Analogize

We visited New Hampshire over the weekend and I was delighted to go to a place with so much photographic potential. We drove north on Friday and spent Saturday touring the lakes district; my daughter lives there and wanted to show us around. I was keen on taking home some nice images and a steady stream of helpful suggestions was forthcoming; That’s pretty! How about that? That’s unusual! Don’t you think that’s got potential? You’re gonna love what’s around the next corner! Over there, stop! Back up! Turn around! By the end of the day I hadn’t taken a single shot and even Joanna was more than a bit perturbed. I tried to explain that the light wasn’t great, there was little color (we passed frozen lakes and slippery roads, winter persisted) and the landscape was mostly interrupted by cars, snowmobiles, houses, people, and power lines. Nothing caught my eye. This worried me. The last few weeks have been busy, leaving no time for photography. Now, on this trip, given all the photographic potential, I could find neither beauty nor interest in anything. Had I lost my eye? I remember hearing the apocryphal story which reported that Herb Alpert had lost his embrasure, an event which would have signaled the end of his career. Perhaps I was experiencing the photographic version of this? The next day we traveled to Portsmouth. Upon arrival I separated from my companions, for they chose to cruise the shops and take in the ambiance. I grabbed my camera from out of my pack and walked. Slowly. I looked past and through things. I tried to extract Portsmouth from the tangle of people, cars, dogs, and other objects which kept if from plain view. In time I noticed that although some of the buildings were square, others were level, and some were plumb, none were more than two of these. Not all the streets were paved in asphalt, some were brick and others were cobble. I got the feeling that, rather than being peneplained, as have so many cities, the seaside landscape accommodated Portsmouth; the place stood firm rather than surrender to the transmogrifying effects of modernity. I was surrounded by beautiful, historic, buildings; some faithfully restored to be sure, but historic nonetheless. My view to the south was filled with the color and simple texture of human construction. To the north I was greeted by the smell of salt and a chilled ocean breeze. Although I did not wander long, I had time to remember that a photographer’s eye, artistic vision, doesn’t just happen. I’m not talking about the development of artistic sensibility over a lifetime; I am, instead, talking about the business of capturing (via whatever medium you choose) an image that has meaning. Visualization and composition do not often come quickly. Perhaps the most effective way of explaining this is to ask you to recall those sometimes infuriating images called autostereograms. I found the final image below (of a bird in flight) at a place called the Stereogram Page. When I first look at one of these I see absolutely nothing. It takes several minutes for my eyes to adjust and for my brain to pick out the clues needed to construct a three-dimensional image from a two-dimensional data set. I’m exactly the same way when I’ve got camera in hand. I don’t see images immediately. In a way which I cannot describe, they form, like the hidden image in the stereogram, from out of otherwise mundane patterns. When I walked the streets of Portsmouth I saw buildings, cars, dogs, and shops. I didn’t see pictures at first. After a while however, the visual ephemera dissolved, allowing images to float to the surface.

26 thoughts on “Analogize

  1. I am late to this fascinating post … and I don’t see any bird unfortunately! However, I am rather tired – catching up after a busy week. So probably I might see it in a more relaxed state?

    1. Seeing objects in these frustrating things took me quite some time. You have to look at it from about 12-18″ away. Don’t focus too hard. Fuzz your eyes as if you’re just about to cross them. Then refocus and go out of focus and refocus and go out of focus. Don’t concentrate on the plane of focus … but just beyond it (if that makes any sense). At some point the bird will pretty much fly out of the monitor at you! Good luck. And, do let me know when you finally see it. It’ll be flying to your left with its wings wide open! D

  2. Missed this the first time. Having both Strabismus (eyes not straight, despite numerous surgeries) and associated Amblyopia (lazy eye) I don’t find those pictures frustrating at all. They just plain don’t work for me 🙂 Now, your images, on the other hand surely do. I also enjoyed your tale of travel through the countryside. Some images only work for the eye – not everything works with the camera, and besides its a Dad’s privilege to drive our immediate family a little nuts. I know. Trust me. Officially spring has arrived, although the weather still has a bit before it catches up. And speaking of spring, I imagine the time for lambs is not far from now.

