The Final Chapter

I like taking pictures of people, but rarely post them. Today will I make an exception, because Jessica and Matthew are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary, of which I had the honor and pleasure to take the pictures. Their first decade…

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Taking portraits is difficult. Heinrich von Kleist finishes his essay about the marionette theater with the dialogue:

“So we have to eat from the tree of knowledge a second time in order to achieve the state of innocence again?” – “Yes, indeed, and this will be the final chapter of the history of the world.”

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People are nor landscapes. You can treat them like that when they are unobserved to snitch the occasional good photo. Most people freeze when they become aware that somebody is taking a picture. 

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Matthew’s parents are a rare exception, the personified confidence in themselves and the world.

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Then, of course, people also don’t hold still, as do most landscapes. So one has to be vigilant and be quick.

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Happy Anniversary!

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Cyperaceae II

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Let’s return to the local sedges while they are young and beautiful, this time up close, and in expensive color.

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The pictures here are magnifications of what you see with the naked eye by a factor 5 to 20, depending on your screen size. They were taking with a macro lens that allows up to 5-fold magnification ratio of reality to sensor size.

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The tips of the flowers reveal unexpected branching into tripods, tendrils and further branching. Who knows how this will continue. Can they feel that gentle touch?

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This is our world. Why does it look completely alien? Is it just unwillingness to look, and to get used to it?

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Arrivals and Departures

This is an unusual post, marking arrivals and departures.

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Even worse, the sea creatures on display appear to have nothing to do with that theme. Let me explain. One of the arrivals is that of my daughter arriving at the critical age of 18, and one of the departures is hers to college in California. This provides a first link: The pictures are from the Monterey Aquarium, which we visited last year.

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When I see these astonishing creatures, I am inevitably reminded of Denis Villeneuve’s film Arrival, a rare example of an adaptation that works independently and as well in its own way as the source, here Ted Chiang’s The Story of Your Life. The departure I will associate with this is that of the composer of the wondrous film score, Jóhann Jóhannsson, who left us last year, too early.

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Arrival and departure sound like beginning and end, joy and sadness. This is treacherous, because each departure is a departure to a new arrival elsewhere. Arrival and departure are like a single contraction of one of these jellyfish. What you perceive depends of where you are: inside or outside.

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More important than arrival and departure are the stories that are framed in between, the mysterious creatures that propel our lives forward or bring it to a halt.

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I am looking forward to hear more.

Cyperaceae

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Summer in Indiana is warm and humid, which is good for insects, and bad for me, as my blood is apparently rather sweet. 

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The worst place to be then are swampy areas, which explains that I haven’t consciously seen the local sedge varieties, until today.

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In contrast to grasses the stems have triangular cross sections, and the flowers are wonders of architecture.

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There are over 5000 different species around, so if this becomes another obsession of mine, brace yourself for the next decade of posts.DSC 0836

The geometric complexity is astonishing. In one specimen of carex grayi (above) I counted 17 spikes, which is a strange number. How do they know where to grow another one?

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This little excursion probably cost me an ounce of blood (and subsequent itching). It has been worth it.

Refractions II (McCormick’s Creek)

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Using a refractive filter to show in a single image what is before and behind you is a useful allegory of linear time, and the ability to split light into pretty rainbows can create the illusion that we understand its inner workings, like in the waterfall pictures above and below. There is a danger that the mere effect becomes purpose.

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I found another effect more compelling, using a filter patterned with many facets, a little like an insect eye. Below, at the spring, we can see reality repeated and made visible in ghost like images.

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What we see are slightly different views of the same scene, shifted against each other, resulting in a mild form of cubism, as in the quarry below.

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Much of this can of course done with a single image in Photoshop. Doing it with a movable filter has the advantage that you can play with the constraints of reality while there. You take a picture of what you see, and don’t create what you want to see afterwards.

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The effect can be subtle, creating the illusion of a cyclic space in which we can walk freely, refracted as well.

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Refractions I (DePauw Nature Park)

My daughter always says I don’t experiment enough, so I borrowed one of her prism filters and played around with them a little.

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These are not the usual screw on or slide in filters, but large, chunky pieces of glass that you hold in front of the lens to break the light. 

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This way you can get, depending on sunlight and scenery, all kinds of colorful effects, reflections (from the back), and unexpected distortions.

DSC 3099The filter I used was circular with a ring of smaller facets around the center, making it better suitable for portraits than landscape. As usual, there was nobody else around.

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Above you see the effect of reflections, and below a circle of trees refracted at the outer facets.

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This will clearly require some more praxis…

The Lack of Words (Budapest 1992)

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New Year 1992/1993 I spent with a handful of friends in Budapest. It is maybe a little odd to spend this time of the year at an even colder place, but that’s how we were. Below a night view of a main land mark, the Matthias Church.

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How do I know it was 1992? One of us, the young lady below, was carrying a book and spending every free minute with it.

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The book was Robert Schneider’s sleep depriving novel Schlafes Bruder, which had just come out. 

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Democracy in Hungary had just been 3 years old, and capitalism showed its claws. You could get amazing Hungarian desserts for a fraction of what it was worth. Our last meal in town was at the Gundel restaurant. One of the dishes was an unforgettable goose liver together with an aged white Hungarian wine. I rarely eat meat these days, but this dinner I would repeat any time.

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Another interesting aspects of this visit was the language. Few people spoke any language we spoke. My best shot was to read the leftover signs in Russian, with my puny knowledge of that language.

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The picture above I took to be able to look up the name of the place. I was making assumptions here. Nyalóka means lollipop, even in winter.

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One of my interests back then was East Asian art, and Budapest has a famous collection that I wanted to see. To get there, I used a partial map with a few street names and and a cross for the museum in Gorky utca, Gorky street.  After a while, the map stopped making sense. I erred around for a while, until somebody took pity. I showed him the map and shrugged the shoulders. He started talking, but seeing my incomprehension, just shook his head and said Gorky utca, kaput.

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Evidently, Gorky street had been renamed. Fortunately, this information was enough. I ignored street names and just relied on the street pattern to find the museum.

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New year’s eve was a different affair, too. Street venders sold cheap noise makers in the (relatively) warm underground stations, and all hell broke loose. I liked this better than spending a fortune on firework.Unknown457