Verticality

While horizontally distanced, let’s use the freed time for a contemplation of the vertical.

The first two sets from today are, as so often, taken at the DePauw Nature Park.

I have arranged the 1×3 pictures in triptychs to further emphasize their narrowness by framing the depth of the center piece with contrasting walls. I find the effect disconcerting in a positive way, maybe because the obvious path is not necessarily the only path.

This last one is from my other favorite place here, New Harmony.

The 2-dimensional Nature of Time

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I must have said this before, the DePauw Nature Park challenges me to new views. Today I am trying to combine a wide format (3:1) with a shallow depth of field.

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These are per se contradictory, and to be effective, the shallowness has to be extreme.

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This sliver of sharpness acquires a strong horizontal nature, like a line of text in a book that we read, oblivious of the past and future lines. Time becomes horizontal. There is only one way to move, everything seems to be determined.

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Sometimes, it also becomes discrete, when there doesn’t seem to be a before or an after. There just is the singular moment, evidently still full of potential.

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This becomes less effective for things far away (or in the distant future) when it still seems possible to move forward and not just sideways, giving us the hope that there is free will.

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Is this all just perception? Can we think the barriers out of the way, by looking at them properly?

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Moss

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When it’s cold and cloudy outside, it’s time for a little introspection.The pictures here were taken with Laowa’s 2.5-5X Ultra Macro Lens, at or near the maximal magnification. DSC 5757

Focussing gets hairy, literally. What you see here are mosses, with some morning dew. Below is another variety.

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All this is in reality just a few millimeters across. This makes it hard to look for motives, because when you are standing up, you can’t tell what is at your feet.

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Below is an algae. The fine hairy threads are quite something up close. 

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The problem with this perspective is: If you have seen that much, you want to see more. 

Thawing

After the temperatures finally dropped to proper levels for January, it was time for another serendipity walk in the lightly frozen landscape.

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Usually I know when I have taken a decent photo. This time, I was not sure. When the warming sun came out, the reflections of the light and the doubly layered images of ice and ground beneath created unusual opportunities.

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Thawing is a violent process. This has never been made as visceral as in Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris, in the scene where the visitor thaws.

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There, it’s the likeness of the alien that frightens. Here, the familiar shapes of leaves become alien when superposed with the fragile patterns of the ice that still covers them.

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There is a strange esthetic appeal in this violence, a desire to explode, and come to life.

Not yet. It’s January still.

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Time and Space

This has been an extraordinary summer. Weather wise, flooding rain falls were followed by torching heat, and now we are enjoying a dry summer weather that would be more typical for Northern Michigan. Time for a visit to the DePauw Nature Park, whose quarry enclosed space I would avoid on regular summer days. 

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It’s as green as it gets, promising a gorgeous fall coloring. Everything seems to take advantage of its given time and space.

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The abundance of vegetation creates patterns that are unusual for this place.

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More typical are the lonely little ones, like the young sycamore trying to make roots in the harsh ground,

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or the singular dandelion, gazing into our future.

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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…

Ice, Rock, Air

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Heavy flooding followed by a deep freeze without any snow fall left the floor of the quarry in the DePauw Nature Park in a perfect state to study everything frozen.

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Last week we took care of the plant life under ice, today we enjoy the even more abstract world of ice, rock, and air.

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Usually we think of frozen surface water as relatively thin, tw-dimensional layer of homogeneous white ice. Here, the few inches fo water were frozen solid and provided an unusual view into a short-lived world.

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 Of course the rocks and ice structures where already pretty, but streams of frozen air bubble provided a three-dimensional appearance that I hadn’t seen before.

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What else is there when we don’t look?

Just Looking …

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When you stand there looking at stuff, inevitably people stop and look, too (the major cause of traffic jams). This time, I drove the other lone hiker away by claiming that through shear conecentration, I would make the icicles fall. As it was way above freezing, I had not much to do for a proof…

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More serious was the encounter with the quarry warden who had been driving in his little electric cart forth and back along the rim trail, trying to clear the ice that had caused the responsible people to close the trail (it wasn’t that slippery).

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He had evidently spotted me down in the quarry, off trail, wading over frozen ponds, crouching down and using weird equipment.

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It took him 20 minutes to get to me. He turned out to be harmless, so I decided to pretend the same.

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I started talking about how the bubbles and the ice crystals had begun to emulate the shape of the frozen plants, and I was wondering whether there were any special spirits behind it. Off he went, leaving me alone with my little world.

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If I suddenly stop blogging, chances are somebody has seen through me.

Water Droplets

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Using a macro lens with 5-fold magnification is an odd experience. The usual, somewhat trivial “workflow” for taking a picture: Look-Frame-Capture doesn’t apply, because one doesn’t see what one might get until one is really close. 

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This time I was erring around in DePauw’s Nature Park’s quarry with its fascinating ground. How could I predict that the lump of greenness that has survived the recent cold spell here is up close a fully active miniature ecosystem, collecting and preserving water for nutrition and climatization?

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To see what you see here with the naked eye you’d need a magnifying glass. 

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The depth of field is of course abysmal, and I don’t usually have the patience to stack (at least) a dozen images.

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It’s good to know that there is a small world unfazed by the machinations of the big guys.