A bad tangent

I didn’t hang about after I’d taken the photo of Sir Nigel Gresley coming around the bend (here). I packed my gear, hared down the hill and drove off in a cloud of dust.

I wanted to get some photos of the venerable old gentleman coming in to the terminus, further down the line.

The timetable showed that he stopped at several stations on the way and I’d worked out that, if I was quick, I could make it to the final station before Sir Nigel did.

In fact, I was quicker than I thought – it was a good downhill slope to the car – and I overtook him just before a spot where the road went under the railway.

Sensing another photo opportunity I pulled in, leaped out and slammed on a medium telephoto lens. I was just in time. Sir Nigel roared past, and this is what I got ...


First, there’s no impression of speed at all. The engine could be standing still.

Second, the composition is boring, with the horizon cutting the picture in half.

But, most annoying to me, is the bad tangent, where the horizon runs precisely through the top of the chimney.

You get a bad tangent when two unrelated edges or lines in a composition just touch one another. Most viewers don’t notice it. But, although they can’t explain why, they find something annoying or displeasing about a picture with a bad tangent.

Ah well ... lousy photo but learning experience.

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