REFLECTIONS ON REFLECTIONS – MY 200TH BLOG POST

I recently posted this image on Facebook and it earned a number of “Likes” and some nice comments.  I thought it was worthwhile and apparently it resonated with others as well.  Why that is so intrigues me but it’ll have to wait for another post.

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I had been driving hither and yon on back roads of Salem County, enjoying being in the country and looking for photo opportunities.  I whizzed past this small lake and realized I had passed a dramatic scene.  What I had seen so briefly was the horizontal line of the tree tops, the leafless branches, and, most important, the shimmery reflection.  Stop and turn around?  Yes.

I captured it as I had seen it in my whiz-by.  The scene filled the frame nicely so no cropping was needed.  Back home and post-processing, I liked it still more in black-and-white.  In retrospect, however, I wished that I had over-exposed it in order to achieve a so-called high-key effect.  Well, as Golde said about the village, Anatevka, in Fiddler on the Roof, “A little bit of this, a little bit of that…” and we have a different scene.  Different, yes, but still made dramatic by the shimmery reflection.

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I continued to graze the lakeside.  With the soft cloud cover it was all enchanting.

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Here we have some color and just the day’s  light, nothing fancy.  But we have the gentle arch of the tree captured in a soft reflection.  And, some punctuation marks from the last of fall color.

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Here, the reflected branches seem to be scooping up some of the lake.

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NOW, THE 200TH POST MESSAGE

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As I drove away from the lake I had a sudden realization — an epiphany in that sense.  It’s going to sound too simple but here’s what we do:

We sense a scene that moves us, and we seek to capture it.

That’s it?  That’s all there is?

Yup, that’s it!

We sense a scene and we are driven to record it so as “to offer an expanded awareness of the beauty in the world around us.”  (Parish Kohanim)  Call it the artist’s eye.

And, though Kohanim speaks of beauty, the scene sensed could just as easily be an emotional street scene, or an event of life activity of some sort: think e.g. mud wrestling, shooting over your horse’s head while riding through the Pines, your cat in the sunlight, a spooky old asylum or prison, or a cemetery for dead trolley cars … Think also of Cartier-Bresson’s concept, “The decisive moment.”  Regardless of image content it is a scene that captures our senses and we are compelled to capture it.

I cannot, however,  pick up a pencil or brushes and paints and record such scenes.  Instead, I snap a shutter.  The choice of lens, the adjustments on the camera and the post-processing are my brushes and paint.  But, they are just tools to help with what I bring to the world … the recognition of a scene that I feel should be captured.   Or, as a related alternative we may have a vision which we then create and photograph for others to enjoy.

Since passing the lake that day I’ve been looking at a lot of my past work and that is consistently what I have done:  reacted to a scene and then captured it.  The post processing simply serves to further enhance my vision.

The beauty or drama or impact is in the scene.
Our art is in recognizing that.
Our skill is in composing for, and capturing, the scene such that we can reproduce it for others,
enhanced or not as befits our vision.

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I’m very pleased to have this idea as the theme of my two hundredth post.  In February I’ll complete seven years of this journal.  It’s been a lot of fun!

Thanks for riding along.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

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A RAINY START TO A SEPTEMBER MORN

I was awakened by a deluge of rain on the roof while sunlight was creeping around the blinds.  Waddup widdat?  Well, there was cloud cover (just over my house?) but sun seen around the perimeter.  There was, however, more cloud cover and more rain on the way.

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Later,  after the rain but while it was still threatening, it was an excellent time to (as Thoreau urged)  walk about, not to and fro.  Here’s Bob’s boat, hoping to get out again in the fall.

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Then there’s old Sultan, up on blocks for years, now, probably anxious to get out there but, sadly, not going to make it.

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The clouds, broken here and there, making for great reflections.

The bait boxes.

The bait boxes.

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An empty slip.  Nikki must be out in this weather, working his traps.Image 05

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The empty chair.

The empty chair.

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My Knockout Roses after the rain.  A pleasure to see them since almost a year ago they were under four feet of salt water.

