I made a lot of good photos of Post Pond, many more than I’ve got posted on my site (here is the Post Pond collection).
I often wish I had a time machine and could go back. I have better cameras and much better lenses, and my eye is better. Overall, I’m a better photographer than I was even a few years ago. I did manage to wake up early one late summer morning to catch the rising mist, and I did make some good exposures.
This week I went back to Lyme to show some prints at the Long River Gallery. They liked my photos, and I’m now a member of the collective.
Most of the rest of the photos I brought to show to the gallery (because they are in Lyme, and of Post Pond) are hanging in their framed version in the currently hanging show at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital. So currently there is a nice big print of this one on Canson Rag Photographique, a very slightly textured paper:
This week’s Photo of the Week is available in a larger view and for sale here.
I was walking past this little orchard one day, my wife walking fast and getting ahead of me on account of my photography. “Wait! Just one more!” This panorama. Worth exposing…
Another recent one, above. I went out that morning because there was a heavy frost/light snow with fall leaves still up. I was looking for a certain kind of image, with the potential everywhere I looked — but I don’t think I managed to realize it in a good composition. This was near a little stream, not particularly the drama I was looking for in the open spaces. The field in the background is indeed covered with frost, and these leaves were indeed red with light shining through. Somehow this black and white version is the best photo though. Also the images I exposed just after this were also good, along the stream. You just never know. You look for one thing, but you find another.
And this one above, also of light coming through trees, I’ve been meaning to put up on the site for a few months now, since exposing it last spring. I was driving past this wall and just glimpsed the wall and the light coming through the trees, late light, and I turned around and circled back to it.
I often talk about the relationship of meditation on my photography. On some of my deepest retreats, I’m not allowed a camera. But on this 6 day silent retreat, I did have my axe with me. There were long breaks in the afternoons, and I did get to walk in the woods in heading-toward-peak autumn foliage. Maybe some of those exposures might make good photographs — I don’t know yet — but it certainly was good to walk around after so much sitting. The tricky thing is, when I’m opened up so much, and everything is so vivid, and emotional material arises to meet capacity, and the separation of inside and outside is at its thinnest — at that time it’s actually pretty tricky to make good photographs. It may be rather beside the point of being in a meditation retreat, in some ways — but also it is a good practice to bring the openness into the world at large, and to let the world into that open state.
This retreat was at the very end of September in hilly New Hampshire. The mornings were cold, some of the days were cool. Because of the size of the retreat, the largest given up to that point at this center (Wonderwell), they put up a heated outdoor tent to serve as an auxiliary dining hall. The plastic walls of the tent gathered condensation. I only made a couple of discreet exposures on this chilly morning. If it were normal life I would have worked the situation quite a bit more, but I didn’t want to be a spectacle in that context. Of course, in normal life, I might not have seen this as a photograph to make. You never know.
This is an image that has been on the edge of my recognition for several years now. It’s only in working on this upcoming show, with an entire wall of Post Pond changing with seasons, that this called my attention enough to print it. I’m glad I did; it’s a really good print, and I’m surprised I never really got around to it before.
I’m working on printing, framing, and generally planning the show that will hang in Hanover NH on December 5 at the Howe Library. Still, I’m working with new images too, even if they won’t make the show. This one might though.
We had a hard frost on Monday, really our first hard one. It was a little late, as far as getting the frost-on-fallen-leaves subject that I’ve explored over the years. I spent a lot of time bending over with the macro lens, and here’s one harvest from that effort.
I’ve also been thinking about the theme of the show, anicca, and how that ties to photography. It’s so paradoxical, how photography makes impermanence so poignant. Photography in a superficial sense “freezes” a view of the world. Oddly, rather than solidifying the world more, this points out that reality is more like smoke than rock. It’s a river we can’t step into twice. We have a glimpse of something, a moment, form, texture, maybe color; and it’s gone. There is meaning, resonance — that can linger, but the moment is gone.
That frost is gone, and it’s raining today, the leaves marching through time toward brown mush.
