‘Tension’ at Galway Races.

I have a soft spot for this photo which I took for The Irish Times over ten years ago at the Galway Races. I like it not only  because I like Galway and covering the Galway Races but also because it contains what I reckon can be a key ingredient in good photography.

I’ve found it difficult to name or define that ingredient. It’s when things that shouldn’t necessarily work together, actually do. It’s a kind of incongruity when elements that shouldn’t be at ease with each other are, for a moment. It’s  tension.

In this image there are  bright colours on a dull day, (it’s about to lash). There’s contrast between those colours and the bland wall. There are many straight and hard lines running horizontally and vertically through the frame,  but there is also a circle, and there is the softness and odd shapes of people.

There are three sets of people, a couple, a solitary man and then a lady. Both ladies at either side frame the subjects with their blue anoraks and the central subject makes a bold statement with a bright red cardigan and a brolly pointed diagonally. The subjects are close enough but far enough from each other to maintain privacy. They are all looking in different directions. They are both aware and oblivious of each other.

There is order with numbers running from 1 to 7 and a pattern of lines reinforcing this order.  But beneath this order there’s a bit of chaos. The racegoers are a bit flustered as they rush to get their umbrellas out and anoraks on. The guy at left may be trying to convince his wife that it’s time for a pint.

There are no results on the board yet. It’s still early at Ballybrit, there’s still loads of sitting down space. The first race hasn’t started. Something is about to happen. It looks like rain. Meanwhile the sign at the top reads  ‘Going’ is ‘good /  yielding’ .  There’s tension there.