“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
One of the many benefits I find when hiking is the abundance of free art nature provides me. As I walked a forest path a few days ago, the ground was just starting to melt, but it was cold enough that small, water-filled, depressions were still partially frozen.
Since the surrounding earth was not frozen, the water from these depressions slowly drained away, leaving these wonderful abstract patterns for me to enjoy.
When I was I child, I loved to break these thin sheets of ice. Admit it, many of you did the same thing, for no real reason other than to watch the delicate structures break. At that time, I suppose I never had a real appreciation of just how beautiful they could be. Many are a brief history of the receding water levels and movements inside the puddle. It would be a curious exercise to do a time-lapse of this activity one day.
For now, I will enjoy these abstract patterns as they dazzle in the muted spring sun. Each one a bit different, influenced by so many conditions as they formed and melted.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200
“What is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?”
― Kahlil Gibran
This year, I left a few dried hydrangea blooms in my garden. My usual ritual is to trim them all down in the fall. I’m glad I left them, they added some interest in this past, dull, nearly snowless winter, and created a nice franewirk for our recent freezing rain event.
For those who have never experienced freezing rain, I’ll include a brief description here:
Freezing rain occurs when the ground temperature is below freezing while the air layers above are warmer. The precipitation falls as rain and freezes on contact with the ground. The end effect is that everything is coated with an ever increasing layer of clear ice. If conditions are right, this accumulation can be over an inch thick and cause major damage to trees and powerlines. Because it is a gradual accumulation, delicate plants, which would collapse in snow, are held rigid by the ice that encases them.
This was the case with the hydrangeas pictured above. A thin coating of clear ice built up over a period of a few hours, making them look like the are coated in clear glass.
It’s a beautiful effect, unless you are driving and have to chisel the ice from your car, or try to walk, since the ice is usually covered in a thin layer of semi-frozen water, making it extremely slippery. This is not a good feature when you are trying to walk around with your camera. The other thing with freezing rain is that it tends to be a very brief, beautiful event, which generally melts away within a few hours, as the temperatures rise.
I find it to be a challenging time photographically, since everything is beautiful and it’s difficult to isolate a particular composition within all that beauty.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 130 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0 -0.33, ISO 200
A very thought provoking post by a fellow blogger.
Chimpanzee contemplates nature of life, thinks “Well, shit.”
My mother is always the first to notice when I’m not writing. “February 5 was your last post,” she pointed out during lunch last week. I appreciate this. She notices.
In that vein, I want to dispense with one issue upfront: It has been suggested (not by my mother) that the occasional long gaps between my posts indicate I’m insufficiently “serious” about writing. I always despaired a little at that, because it felt unfair. At the same time, I always feared it was true.
But I’ve found that when we interrogate the assumptions behind our fears, and follow the what-if trail to its conclusion, we can find clarity. And I’ve realized it is true. There are many things I take more seriously than writing. Understanding, feeling, processing, life, and honesty are all more important to me than simply stringing words together. These things…
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If you should go skating
On the thin ice of modern life
Dragging behind you the silent reproach
Of a million tear stained eyes
Don’t be surprised, when a crack in the ice
Appears under your feet
You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
With your fear flowing out behind you
As you claw the thin ice – Pink Floyd
This image is the second in a series of photographs I made a few weeks ago, observing the gradual melting of the ice on a local pond. The patterns and various structures interested me and I wanted to spend more time looking them over, from the comfort of my office.
Above is a small section of the pond, close to shore. The snow has melted, leaving just the ice below exposed to the sun. The surface is uneven, caused by the melting and refreezing of snow to different depths. The white ‘cracks’ are the result of the ice cracking open and snow filling the cracks, only to refreeze. As I noted in other recent posts, the snow this year was particularly pure and white, which only enhances this effect.
Over my many years of hiking the same trails, I’m still seeing new things every time and I take that as a gift.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 125 mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 250
“Solitude is the soil in which genius is planted, creativity grows, and legends bloom; faith in oneself is the rain that cultivates a hero to endure the storm, and bare the genesis of a new world, a new forest.”
― Mike Norton
Solitude, sweet solitude, the place where I flourish, dream, recharge. I crave the quiet places, the forest trails, the meadows, and riverbanks. Each experience is such a part of me, and I a part of them. As I walk, stand, or sit, the majesty of nature, even the simple things, fill my eyes and mind with wonder. I am in creation, not merely a visitor, but a part of it. It fills me with joy and peace. Time ceases and I merely ‘am’.
