Clouds

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Second post in a row that’s not from Jamaica Pond! Alarming? Not really. This is in Western Mass, in the Berkshires. I got up high enough that I was able to get a great view of the sky.

You may remember from some of my “Pond edge” shots earlier this year, that I love seeing the clouds reflected in the water. Well, big surprise - turns out they’re fun to look at right side up! What you miss in this shot is the wind that whisked these clouds across the horizon with great speed.

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I love the play of the “soft” clouds against the “hard” landscape of trees. They work well together.

Here’s another shot, same day, pretty much the same clouds. Not sure how I feel about the missing landscape. Some days I prefer it, other days, seems like something’s missing.

Thoughts?

Light

A departure from my usual haunt, this time we were walking in the Arboretum on a recent sunny, humid, almost-hot day. When we noticed a path off to the right and up the hillside, the prospect of shade made it an easy decision.

We walked up a somewhat steep incline on a rough but serviceable utility road that leveled out after several hundred yards or so. I’d been looking at my feet to avoid roots and rocks.

Then I looked up and saw this simple woodland scene. Dappled light through leaves making patterns on the ground and peeking through the trees. The play of dark and light, the mix of vertical and horizontal branches and trunks, the clouds peeking through the trees - all of these elements added such richness and complexity to what I was looking at. Suddenly it wasn’t as simple a scene as I first thought.

I have a feeling that there are lots of situations like this if I would stop to notice. This day I did!

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Change

In the old days, like until last March or thereabouts, when I walked around the Pond, I mostly shot that lovely little island with one or several willow trees on it. (The island was made by people, by the way, but that’s a story for another day.)

So this shot is a bit of a throwback. I made a calendar of shots of the Pond last year, mostly shots of the island and I may do that again this year. So I’ve been shooting that island for quite some time. It changes from season to season and with different perspectives and times of day and weather conditions and the lens I’m using and, it' seems, my frame of mind.

It’s a delight to see the island’s trees so well leaf-ed out. There was a time when it wasn’t clear the trees would survive some rough, windy weather. I’m pleased to notice that the island seems to thrive even in the face of calamities.

Let’s hope we humans are as lucky…

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Again...

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Here we are again, with another one of these images of the edge of Jamaica Pond. I keep thinking there’s nothing left that is new for me to see or capture when I find one that surprises me, takes my breath away.

This one seems almost solid, or rather it feels like gelatin to my eyes, although it was free flowing water right at the shore. The colors are pretty close to what I saw there. (Do I care? Actually, not that much…)

So I guess I’ll keep walking around the Pond and shooting at the edge and seeing what comes up for me. It’s a constant source of amazement that there is such a variety of ways in which similar elements can arrange and rearrange themselves. That’s the part of this that holds the greatest learning for me - that there is an endless array of possibilities, of creative visions that can unfold if I can just pay attention.

Incongruous

You’ve probably figured out that we’re not looking at Jamaica Pond, my more usual subject! Duh…

I was struck by this image, shot in Philadelphia down the street from my daughter’s new apartment. There’s a lot going on here - the interplay of old and new, of natural and human-made, of horizontal and vertical, of commercial and residential. Some of these are familiar juxtapositions but others are new and I’m not sure what to make of them.

I notice how these attributes dance with one another, especially if I don’t come to them with judgment. True, I am more fond of brick for building than steel. Yet, letting go of that and my other preferences, allows for the possibility of seeing and feeling things that I might otherwise miss.

So while it is incongruous, it is also, in some small way, worthy of celebration.

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Summer green

It’s mid-summer and the burst of spring foliage has matured to its full expression. Walk around the Pond and you are overcome with the array of leaves and blossoms and roots, it’s all there along the paths.

You can see I’m still looking for reflections. Having started this focus on reflections in the fall, I’m forced to become more selective, to make sure I’m not repeating myself. I love the nuances and there’s a place for them, but I prefer to focus on what I haven’t seen before. And each season has brought a different slant on reflections.

Thus this image! There’s something about the flowing nature of the reflection and of course the color, that seems to set it aside from the others. I hasten to add that this is a very recent image and my opinion of it may change after a few weeks. I love all the new ones but that sometimes fades.

What do you think?

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Old shot

I’m feeling a little hassled, which is unfortunate since I spent three days last week at a yoga retreat. But I’m falling behind my self-imposed schedule so when I went rifling through my image files to find a shot for this post, I grabbed the first one I found, this one. I took it in 2002 at a beach in Maine where my young daughter and I went for a few days of vacation.