Last Saturday the fall foliage was at full shout, and I went for a walk in the woods with my wonderful wife. In general, that trail was full of beech trees still green, conifers; it just wasn’t the bright red-yellow-orange extravaganza visible right from the road. For a fall-color walk, we would have been better off along the sugar maple lined dirt roads all around our part of town, and all of this town. Still. Nothing to complain about. An off-the-charts-good walk in the woods on a sunny fall Saturday, with my love.
By the pond I scrambled off of the trail to photograph the red reflection of a very red maple reflected on this pond. I guess I saw that the image above was there, because I made the exposure, and carefully enough that it’s perfect. I didn’t work it hard, as I might if I thought something was going to be great. Often I’ll try several exposures/apertures/compositions for what seems like a good subject. This was the only one here. At home I looked at the very-red maple reflection images expectantly. As good as I hoped? Naahhh. But wait! Look at this one!
This afternoon, sick of it, I decided it’s time for a Photo of the Week, and it reminds me that part of photography is that it’s fun. It just is; hence its current popularity. I opened up a few raw files in photoshop and played with tones a bit, some burning and dodging.
It’s funny how we resist change, and yet change makes everything possible. The very energy of life is based on change: chemical reactions and biochemical transformations are dynamic.
Just so in photography too. It’s in those in-between moments where the most happens.
And of course everything is an in-between moment. Still, some times are a bit more dynamic feeling than others, and that dynamic energy is good to ride even when it feels like something we would rather not, a change we’d rather not experience.
This was the part of the fall/winter that is a bit of “Oh noo!” here in the north country. The leaves are mostly down, the world is drab, it’s starting to freeze up. On this day it was raining. From my office window it looked horrible out. Still, a bit restless, I decided to grab the Nikon (pretty weatherproof) and head down to the pond to see what the ice looked like. Worth the trip. And so for all of riding our changing experience. From that “oh no!” bubble of resistance to actually checking it out. What is going on? Maybe something interesting.
Another iPad Screen, a little late for seasonal use this year. This fits into my ideal of a photographic ipad home screen: it shouldn’t interfere with the clarity of the app icons; it should be interesting and perhaps colorful; it should have some not-in-the-way element that is clearly photographic. Often a shallow depth of field image will work for these goals.
As always with these iPad posts, email me if you’d like an iPad resolution copy.
The obligatory musings: This image was actually flipped horizontally, just for the purpose of iPad screen goodness. In fact, I think it does help the composition. If you keep each of your screens with a free spot, a missing app icon or two, the leaf will show up in the empty corner.
The funny thing is that now in the digital era, when it’s so easy to do things like this, I very rarely do flip images. I tend to try to cling to some sense of reality, now that reality is so malleable by digital means.
In the old days, by contrast, I used to do that in the enlarger. When I saw a composition on the ground glass of my 4×5 view camera, it was upside down and backwards. This actually helped develop my eye for abstraction. Often I would get excited about an exposure, but then I would find it just didn’t “move” the same way (the flow of the eye through a composition) as when I envisioned it, focusing on the upside down and backwards image. Upside down never worked, of course, and I didn’t go there. But sometimes flipping horizontally worked. I can’t think of any of my currently published online images that are flipped, but some of the film work might be.
A topic I continually touch on is the difference between our concepts, versus what might be closer to being real.
I’ve been working a whole lot this fall on frost and frozen dewdrops; I’ve gone out on cold mornings all bundled up, and I think, “I’m going to work with the leeks.” We had an accidentally very large bed of leeks, which grew quite well, and they were still in the ground through several hard frosts. The textures and shapes have some great photographic possibilities. I think I’ve done some good work with those leeks. Today I thought I should put one of those up as a photo of the week.
When I started going through those morning sessions, it turns out I really did a lot, quite a lot, more work, and more good work, with the Siberian iris leaves in the frost and frozen dew. Not as much the leeks, in spite of my ideas about that work. And most of that work was based on some ideas too — abstract composition. Some of those are good.
But this one somehow broke my heart with quiet beauty, not the hard-edged abstraction I was working. I really feel something from this one. So, not leeks, not abstract — a more “normal” ordinary composition. Beauty as subtle as flowers in bloom happens all through the year, any moment.