What I Saw, 2011
The sky is such an endless source of inspiration. That's bound to be why the sky and clouds are such easy pickings for artists and photographers. Musicians, too, I suppose, if you count Debussy's and Django Reinhardt’s respective interpretations of Nuages.
I've been experiencing a bit of a creative drought lately. It’s been a season of distractions, so many that a couple of things had to go temporarily. The What I Saw blog was one. I wasn't hearing inspiration for blog posts. I was traveling some during this time and found myself seemingly deaf to the usually rich array of overheard remarks that can be such fun.
I wasn't "seeing" pictures the way I usually do, either. I didn't realize this at first. The thing that’s normally so special about this gift of sight is that it’s involuntary. Although I might point myself in this direction or that, I don’t go looking for specific things to photograph. Rather, they nearly always reveal themselves to me, whether it’s some kind of action, confluence of light and dark or just an engaging mixture of lines and curves.
But I wasn't seeing those, either.
The picture you take when you see nothing else, 2011
Some of the distractions have been eliminated, leaving space in my mind to again notice and find pleasure in the world around me. I felt like the blinders I’d had on finally fell away the other morning when in the course of taking out the trash I happened to look up and notice a thrilling series of views through the trees into the clouds. The sky was full of expressive clouds that formed the front edge of a cold front. The trees, free of their leaves, formed lacey silhouettes.
I quickly ran back indoors and grabbed a camera and returned to catch a dozen or so shots before conditions changed. I wasn't able to look at the photographs I’d taken until later in the morning. But when I did an interesting phenomenon occurred; namely, I came up against the difference between what my eye had seen and what the camera saw.
The thing about photography, and digital photography in particular, is that, as the old saying goes, "the camera doesn't lie." In this respect, the camera is more intellectually honest that we are. Our minds see what we want to see. They sometimes screen out things that don't fit our expectations or that experience tells our mind we don't want to notice.
In this case, case, I'd seen a dynamic sky made up of shades of gray. The camera, on the other hand, saw a lot of blue. It didn’t have any editorial or artistic biases. It only cared about accurately capturing what it saw, which was a lot of blue.
The problem is I didn't want the blue. I’d envisioned something more sepia-like, which is why I processed the photograph to end up looking as it does at the top of this post. The image below is what the camera saw.
What the Camera Saw, 2011