Friday, August 7, 2009

Matapédia, Train (July 18, 2000; 04:45)

Matapédia, Québec, taken from the window of a VIA Ocean train to Halifax (with my trusty Minolta and 35mm lens).

Two things struck me about this image, and have always made it a favourite for me. One was the softness captured with the movement of the train, softness brought about not only by the blurring of the closest trees due to a slow shutter speed, but also because the early morning mist is still muffling the firs, causing them to recede more rapidly than is normal into an opaque backdrop of fog.

The other element is time, a factor built in to the title of the photograph. I've found that when travelling to the far north or south (I have done a little of both), my sense of time and space becomes a shifting disjuncture, one often brought to focus by the effects of light: as here, where (I note) the time is slightly earlier than 4am, and yet there's enough light that it echoes off itself (the drops of water forming the dense mist), forming the impression that dawn has passed and that an overcast sky now hangs, threatening, perhaps, a heavy fall of mountain snow.

In fact, it is July and not far past dawn, if dawn has occurred; tricks of light and water play havoc with time, causing doubts about movement/directionality and location. Like the 9:30pm sunset I saw last time I was in the southern hemisphere, this northern dawn conjured something mystical akin to a sense of approaching limits (limits of the earth? Of latitude? Of day and night? Dawn and dusk?). The feeling of journeying, rather than merely travelling, is somehow heightened by these alterations.
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