    1. You are very correct. Joanna is going nuts! Our lamb window opened on the 15th and we’ve got nothing yet. Personally I think the ewes were waiting for somewhat warmer weather. Joanna begins each morning by going out to pasture and announcing, “Girls, it’s sunny, warm and dry … today would be a very nice day to lamb. Just a suggestion.” Fifteen older ewes were put with the rams and a couple of lambs jumped the fences so it’ll be interesting to see what our final lamb totals will be. Do not fear … WordPress will be my avenue for birth announcements! D

    2. By the way … forgot to ask someone more in the ‘know’ than I am about such things. Have you noticed lately the rise in followers who don’t appear to be ‘genuine’ followers? They all seem to be selling something or other. I this expected? Is there a way to avoid it? I’m afraid that my followers list is becoming artificially inflated by entities that won’t ever actually think about what I’m trying to do. Just thought I’d ask. D

      1. I hear ya! As an example, there are 730 so-called followers to the eLearning blog and 90 percent of them are of that kind. I think a lot of them are script driven. For example I have noticed that if the word “iPad” appears in a post it will be “liked” within a few hours by a user called “iPad Mom” and so on. Go ahead, just slip it in somewhere in one of your upcoming posts, say, something like “I showed this image to my daughter on her iPad” and you’ll see. Of course those followers never ever view your stuff as evidenced by the stats. I used to check it out. Whenever I’d get a new shady-looking follow I’d visit the site and deduce the country of origin and then check the stats to see if there had been any recent visits from that country. It was pretty clear. Likewise the likes. It’s possible to like a piece without viewing it so you can be pretty sure that if any piece gets a like from someone you do not know you can be sure they are just liking your stuff to see if you’ll go visit their blog.
        It’s something between depressing and infuriating. I wouldn’t mind but there’s no way you can remove those phantom followers and make your stats more realistic. Like I said it would be quite amazing. My stats, for example, would be more like 80 or so, not 730!

        1. Yes … ‘… something between depressing and infuriating.’ I’d say more toward the depressing side. Thanks, however, for providing the reality check. So, are these follows and likes automated or are there actually folks out generating keystrokes? If the former … I’m really depressed. D

          1. I think it is a bit of both. Some seem to be more-or-less human although I doubt the persona behind them is nothing like the gravatar. Others are just bots. By the way has the automated like I alluded to happened yet? ipad ipad ipad ipad (just helping things along). At any rate, I suppose we should not care. Neither of us needs the fake interest they show.

              1. LOL! It’s awful sometimes–I try and quantify everything. Sometimes its helpful and sometimes it just drives everyone around me NUTS! Once upon a time I’d just continue, more or less oblivious to that fact. These days I do make an effort not to be such a …. y’know. On a different topic, I noticed that you did not have a very strong reaction to my second last post on the Banjaxed blog. I figured you might find it interesting. Though I framed it around First year physics (something I know) I was also thinking of first year Bio, Chem, Calculus, pre-Calc and maybe Psych (things I’m nowhere as much in the know about but feel they may be similar enough). The past few months I have been working in the private sector, essentially doing what I described in those previous posts and thinking that what I’m doing would be just as useful there, but it does not exist there unfortunately.

                1. Guilty! School has been crazy with mid-semester examinations, the weather has been a preoccupation (and generated lots more work on the farm), I had a ‘thing’ taken off my face just a bit ago (a benign bother which had me in a stew), and then J and I traveled to NH for a few days. I haven’t had lots of time to keep up with my reader and had taken the spineless approach of taking a quick look and hitting the like button. If there is a defense (which, I’ve already admitted, there isn’t) I’ve been telling myself that I’d go back to read when I had the time. Tell you what … I’ll take a look this evening when, hopefully, I’ve got a few minutes and let you know what I think. Mea culpa. D

                  1. Was the “thing” a basal cell? As a (former) redhead those are my bane. I have had several frozen off but one in particular keeps coming back. As a person who also spent a lot of time out in the sun you are likely at risk too. Speaking of NH I was a little envious – I have often said that if I suddenly came in to money (lottery or something) and needed to move away to escape pests somewhere around there would be where I would settle. Mmmm somewhere along the coast between Portland and Boston would be ideal. Beautiful ocean, just right temperature …

  3. There is a talent required to see the special in the ordinary. Most people don’t have the vision. You do and your images prove it. Love the weathered window and the stairs are so contemporary! They could be in an architectural digest! We spent a few days in Portsmouth last summer. When the weather’s good, there’s no more lovely place to roam!

