Ron Evans’ winning image is an aerial graphic delight at a glance, but a lingering gaze reveals genuine depth
“The photograph was created as I flew into Chicago on a snowy winter day. As the plane approached the airport for landing, I was watching the landscape go by through the window. Suddenly, I saw the edge of a cemetery appear below. The scene was in stark black & white. I had my camera in my lap, as I had been photographing clouds moments earlier. I quickly picked it up, placed it against the window, and squeezed off one exposure of Tri-X film, just as the full panorama of the cemetery came into view,” Ron recalled.
“Photographing through a plastic airplane window is not ideal optically – and one second sooner or later, the image would have been quite different. I did not know if I’d been successful until I returned home to my darkroom, developed the film, and saw the print for the first time. Luck always plays a part in photography.
“My main goal was simply a photograph I had never made before – something original and worth viewing,” Ron continued. “I consider myself a documentary photographer and, in general, present scenes as they appear, without changing them.
“Unexpected sights are one of the delights of traveling. Leaving the area you know well is a great learning experience. You see new places, witness how others live, and discover how light appears elsewhere. I cannot imagine having seen this exact combination of trees, tombstones, roads, and uniform symmetry anywhere other than Chicago on that grey, snowy day.”
Justin offered Ron’s winning image some justifiably high praise. “Cemetery in Snow, Flying Into Chicago, by Ron Evans, exemplifies skillful composition and timing of the decisive moment, in a dynamic situation. Photographing from the window of a commercial passenger jet, Ron had only one chance to get it right, as he sped by. At first, we appreciate the complementary lines and patterns in the impressive, abstract design of the image. Then we see further detail, and recognize the actual subject matter – the hallowed grounds of a cemetery. Mr Evans has therefore successfully incorporated all three components of my challenge in one photograph. There’s human interest, a carefully isolated subject used to create a design, and an aerial perspective. This degree of care doesn’t come easy to most photographers, even standing still.”