Terra Galleria Photography

Gateway Arch National Park Image Selection Poll Results and Thoughts

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In a previous post, I asked you for input in choosing the Gateway Arch National Park photograph to be included in the Treasured Lands exhibit. Back then, I did not comment on the images in order not to influence answers, so here are my thoughts, together with the poll results.

Poll results

Thank you to everybody who commented or voted on the Gateway Arch photo. I’ve repeated the images in the next section for reference. Here is the tally of the first 100 responses – there were more, but without a paid account Survey Monkey shows only those:

In addition, I posted the four images on social media accounts, resulting on the following number of likes. By the way, the difference in engagement on Instagram (6,700 followers) and Google+ (157,000 followers) is huge!

Instagram Google+
A. sunset 377 (30%) 32 (24%)
B. night 239 (19%) 42 (31%)
C. sunrise 363 (29%) 31 (23%)
D. park 275 (22%) 31 (23%)

I did not post on Facebook because I am aware that the percentage of your posts they show to your followers is limited and varying, whereas it may be less of a factor on Instagram and Google+. Another caveat is that a quick like is not the same as a vote on “which image would you choose?”. So of course the social media likes do not carry the same weight as the poll answers. Yet it is interesting to note that each of the three sources (Poll, Instagram, Google+) results in a different top choice, which always is one of the skyline views. The poll’s choice is more decisive, though.

The images

Image A: River view, sunset

Image B: River view, night

Image C: River view, sunrise

Image D: Park view


Of the three skyline views, I find the sunset photo esthetically more pleasing because of the color in the sky and the cleaner foreground with no pier obscuring the Mississippi River. On the other hand, being backlit, the structures are dark, especially the arch. There was still too much ambiant light for the illumination to take effect, which happened only in the night picture. The courthouse is also better centered in the night photo than in the two other photos. The light describes the Arch the best in the sunrise photo, with many gradations of tones. The sunrise photo also captures a more specific moment with the moon.

From a conceptual point of view, all three skyline views show the Arch in the context of St Louis and the Mississippi River, which is adequate since the Arch memorializes the role of St Louis in the westward expansion. They also all include the Old Courthouse, which adds depth to the park. In addition, the sunset photo has a prominent Western sky and the dawn photo has the moon in the West, which both symbolize well the march towards the West. Unlike the skyline view, the park view was taken from within the park. I like the fact that it includes the grounds, since as explained in this post, the grounds and the park cannot be separated, as together they represent a cohesive artistic endeavor. Eero Saarinen envisioned the arch rising from a small landscaped forest, and the park view depicts this vision. I think a skyline view represents what the park stands for, whereas the park view describes more literally.

Compared to the other views in the Treasured Lands exhibit, a skyline view provides a shocking contrast because you see so much of a modern city in the photo, unlike in any other image in the set. Although the Mesa Verde image depicts part of an ancient city, St Louis doesn’t really form a counterpart because it is not part of the park, and therefore non-park elements are quite prominent in the photo. But the location in a city is a characteristic of Gateway Arch National Park that makes it so different from the other national parks. The other images of the Eastern parks in Treasured Lands are linked by the hardwood trees, and the presence of those trees in the park view make it fit in more seamlessly, while the contrast of the Arch and the trees is striking enough to announce that this is an unusual park.

Part 4 of 4: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

One Comment

  1. Randy Moe says:

    I still prefer the Park View.

    Now I need to get there!

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