A gleaming silver subway train streaked with early morning light ...
...to a puddle of apparently toxic scum on a platform at a Canal Street station. The two photos (including the top, winning entry, and nine other finalists, culled from 314 hopefuls) were sent in as part of a photo contest sponsored by New York City advocacy groups Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives.
One photo confirmed Susan Sontag's observation in On Photography that our image-saturated world puts us in "chronic voyeuristic relation" to others, like this tender young couple:
And with those who are ready to pose:
Then again, living in a city means coming across strangers having a personal moment in public. And sometimes that person is us. Should that moment involve some kind of danger underground, here's hoping your life-line is better equipped than this one:
The contest proved that to see weird or even lovely stuff on a commute, all you need do is look around. Then whip out a camera-phone, assuming there's room enough on platform or train to raise the arms and shoot.
The two winners each received a 30-day unlimited MetroCard, that they might spend more time in the phantasmagoria that is the city's transportation system.