This morning I decided to replay the game Still Live that consists of walking around and taking pictures of things on the ground as they are. It is an exercise in acceptance.
It was a crisp morning, nobody was out there that early on the first day of the new year.
This time I made it even harder, by reducing everything to black and white, to dark and light.
Maybe this modification of the concrete into something abstract is an escape to avoid comprehension.
But by hiding the obvious, either the structural core becomes visible, or the underlying noise.
Everything depends on what we want to see.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The effect can be subtle, creating the illusion of a cyclic space in which we can walk freely, refracted as well.
The recent flooding has once again changed the landscape in McCormick’s creek, removing everything from decaying leaves to trunks that have been around at least a decade.
Rocks have been cleaned and assembled nicely.
Even the obvious mud seems relieved and shows off curious patterns.
It won’t stay long like this: Spring is around the corner.
Things will grow and grow over, obscuring again what we should not see.
Some rocks will be picked up and thrown.
No need to panic. The water will keep flowing, out of nowhere to nowhere.
Yes, that’s right. Let’s begin the year with a recap of not last year, but of 2008, the year 10 years ago.
This year brought photographically two significant changes into my life: My move to full frame digital (and the ability to use a handful of SLR lenses I still had from film days), and the adjustment to the Indiana landscape.
It is not that the Indiana landscape is featureless. It is more a assembly of countless insignificant features that tire the eyes, with occasional exceptions.
Some are less obvious then others, but the only chance finding them is to look.
Sometimes I am being asked why I bother carrying a heavy camera when there is nothing worth to photograph.
Visiting some of the state parks has helped to open the eyes, like McCormicks Creek, Turkey Run, Shades, or Falls of the Ohio. This had been a good year.
Two weeks can be a long time.
After a few cold days and an ice storm, the colorful leaves are gone now and the mood changes towards winter.
What do we prefer: A temporary feast of color, or a clear view into a bleak future?
The choice is not easy,
mainly because it will stay like this now for at least four months.
My physics high school teacher’s favorite example for exponential decay was not the textbook one, but rather the decay of foam bubbles in a glass of beer.
These were good times. Chernobyl was still many years away, and one could happily replace cold war fears of a global nuclear disaster by that of an indecent amount of foam in a beer.
Not so anymore. Dangerous alcohol has been replaced by even more dangerous drugs, and the surprisingly capable and reasonable politicians by maniacs. Why? How?
This year I am teaching probability, and have replaced some of the rather morbid text book exercises by ones containing bubble baths, to protect my students from being traumatized by reality. What is the half-life of moral standards?
The large amount of foam on our pristine creeks are called surfactants, and can have natural or human causes.
Making that distinction is quite telling.
Our perception of reality is self-enforcing: We see what we are used to see. Artificially blurred, everything looks strange, ominous, threatening.
Still, we try to decipher an image and put it into the context of the familiar.
If this fails, we ignore it.
How much is out there that we ignore just because we never learned to see it?
Snow in April is a rare thing in southern Indiana.
The snow cover was very light and didn’t stay long on the warm ground.
But the trees were decorated with lots of tiny white accents from snow flakes and water droplets, creating an unusual winter landscape.
Instead of the typically harsh winter sun, everything was bathed in ambient light.
The pictures were all taken with the Lensbaby Velvet 85, fully open at 1.8. The stopped down images I took also look gorgeous, but have an entirely different, less surreal character.
More snow is predicted for Friday night. I can’t wait.
After almost two weeks of deep freeze, the ice at the local creeks is making feeble attempts to melt.
This has resulted in patterns that are, of course completely useless.
They don’t reduce unemployment, make people smarter, or cure insanity.
But they don’t cause damage, and that is already something these days.
Unbelievable that all this is just water.
Almost a year ago, when there was still hope, I posted a few Fall themed images with the title Yellow. The third image shows a view of McCormick’s Creek with a tree trunk that looked in 2008 like this:
The perspective of the two images is not quite identical, but you will see that in the older image above there are two prominent trees, the right of which has become the trunk in the second image of the image of last year’s post.
Above is another image, from 2009, tree still standing, again from a slightly shifted perspective. The view has always tantalized me, because it looked promising, but I could never turn it into a picture I was happy with. Below is a view from the other side, another year later.
Then, in 2015, this unexpected change:
With the tree reduced to a stump,
the place has become more balanced and serene.
Sometimes it is worth the wait.