I had learned about the Rhine Bridge Wesel during my recent trip to the “Geleucht”, a local landmark in the Ruhr Valley. A fellow photographer I had met there had shared this location with me. Right on the next day, I was there. And a truly impressive location it is.
On the importance of storytelling in photography
As a photographer, I often focus a lot on the technical aspects of photography: aperture, exposure, ISO, image composition – these parameters determine my thinking. Actually, that’s strange, because after all, it’s not the technically perfect images that stick in my mind, but those that tell a story. Often, it’s just an echo of a story, a little spark that sets the mental cinema in motion. And often these stories are about things that have moved or impressed me in my life. Good photos touch deeper than just on the retina.
Maybe that’s also what draws me to B&W photography. If the color is missing, the story is incomplete. The viewer must then interpolate it with parts of his memories. Thus, viewing the image automatically becomes a personal experience. After all, memory is always individual. In color photos, the story is spelled out in much more detail. They leave much less room for personal connection, for one’s own interpretations.
The stories that my photos on the banks of the Rhine in Wesel tell me are many. There is this single pole on the riverbank. No doubt it has a function for river navigation. In my mind, it becomes the lonely sentinel of the river, condemned to watch the passing water. It flows past him, out into the world to places he will never reach. At least the birds occasionally come by and tell him about faraway places.
Ones and zeros
The fragile radio mast is so tall and so thin that it must be held upright by many mighty steel cables. And yet it contributes to carrying the whole of modern civilization. It continuously receives and transmits fragments of information into the dusky evening sky, a binary cacophony of zeros and ones.
And of course, there is the Rhine Bridge Wesel, this imposing structure of concrete and steel. It is not particularly large, and yet it dominates the landscape here. In the setting sun, it creates an iconic silhouette. It seems a little alien and out of place as if it were not of this world. This doesn’t seem to bother the birds much, who are on a final flight around before dark. For them, the strange bridge simply belongs here. Wouldn’t it be fun to fly around the bridge and in between its steel cables?
The clouds above the bridge twisting and swirling. The sun can still break through them. Is there a storm brewing? Whatever comes, the bridge and the river endure it with stoic calm, unlike the cars and ships that seem to hurry on and under the bridge to reach their destination, leaving only fleeting traces of light behind. Their concern is unfounded.
In outer space
As if the bridge and the river had known, the clouds disperse and the night becomes clear and starry. Now the bridge seems like a part of a spaceship. Like an antenna, the huge bridge pier rises into the sky, illuminated in futuristic colors. It’s like looking out the window of the Enterprise. Hopefully, no Klingons will come.
Music of the Spheres
From another perspective, the steel cables of the bridge look like staves. The sheet music is still rewritten, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. And suddenly the spheric sounds of Pink Floyd or Mike Oldfield resound in the mind like an echo.
Rhine Bridge Wesel – your stories
Back to Earth now, back homewards. Maybe the images I shared above kicked off your imagination in a different way than mine. Hopefully, they inspired different stories. If so, then I’d love to hear about them. Please share them in the comments below.
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