You probably can’t tell that it was one of those cold, dank days in late summer, which explains why the beach was deserted, except for gulls. We walked for a while and then left to get my 7 year old kiddo a hoodie since she was freezing.Not exactly the beach day she was hoping for…

I don’t think we felt as forlorn as this image might read. But clearly it was a day better suited to the likes of gulls.

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The next phase

Yet another walk around the Pond, and the thought entered my head that perhaps this series of shots of the edge, where water and shore meet, maybe that project is over. I started in the fall and walked and shot through the winter and into spring. Summer didn’t seem to hold anything new, I thought today.

I thought, that is, until I worked up today’s images. They feel…summer-y: is the palette or the design? I”m not sure and, get right down to it, it doesn’t matter. But a series that I thought was complete has entered another phase, just as the year has.

What a wonder!

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Somewhat the same

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been shooting that much lately so the options for posting here are considerably more limited than usual. Still, I do really enjoy this image, which, in some ways, resembles the previous one. Same red hue under water (although none of those delightful rain drops). There’s the same red roots although here you see more of the land, which might help if you were scanning quickly to get a better sense of what you’re looking at.

There’s something to be said for looking at different views of a scene. There are things I didn’t see in the earlier shot that seem more clear to me in this one. That seems to enhance my enjoyment of both of them, they play off each other.

If this sounds like an excuse to choose a photo, it may be exactly that! The bottom line for me is that I like this shot and I’m sharing it with you!

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Unexpected color

It’s true: the more you look, the more you see!

My on-going walks around the Pond, especially as I spend more time close to the water’s edge, have shown me a world of images that I hardly knew existed. For instance, the red in this image is from tiny tree roots, from, I think, a weeping willow tree.

I’ve written before about how the color of spring can sometimes resemble the color of autumn. This image has some of those fall colors but I doubt you’d mistake it for that time of year. Perhaps it’s the reflections of green leaves directly above the roots in this shot.

All of which is interesting, if you’re interested. And if not, just enjoy the ripples of light rain that tie together green and red!

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Just shoot...

Sometimes when I shoot, I know exactly what I’m looking for in the image. Whether or not I capture that is another question, but I’m clear in my intention.

But occasionally, especially toward the end of a shoot when I’m tired and my concentration is not as strong as I might wish, I tend to be less disciplined. I see something that grabs me and aim my camera at it. Usually I’ll check my setting to make sure they’re on target, but honestly, not always. I just shoot. I figure nothing ventured nothing gained and it doesn’t cost me anything except the time to review it.

And most of the time, these shots are barely interesting. But sometimes, rarely, they take my breath away. This is one of my recent favorites: the rain landing on the water with the rippled reflections of leaves, distorting in graceful lines. It feels minimal, understated. It moves quickly as did its capture.

It makes sense to me to keep hold of both practices - focused intentional creation and intuitive shooting. Both work for me.

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Representation

I walked around Jamaica Pond today, in the light rain. It made everything glisten. Somehow it seemed more quiet than even a usually quiet Sunday. Since the Pond is adjacent to a four-lane parkway, “quiet” is a relative term. But so it seemed today.

Most of my attention was focused on the water at the edge of the Pond, as it has been for months now. There are wondrous images to be found through careful looking in unexpected places. So that’s what I was doing. Past the beach, as I began the climb back to the walkway, I came upon this log. It’s been there for a while. But today it made the whole scene shine. It felt familiar and completely new at the same time.'

I’m not sure that anyone else will see it that way but it was a delight to move from abstract reflections to a simple log. Does it resonate for you?

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Variation

The similarity of this image to the prior one is strong. This is what I’m wrestling with lately: when are images variations on a theme and when are they essentially the same image? I’ve generally been satisfied if my immediate reaction is “I like it.”

But that isn’t sufficient. Well, it would be, I suppose, if I were the only one to look at them. (And lord knows, sometimes I feel that’s so!) But I aspire to more than an audience of one!

Perhaps more to the point, I believe that art is not complete unless it is looked at, shared. So, while I don’t want to worry about how people react to what I make, I do want to be aware of how generally they see what I make. Does looking at this second image provide some new insight into the first one? Are they both worth spending time with? Do they appear as the start of a series?

These are new images so I can’t yet answer my own questions. It usually becomes clear after some weeks of being away from them. While I’m waiting I’d be curious to know what you think. Feel free to write a comment and let me know…

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Looking and seeing

I’m drawn to this close-up of water, of the ripples and swells of the Pond on a windy day. It doesn’t bother me that the colors are a bit more yellow than I saw at the time and I’ve worked to make the debris in the water more visible.

