Tag Archives: wires

What to do about the Wires?

Sometimes wires can make a photo.

Other times these are a nuisance.

Here, a modern highway overpass near Marsh siding on Canadian National’s Wisconsin Central line offers a pleasant vista.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Unfortunately, high voltage wires running parallel to the road complicate composition.

So do you pick someplace else, shoot through the wires, or try to pick an angle that minimizes the visual intrusion of the wires passing through the scene?

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Chicago Transit Authority Trolley and Substation.

Recently I read a definition of photographic composition that said something to the effect of; ‘making order out of chaos.’ In railway photography, wires pose special compositional problems, and can lend for chaotic images if not handled carefully.

In this photo I exposed at the Illinois Railway Museum, a virtual sea of wires lace the sky and visually surround the streetcar.

As visual elements, wires typically appear as dark lines and unless they are carefully placed, they can disrupt a photograph by dividing up the frame and causing unwanted distractions. Yet, in many situations the wires are important part of the railway infrastructure.

Chicago Transit Authority streetcar at IRM, exposed with a Lumix LX3 in June 2010.
Chicago Transit Authority streetcar at IRM, exposed with a Lumix LX3 in June 2010.

In this case, I’ve carefully photographed the streetcar passing the electrical substation that is part of the network that supplies the car with juice, and so many of the wires pictured directly relate to the streetcar. No wires, no go.

Yet, I’m not entirely satisfied with the image. I think that if I’d played around with my angle and juxtaposition of the car, I may have been able to produce a more striking image.

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Erie Code Lines: Horseheads, New York, October 5, 2009

Code_lines_Horseheads NY Oct 5 2009 Brian Solomon 087488

Here’s another view from along the old Erie Mainline. Once common, the picket-fence effect of multiple-tier code lines along American mainlines has largely vanished in recent decades. These poles and wires are a vestige of another time, another era. Today, when wireless information reigns supreme, such archaic remnants remind us how much has changed. I exposed this view with my Canon EOS-3 and f2.8 200mm lens on Fujichrome. Will film soon go the way of the code line? Banished to realm of obscure obsolescence? Relegated to curiosity by newer technology—faster, easier, cheaper, and yet more ephemeral.

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