaps, actually reminds me of an old blocks video game, like Tetris. Along with the colours, this makes it a more playful image and that contrasts nicely with the busy, industrial, commercial feel.
There are a few things that make this image slightly uncomfortable, the first is that carriages get chopped part way through, but that would be unavoidable in a composition like this. The second is what I think is a light in the bottom left stands out, as does the red crane in the top right. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it does break up the photo and give your eyes something to land on for a little while.
Reading a Photograph
We’d love to hear your take on this photograph, and if you’re not sure where to begin, then, How to Read a Photograph will get you started with how to analyse photography. Mostly it’s just saying what you see and how you feel about an image!