EDGE-BLURRING: The Malleability of Time

The twin architects of our daily lives, time and space, occupy very different places in my mind/experience. Space is a concept I’m comfortable with; I can judge size accurately, I have a keen feeling for landscape, I relish the myriad permutations of form I come across in life. But time, that’s another matter entirely. Past present and future don’t always differentiate for me the way they seem to for other people. I am perpetually behind, I sometimes foresee what’s coming like it’s happening now, and I constantly get stuck in a mesmerizing present that puts me beyond the reach of the normal interruptions of daily life. Over the years I’ve learned to live with this mushy sense of time, and thankfully, people close to me usually tolerate the inconvenience it causes them.

Maybe my experience of malleable time and the erasure of boundaries promotes creative expression. Maybe new flowers grow in a place where time is not so fixed and the the border between now and then is smudged into oblivion.

1.

I want to tell you something

profound about time but

I have never understood it. They say one moment

is followed by the next. No,

this morning in dim gray light

the towhee ziggs-zaggs under the feeder – a

svelte, dark shadow

and junco’s white tail feathers flit in quick arcs

between the sword fern and the bird feeder, and

my grandfather smiles gruffly at the pretty redbird,

a cardinal gracing his front yard, and the Song sparrow pours

song into the air from a wire

outside my old apartment in Hastings-on-Hudson: the same

buzz-and-trill melody, over and over, and

the chickadee’s delicate claws

precisely grasp my seed-filled ten-year-old hand and

a thin, gossamer thread, twinkling rainbow colors in an

almost-felt breeze connects

all of it, here,

Now.

2.

3.

4.
5.
6.

7.
8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

The intention is for the images to convey a feeling of movement. Tempus fugit. Rushing ahead pell mell, turning back on itself in circles, the hazy fog where nothing is hitched to anything else….time is unpredictable and cannot be grasped. And at times it seems to stand still, but maybe not – as in the last photo of the German countryside seen from a speeding train car, where perhaps time is morphing into space.

***

The photos

  1. A flock of birds takes off across the bay at a refuge near Seattle. The horizon is tilted and the colors are distorted for effect. f6.3, 1/80th sec. December, 2016.
  2. Blurred Atlantic ocean water washes a bone I found on a beach many years ago. The bone is probably a dolphin scapula. From an old slide, circa 1979.
  3. The road rushes by on Big Basin Highway, Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California. Intentional camera movement on a Samsung phone. October, 2016.
  4. Intentional blur and intentional camera movement from a car, colors altered. Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, CA. f4.5, 2/5 sec. April, 2018.
  5. A Red-breasted nuthatch flies away from a suet feeder. f3.2, 1/125th sec. Not intentionally blurred but I liked the effect. June, 2016.
  6. The scenery disappears quickly through the window of a train in the Netherlands. Intentionally blurred. f22, 1/4 sec. April, 2019.
  7. Carp at a conservatory in Tacoma, Washington. Intentionally blurred. f20, 1 sec. November, 2017.
  8. Flowers on my deck at home. Intentional camera movement. f5.6, 1/3 sec. September 2016.
  9. A blowing leaf at a park, intentionally blurred. Aperture information unknown – vintage lens. 1/800 sec. February 2018.
  10. Rushing water in a creek in the foothills of the Cascades. Intentionally blurred. f11, 1/8 sec. September, 2014.
  11. I don’t think this doubled image happened intentionally – maybe the photograph was taken through a window, I don’t remember. f3.5, 1/320 sec. December, 2008.
  12. The view from Goose Rock, Deception Pass State Park, Washington. Intentional camera movement. f22, 1/3 sec. February 2020.
  13. A roadside outside of Portland, Oregon. Intentional blur and camera movement. f22, 1/8 sec. April, 2018.
  14. Fields seen from a train traveling between Cologne and Frankfurt. The view seems static but it’s actually blurred by the train’s movement. f3.5, 1/200 sec. April, 2019.

70 comments

  1. Well, Lynn, this is an easy post to talk about because I was knocked flat by the first image and, quite simply, I like all the others very much! All wonderful images!!! Inspirational, I would say.

    And then I am fascinated by your candid explanation of your relationship with time. I can understand exactly what you mean – and I THINK I have met one or two others who have similar experiences, over the (many!) years. Fascinating. And, as always, we are all what we are; there are no rights and no wrongs, and we should value that. Adrian

