Friday, January 21, 2011

BEAUTY HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT


"You created those shots," a friend proclaimed matter-of-factly, when I showed her a series of reflection images I'd recently made along the river.

I did not," I said indignantly. "Nature and light…God, you might say…created each and every one—I just found 'em and captured the photo."

"Nahhhh," she said, I know how you photographers can manipulate stuff digitally and make anything look incredible by jiggling colors and such around."

"But I didn't do that," I protested. "There are scenes like this all over the place if you take the time to look and find them. Honest." 

I never did convince her that I hadn't used Photoshop or some similar software program to "create" the colors and shapes—often abstract or Impressionistic—in the images. But they were just simple shots…taken straight from what I saw,  as is the one at the top of this post, which I made this morning. I'd gone out to sweep off a patch of yesterday's snow so I could scatter cracked corn for the ground feeding birds. Considering the 5˚F temperature, I wanted them to have a good breakfast. Glancing at the river, I noticed what I thought would be a neat shot. The sun was just coming up, behind and to the left of where the camera is aimed. You can see its warm orangish light on several of the white-barked sycamores which line the far bank. The angled bluish line is a another sycamore that's still in shadow. 

To give you a better idea of where I found this image, look in the lower right quarter of the photo below, taken a minute before and slightly to the left. See how the light is just catching those trees and reflecting warmly in the water? See the blue lines of the shadow trunks whose right sides are plastered with snow? Well, that's what I saw and what the camera recorded. 

A splendid reflection shot hidden in plain sight! 

—————

32 comments:

Gail said...

I believe you completely. These pictures are so magical and beautiful. SO refelctive of your view and your amazing ability to capture it in its pure form.
Love Gail
peace....

Beyond My Garden said...

They are beautiful captures. I believe you.
nellie

Arija said...

Oh so beautiful Grizz . .

So often people do not see what is in front of their eyes. A sky or scene may appear just so-so until you see it reflected in the depths of a pond.

It is in our 'seeing' that sometimes we capture the incredible just like when we look in the mirror. we only look at the exterior, whereas a good portrait painter can capture our soul. As can a good photographer.

At one of my son's exhibitions I was utterly confounded when I saw a subject stand proudly next to his portrait. They were two entirely different people! There were forty portraits of coal miners coming off shift. In real life all small and almost weedy men yet in the images he had captured the strength of their souls and the power of endurance and comeradeship which made them ten feet tall with the strength of prize fighters.

I suppose one needs to see through the eyes of love to be able to see the truth and beauty in both nature and people.

Molly said...

Ah no! You can't fool us----you did this with your paints!

George said...

You're right, Grizz. The design and colors that excite our eyes are right before us in plain sight. Seeing what is in plain sight, however, is not always an easy task. The great gift of photography is that it has taught me the art of seeing. A beautiful shot on your beautiful river!

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

These magical scenes are always there—it's just that our vision is not always open to their realization. My own included. But I'm learning…

Thank you, as always.

Grizz………… said...

Beyond My Garden…

I'm glad you believe—thank you. If you visit this riverbank blog regularly, you'll soon learn that I love reflection shots. I have to restrain myself sometimes. But they are beautiful, which is why I so enjoy them…and they make me pay close attention, which is a great directive.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

This reminds me of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, can't remember the nexact lines, something like the scene was just wanting the eye of the beholder to meet. The scenes are instrinsically beautiful, but it takes the beholder to complete it. Which you do, so we can see it too!

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

I understand and believe exactly what you are saying—for good art (and I'm by no means lumping my photography in this basket) always has depth, whether it's visual, musical, or literary. It always delves beyond the surface—which is too apt to be only superficial, or a sort of veneer—and reaches for the soul, or truth, of whatever it depicts, reflects, portrays.

I also believe, as you say, that to really see something with genuine insight, you must see it through the eyes of love or affection in order to view it at the deepest level of understanding. The best art springs from empathy.

Grizz………… said...

Molly…

Yes, I did…and those cardinals I photographed for recent posts were really house sparrows with good makeup. And while I'm into confession…Moon the Dog actually writes all my columns. :-)

Grizz………… said...

George…

Thank you. Photography has taught me a lot about seeing, too…as did trout fishing, wherein success often hinged in not only being able to "match the hatch" by selecting a fly that imitated the mayfly the fish were feeding upon when more than a single species was present—but seeing the nuances of the riseforms as the fish took a natural insect, thus telling a savvy fisherman which stage of the bug the trout were feeding upon.

Just two examples, of course. When you're in the jungles of southeast Asia and everyone out there is trying to stalk and kill you, you get really adapt really quick at seeing anything amid that wall of green that isn't quite right—or you will soon be in a bag headed home.

Given the choice, I'd rather look to find beauty than look to avoid death.

Grizz………… said...

Raph…

Thank you. I like that thought…that the scene awaits the appreciative eye. There's a nice symmetry in that notion of each needing the other to complete the loop. When I see these reflection shots, I always feel like I've found something valuable that been secreted away—that part of why I so enjoy them, I think. Maybe it's also—on so level—a feeling of connecting the loop.

Hilary said...

