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.

Above, below

Yet again, walking around Jamaica Pond. Usually my eyes are on the island, or, lately, on the edges where the water meets the land. Today I looked up! It was a cloudy day but what clouds! They were full, not threatening, just full. And there they were again, in the water!

Lately I’ve been noticing reflections, especially of clouds in water, the visual oddity of looking down and seeing clouds. And in this instance, it was hard to decide which was more dramatic, the sky or its reflection.

It was a blessing to happen to be there with my camera at that moment. That’s how it is for me, more and more - not that I happen to show up at blessed moments, but, rather, that there are so many of those moments, now that I have the attention to be present for them!

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New blue

I wish I could say that this shot is part of some larger exploration - of color or texture or whatever - that I have been diligently working on. It was, in truth, a happy accident.

I was on the back porch with my camera, nothing in particular in mind. I bumped against a broken glass ornament that was hanging near a bird feeder - please don’t ask me why it was there, I haven’t a clue. I flinched in reaction to the minor collision and noticed the ornament for the first time. Apparently it’s been hanging on the back porch for quite some time and it hadn’t registered. A lesson there…

So I took a few shots. I just happened to have the macro lens on the camera (that’s the one designed for close-up work), so I got lucky. Several times over, come to think of it!

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Same eyes, different vision...

Aside from Jamaica Pond, the place I spend the most time walking and looking and shooting, is Woods Hole most often in the off season. We went last weekend, a combination of getting the place ready for summer rentals and relaxation.

I haven’t been there since last November and, as we went on many of our favorite walks, I was seeing somewhat familiar scenes through somewhat different eyes. The edge of Jamaica Pond was transformed into the edge of the water at Nobska Beach or tide pools among the rocks near Gansett.

It was an exhilarating experience - seeing new images in familiar settings. I’m not sure but I think these new images, one of which you are looking at, have a place in my “pond edge” portfolio - visually if not intellectually.

This is still new - I’m still processing the zillion images from that weekend - and I need to think about how they fit in with my work. We’ll see…

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Wall

It’s odd. I walk down this street virtually every day; I’ve seen this wall by the community garden whenever I’ve passed it. Yet it was only yesterday that I took the time to really look - and shoot - the wall.

I was overcome by the textures and the colors and the shapes and the way that the cement repair, one that I had never really cared for (too messy!), seemed to be a frozen river of texture that brought the entire composition - I mean wall - together.

I guess it’s the same lesson I seem to keep on needing to learn - we are surrounded by drama and beauty in forms we have yet to notice. Can I slow down sufficiently to see? I mean, more often? Yes, that’s my intention!

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Unintentional sculpture

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Lately my focus for shooting has been focused on the edges of Jamaica Pond - first with water at the shoreline and over the winter with ice and a bit of snow. It’s been a revelation to me. So much to look at, such room for color and texture. I love it.

One of my other interests is human or natural garbage - composting leaves, rusted hinges, things that are broken or usually considered unsightly. Yet framed, they can often highlight beauty that otherwise goes unnoticed. I have several portfolios of images like that, so if it sounds interesting, let me know and I’ll share some jpegs.

This image is in that vein. I’ve been by this pole many times on the way to the Pond or to the grocery store. Today it seemed like a sculpture. I like it. No reason to say more than that…