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Learning To Photograph

Looking for lessons

I traveled far and wide, by auto and by aeroplane
three autos gave up, but I did not.
Day after day after day from morning’s first light
until dark, and weary but hopeful
I look for what is hidden, what is unexpected
and so I find what might otherwise be lost.
I try new ideas, flowers like never seen before
and light from music emerges from love of
line and expecting that which had been hidden.
Not content with a view too common I need to find
one that brightens my life and so yours also I pray–
‘till decades go by and it is time, to end my search.

Although my degrees are in engineering, three diplomas in electircal engineering from MIT have taught me how to think and learn. This has made it easier to deal with the complexities of cameras and printing, but I believe it has helped me to create different kinds of images.

“Emergent phenomina” is a phrase in science that always gives me hope, for it promises something new will arise if one combines old things in a new way.

Could simple reeds, water, light and wind create something new? Yes, it turns out if one does not reject something that appears common but gives enough time not just to look, but to also see, and then to return day after day and year after year for when the wind blows from a different direction, the water is now blue and white as it reflects the sky in unexpected ways.

In 40 years of photographing I have never met a photographer photographing what I was photographing, whereas a good friend and great photographer once told me he was at a lake in California and there were 50 tripods in the water alongside his.

Which is one reason after traveling to several of the national parks out west I decided to head home. And what did I find?

That I should look in places where ordinarily one would not look, such as a hidden valley on an Interstate Highway or a small patch of reeds in an ordinary looking pond.

And always to be on alert for that subtle hint that something unusual may lie just beneath if one looks closely.

So that is what I do. It is both simple and difficult, but luck comes if one rolls the dice often enough which may mean devoting 10 years to one location.

I call my work as coming from “the hidden world of the nearby.”

But that is not all.

My images often rely on subtlies that could disappear without careful printing which also means using the best processes, which are usually the most difficult so your viewers can see what you had intended them to see. It helps to be technically savvy (the three degrees from MIT will do).

Where do I begin? Here are a couple of my favorite examples. The first image is from a tiny pond a few feet from Walden Pond known as Wyman’s Meadow (all I know is that Wyman was a local farmer in Henry David Thoreau’s time).

I found this pond in 1991 on my second visit to Walden at the suggestion of a friend of my wife’s in the Massachusetts parks department. He, of course, had no idea what was there. The plants are called water-shields and the sun was reflecting off the trees on the far side of this pond. I photographed the water-shields for the following ten years and made some beautiful images but the brilliant colors never appeared again.

The second image is of a small body of reeds in the pond in Maine. In both these pictures it is patterns of texture that interact (play?) with one another.. There is no single subject. There are rhythms (especially in the reeds) and one could write a song to go with the waves, wind, reeds and colors. And you can spend a long time looking and still find new things to see.

These are my kind of images and I feel grateful when I find them. If you click on the image it will take you to its gallery and more like it. If you explore GALLERIES in the menu, you will find more examples.

Wyman’s Meadow, Walden

Upper Hadlock Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

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