A Closer Look

We filter out a lot of information, visual and otherwise. Much of our immediate environment isn’t really seen. Simple shadows on a wall, matted grass on the ground,Β  the landscape as it zips past the car window, the flooring at your feet – all are worth studying.

Maybe the ceiling is holding the light in a particular way that you’ve never seen before, right now.

I may be preaching to the choir here, because I know that many people who look at this blog already pay close attention to things that others miss. Well, here’s to widening the pool of folks who care to attend to the world a bit more keenly, and here’s to questioning received wisdom and nurturing a different view. Let’s leave our preoccupations and preconceptions at the door, and simply attend to the world.

 

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The photos:

  1. These nets protect fruit trees from hungry deer and birds at the Washington State University Discovery Garden, an agricultural research center and display garden. The flowers in the display garden are eye-catching, but the nets, yes the nets, they’re interesting in and of themselves, if you really look.
  2. Behind this net are apple trees grown in the espalier style, which conserves space, can increase exposure to sun and can make picking easier. They are also at the local research center gardens.
  3. I went to a small art fair on a nearby island. Sorry to say, the art wasn’t very good, but the matted grass and old rusty bits of equipment next to the road caught my eye.
  4. The view from Mt. Erie is spectacular, taking in a lake, forests, water, and islands. (A photo of the view is towards the end of the post before this one). If you take your eyes away from the view and look around, you may find trees casting strong shadows on the rough wall of a steep rock face. You may find a lot more.
  5. Sometimes a blurred phone shot of the scenery rushing by conveys the essence of a place as nicely as a carefully composed camera image.
  6. I’m not sure why a steel plate was put down on this old wooden floor, maybe the floorboards wore through. The worn and scuffed surfaces made a satisfying composition in subdued tones.
  7. Tied up like a big present, another apple tree at the research center has turned into outdoor sculpture, in my eyes anyway.
  8. Wood fragments that might be useful someday were stacked in a corner of the artist’s yard, a perfect foil for deep summer shadows.
  9. The door to the artist’s studio was open so I strolled in. People were pulling prints, laughing, and having a great time. My eyes closed as I inhaled the nostalgic fragrance of printing ink. The glass door pane concealed, revealed and reflected, in a complex dance of what is and what might be.
  10. Barns and farm buildings race by as you drive on the flat valley roads here in Skagit County. Switch the camera to shutter priority, choose a slow speed, and with a little luck, you have an image that carries back the sense of the land floating past you.
  11. The nets again. Do we automatically want to focus on the net, or on the tree behind it? I like the idea of foregrounding the barrier that gets between us and the subject. It’s another view.
  12. The same idea again, this time at home. Focus on the window screen grid and let the tree trunks meld into the landscape. Let go of the names of things, the “shoulds” in your head. Feel the color.

 

 


56 comments

  1. A suggestion, if I may offer one. How about putting the above text as a caption for each photo? This will avoid your readers having to scroll up and down to compare the images to what you are saying about them?

    • Thank you Hien. I go back and forth about doing that. The reason I haven’t is that I like people to be able to scroll through the images without interruption. It’s a trade-off, but maybe I will try putting the explanations, or captions, under the photos next time.

      • I really agree about having captions next to the photos. I understand your point, and the numbering helped, but the up and down scrolling gets in the way of my appreciation of your photos. I’ve tried to get used to it, but I’m not, quite. Perhaps in time it will feel more comfortable.

    • I appreciate both sides – that I can watch the images without any facts and your work speaks for itself without any further explanation. Your text is so poetic and helpful. Ist it possible to set a link to each number and thus reducing a bit of the scrolling maybe?

      • A link to each photo/number – I hadn’t thought of that, thank you. We’ll see if that’s doable. Thanks for your comments, Dina…nice to hear the text strikes you as poetic, too. πŸ™‚

  2. A particularly poetic blog, Lynnβ€”visual poetry and word poetry. You’re able to convey such depth of feeling. So happy to sing in your choir. I keep going back to number 6. Just love that palette.

    • Well, that’s really good to hear Linda, seriously. For #6 I actually “warped” the palette, though it was somewhat similar. I don’t recall which, but I used a filter on Color Efex to get that look. It seemed to work there.

  3. Wonderful! In addition to all the great textures and shadow-play, I like the lighting in #6, the person standing in front of the old scuffed metal floor, like they’re waiting for a tintype to develop. And never mind if most folks just wear trucker caps or bucket hats, that tree in #7 is sticking with its old-fashioned veil, like all the femme fatales in the β€˜40’s movies.

    • Yeah, that person got their feet into the photo ’cause it was me, but I love your poetic interpretation of the situation Robert. No surprise that you would come up with an artful explanation. The netted tree was a pretty terrific thing to see. A friend said it reminded her of a bee keeper’s get up. I’m glad you’re here; I always enjoy your take on things.

  4. Oh I’m 101% with you here, Lynn, but you probably know that already – its a case of really seeing, as opposed to merely looking. 3, 4 and 9 really get to me – and I agree with the top commenter, about having the captions/text immediately below each photo – tho you might feel that this interupts the flow of the images somewhat – but its something I’m learning with my Blurb books, having the caption on the page with the image.

    • Adrian, #4 is the kind of photo I would think you’d like, and I feel like I’ve learned how to take photos with that feeling of heightened contrast by looking at your work, over time. See my reply to Hien – exactly, captions will interrupt the flow, but I know it’s a trade off so maybe I’ll try it. A book, of course, is a different experience, but I still do hear you and Hien.

    • Great, I am glad that worked. It was a very pleasant moment. They were actually engaged in a printmaking workshop, using materials from nature they had gathered. Right up my alley. I will contact the artist to see if she ever gives another like that – I would go in a heartbeat. Thanks for your comment Howard.

