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Entries in self consciousness (3)


Orange Sky


The sky out my driver's side window was washed in such a fierce orange glow that I wondered for a moment if I had missed the headline about a new forest fire.  I was racing against myself to get to the cabin where old friends awaited our arrival.  I fumbled blindly for my iPhone so I could try to freeze the sky's furious drama without having to slow down.

My big camera spends a lot of time in my camera bag these days, silently rebuking me - transmitting signals that only I receive about how I'm not worthy or that the view in front of me is too simple or too obvious.  My iPhone happily shoots whatever banal scene I point it at, without judgement.

Over me the ominus virga of mountain rainclouds started dropping intermittent sprinkles and the road unfurled past the reservoir in a slick black ribbon.  I slowed down a little, mindful of my tires worn down by endless repetitions of this drive.  With one eye on the iPhone screen scanning past my driver's-side window and one eye on the rain-slicked road ahead of me, it hit me.

Look to the right.

I gasped when I turned.

The foot of a thousand-watt rainbow, perfectly framed in the passenger window, thisclose.  I moved the iPhone to my right hand and snapped.  Thank god for the iPhone, which doesn't sniff at cliches or make me second guess anodyne beauty.  

Then a directive rose from deep in my gut: pull over.  

Pull.  Over.

I didn't want to, but the directive pointed out that if you are thisclose to the brightest rainbow you've ever seen in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and you have a big camera in the back and you can't make yourself stop because it's too pretty, you're probably an asshole.  Or if you have the next four days with nothing time-sensitive to do, but you're in too much of a rush to pull over?  Again, asshole.  Not, you know, politician-level asshole or Wall Street banker-level asshole, but still.  Just stop the car.  Appreciate what's in front of you.

I may be self-absorbed and stuck in my head.  I may think too much, about the wrong things.  I may try too hard and have too little to show for it.  I may be the queen of white girl problems.  

But I'd like to think I'm not an asshole.

I pulled over, got out the big camera, snapped on the wide angle lens and gave myself permission to stop thinking and for once, just shoot.


Truth vs. Beauty: The Cage Fight In My Head

I was tagged by Cherish Bryck last week in a bloggie interview game, and I had every intention of playing along.  But, as tends to happen lately, life got filled up with a whole lot of other work/art/out-of-town guests/distraction and that intention got away from me.

She did ask a question that has been rattling around in the back of my brain since then, even in the midst of all the mayhem: If you had to pick, would you rather photograph truth or beauty?

And here I am, with Spring popping all around me, back in my annual internal battle about whether taking pictures of flowers is worth anything at all.  I set these tulips in a puddle of window light yesterday afternoon.  The dialogue between me and my camera went something like:


Yeah, so what?


Oooooh, pretty.


Right, but what does it do?

I am a storyteller at heart.  I value beauty (I bought the tulips after all), but I find myself wondering if it has meaning.  At no time of year is this a more challenging conundrum to me than Spring.  I hear Keats and wonder if he was right:

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -- that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

It has a certain roundness that I like, these two ideals containing each other.  And, it could be argued in my tortured head, that it gives me permission to shoot the damn tulips already.  But the cynic in me thinks Keats was an overly-romantic 24-year-old and I was 24 once and, well, I didn't know much of anything then.  Though I was ardent.

So I poked around to see what other people made of this dilemma and, naturally, Gandhi weighed in on it. 

I see and find Beauty in Truth or through Truth. All Truths, not merely true ideas, but truthful faces, truthful pictures or songs are highly beautiful. People generally fail to see Beauty in Truth, the ordinary man runs away from it and becomes blind to the beauty in it. Whenever men begin to see Beauty in Truth, then true Art will arise.

It seems that Gandhi puts truth at the birthplace of beauty and art, and I think I do too.  I'm not sure what this means for me and still-life, but since this is probably the most torturously self-conscious post in the history of this blog I will leave you with a pretty picture I made of some flowers and hope you feel less conflicted about that than me.


Night Owls

260.365 10.5mm f2.8 1/40 ISO 800Dinner came and went and night fell and I realized I hadn't taken my picture of the day yet, so off I set towards downtown where there might be light and action.  The fisheye gets at the vastness of the skatepark but it obliterates the swarms of skaters who turned this place into a beehive of action after dark last night. 

I haven't shot with this lens in a while, but now that I look at the photos from last night's skate park sortie I remember that with this lens you have to get in the middle of it.  It doesn't allow for standing on the sidelines, or feeling ridiculous in your maxi dress and pretty Epiphanie bag amongst the jibbers, or wondering how all these guys summon the energy to skate late-night when it's all I can do to stay awake long enough to grab this picture.  Nope.  The fisheye invites you to get into The Flow.

Next time, fisheye.  Next time.