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.
Photographs can partial stories. This one, for instance, doesn't document the crowd that just got off an in-bound trolley. Who knows where they were going; who knows right now, in this image, where they are? It is silent and people are absent.
Looking at this image, it would be wise to ask what happened just before or just after it was taken. Clean and quiet it is now; what is was or will be is the mystery.
Sometimes you see things that don't immediately resolve into familiar objects. I've seen lichen growing on concrete that looks like landscapes or tree roots that look like painfully distorted body parts. After the initial double-take, I can identify the object for what it really is. Which, for me at least, raises the question, what am I REALLY looking at? Which is the truth here: my first glance or my studied analysis?
In this case, the pattern doesn't resemble any familiar scene, at least nothing that comes immediately to my mind. (If you see something, do please let me know!) Yet the more I look at this, the more I feel it SHOULD be familiar to me. I can keep looking at it, enjoying the textures and color shifts and that small dash of yellow.
What it is, what it represents, that's somehow less important, the more I look. Hum...
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.
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