Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category
At Acadia National Park, Otter Cliffs area, 2010.
Going through my photostream, I found a number of images that didn’t seem “right” to me. At the very least, I wasn’t interested in having them on display any longer. My processing techniques have changed over the years. Whereas I used to tonemap with one of a number of programs, I no longer tonemap at all. I generally find the results to be “soft”, unrealistic, or downright hideous if the settings are not handled properly. Such was the case with the version of this image back in 2010, I felt.
The image has been reworked with new techniques and an entirely new approach. As I compare the two versions side-by-side, I’m rather amazed that I let the previous version go out into the wild. I’d show it here, but… nahhhhh.
Lately, I’ve been reading interesting information about personality types.
I’ve always been one who enjoys solitude, preferring a quiet, solo hike in the woods in favor of large gatherings of people. In the past, I believed that this was “anti-social behavior,” a notion perhaps perpetuated by my bros at the time. Don’t get me wrong… I love good people and enjoy their company immensely. But, all in all, I prefer quietude and places that are not seething with too many humans packed closely together.
In my reading, I’ve found that I exhibit a particular personality type that tends to embrace solitude (T1/w9, for those who know.) While there’s always room in one’s life for a raucously good time in large groups, there is comfort in knowing that wanting to be alone in nature is not a “flaw” of any sort.
This is why this image appeals to me, and why I’ve chosen to revisit it. I’m drawn not only to scenes like this, but can relate to that one person standing there, cup of coffee in hand, taking in the natural beauty in much the same way that I appreciate it.
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In the relatively small area that is Acadia National Park, beautiful scenes are everywhere. It’s also one of the nation’s most heavily visited parks, so people are everywhere, and most of them have cameras to capture their share of the scenery. And like most parks, there are certain areas where people are ‘funneled’ into one small section that reveals a highlight.
Such is the case with Jordan Pond and “The Bubbles”, those two small peaks across the water. What you don’t see in this picture are the hundreds of other visitors strolling along the carriageways and paths leading along the pond.
The views in this place are archetypal, and have been photographed probably millions of times. As such, it’s difficult to envision a new approach, a new angle or lighting that would present the subject in a unique way. Sometimes I wonder if that’s even possible without creating an abstract rendition.
We take the shot anyway, hoping to capture this particular scene, on this particular day, with those particular clouds. Perhaps get down low to see it from a worm’s eye view. Maybe add on a neutral-density filter to smooth out the water.
In the end, whether or not we come up with an image that is utterly unique or one that’s fairly commonplace, we can appreciate having been there that day, experiencing nature’s beauty as the light changes with the passing clouds, knowing that each of these moments IS a completely new and unique experience.
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Across rural North Carolina, old abandoned buildings are either being taken down, or are in an advanced state of decay. Whether they’re removed to make way for one of the new “house farms” that spring up in open fields, or are simply left to melt into the landscape, these testaments to a former, quieter time are becoming much harder to find.
Let me correct that: There are still a number of them out there, but they’re often inaccessible due to being on private property, or sitting in the middle of a vast field with no roads leading up to them.
This one is an exception.
Recently, my friend Jeff Garvey (‘Recycling is for the Birds’ on Facebook) gained unfettered access to this old farmhouse. You may remember my mentioning Jeff, a good man who finds these buildings and with the owner’s permission, dismantles them carefully. He totes the wood and bling back to his workshop where he makes incredible birdhouses using the old materials. Every Saturday morning you can find him at the local farmer’s market with a full display of unique creations. Some of them are truly functional art; others will never see the outdoors because they’re simply too beautiful to give to the birds. (You’ll see one of his better ones soon.)
I spent about four hours alone in and around this beautiful old house. One has to move very carefully… at one point on an upper floor I almost dropped through to the bottom floor. Free access allowed me to spend the necessary time to view, set up, and really soak in what this place is about. From this outside view, we’ll go inside for a few images.
In talking with Jeff about my experience there, I could see the concern on his face as I told him of possible damage done by vandals and pilferers. Some people need to bust brick, I suppose, and others will take glass door knobs, hardware, and insulators so that they can get 50 cents at a flea market. They find little value in these things, and they don’t approach such a place with any sense of respect.
Jeff is different. He loves these old places, and finds a purpose in giving them new life as birdhouses and decorations, so that others can enjoy these relics anew. It’s very important to him; it’s his purpose. There is a purity of intention that I appreciate – I consider it an honor to be able to help him capture the old beauty before it’s gone forever.
They Leave The Nest So Early An old school in Arapahoe being dismantled by Jeff.
A Mother’s Kiss One of Jeff’s creations in action “in the wild.”
Grandfather’s Legacy The story of our first visit with Jeff.
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“Perception is reality,” as the saying goes. I first heard that many years ago in a business environment. The context may be different now, but it’s still something that I ponder frequently.
We assume that the world ‘out there’ is exactly as we perceive it to be, solid and stable, but that is not generally the case. (Just ask Neo, from The Matrix.) Instead, our perceived ‘reality’ has to do with our own internal position, our perspective. There’s a good, digestible article on this from Scientific American Mind, Looks Can Deceive.
Photography can give us an excellent opportunity to challenge our notions about the world around us. While many people think that photography should only capture the world as-it-is, taking an image also presents an excellent opportunity to play around with our most basic assumptions. Some people might look at this image and say things like, “That’s just too weird.” Or, “That’s wrong.”
Kids do this all the time. As a child, did you ever hang upside down on the monkey bars? (Are those death-trap monkey bars even still legal?) Did you ever lie on your back in bed and hang your head over the side? Perhaps it’s because the child hasn’t spent decades conditioning their thought processes to match what they perceive with their senses. At any moment children can pretend that they’re a pirate, a Jedi knight, a princess, or anything else that the mind can conjure up, and to their unconditioned minds it seems completely real.
