Tuesday, 9 August 2011

My Best Photograph: Elitch Gardens, Denver

Elitch Gardens, Denver.  If you click on it, it will embiggen.

Pretty certain this is the best picture I've ever taken. It's of Elitch Gardens in Denver taken during a great two weeks of skiing and mooning around in 09. I know very little about the nitty gritty of composition, even less about the technical aspects of taking photos, but this one just works.  It's amazing to me how many times I can get it wrong before I succeed in getting a picture that I think is ok. My hit rate is about 1 in 30, maybe slightly higher with portraits.  I still make the same stupid mistakes over and over, the main one being that I take too many random shots that have no subject.  But when you get a photo that really clicks, it's a great feeling.

Denver is a strange town. I liked it a lot.  Like many American cities it feels slightly empty when you walk around.  As an Ameriphile (Yankophile?) I love spending time in The States but the big cities that I have visited, outside of New York and LA, have all had this feeling.  It's as if there is too much space and not enough people to fill it.  Even Chicago, which is an amazing place, feels a bit like it's closed for business after 7pm.  There's nothing wrong with this, but my fantasy of American inner city life was based on the New York of the early 80's, I expected every American city to have side-walks thronging and with pedestrians 24/7, lines of yellow cabs and people shouting "I'm walking here!!".  I'm used to people living in cramped houses on top of each other in a country with no space, it's no wonder a city with the option to stretch out luxuriously on to the plain seems a bit more diffuse.  Then again, if you went to Coventry on a Tuesday night, you'd be hard pushed to find anyone either.

I imagine that this idea is also based on my British sense of where the action should be in a city. Traditionally,  In the UK, the place to do most things is the city centre.  You go "into town" at the weekend, that's where all the good stuff happens.  In the cities I've visited in the states this tends to be less the case.  I imagine that "Main Street" has slowly lost it's influence to the ubiquitous out of town malls that dominate the outskirts of many cities, it's a shitty process that drains the life and heart out of a place, of course this is slowly happening in the UK as well.

Elitch Gardens was closed when I visited Denver.  I walked with my camera to a massive outdoor clothing store (REI), just outside of the central business district.  I walked round for an hour and came out with an 8 Dollar discounted baseball cap.  The cashier sarcastically said, "enjoy your hat" as I was leaving.  I felt cheap.  I saw this picture as I was walking back.  I only took 3 shots but, fortunately, this one hit the nail on the head.

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