A Moment on the Porch on Sunday, 2012
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I want to believe I’m coming out of a dry spell, photographically speaking. There've been serious distractions lately, most of them the kinds of low points we all experience from time to time. Still, they’ve kept me from being as observant as I’d like to be.
I’ve learned over the years that although there are things one can do to combat dry spells, sometimes the better choice is to recognize that these may be the times when our brains are catching their breath, recharging and making space for new ideas and, if that’s the case, give them some space.
I’ve also learned, though, that putting down the camera for too long allows muscles and mind to atrophy. Many times when I go out to explore and take pictures I find it useful to fire off a lot of stupid frames right off the bat. The pictures are throwaways. But the process of mindfully looking around, holding the camera up and releasing the shutter is my way of telling my brain that it’s time to get in gear.
When I’m looking to break out of one of these spells I'm reminded of an observation attributed to the late photographer Ruth Bernhard:
“If you can’t find anything worthy to shoot within forty feet of where you stand, you’re not looking.”
To wit: the other afternoon I was taking advantage of an unseasonably warm fall afternoon and the fact that I was sore from having taken down, cut up and moved two large trees the day before to catch up on some reading on the back porch. Normally our porch is full of colorful pieces of glass, rocks and other things that provide interesting light, reflections and textures. But because we'd packed all that stuff away during our recent storm prep there were just a few things left out.
One of them was a little red glass container with a clear glass stopper in the shape of a fish. I happened to look up at one point and notice the scene shown above. It lasted just long enough for me to catch this picture with my iPad camera. Seconds after I snapped the picture the light changed and the moment was history.
I don’t know if this picture broke the dry spell. But it did cause a little stirring in a part of my brain that might have been dozing lately.