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PHILA’S FABULOUS FLOWER FEST

I wasn’t going to go this year.  Last year’s Hawaiian theme was not very interesting or attractive for me so I wasn’t going to go back.  Then I saw channel six’s preview and I thought that the show looked pretty exciting.  (Plus, my artist friend, Marilyn F., gave me an extra ticket.)  So, off to the Philadelphia Flower Show.   The theme was the “majestic beauty and creative genius of Great Britain,” and it was carried off brilliantly. 

The central theme display was a great creation involving Big Ben as its centerpiece.  What caught my eye, however, was the reflection of Big Ben in surrounding pools which also featured great lily pads.

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I spent a lot of time here shooting the reflections and discussing them with another photographer who had a couple of interns in tow.  Since the lily pads were reflecting a lot of light I showed the interns how to moderate that with a grad filter (graduated neutral density.)

In fact I had several pleasant conversations at the show with people who came up to me to discuss “taking pictures”  and the Flower Show.  The tripod effect?  One of them closed by telling me she would pray for me.  Not bad.

That central theme begged for many more shots.  Here’s another scene, part of the theme display, which incorporated the glass block with water flowing over it which I photographed at yet another show a few years ago.  I thought the glowing pots were nice.

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Speaking of other shows, I realized that I had been going to them for sixty years, beginning with walking from my fraternity house at Drexel to the old Civic Center in 1953.  Remember the breathtaking scene which unfolded before you as you rode the escalator down to the display floor?  Sixty years of bringing home pussy willows, gloxinia tubers, and the annual gardenia plant to feed the mealybugs!  I should get a PHS Merit Award.

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Another of the many striking displays was this one of classical Greek statuary and fountains.  The arresting feature?  The statue show here was alive.  As the gentle background music played and the fountains rose and fell she would periodically assume a new classical statue position.   Just beautiful and lovely.

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The light level was so low, boys and girls, that this had to be a six second exposure at f/14  (ISO 400.)   Notice: she didn’t move although you can see signs of others moving behind her.    Fun!

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Last year I complained about the lack of flowers at the show.  All those that were missing last year finally arrived this year.  Lots and lots of flowers.  The competitive specimen displays were all under a suggestion of canopy which improved the lighting and made one feel more as though one were in someone’s conservatory.  Among the other flowers to be seen were these English roses.

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Another interesting display area included several themed chambers elevated off of the floor and with circular openings so that one could almost put one’s head inside them.  Music was playing inside each chamber.  One, yellow and elongated, was playing “We All Live In A Yellow Submarine.”  Beatles, English, clever.  Here’s one of those chambers.

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All in all a very nice experience.  I spent four hours on the floor and I haven’t done that in years.  I had to carry my feet home in a bag. 

Please click here to see these and a few more images from the show.

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THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK – 5/1/10

 

Sunrise From Foothills Parkway

I recently attended a field workshop in the Great Smokies sponsored by Mountain Trail Photo under the leadership of Richard Bernabe, one of their principals.  Mountain Trail is a publisher of photography books (over 800,000 sold) and an operator of nature workshops all over the country and soon to be in other parts of the world.  I toured Charleston and the Low Country with Bernabe a year ago, and Vermont last fall with Joe Rossbach, another noted nature photographer in their group.

A Cascade Along Porter's Creek Trail

I  joined eleven pleasant others from all over the country and enjoyed the experience immensely.   We broke out early (on the road at 6:20) to try and capture sunrise across the ridges of the Smokies with fog rising from the valleys.  The first picture above is one result.  There were perhaps another two dozen photographers at that vantage point and they had a table set up with coffee and sweet rolls.  (We didn’t.  Have got to get the name of that outfit.)    During the day it was mountain streams, falls and cascades, and wildflowers.

Wild Crested Dwarf Iris

One day there was too much sun (if you can believe that) which makes for two much contrast between light and shadow when shooting nature scenes.  So, Richard had us studying the reflections of the trees and the sky in running streams.  Some interesting results.

Reflections of Sky and Tree Leaves

Finally, at the end of the day, we sought the sunset from Newfound Gap Road.  The first night it poured although we dutifully stayed on scene in case the clouds might part.  They didn’t.  The next night was more rewarding as you can see  below.  In years of shooting sunsets I’ve never seen one cloud puff outlined as though on fire itself.

There are a few more images of wildlowers, cascades, some nice scenics, and snapshots of our group at work at my galleries.  Click here.

A Cloud On Fire