After a crazy, hectic week and a crazy, hectic December, I only have time for a quick review of some favorite images from the past year. I’d like to include favorite poems – and wouldn’t it great to include links to favorite posts I’ve seen on other blogs this year – but that will have to wait. For now, in more or less chronological order:
To complement the previous post on shadows, here is one about another transient light phenomenon that has always fascinated me – reflections.
The photo below was taken ten years ago with an early digital camera – it had 1.4 megapixels! A blue glass vase in a bay window made intriguing reflections and shadows. The glass itself picked up reflections and held shadows, too, and its color changed from deep azure blue to turquoise reflected light.
Complex reflections that play with other visual cues to mix up an image are fascinating, especially when foreground and background become interchangeable.
Here’s a situation where glass – in this case, a window in a Manhattan museum – simultaneously reflects the surroundings and allows you to see through it, producing an image with many possible interpretations – the street-side tree and fire escape ladder mixing with an enormous, fierce Buddhist deity (probably Mahakala, a protector) – what could it mean?
Here at a botanic garden in New York City, an Italianate reception hall’s windows provided opportunities to think about light and shade, inside and outside, shadow and reflection.
Another Manhattan window – this one made of curved mirrors – provided multiple skewed reflections of me and my friend, who’s barely visible as a stick figure in the background. This is from the 70’s. Right, I didn’t take the picture – but I directed the shoot! 😉
Decades later I took the photo below of my legs and feet reflected in a window at the Frye Museum in Seattle. Behind the window, a courtyard planted with ferns allowed me to do what I love – merge with nature!
Sometimes all you need is light and shadow dancing on leaves and water. (At Spring Lake, a little ocean shore town in New Jersey.)
A cold snap left a chunk of ice on a branch tip hanging over the water of a Long Island, NY lake. Rippled water scattered the branch’s reflection into circular mazes.
Reflections of sunlight on trees over a creek east of Seattle created a purely abstract field of color.
Another color field on the water:
And back to complexity: a Manhattan window, this time in an art gallery, reveals a worker setting up a show inside while reflections of buildings across the street seem to enclose her in a private world.
In the early 70’s I investigated reflections, shadows, and transparency with a pane of glass in a snow-covered field. The quality of the photo is poor, but good enough to document the process – an interplay of the thing itself and its projections; each has its own substance and reality.
And one for fun: Seattle’s Experience Music Project, a museum dedicated to popular culture designed by Frank O. Gehry. Constructed of thousands of aluminum and stainless steel “shingles” set in undulating curves, it always can be counted on for terrific reflections – even on concrete!
For decades I’ve been interested in shadows. The first photo below was taken about ten years ago. The next one, in the 70’s.
Wikipedia says a shadow is an area where light from a light source is obstructed by an object. I’ve always perceived shadows as objects themselves – the traces left by objects being as important as the original objects.
Shadows on window shades from the 70’s:
What trace does the leaf leave? A muddled one, bent by the contours of another shape, or maybe a crisply delineated form, true to the original. Lacking the leaf’s color and texture, the shadow allows my gaze to rest in the leaf’s basic form.
Below, shadows on the Experience Music Project building in Seattle, from a few years ago. Shadows of the tree’s branches and leaves wave across the building’s undulating forms.
Palm tree shadows on a building in Wilmington, North Carolina, about 5 years ago. Repeating forms are in the fan-shaped fronds with their spear leaves and the building elements – the steps, banisters – and the shadows among them.
Leaf upon leaf: which is more real?
Shadow shapes and metal shapes – an interplay:
No imperfect or faint representation, the shadow often carries as much visual interest – for me – as the thing itself.
Each can be apprehended without reference to the other, immediately.
The shadow though, carries a bit of mystery along with it, the slight obscuring of form that allows a dream…
1) Collection of old utensils I used to own
2) Shadows on a wall with a window, still a favorite subject of mine
3) “Three” Taken at a farm in New Jersey where I liked to photograph cows
4) Street shot from a small town in upstate New York; see below
5) VW camper in front of a then obscure Chinese Buddhist temple in a small town (S. Cairo) in upstate New York.
I believe these are from the early 1970’s. They weren’t exactly archived – just saved in a box for many years, through dozens of moves. They were slides and recently I had them transferred into digital images; hence retrieved. Now they’re accessible.
I took them with point and shoot cameras – I have no idea what kind at this point. I do remember I used to prefer Agfa film to Kodak but I don’t know if these were taken with Agfa. I liked Agfa because it produced better color, I thought, for outdoor shots. But over time the colors have changed anyway. The quality is poor compared to what I get with digital cameras, but some of them are still interesting.
The street shot was taken in Mechanicsville, New York, a small town on the Hudson River north of Albany. I don’t remember much of that road trip, likely it was taken in that sweet old VW camper. I determined the photo location by googling Enziens drug store – the name is unusual enough to zero in on a pharmacy in upstate New York. It likely played a big role in peoples’ lives in that town, decades ago. There’s still a dentist with named Enzien there – I bet the drug store was owned by his grandfather. A google map search shows the old brick building still stands on the corner of Park Ave. and North Main St.
As for the mysterious woman waiting outside the store, and her strange dress, it seems that time has preserved her well, no?