see2think

thinking with pictures

Consider you “favorites” collection as a mirror of your soul

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Several screenfuls from my June 2014 currently tagged “fav” photos at flickr.com seem to display an affinity, identification in, or attraction of my eye to (1) big vistas, (2) golden hour light, (3) wide dynamic range (but not manipulated in post-production processing as HDR). And the majority seem to be landscapes, since the undulation is a visual music that I love to listen to and resonate with. Consider the patterns that emerge in your own shooting or tagging ‘favorite’ online.


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mortal? immortal? –the thing about photos that pierces the soul

june2014flowers49682morning-

After seeing loads of images, both contrived and conceptually designed and those more spontaneous and less self-consciously created, it occurs to me that the ones that hit one’s mortality-awareness buttons are touching on a deep paradox in the photo’s nature; namely, that the frozen moment suggests a “forever young” or other peak moment of (personal, regional or universal) significance even as the truth flows forward and the composed moment scatters like the proverbial ‘dust in the wind’. In other words we hold a moment in permanence, while knowing that all is impermanence. A single snapshot contains both these truths: crystal clear frozen moment AND the forever ebb and flow of lived experience. To read an image to reveal both layers, the frozen and the flowing is to read something very ancient and deep in human experience.

traveling in style

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traveling in style

It is a truism that one’s mode of travel partly determines one’s visual field and vision and by extension one’s thinking. Drive a large, fast new car and the posted speed limits seem foolishly slow. Drive a light-weight vehicle or one that is human powered and the world passes at a different height and rate, the practicality of hopping off or stopping for a look is much different to the fast car or the high altitude jet. Related to mode is pace. The same string of curves and dips may seem unremarkable under the speed limit, but taken at the optimal or perhaps slightly over, then the road comes to life with a rhythm and contour and texture that was invisible before. Of course, taken in excess, that lifelike experience turns into a life-taking event. By metaphoric extension –in which life is a journey— then we can conclude that one’s mode of travel partly determines one’s visual field and vision and by extension one’s thinking. Drive a large, fast new car and the posted speed limits seem foolishly slow. Drive a light-weight vehicle or one that is human powered and the world passes at a different height and rate, the practicality of hopping off or stopping for a look is much different to the fast car or the high altitude jet. So the next time you step off and begin a course of travel (to a place or through life), pause long enough to consider how best to travel in style.

The world as we thought we knew it

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temperature inversion, early June 2014 on Grand Traverse Bay

Traveling north on M-22, Michigan state trunk road 22, between Traverse City and Suttons Bay in the sunny afternoon, I glanced out the window at Old Mission Peninsula lying at a distance and across the west half of Grand Traverse Bay. There for the first time I saw a temperature inversion that gave the illusion of a band of horizon neatly cutting across the actual treeline of the peninsula to form a reflected straight edge.
Whenever there appears a novelty or rare view from the taken-for-granted scenes of one’s life, it comes as a gift or blessing, causing you to feel grateful for something special that few others may have witnessed; a little like being let on a secret, or being privileged to gain audience to an especially valuable experience. I may have not bumped into a large marine creature or watched a meteor land in my backyard, but to glimpse this flat trimmed skyline gave me a thrill that day!

rearview: On the importance of hindsight

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rearview: On the importance of hindsight

Southbound on the springtime highway and alert to Whitetail deer invading the road at the twilight hour, I checked my sideview mirror for other drivers on the road and there caught sight of the evening glow and the shine of the car’s body. Some colors shifted in the weak warm color-balanced light. The lesson here is the to not only look for photo opportunities that may lie in front of you, but also to look with equal care to left, right, bottom, up, and even behind. Photos may present themselves for capture in unexpected places, time, or angles. So it makes sense to carry a small camera at all times and to look in the opposite direction to one’s ostensible subject.