Goodbye Coal, You Won’t Be Missed

Goodbye Coal, You Won’t Be Missed

Environment plays a powerful role in making human existence on this planet possible, so being conscious of the ways energy is consumed is vital. Everything used to live a full and purpose-filled life comes from the environment, thus, the effects of pollution can be devastating. With growing industry and fossil fuel intake, one could get the feeling there is no hope for protecting the environment, but a photo could change their mind. Photos can be powerful if composed in the right way and can even be a call to action. Many visual elements such as color, composition, contrast and symbolism can unify to create that feeling of hope and an expectation of transformation. This is the case in a photo portraying a group of young soccer players with a coal-fired power plant in the background. The colors used are a vivid green to clearly represent life and purity while the dull grey in the photo represents sadness and pollution. The photographer carefully chose to have these colors in the top half and the bottom half of the image respectively to add to the element of contrast. This contrast shows that they are two profoundly different things occurring. One positive and one negative. The composition of the photo (The field being in the front is more prominent than the coal plant in the background) generates a flowing narrative, representing “out with the old and in with the new.”

The image has multiple facets that grab the attention of the audience. The immense, grassy field in the foreground immediately draws the audience’s attention. 12 students are standing in the center of the field, with a number of soccer balls among them. The well maintained field has clear lines about it, indicating that it was recently mowed and is clearly cared for. There is also a white soccer goal at the end of the field. The next piece that draws the eye to the center of the photo is a dense line of trees completely surrounding the soccer field. The trees act as a wall that separates the foreground from the six coal-plant smokestacks of the background, spewing waste into a dingy grey sky. The element of color is used in this photo in a meaningful way. The two main colors found in the photo are a vivid green as well as a dull grey. Here, green clearly represents life and nature because the parts of the photo which are green literally are elements of nature: grass and trees. Inversely, the dull grey embodies pollution, the enemy of nature. Contrast of subject is just as strong as contrast of color and plays a great role in the message of this photo as well. Juxtaposed are two opposing themes: environmental sickness and environmental wellbeing. Trees have always been a symbol of transformation.

This photo is no exception to that. In this photo, the trees separate the coal plant from the field, indicating a transformation taking place. We are moving away from fossil fuels and pollution and moving towards a greener, healthier future. This is also why the field is in the foreground while the coal plant remains in the back, which will soon fade away. Coal is also particularly symbolic. On some level, coal might represent potential and opportunity, being the most aged form of energy, but at what cost in the long term? Coal asks you to look at the bigger picture, pan out, and observe other solutions as they present themselves. Panning out of the picture, you behold the soccer field.

Another solution to an energy problem is natural energy, coming in the forms of wind, water and solar. Plants turn sunlight into energy through photosynthesis, thus, solar energy would be most logical for this particular photo. This could be another reason that nature is part of the composition of the photo. The environment completely surrounds humanity. It can keep people healthy or make people sick. That is why it is astronomically important to keep it clean in order to live healthy and peaceful life. Unfortunately, environmental pollution has become a large threat to Earth. The photographer of this piece makes it a point that while we are making progress, there is still much to be done. Through their masterfully crafted composition, this photo truly depicts a transition towards more environmentally ethical sources of power. The juxtaposition of the soccer field and the coal plant is striking in the sense that they’re both powerfully representing conflicting aspects of the issue at hand. One being the problem and one being the emerging solution.

03 December 2019
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