A bird flies home in the fading evening light. A blue fog settles down on the river to stay the night. A sailboat drops anchor and stays still. Above, the sailboat is anchored in the golden orange glow of a sunset spreads over the western horizon; below, the ripples of a quiet river circle soundlessly. Clearly, then, it is the end of another day on the intercostal waterway in the United States. Still, calm, artistic. This could be the river Ganges or the river Mississippi or the river Amazon but it was simply a remote part of the intercostal waterway in southern Georgia. Or any of the lesser lakes or water bodies anywhere in the world. But does it really matter?
In an image such as this, facts hardly matter. Only the feeling counts. The feeling of calm, repose and relaxation. Very soon, perhaps, a man in the sailboat might light a lamp, pour himself his favorite beverage and sit on the prow watching the sunset, sipping. He may hum a tune or stay perfectly quiet. Sooner or later, he will look up to see a sky full of stars.
The power of an image like this is its ability to make us tell stories to ourselves. We can’t simply stare at this sailboat and sunset image. We have to interact with it, guess the things that are going on or will soon be going on. We have to invent, develop our own interpretations with our imagination.
Sailboat, sunset and still waters
Only then we may be satisfied. Only then we may feel we understand what this image is all about.
Telling a story. That’s what great images do and have always done to us. That’s why this image of a simple sailboat on a still river is a beautiful story-telling image. Taken in contrast with the lives we lead – busy, urban lives for most of us – such an image teaches us the magic of silence and calm. Balance and beauty.
A reminder of what our lives really should be.
Gear: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens.
Settings: Focal length 115mm; exposure 1/100 sec; f/5.0; ISO 100.
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