Looks are Deceiving
Coming back from a late walk on our country road we heard the rasp of a motorcycle bearing down on us fast, I whirled, camera blazing, and gunned him down. Well, it wasn’t as wild west as all that, more like; I turned, guessed at the aperture and speed at that hour, something the Leica is great for and allows intuition and memory to serve in the moment, and made 3 frames of him coming past us, and the lovely hour, and the sweet space of the road curving away into the hills.
It was one of those magical moments when the quiet of the past is settling over the land, and then the intruder – mechanization – comes bursting into the silence, but is gone in a moment leaving behind a slowly returning quiet. I felt that this photograph meant all that to me, even though it looks like a road at dusk, with a headlamp on a motorcycle blazing into our eyes.
Looks are deceiving.
Some things are just pleasing because they are. Not for the graphics which certainly could be a part of the pleasure too, of course, but for some small and barely noticeable relationship which plays the eye for only a second, but is enough to tell the brain to consider its potential.
For me the clusters of foliage of the lecco tree, like a big broccoli, and they way they hold the light along their tops, brought me into connection with the clusters of clouds dissolving and reorganizing every second. Somehow they relate for me, the near and far, the substantial and the vaporous, the varied greens and the luminous whites. The pleasure of standing still for a minute to take in the world as it is.
I find this form of discovery a kind of play that is both serious and light handed, and it keeps my instrument tuned.
Night time, and the variety of color temperatures of street lighting, often make ordinary places into theatrical spaces. This back street in a tiny town took on a richness of color that made me go back after I walked past it, and take a real look. And we are all fortunate today in what the digital capacities of our cameras allow us to see and to render. But it’s the going back that counts.
Sometimes just sitting around and talking offers unexpected gestures and expressions, and can often lead to a kind of intimate portraiture that doesn’t depend on the ‘pose,’ but rather flows from the state of being you and the subject find themselves in. Especially when it is family or friends, and the camera doesn’t present an intrusive presence into the mix.
I love this relaxed way of seeing, and in a way it is like street photography, but the kind where one is simply out for a walk and living in the wonder of the present moment. It’s always the present in photography.
Be In It
Nature in full force is a beautiful spectacle. Where do the colors come from? How did the clouds become tinged with that faint magenta tone when all the light seems to be mixed into a grey?
To stand in the path of all that energy and let it sweep towards me is one of the joys of living in nature. I always experience the feeling that I must go out into it rather than run for shelter. It was the same for me during my years photographing on Cape Cod. When the weather was at it’s worst – then it was at its best – and the invitation was clear; be in it!
Maggie, lost in thought as she planned the garden 2 years ago. A late slice of light lasting a minute or two at most and she stepped into it as I watched and witnessed her in her dream.
In Our Own Backyard
Sometimes there are natural forms that approach perfection. The shape of this tree has spoken to me for the four years we’ve been coming to this place, and I realize now that I have been photographing it casually and repeatedly in all lights and seasons.
While I was doing the photo a day series I probably added this tree to it many times on days when I was working in the studio and didn’t get out to do anything special. It could be said that it was a ‘fall back position’ image, but not merely that, since it made me look carefully at what was right in my own backyard. A good working principle for all of us.
Gianni had arrived while Maggie was watering her roses. It was a blistering hot day and Maggie, spontaneous as always, turned the hose on him as he was walking away, and Gianni, open as always to whatever the next thing is, responded with such a moment of joyous abandon that I turned around and saw his exaltation and the rainbow all in the same millisecond. It pays to have the camera wherever you are, even around the house.
The door to our bedroom is like a Japanese screen.
Then and Now
Two years ago our place, which was then just a summer rental, looked like this, a gravel covered acre with not much else . Now that we have a long term lease on it we have made some improvements. Maggie is the giardiniera and treats the whole space as a work in progress. But it is really more like an ‘earthwork,’ given how she conceives of all the elements and spaces that the garden consists of, almost as if they were ‘rooms’ outside, where one can go when a different experience is needed.
Part of my daily shooting has been to document the changes that have come over the place as Maggie makes it come into focus. Documenting everyday life has its joys as much as being out in the world at large and watching the crazy goings on out there. I like the mix of the two.