    1. Thanks for the complement! Yes, Portsmouth was nice but awfully cold with a gusty wind. M and R seem to be more and more peripatetic every day … they were with us last weekend in Portsmouth and yesterday they traveled to Lake Placid to watch Cornell lose to Union in hockey (they met S there … talk about coincidence). And, today, it’s skiing on the way home. Tough life huh? Ah, to be young and carefree. D

      1. I know what you mean. You think that as you get older, life somehow gets easier. But in reality, you worry more about things you never thought you would! It’s nice you have your photography to keep your mind busy with productive, beautiful results that everyone can enjoy. At least you had a few days away from the farm/usual routine. We are headed to NJ next weekend for a bar-mitzvah and then the next weekend to NY to see Ben’s show. We haven’t had any sort of vacation since Neurosis last summer! I am looking forward to a small break from all the work around the house! S/J and J were here for dinner tonight to celebrate J’s 36th. We’re ALL getting older!! 🙂

        1. Absolutely … no stopping time. Joanna tells me that Reuben is turning 38 (and is going to be a Daddy shortly). And Sarah’s Audrey will soon be three … seems like we were just in Seattle for the wedding. And, now you tell me J has turned 36! We’re not GETTING old, we ARE old. Life’s many preoccupations never go away, not in the least; they simply change. So there once was a time when we all worried about the kids, about work, and about money. All these years later we still worry about the kids, about work, and about money. Add to that the things we never, ever, worried about (visits to the dermatologist, the gastroenterologist, and the ophthalmologist) and it’s a wonder any of us ‘old folk’ can relax enough to fall asleep at night! Perhaps I exaggerate … but not much. You heard that the 200 acres we were planning on seeing a week ago last Friday sold a week ago last Thursday? J is bummed (once again) to say the least. D

  4. I think my brain is permanently stereoized from all the 3-D pairs I viewed in the 1970s and ’80s: I looked at the autostereogram in your post and saw the bird in just a few seconds.

    In a post 13 months ago I led readers through a related but more-complicated exercise in optics:

    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/not-exactly-the-repeat-picture-that-it-appears-to-be/

    As for photo enthusiasm, I’ve gone through fallow periods, and I suspect almost everyone has.

  5. David as I read your post I began to worry for you, where had your passion gone, where had that wonderful artistic eye disappeared to … but then I recognised myself in there. We went on a very short trip north a few weeks ago, to an area of Scotland I don’t know very well. I was stressed and tired before we even got there and I ended up taking just a few photos. I think when I go somewhere new it takes me a while to find it and to find myself in it. I also think that this time of year can be hard work … that final push through into the new life of spring. Also I then looked at your lovely photos and stopped worrying altogether, they are beautiful and full of artistry 🙂

    1. Your concern concerned me … I’m glad all has been resolved! You are correct though in the observation that finding that zone takes time. Your most recent images of plants in bloom gave me hope that spring may, eventually, arrive here as well. We’re cold and rainy today with a bit of a thaw coming … but quite cool again next week. It’ll happen though … I have faith in such things. Thanks for the observations today … appreciated, as always. D

  6. I enjoyed your word tour around Portsmouth as well as the images – especially the window. I love these stereogram things – it takes me ages to ‘see’ them but once I’m in the zone they come quite easily. Here’s a link to someone I followed on Flickr for a while – similar principle but great 3D effects :-
    Balliolman_Cartwheel_X

    1. Hi there Jenny … I did migrate to the flickr site and found this different sort of image intriguing. I guess you’re supposed to try and cross your eyes a bit to get your brain to form the third (3D) image? Cool. Thanks for the ‘thumbs up’ and for stopping by today. D

  7. Nice studies in blue. Like that you are able to filter distraction, allowing your eye and mind to focus on these interesting images and shapes. Nicely done.

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