So how does this image work? It’s a photograph, yes. But it’s not a representation of what was in front of my camera. The way I work it’s a two-step process. First I find the image and shoot it and a bunch of variations. Then I take the digital image and process it in software, making something that is pleasing to me.

Sometimes I end up with a representation that anyone would recognize as the scene I shot; other times, I end up with something magical and beautiful, something that takes off from what I saw but flies on it's own.

Still, in either case, it’s all about looking - deeply, carefully, slowly - and seeing. On my good days, I can do a bit of that.

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Color

There is so much to see in the water. Jamaica Pond is always interesting – the ever-changing island and the landscape of ducks and geese and swans create elegant and simple panoramas. 

Lately, I have spent more time looking at the edges of the Pond. Thus a series of shots starting last fall and bound to continue through the seasons. It’s been a revelation to see the reflections of tree limbs and ripples of Pond water , so subtle, so quiet.

Now I seem to have come upon a new element, tiny roots growing into the water, showing up red and orange, not colors I usually associate with spring time. I’ve noticed the roots before but passed over them until yesterday when the color was so striking. Let me add this to the list of things I love about spring – the surprises, the exceptions that prove the rule!

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Changing

Spring is the season of changing. It starts appearing not that different from winter and ends up appearing not that different from summer. And in between it just changes, every day it seems. 

Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that the Pond is the same way. After all, water is so flexible, it’s just about the poster child for changing. Yet, walking around the edge lately, I’ve felt a bit disappointed at what I saw. There was no architectural ice formations, no dramatically colored leaves to entertain the reflections of the trees. 

But as I’ve paid a bit more attention, I’ve noticed more of the subtle green reflections in the water, some gentle stirring from the interaction of water and wind to create delightful minor mysteries from leaves and trees. 

Each season has opened to me. Yes, it was there all along. I just had to slow down enough to look.

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Color of trees

It isn’t surprising to consider that autumn is the colorful month - trees and shrubs go through all sorts of transitions, often with a staggering array of colors. What I hadn’t realized until this year was that spring replicates the palette of autumn.

Oh, yes, not exactly, I can see that. There’s a greater emphasis on hues of green and yellow rather than the deeper earth tones of the fall. In fact, as I looked around me this morning, I was shocked by the intense array of yellows and greens with the occasional orange or red thrown in.

All of which gets back, as it almost always does, to the blessing of being able to walk among the trees as they come back to life. I felt the need to walk slower, more lightly. Reverent. Yes, we are blessed.

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Perspective

I notice several things when I look at this image.

First off, I love reflections and the visual confusion they elicit. I’ve written of that before. Once, someone wanted an image like this and insisted that I frame it so that it was “right side up” which was, of course, wrong side up. I did it for them. One could make the case that they work either way but I”m not sure I agree. But I do know the customer is always right!

The other notable feature of this shot is the incredible range of spring colors . Such a bundle of yellows and greens, I need some new words to capture the spectrum. And perhaps you’ve realized this long ago, but it was a revelation to me that the colors of spring and the colors of fall are not that far apart. Certainly they both have an extraordinary range.

So this morning I notice the blessing of changing seasons. The blessing of spring.

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Spring starting

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It's all the same; it's all different... Walking around the Pond, here's a shot of a shrub overlooking the Pond. Familiar subject? Perhaps. But now that it is certifiably spring, the range of colors is quite different. The yellows are in ascendance with the greens not far behind. What a blessing to visit the same place over the course of the year and watch the changes the seasons bring!

Natural confusion

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In Woods Hole, walking down toward a small harbor at the end of a road. Going down a bit of a hill, the ground off to the left is puddled with water, a small pond, complete with vegetation. Usually this place is dry, perhaps a bit soggy but by no means a body of water. So I stopped for a snap.

There’s so much going on in this picture, maybe too much. The trees and shrubs and their reflections are much more chaotic than what I usually get. I saw something in my head, here, although I’m not sure that it comes through in this workup of the shot. I saw a variation on a theme of reflections, one in which object and reflection existed vertically and horizontally. I liked that there was so much going on.

This is a new image and I generally love all the new ones. Not sure how this one will age - will I cringe to think I highlighted it? Well, maybe, there’s always that chance. But I’ll leave it here so I can remember that I attempted to capture something I saw in my mind and whether I was successful or not is less the issue than that I tried.