We seem to lose that ability, that playfulness, as we get older.
As I was flipping through the images taken on our recent autumn trip, I ran across this set from Flagstaff Lake, one of my favorite places. I ran it through the usual steps, and when I saw the result, I thought, “Meh. Same as many others I’ve taken there.”
Then, in a fit of playfulness one night, I flipped the image. Bam! Perhaps it was my state of mind at the time, but it completely messed with my well-conditioned perspective of the place I think I know so well. Suddenly the image took on a new dimension and meaning, and I couldn’t neglect to publish it, even though it bears substantial similarity to other images.
Interestingly, I did the same thing on an image of an egret, in Masnavi. I sent that image off to the print lab for a client, and when the print came in, someone at the lab had flipped the image into what they thought was the ‘correct’ orientation! For my purposes, of course, this was a complete “mistake” and I received a re-print from the lab, with the “correct”… no, wait… “incorrect” orientation.
Hell, now I’m confused.
That’s the point.
We’re free to challenge our most basic assumptions. We’re free to play around with the reality that’s presented to us. We can change things by simply altering our perspective a bit.
Why don’t we do that more often?
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“The way I figure it, dogs are the most advanced beings on the planet. They’re fully self-realized. They possess unconditional love. They forgive instantly. They’re empathetic and sympathetic. They’re incapable of guile or dishonesty. They’re always in the moment, not carrying the past or fretting about the future. Everything’s always new and wonderful. Every place is always the best place to be.”
“I say they’re the most advanced beings and I mean that by our standards; human standards. If you think about the qualities you’d like to possess, the ideal qualities – unconditional love, loyalty, devotion, unwavering friendship, forgiveness, selflessness, sincerity, being fully present in the moment, happiness – qualities we uphold as the loftiest ideals to which we might aspire, they look very much like a good dog; dog consciousness. Of course, by those same ideal standards, humans are far and away the least evolved beings on the planet.”
“We sit on the steps together for the next hour and share happy and sad stories about the enlightened beings we have known.”
– Jed McKenna
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
The way I see it, it has been an incredible year. Since this time last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to continue doing what I love, part of which is sharing the results with all of you. The friends I’ve met and the camaraderie we’ve shared is truly something special, so thank you for following along and hooking up with me, as I have in turn been watching what you create.
This has also been a year of extraordinary change, both in the world and in our perspectives on what we’re doing here. Having been around for better than a half century now, I can’t recall a period of such transformation, save perhaps for the late ’60s. Some of the changes may be unsettling for some, but I can’t help but think that it will result in something better for all of us. At the very least, things aren’t boring and certain, which suits me.
There is currently – and always will be – suffering in the world, and on this Thanksgiving I think of all the people who are actively transforming (or even maintaining!) the status quo at their own peril, hoping for a better, freer, and safer place to be. Not all of us will agree with their messages or methods, either side, but their dedication should never be challenged, nor should their perspective be marginalized. As always, no one perspective is the single ‘right’ way, but neither can anyone ever be 100% wrong. There is something important to all points of view; now it’s a matter of figuring out how they – and we – will fit together.
We’re living in a time of unprecedented adventure. Will we make it? Sometimes it seems like a horse race, but we can hold out Hope, which is really all we can hope to have anyway. In the meantime, as photographers and creatives, we can satisfy ourselves by finding the beautiful things in the world and bringing them home to share with others. In a rather big way, that’s what gives me Hope.
So, thanks for what you do… you enrich the lives of others with your creativity and thoughtfulness.
The image was taken at Cobscook Bay State Park in northern coastal Maine. Although it’s an HDR taken from eleven exposures, it would look much the same if I used the single middle exposure… the sunrise really was that spectacular.
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Tenacity (© 2011 Rob Hanson Photography)
My apologies for not posting, lately. I try not to pin up a post unless I have a decent image to show (I could hope), or something to say.
Over the years, I’ve talked to photographers who believe that they’re in a slump. We’ve probably all felt that at times. Hoping to encourage, I tell my friends that in the realm of creating art, there are times of great expression, and times where the well seems to have run dry. We can begin to question our motivation, as well as our commitment to doing what we love to do. On the other hand, when creativity starts flowing again, we get invigorated and run out to capture even more, hoping to push the limit on art and communication with others.
Having to ride those waves of ups and downs, I think, is the hallmark of Creativity. If we didn’t know those dry spells, if we didn’t feel like we should just chuck it all, then how could we ever be enthused about great art when we make it?
I always try to convey: Just ride it out a bit. You’ll soon get back to doing what you love, and all will be well.
I’ve been feeling on the lower side of things. Our fall vacation was cut short because of bad weather, an event I drove hours to cover was a bust as far as pictures go, and there’s nothing cool to shoot in the garden… yet. ;^) During the past week I’ve had interesting and sometimes discouraging discussions with friends where we’ve discussed copyright violations (more common than we know!), whether or not to watermark images, registering copyrights, and whether someone can actually make a living doing this the way they want to do it. Are we avid photographers, or do we become ~ Eeeeek! ~ business people? If that weren’t enough, I had to calculate all the taxes – new ones, even! – that one has to pay to run such a business.
Tenacity. “Not easily dispelled or discouraged.”
I was reminded of this when processing today’s image. It’s from Diana’s Baths in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In a small part of a much, much larger waterfall, I saw this walnut-sized rock in the middle of the torrent along with the red maple leaf pinned to its upper side. Even though it took quite a while to shoot the brackets, the rock and the leaf didn’t move a bit, and they never even seemed close to being swept down the hillside.
Do what you love to do. It sure does beat the alternative.
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