I am trying to construct 'alternate text' for a photograph I am submitting for evaluation. The photo is in the 'cityscape' category and depicts the harbour at dawn with cranes that are normally busy - but not are still in the early morn.

The phrase that came to mind was

The Harbour Cranes lay dormant at sunrise in the Townsville Port. '

However, I'm unsure as to whether the 'lay dormant' phrase is correct. It elicits a sense of non movement over am extended period of time whereas I'm trying to express a sense of rest and impending awakening.

Any help with this will be appreciated.

1 Answer 1


Dormant as in temporarily inactive, works. However, lay is past tense. Consider lie dormant for present tense and your "sense of [...] impending awakening". Present tense puts you in the moment. Past tense implies that the moment is over and nothing is impending except maybe more historical revelations.



  • Ah thank you ... wasn't seeing that and such a simple adjustment... knew it didn't feel correct but could not see the wood for the trees... too embedded in the visual to notice the written... a significant departure for me, the learning curve of which I guess imposes... will make requisite adjustments based on your advice. Am most grateful thanks.
    – drcrpsych
    Aug 7, 2015 at 4:01
  • @drcrpsych I'm impressed that you went so far to ask. Shows attention to detail. That's when prose approaches poetry. You've certainly made me want a look at this picture. Aug 7, 2015 at 4:09

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