    Liked by 1 person

    • You just posted a blurry one yourself… maybe there’s something in the atmosphere. Thank you, Graham, I’m glad you liked these. The ones you singled out are the kinds of unpredictable results one could never repeat. I’m glad photography doesn’t exclude surprises, aren’t you?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Time’s sometimes heavy brush strokes, like in n.10 and 12, or its light scribble in others. Sometimes washing away all detail – but what always seems to stay is colour. Changing and mixing by blur, but always present.
    Time always changes its own appearance and the appearance of things, and how often we ever try to catch it precisely at least in a photo, it escapes again and again.
    This is what your breathtaking pictures and words tell me, dear Lynn, and this is my everyday experience you express here in such an impressing way.
    When we are walking these paths in search of the essence of time I find interesting to see how often coincidence gifts us photos of rare truth we wouldn’t have been able to invent in advance. In your post here again, you make me see how well you can do the inventing!
    Great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your observations always interest me, Ule. I see what you say about the color – it tends to have a stronger presence when you remove the detail. I like the idea of time escaping, again and again. That’s one of the things these photographs show, but I didn’t think about it in quite that way. Yes, coincidence and surprise and the unexpected are such valuable pieces of our photographic equipment – but we rarely talk about that – it’s all about technique. 🙂 These inventions have their own momentum – one just has to be willing to let go, and able to see. Thank you, my friend!

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    • Thank you! That photo is one of a series, of a rushing creek with colorful leaves reflected in it. It was so much fun, seeing those colors, and later, looking at what happened in the camera. As unpredictable as time sometimes can be.

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  3. Your photos are a beautiful exploration, Lynn. #2, 8 and 10 especially touch me – must be the water, the element I respond to most. I love your musings on time… The belief that time is a linear sequence of moments is a distortion particular to humans, a convenience that also causes suffering; there’s a great comfort for me in the idea that it is unbounded by a beginning and an end, is a constant all-at-once now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, it’s so good to hear from you and to read your reactions. Someone used to call me “Non-linear Lynn” and that always resonated. Unbounded is a very good word (as all your words are). Thank you for commenting here and enjoy your Sunday!

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  4. and then the moment has gone .. inextricable and fugitive ..
    places and memories time – blurred ..
    #2 had me wondering #7 the silvery sinuous movement of the carp feels very playful #10 I really like the freshness in that vibrant creek water # 13 Love the camera mark -making
    Lovely writing and images Lynn .

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s an interesting way of putting it – camera mark-making. That’s just what I was trying to emphasize in that one. I highly recommend putting your camera on shutter priority and pointing it at captive carp – you will lose large amounts of time and have a blast. 😉 Thank you so much, Poppy!

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  5. A perfect set of photographs that shows the time passing in different spaces. They are all beautiful and very dynamic.
    At least, through photography, Lynn can handle time very well!
    On the other hand … I think that artists and creativity cannot live in harmony with these “twin architects”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 You made me laugh, thank you. Maybe instead of thinking we can’t live in harmony with time and space, we could say that we are driven to approach them differently. I appreciate your comments so much, thank you again. 🙂

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  6. I really love your pictures, very special, not the usual language of optics. I love especially the minimalistic graphic of picture no. 14. Funnily enough I went often in the ICE trains from Cologne to Frankfurt and back.
    I never really understood that time is a dimension as space. There exist so many different times …
    Thanks for sharing and inspiring
    Klausbernd 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Time and space – it’s complicated! But I’m glad you enjoyed the post, that’s nice to hear. I’m an inveterate looker-out-of-windows so if I’m not driving, I’m shooting or thinking about it. 🙂 We liked Cologne but we were only there a few days, and the trip to Frankfurt was a necessary one, to the US embassy to replace a passport stolen in France. Travel woes! But I did really enjoy looking out those train windows….

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  7. Even preceded by narrative, your beautiful poem surprises. Whatever stimulates your creativity—even if it isn’t your malleable time—well, I know I’m not the only one who is grateful for it. . . . Your images do indeed convey a feeling of movement. I’m especially fond of #13, with its trees drawn upon the fields behind. The rays in #14 also appeal particularly. Another wonderful post, Lynn. Brava.

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    • Oh, thank you, Linda! I’m lucky to have an appreciative audience, it makes all the difference. I don’t think I’d do nearly as much work if no one was seeing it and reacting to it. I’m glad you like #13…as you know, the intentional camera movement shots are always kind of a shot in the dark, but the surprise factor can be exciting. #14 has a calm look but that was the day we raced to the US embassy to replace my stolen passport – a very tense day. We make lemonade….

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  8. Very interesting post; one of the few that want to make you say: let’s have a Duvel and tell me more about it… 🙂 Quite a challenge to put questionmarks to Time with a camera. A shutter is an ultimate time-thing… Fine set though! Nr 14 is my favorite. Might even get better in B&W as far as mood is concerned..

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have me chuckling, Harrie, yes, let’s sit down and talk about it. I’ll have wine, is that OK? 😉 We think the shutter stops time, but maybe not – it stretches. I will think about B&W for the last photo. Thanks so much, Harrie.

