Ode to a View

Ode to a View

The view at the little jogging track is no more. Where the magic light once was the forest floor has been laid bare, for the foundations of the new street, Heklagatan, to be laid.

When I re-discovered the little jogging track back in June, I thought I only had days before the view would be destroyed for good. As it were, not only did I have enough time to complete my eight-year quest, but enough time to see the little jogging track throughout the summer, during autumn and finally during winter when the trees were covered in snow. As I got the photo I waited eight years for, I relaxed. The end of the little jogging track didn't seem so imminent any more.

But I knew that time was running out. I started biking to the little jogging track as an exercise, bringing my photo gear with me. It was a good 24 kilometer trip there and back, so even if I didn't do any jogging, the little track sure imparted physical health! The Little Jogging Track at Night panorama was shot during a particularly long one of these trips, when I proceeded past the little track and out onto the northern parts of Järvafältet. The weather was often pleasant and with some timing, I got some really nice pictures during the golden hour.

But I knew that time was running out. First came wooden sticks with their tips painted bright pink as September turned to October. Any hope I had of the view surviving the development of the area disappeared. The area they marked out clearly included just about every important landmark in the view. I started moving the sticks out of the way to get my shots, carefully putting them back afterwards. Sometimes, when they were far away, I just photoshopped them out afterwards. Shortly after the sticks came bright pink demarcation lines that were sprayed on the ground. I removed them by overlaying a layer with blend mode set to "Color" and some curves adjustment, or simply left them in. Unfortunately, Sweden had a very cloudy summer with little sunshine - and the autumn followed in its tracks. Without sunshine, there would be no nice golden sunset. I started reading the weather forecasts again, marking every day with potential for sunshine as one that I would go out to the little track.

But I knew that time was running out. Then, in November, came the bright orange marks that marked which trees were to be cut, and I knew that if I were to do anything, I'd better get it done quickly. But the weather just wouldn't cooperate. The first snow came on November 29th, but I was still no closer to good light. Finally, December 2nd and 3rd offered a pair of good days. The 2nd would be clear in the evening and night, and the 3rd promised to be clear in the morning. I don't trust weather forecasts, and when it comes to cloud cover they're especially dodgy, as a single little cloud can spoil the golden hour for just the spot you want to photograph. I went out both days and shot the winter panoramas I didn't think I'd get back in June.

The weather kept being a long series of overcast, overcast, and overcast. Finally, after another heavy snowfall, I decided to go out at night and see if there was anything worth photographing. I climbed up the slope on the side of the road - a lot easier now that snow had packed the spaces between the stones - and came to the start of the little jogging track. Correction, I came to what was left of the little jogging track. A swath had been cut through the forest.

It was done. The forest had finally been cleared for the new street, called Heklagatan. Using a GPS and looking at the leftover tree stumps I found the spot I had used to photograph the view from. Here is the view, as I first finally managed to photograph it in summer, as I photographed it in winter, and what it is like now.


In a way it was sad. In a way it was a relief. When I started this project back in June, I wrote that:

Ultimately it isn't possible to preserve very much in a photograph. The times when I've tried to really "capture the moment", it has only worked because the photo could be made to trigger my own memories - never because the photo itself carried the memories. There's just so much that is lost when you turn an experience into a two dimensional array of pixels.

Little Jogging Track (Lilla Slingan)[a]

I had begun to run out of ways to photograph the same area. While one can keep trying to photograph it in different light, different time of year, and so on, there's a point when you have to stop. A point when you just have to move on. Since I set out to preserve as much as possible of the little jogging track, there seemed, to me, to always be a little bit more that could be captured. But I found it more and more difficult to find that additional bit. When I saw the swath, I thought "well, they finally did it", followed by "guess I won't have to worry about getting the right light for a shot here any more". I photographed the swath and shot some horizontal panoramas, walking along the track from the swath:

While I'm sad that I won't be able to take a stroll along the little jogging track and experience the magic light any more, I think it was good that the project had a good and definitive end. It's time to move on and seek out new places to photograph. As for everything I've shot at the little jogging track, I'll quote myself from six months back:

As art, it falls incredibly short. (...) As documentation, well, we'll see in a couple of years' time if I regret missing anything.

Little Jogging Track (Lilla Slingan)[b]

When the new residential area is built, I'll be able to complete the summer, winter and swath photos with a shot from the same place, but now with the new houses and roads. And, you know what? Looking at the map of the area, it looks like there will still be parts of the little jogging track around.