I can't tell you how many times I've seen folks walk blindly through some of the most amazing sights. I've seen a blue heron cross the path of a couple of women engaged in gossipy conversation and they never even gave it a glance. It's no surprise that some people wouldn't notice the beauty that you do or believe it to be electronically enhanced. But I'm glad you do and even more so that you share it.

Grizz………… said...

Hilary…

The fun of this to me is in the sharing—and of course the banter in the comments.

You're right about so many folks never seeing the world before them. A few years ago, during the pre-Christmas weeks, I happened to be walking into a Kroger's Market. (On of the local big-box chain grocers.) This was mid-afternoon. I'd noticed a Cooper's hawk perched on a light pole in the store's parking lot, and was keeping any eye on it as I approached the entrance. Suddenly the hawk came off the pole, zoomed right up to the front doors of the store, under the overhanging roof, nailed one of the house sparrows pecking for scraps right by the walkway pad, and flew off, prey clamped in his talons…and not a single one of the dozens of people exiting and entering the store reacted, though that hawk was smack in the middle of the crowd. To them, the whole scenario had been invisible.

I don't know how you explain such stuff…but I can tell you, those people ought to be thankful there aren't giant hawks cruising the skies, or they'd soon all become dinner.

Rich said...

I like the reflection shots. There is something magical that comes when light is mixed with water.

Rich

Molly said...

You must know I was kidding Grizz! I totally believe those shots are out there, just waiting for a perceptive eye/lens to find them....

Robin said...

Uh, Grizz. You don't have to convince us...

The Solitary Walker said...

Loved the photo, the idea behind this post, and the ensuing comments/banter, Grizz!

Does this all mean that our dowdy sparrows over here are really cardinals in their soul?

And, come to think of it, our cat was eyeing up the computer keyboard recently...

Grizz………… said...

Rich…

There is, indeed…and as a fellow photographer, and fellow father-in-law, you know I'm a unrepentant sucker for every reflection shot I come across.

BTW, -2˚F this morning. Don't you just hate being stuck in Florida?

Grizz………… said...

Molly…

Hey, I was just kidding back. (I wasn't kidding about Moon the Dog writing all my stuff, though.)

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

You mean you already knew Moon the Dog was the ghost writer behind my posts? Well, dang! :-)

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

Every sparrow on the planet secretly wishes it were a cardinal. That's why so many of them are in therapy.

Now, re. your cat…I suspect you have a feline with literary aspirations. (Being a cat, this will probably run towards rather languid poetry and acerbic essays.) My advice is to crank up the desk chair to a cat-comfortable height, put the litter box nearby (you don't want your author-in-residnce to have to go gallivanting down the hall when the muse is upon him/her) and perhaps open a can of sardines for a deskside snack. A handy scratching post for working out compositional/plotting frustrations could be useful, too. After that—well, give your cat the necessary quiet time and wait for a first draft.

ellen abbott said...

What a shame that your friend is blind to the beauty right in front of her.

Val said...

awesome shots - thank you for showing us!

Perhaps Solitary;s cat had its eye on the mouse?

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

It was really just a good-natured exchange.What always fools her, I think, is that reflected colors can be so bright and saturated—often more so than the real thing. This is because the water's reflective surface is generally darker due to angle of light, shadows, even the bottom. It makes the colors really pop sometimes.

As to seeing what's smack in front of you…any person really has to train their eye to see various things. For example, I can't tell you the number of times I've tried and tried to show someone a fish in a stream or lake. Because I've fished for shallow-water species all my life, on hundreds of lakes and streams, I'm used to looking through surface glare, current, small waves, and the distortion of the water column itself, and seeing what's on bottom, just off bottom, or several feet above. It's second nature—and I don't have particularly keen eyesight, even with my contact lenses. But really experienced outdoor folks—people who use their eyes afield regularly, such as hunters, birdwatchers, and nature photographers—still find it impossible to see the fish in plain sight. It amuses me and frustrates them—and they all but say I'm making it up until suddenly everything clicks and they see the fish. If you keep pointing out fish to them throughout the day, they improve; given them several days at it and they get pretty good. It's like a whole new world of seeing has suddenly opened up to them.

Seeing reflection images, or birds in the field, or deer standing still in deep woods shadows—or a hundred other things—is as much to do with self training as it is willingness. You have to practice. And I can assure you, I'm not expert…I'm still teaching myself how to see.

Grizz………… said...

Val…

Ha! Great line re. Solitary's cat. (But I must be getting old to have missed such an obvious and natural pun. Huh!)

You're welcome on the shots—and I'm glad you liked them.

Val said...

just couldnt resist it hehe very corny i know!

Grizz………… said...

Val…

Hey, corny's fine in my book and here on the riverbank. I'd have used the line if I'd have thought of it—cornball, cheesy, schmaltzy, or not.

The Solitary Walker said...

Ah, so that's where the mouse went!

At least I don't have to worry about any literary competition now.

(Though who really did write 'Homage to Cat-alonia'? I'm starting to doubt.)

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

Yeah, but when the battery runs out, guess who's gonna have to reach in there and replace it? Personally, I'd worry about the cat.

BTW, who did write 'Homage to Cat-alonia'?

The Solitary Walker said...

George Orwell - one of my literary heroes!

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

Uppity pigs run amok! (The only Orwell book I've ever read.…and that decades ago.)