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  9. I’m constantly trying to wrap my head around time. It was a thing a concept I love reading about and trying to understand. These images portray it wonderfully.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have become rather fond of you and your words/images over the years, Lynn…and this post is one that speaks to what it is that I find alluring about all of the above.Your articulation of your special characteristics, your owning of them, and then your further presentation of those things in both words and images that speak particularly of and for you. I do not as a rule enjoy the blurred images that we see so often on our friends’ posts, but you did this one well…I hold them as visual representations of what you described with words in your text/essay.

    Very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As I mentioned before: each photo is wonderful! Unfortunately I don’t really get what time is meaning for you in detail (the little secrets that are lost in translation ;-), but maybe it is the quintessence that speaks out of your pictures. From time to time I try to take photos out of a running train too, but they are never so excellent like yours. The malleable of time – you made it visible. The photos are so artistic – awesome. The moments you captured here seem to built new forms like in #9, as if they are from a 3rd dimension. I love the flying seagulls, poetic, and #4, 5, 6 and 13. 14 looks like you stopped in time – I don’t feel any movement here. 4, 12, 13 show more than just movement – again I have to think of another dimension we are looking into. I really love that. Great post, including your beautiful poetry and childhood memories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The funny thing about #14 is that it looks like there’s no movement but it’s a blurred picture taken from a moving train. So I kind of joked about time becoming space in that one. You’re very kind, saying the photos are so good. I do find that most photos done with intentional movement need extra contrast and saturation, and other things in processing. I enjoy playing with all of that in Lightroom – to me it’s like drawing and painting – but not everyone does. I love the idea of #9 having a third dimension – that one is odd, I don’t know how it happened, but I think the leaf was moving because of the wind and maybe I moved the camera, too. I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Almuth, thank you for spending so much time here – and in English! 😉

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      • I am glad to hear that you have so much fun with processing your photos in Lightroom 🙂 Digital creativity right? In earlier times you would have done it in a darkroom. I like your results. You have always a good sense for the right effect. I don’t want to repeat myself, but I really like these 🙂

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  12. What an evocative post, Lynn – the poetry moved me – a moment in time that still lives on in you. I loved the photos too – #’s 8 and 10 especially – they seemed like an invitation to enter that altered time/space that you are describing. Always a joy to read your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m impressed that you are looking at and commenting blogs – as well as posting! – while you’re away. But at least you’re in one place (still – I think?). I can’t claim that I am any more immune to the seductions of the past and future than the next person. I imagine being where you are, affords a leg up to being present more than usual – I’m glad you went! I look forward to hearing more about it.

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      • We are in one place – for 4 weeks, so it’s a bit easier. I’ve not been commenting as much as usual, but do a little now and then. Being where we are definitely helps with presence. It’s really the core reason for being here.

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  13. Time is a difficult concept to grasp. Time is fluid, totally lacking shape and, even, duration – despite man’s attempt to impose a ‘chronological grid’!. Like an abstract picture, it invites the ‘viewer’ to interpret it as they will. It is appropriate, therefore, that you have chosen abstract images to express your personal interpretation. The result is a very enjoyable and thought-provoking post.

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    • It IS hard to grasp the concept of time, and for me, even the concept of “being on time” has been tough! 😉 I appreciate your empathy and ideas, Louis, and I’m glad you enjoyed this post – something different. 😉

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  14. What a great concept and you have obviously been thinking and working on this for a while. Each image is itself a little visit into time and though past, the images seem very current. All have a story and the one that spoke to me the loudest was #4. Can’t really say why. 🙂

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    • It’s not so much that I’ve been working on it a while, it’s more that my own sense of time has been a problem most of my life, so it’s been an issue I’ve been forced to think about. 🙂 Your reactions are interesting, Steve, I appreciate it. #4 is a really odd one. I liked it, but as you’d guess, what emerged after I clicked the shutter was completely unexpected. Sometimes I just pan the camera but other times I bring the pan to a sudden stop – that photo might have been one of those times. I like the idea of having both the motion blur and some stationary detail in the same image, mixed in an interesting way.

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    • I haven’t put together a series, except maybe on Flickr, but that one, if it’s there may not be up-to-date. I appreciate your asking – no doubt I have an affinity for minimalism, but my surroundings don’t often lead me in that direction. I was happy with #14 – you never know how it’s going to work out when you point the lens out a moving vehicle! :-0

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  15. Hi Lynn, Your poetry is brilliant and the way you’ve paired it with your images make for a cohesive concept. The sense of a split second moment of motion and the ethereal feel of the subjects are a delight to view. I am struck particularly by your gorgeous lead image, #5- the bird, #10- the water dance and #13 of the trees. Each image has special photographic qualities to enjoy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you don’t have the lenses to do “normal” bird shots it’s fun to experiment and see what you can get, showing them in motion. I’m so pleased that you pointed out the first image – and 13, too, that one is a little more complex. And I greatly appreciate your support for the writing and the concept – thank you, thank you!! 🙂

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