For all the time I have spent walking the trails and photographing my surroundings, this one image fully expresses how it “feels” to me. I get emotional looking at it, since it puts me in that place I love so much. Not this particular location, so much, but how I feel when I’m in nature, overall.
The image has all the elements I experience on a regular basis when hiking near my home, the leaf covered path, the flowing forms of branches and leaves, sun shining brightly above and through openings in the canopy, and the dark spaces as well.
This photo was made a few short weeks ago along the Seaton Train, near Whitevale. The ice had just come of the trails and it was a beautiful, mild, late winter day.
iPhone 5s back camera 4.15mm f/2.2
1/40 sec; f/2.2; ISO 32
“To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful, and pretty, yes pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them.”
― Pierre-Auguste Renoir
I wanted to try something new, something that satisfied the creative in me. I love paintings and have many friends who are extraordinary painters. My gift is photography, which offers me a similar outlet, but rather than spending time in front of the canvass, I spend my time walking in the trails, forests, and cities, always looking for interesting scenes to photograph.
This past week I was working with some of what I would deem my ‘secondary’ files. The images that I had envisioned, but did not satisfy me as I processed them. I ran these images through various filters and plugins, looking for the ‘vision’ of the photo to emerge. In this case, one of my favourite ‘solitaires’ or lone trees.
On the day I made the photo, the sky was filled with soft and interesting clouds, the wheat had just emerged to greet the early spring air, while patches of snow still remained in low areas. The photo alone did not meet my expectations, that is, until I ran it through one of my filters to create the wonderful image above. As I’ve said before, I wish I could paint, but since I can’t, at least I can create the image as I would have painted it, if I could.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 250
“Human society is like an arch, kept from falling by the mutual pressure of its parts”
The Toronto Distillery District is known for its boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. One of the art galleries in this area is the Corkin Gallery, featuring artists of many disciplines.
Within this large gallery are some of the original distillery structures, including these interesting arches which lead to two staircases to the second floor of the gallery. I like how the gallery retained the significant architectural elements of the distillery in their floorplan. It blends past and present beautifully. There was something about how the modern (stairs) and old (arches) blended together into a whole that just felt right.
I also enjoyed the various textures, from the age and patina of the brick, blotchy, cracked concrete, smooth steel handrails, and the clean lines of the glass and wood of the staircase. The staircase feels like an anachronism, placed as an escape from the ancient arches, a bridge to some uncertain future.
iPhone 5s back camera 4.15mm f/2.2
1/20 sec; f/2.2; ISO 320
“As I see it, life is an effort to grip before they slip through one’s fingers and slide into oblivion, the startling, the ghastly or the blindingly exquisite fish of the imagination before they whip away on the endless current and are lost for ever in oblivion’s black ocean.”
― Mervyn Peake
A “Kill Plate” is the geological term of a particular strata in which numerous fossilized animals can be found. In this case, a large number of fish, each about two inches long, all died and were preserved as fossils in a narrow layer of sandstone. We will never know what event caused this mass death to happen, perhaps a big wave deposited the fish to die high up a beach somewhere and subsequent waves buried them? Or, a river dried up, with the same effect. It leaves us with an unanswered story to ponder, but the end is written in stone.
I should have written down more of the details about this particular artifact. The primary reason I made the photo was that I saw this as a piece of art and have neither the space, nor the funds for the original, though I am fascinated by the details and wanted to spend more time looking at it. It’s a bit like a large stenciled drawing, with the same shape repeating randomly over and over on a carefully textured background.
I can picture the person who first saw this slab, peeling back the top layer and revealing the scene above. I also imagine this is a small portion of a much bigger slab that was divided and sold off to galleries and collectors.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 80 mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250
“One of the reasons there are so many terms for conditions of ice is that the mariners observing it were often trapped in it, and had nothing to do except look at it.”
― Alec Wilkinson
As winter transitioned into spring and the light coating of snow melted on the lakes, rivers and ponds in the area, some very interesting effects emerged, that I had not previously noticed. Perhaps it’s due to the small amount of late snow we received, which melted soon after it fell, clear and uncontaminated with dust and grime.
The effect I noticed was smooth ice surfaces, in endless shades of blue and white. The colours seem almost unnatural, but I suppose the purity of the ice and how it formed this year may have something to do with that.
In the image above, you can see deep blues where the snow must not have accumulated much versus the whiter areas, where it would appear snow has melted and refrozen. And, of course, there are the white cracks, crisscrossing the surface. I also like the mottled effect in the distance, which was harder to capture well from the angle I shot from.
The entire image has the look of a blue and white abstract painting, but it’s just nature showing off her own artistry, something I have been seeing a lot of lately and am happy for.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 125 mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250