When I saw Emma Tian’s photograph Majesty (this month’s cover image), I immediately knew that it had to be on a cover—not only because it’s an excellent photograph but because its power lies partly in its size. It is a photograph that wants to overwhelm you, to make you aware of the weight of time and history, of the fleeting nature of civilization and the ongoingness of nature—of sky, tree, grass.
Emma took this photograph in the inner courtyards of the Heidelberg Castle ruins in Germany, a castle that was originally built around the year 1225 and then destroyed and rebuilt multiple times before becoming a tourist attraction.
So often, the photos we take as tourists are not artistic: they serve merely as records—“I went there, I saw this.” Emma’s photo, however, says so much more. It is beautiful, of course, but there is also something very eerie about it. Note the clouds in the sky, and especially the dark shadow in the upper right-hand corner: they suffuse the image with a sense of foreboding. The light is a bit strange, as well—too yellow— and something about the shadows the walls cast onto the grass feels “off”—like the light is coming from a place other than I expect.
Take a walk around your neighborhood with a camera ready: can you take a photograph of a structure or place that makes you see it in a new, and timeless, way?