I started a blog back about 7-8 years ago. It was my way of sharing how I look at things, sometimes directly, sometimes less so. Now I'm integrating it with my web site. Smart... Perhaps you'll find it interesting. If so, read on.
Yes, it's small. Not far off the shore with billowing clouds overhead, a dinghy no more than six feet long. Calm waters, brilliant colors. Does the boat register, much less its occupants? Three souls out for an adventure, can you see them?
It helps me to notice what a small part of this planet we sometimes are, to see the scale of clouds and sea next to a dinghy. It helps me to remember perspective. I can imagine the laughter and excitement of those in the boat. I can imagine a natural world not the least concerned about them.
So on a calm day with bright sun, I am close to those on the water and those natural elements that surround them.
This hasn't been a time of much shooting. This year spring has been undocumented by me. This shot is from last spring. Dare I say that one spring looks much like another? Seems a bit cynical but then again leaves are leaves and they grow as they grow, much the same this year as last.
So this image will stand in for all the shots I've not taken. It will remind me that even without my documentation, trees pass through an almost infinite number of shades of ;yellow and green. They are a record of the diversity of colors and textures that make up a forest.
I will treasure that which I see but don't record with camera and endeavor to stay connected without recording everything!
How many years have I had the same reaction? How many times has March and then April disappointed me, professed to be the coming of the warm time only to have late rain and wind and sometimes even snow descend?
Yes, it happens with some regularity. New England, yes.
Yet eventually the warmth outweighs the chill, the miraculous buds transform into common leaves, so many of them. And we settle into humdrum summer. Yet let's slow down a moment and notice the array of colors, the beginning that prefigures the colors of fall.
It's worth slowing down and noticing, humbly, how quickly something that is truly extraordinary becomes common.
The energy I have to put into shooting has been pretty well consumed by the book I've just finished for Desmond. He's going to be three soon and I'm following up my opus on construction equipment with another volume on trains and buses. So forgive me if I reach back to the dark times to find an image to include here - I've not shot much other than Desmond and the things he likes to look at.
The edge of Jamaica Pond is always interesting, especially this area, by the "beach." And I remember the day. It was calm and cold and clear, the sort of day that seems sharp enough to cut. Just a dusting of snow on the ground and no ice on the Pond so it wasn't very cold. Yet to my eye, this speaks of that cold and generally dark time.
Now, as the leaves are opening, it's a bit incongruous to look at this scene. Perhaps that's a good thing!
I walked toward these tracks with my brother, thinking it would serve as a useful shot in a book I'm beginning to work on. The geometry was right, even if the ties were old and in need of repair. These weren't working tracks, I didn't think. So their condition was less of an issue.
But as I got closer, I realized there was little here to draw the eye, other than the obvious recession into the distance. A bit hackneyed, I suppose. Yet there I was with an intention and a camera. So I took the shot. And here it is, recording a gray, early spring morning, fog lifting, buds still hiding.
The walk to the Pond takes us across the site of the Hancock Mansion, long fallen into decay and removed, sadly, from this place. What is left, surrounding that flat and empty mere lawn, are several ancient sycamore trees. They must have been particularly majestic when the mansion was lived in. They are so close to where the building was that one can imagine climbing out a window onto a huge white and gray tree limb.
It's hard for me to see the trees without imagining a lived-in mansion, visible only in my mind's eye. Yet in some respects I can appreciate the trees better without the house present, especially as it was in its last several decades when the graffiti obscured the graceful proportions of the place.
I have the same internal conversation every time I walk past this place. What a wonder and a blessing that it has transformed into a very different kind of special place. Let us all hope to be as flexible.
Coming upon among the coldest days of the season in early March is surprising at best and demoralizing at worst. My patience for cold weather is getting tried earlier in the season each year and now when the wind cuts through my warmest layers, I am reminded of the colder days I lived through years ago. Small comfort, I know.
So I've made myself go outside on those cold days, go out bundled up so that I face whatever the cold blusters my way. And I remember this image from the warmer days of last week. The ice was beginning to thaw and the sky was gray. What a contrast to the cold we sit in now and the brilliant, clear skies.
Today, in the warmest part of the day, I will venture out, yet again bundled, and see what I can see. I know that no matter what there's something to learn and see out there.
It’s about borders, boundaries, that’s why I pay attention to the shoreline, to the edge where the water and the earth touch. In winter that edge is ambiguous as snow hides where one begins and the other ends. After a lackluster snowfall, there is a stronger distinction between areas of water and of ice. Undulating lines of melting ice or freezing water confuse their boundaries and create a complex image, if we are looking carefully. What predominates is texture and contrast rather than color. Color is easy and in its absence we are forced to rely on less familiar cues. And anything that causes me - helps me - to look more carefully is a blessing.
The pleasures of winter…
Walking in the garden at this time of year is often a revelation. I am rarely ready for the range of interesting sights that sit there, ignored in this inhospitable time. In fact, it usually takes an effort for me to go there, so unlikely a place is it for visual stimulation in January. Often I go simply to accompany my lover as she gathered some sage or other hardy herb from the remaining plants.
Not so this time. I'm not sure what changed my attitude. Perhaps I recalled the several sweet shots I've taken, usually close-ups of plants both robust and decaying. Perhaps it was that I was tired and the garden was close. Or perhaps I'm remembering the dignity and beauty of dying plants.
This tumble-down impossibly random assemblage greeted me, waited for me and my camera. I did nothing. That's what I love about these shots - when they work well, I've done nothing other than be in the right place at the right time.
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