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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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 Flow of Time (Utah 2009 IV)

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What if we had the opportunity to thaw, say 100 years after our death, and, for possibly only a limited time, contemplate and re-valuate our life and its historical context? Would we seek revenge or make amends?

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The flow of time is a tricky thing. Can we stop or even reverse it?

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This already is an intriguing topic, but Evgenij Vodolazkin in his novel The Aviator aims deeper: How does life gain meaning? Does it come from isolated actions of singular importance, or from repeating seemingly insignificant chores?

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Sometimes the timelines of several people can fuse in order to tell a story. 

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Warmly recommended.

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The Chapel (Utah 2019 III)

A little way east of Kanab, along Highway 89, is a popular roadside attraction called the Toadstool Hoodoos. The short trail takes you through a somewhat desolate landscape.DSC 2013

You might encounter children running around and screaming sandwar! and the like, which makes you wonder whether they just toppled all the hoodoos over.

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Most peaceful people come to enjoy the landscape above and hoodoos like the ones below. 

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For me, the main attraction however is a little secluded space at the far wall of the plateau that I called the chapel.

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If it was made by humans, I would call it an intriguing piece of architecture. You can see it as a face or a heart, it is both closed and open.

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The interior has some pre-human wall art to contemplate the passing time.

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Nobody ever goes there.

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Mount Shasta (25 Years Ago)

One of the more iconic mountains of northern California is Mount Shasta, a volcano a little above 14,000 feet, or 4,321m to be precise and metric. I fell in love with it on a flight from San Francisco to Eugene in Oregon in March 1994. A few weeks later, a had the opportunity to climb it. This was in late April, and means this is a Spring climb with lots of snow and potentially bad weather. 

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I have relatively few pictures from this trip, one of the first is the one above, already from the summit. We are a group of about 12, all from CHAOS, led by our intrepid Norwegian Øyvind. Just before we went off, he had confessed that the recorded mountain weather forecast at the local ranger station promised a weather that they considered on the light side for those training  for Denali.

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We started on a Friday afternoon in heavy snow and went up to Lake Helen, the standard ascent, using snow shoes. The lake was invisible and frozen, so we pitched tents. While we waited for an hour until our chefs had the potatoes cooked, we practiced  breaking falls using an ice axe. That was fun, despite the snow.

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The next morning was pristine. We were above the clouds and anxious to get going. All of us reached Desperation Point, where you realize that you are not on the summit yet. But you can see it, and it looks like a brutal vertical rock face. This scared a few of us to turn back. Don’t. There is a surprisingly easy way around that takes you safely and quickly to the summit.

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The way back took forever. We ended up in the clouds, and when we reached Helen Lake, it was vert heavily snowing. We packed all our gear and triple checked that everybody was there, and went down in the dark, reaching the cars by 2am in the morning. Unforgettable.