14 September 2015
Let me know which you prefer and why. Click to enlarge image.
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” ~~ American photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)
“Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” ~~ American photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946)
For the last few weeks the early signs of autumn’s signature have been steadily building. One of the most evident is the shedding of leaves from trees. During this movement from one season to the next and redefinition of the landscape, I am pushed to ponder the deeper meaning behind these changes.
As the years pile upon each other, time becomes more and more a mainstay in my thinking. It fills my thoughts with contrasts that juggle between clarity and unrest, past and present, being here and not. This constancy of musing is even more pronounced now, because the wonderment of human nature is inextricably linked to autumn’s grasp and time’s canter.
Part of my focus about time and space is apparent through my visual orientation. Every gaze, every decision to acknowledge, dismiss or seize a moment is about timing. But it’s also about personal choice, philosophy and spiritual well-being.
As I observe autumn’s approach (acorns, descending leaves, spent annuals, migrating birds…), evidence of the shifting season can be measured in passing days and hours and months. The passage of time is also calculated by my passion for photography. It helps me record my universe, space and visual orientation. As a teeny tiny part of the greater universe, I feel found not lost with a lens to frame my world.
Each photograph tracts time and melts it too. It stills only what I see. I do not contemplate its loss, but admire its elusiveness. It’s similar to a precarious footbridge: wobbling and yet carrying me to a destination, providing safe passage, unsettling with secrets and surprises, but unwavering in its ability to help me see, really see what is before me.
You cannot photograph time, but you can (somewhat) replicate what is in front of the lens. Only recently do cameras actually record what the eye sees (not really). There has always been a delay, stopping time but not in the mind’s cadence. But does that matter? a second here or a nanosecond there.
What is real time? Or is the result similar enough to the original composition to erase the notion of real time? And what about Stieglitz’s point of view (see quote)?
While time can be baffling and tricky, it provides a structure—a constancy in the un-constant universe. Still the construct stands very much in control of humanity’s perceptions, and more often than not we are subservient to it.
A photograph provides an image that can be so intoxicating as to ask us to jump inside the frame and relive the moment: experience the story being told. If a photograph is that seductive, on one level it has done its job, even if we only want to be a voyeur.
In that stilled moment we give a lost point in time a continued life—not a present life, but an archival life nevertheless. We are visiting a space that does not exist, and yet is in our real time.
Photography is a “time” capsule that gives a different dimension to a part of the universe that already had its own dimension. This quality of photography is one of the reasons that its invention had such an effect on the medium of painting. The artist was no longer required to revive the memory of a particular place in time, and the photograph’s popularity steadily soared.
On my daily walk this week an oak leaf caught my attention: its relationship to the confluence of change and time were evident. Its symbolism stood front and center. The leaf was simultaneously decomposing by the action of insects and time.
Macro week seems a perfect platform to show that time can be seen and yet is invisible. We sees its workings, its evidence, its effects, its physical ramifications in, for example, the oak leaf.
But we cannot hold time. It just is. Still photography seems a way to preserve it. Or is it?
Tip of the Week: I believe strongly that it’s important to be aware of all the arts: literary, performing and visual. But I admit to making myself more and more privy to current and past photographers’ works through exhibitions, print and online sources. Recently, I learned about the Sony World Photography Awards. Click here (from CNN website) to see the 2015 finalists. Awards are given to amateurs and professionals, and in last year’s competition they had a record number of entries: 173,444 images from 171 countries. The work captivates. In some cases even breaks the mind’s perception of what a photograph is. Hope that you will take a few minutes to see them.
View other entries from this week’s challenge:
As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.
If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:
1st Monday: Nature.
2nd Monday: Macro.
3rd Monday: Black and White.
4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).
5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.