  5. I can’t help myself, I see a lot of textile patterns πŸ™‚ Great photos Lynn! Yes, we look more closely, but thanks to you I can see even more of this fantastic world. I wouldn’t have put my main emphasis on the nets and would have missed these fascinating views! Thank you for showing your! views. I enjoyed it very much and inspiration touched me….

      • Do not wonder: I am too much a “textile” person. I see “patterns” everywhere, haha! When I did my apprenticeship as a handweaver – long long time ago – I have been sitting in a new car with some of my fellow students and friends. We didn’t notice the new car but looked at the fabric of the seats πŸ˜‰

    • Your thoughts are always appreciated….I liked that faint reflection of the person pulling a print, too. It’s no surprise that you get what I was saying in #3. I’m sure you’ve been there. πŸ™‚

  6. Recognised the netting immediately as I just bought some 2 weeks ago for my Blueberry bush I’m growing on my balcony. I didn’t seem to get many fruit last year, although that could have been the fact it was a new plant.

    Always love and recognise the small details in your images.

    • I hope more fruit is set next year – this is a huge berry producing area and I can’t believe some of the bushes I see. They’re just coming into season now – I hope to do a pick-your-own one of these days, but in the meantime, I do grab wild blackberries whenever I see they’re ripe. Thanks Vicki, I know you are someone who observes very carefully. πŸ™‚

  7. You make your point well, Lynn.and the images support the argumemt. Experimenting with the zoom, even on pictures already taken, can often be illuminating.

  8. Thanks for the reminder to the choir! πŸ˜€
    #2 did it for me this time. Love the overlapping patterns.
    We had some ancient apple trees back in Myrtle Point. There was no way to net those giants. I don’t miss that house except for those wonderful apples! Here we have a bumper crop of Himalaya blackberries. Sissy patrols the edge of the driveway for any that have fallen of their own accord.

    • They do their espalier with quite the aesthetic flair over at the extension garden. Then when the netting covered the trees and the shadows took hold, it was just made for a photograph. I’m glad you like that one (and hey, it’s basically monochrome!).
      She eats them? Well that’s good, because I know what you mean by a bumper crop. I’ve been nibbling here and there when I see them, which is most times I’m out. πŸ˜‰ But we’re a bit shady and well-tended at home so there aren’t as many right here. I’m going to try a local pick-your-own soon, hopefully this week, for blueberries or raspberries or whatever.

  9. I pondered and pondered that second photo. It seemed so absolutely familiar, but it wasn’t until about 2 a.m. this morning that I woke up and thought: the tablecloth! My grandmother had a white tablecloth printed with holly and red berries in that same diamond pattern that she used only during the Christmas season. It’s been sixty years, but you brought it back to mind.

    I still can’t appreciate the blurred photos; they make me feel queasy. I suspect that has more to do with quirks in my visual perception than with the photos, per se. But I love #8. I can feel and smell the heat of summer emanating from it — perhaps because of those sharp shadows.

    • That’s interesting about the tablecloth – I can easily imagine it – that diamond pattern was popular, as were holly berries, and holiday things. Ah, nostalgia! (I have a few old tablecloths I’ve been loathe to relinquish, and one’s a paper Valentine’s Day number, so cute.)
      No reason you should feel a need to apologize for getting that queasy feeling with the blurred shots – I know a few people who’ve said the same thing – hey, at least I don’t post them every time. πŸ˜‰ And i’m glad you like the shadows…that little town seems to abound with scenes like that.

  10. An awesome collection of things well seen, Lynn. You have the ability to pare a scene down to its essentials. The textures of the netting, the angles and shadows that would often be missed and your impressionistic drive-by scenes – all a treat to view.

  11. Nice observation…both verbally and photographically. I’ve noticed that since I started looking at the world through a lens, I’m apt to see how a person’s shirt bounces colored light onto her cheek, say, or the way shadows are often more interesting than the primary, or how mundane objects like an old saucepan can have a very nice curve. That’s what you’ve said and shown here, too.

  12. A very exceptional set Lynn!!! You are so good at finding these subjects that others might pass by without seeing. Your images invite us to stop and study what’s before us. I especially like the B&Ws which take us into a more graphic representation. I am also especially drawn to 4 & 6. I could see this set printed & hanging as an exhibit in a gallery!

    • This is great to read, Denise, thank you. It’s interesting to know which images are most appealing, too. The idea of a set in a gallery is wonderful – I know that idea needs more work to become a reality, but it’s the kind of thing I’d most like to do. It feels like I am in a better place up here to work towards that end, for a number of reasons – not least of which is that the living space is bigger and has more light – that’s making a big difference. πŸ™‚

  13. I like the textile character of this series – especially the last three images speak to me. You are so right: let us take a bit more time while walking the world and watch carefully what there is around us. Your photography is a sort of school for visual perception.

    • With you, Ule, I probably AM preaching to the choir, or the converted, but I appreciate so much your kind comments. I think about your comment from a few weeks ago, about needing time to settle in. Thank you for being here – again!

  14. I’m always entranced by how you see the world. Each time, your photos end up expanding my own horizon. In this series I loved the progression of viewing things through the net and then viewing the net (and sometimes getting confused between the two, which was entrancing). I often try this with fences when outdoors, but your explanation of number 12 has given me some new ideas!

    • That’s great! I hesitate to “instruct” because I feel everyone has the freedom to find out and figure out things themselves, but sometimes I go ahead and make more suggestions, and your comment makes me feel that it is justified. I’m always happy to hear what you have to say.


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