First Thought, Best Thought
Driving on a back country road to visit a man who saves plant seeds from all over the world; someone who has resisted Monsanto and their ideas about patenting seeds so farmers must buy only from them, or be punished if they don’t, we came across this landscape. I don’t know if it is a monument to someone’s idea of the civilization we are living in, or the fallen ruin of what in this part of France are called Bories, stone dwellings built centuries ago by migrant shepherds.
But whatever the reason, the apocalyptic image called out to be walked around. Of all the images I made this first one held the immediacy of the surprise, and the right scale for the TV set perched on the pile. And even though there were some strong alternates they stay behind on the contact sheet. Why is that? The old Zen saying, ‘first thought, best thought’ may be true as a photographic maxim too.
Of course it doesn’t always work that way, and persistence and movement can bring wonderful new points of view and ways of saying what you want to say as you discover the unfolding possibilities. But often enough it is the joy of that instantaneous sighting that holds all the power and freshness of discovery.
A gloomy, early in the morning walk to the bakery, gave me one of many goodbye images of Bonnieux. I loved the little slivers of warm light pulsing out into the misty matin. Sometimes color is so barely there, yet it exerts all its slender force in the visualizing of the moment. It’s the thing that makes me gasp, and the gasp is what wakes me up. I say to myself, “isn’t that beautiful?” Or I stop, and dwell in the realization that so small a note can make me come to a halt and breathe it in and take something small but special away with me.
Seeing The Light
I look out the window never knowing what I’ll see that may be of interest. Will it be the weather? The landscape? Street activity? Even if we are familiar with our window’s frame, expecting it to show us the same old scene just altered by time or season, we can be surprised. The frame can move our attention just as we move the camera in front of our eye. On this bleak day, with a light rain falling, the delicate tracery of the cypress trees on the water, and the subtle coloration of the pool’s structure, made me feel as if I was seeing lavender in the overall aqua that I wasn’t sure was there. There was no lavender in the grey sky. Yet the grey bands in the pool delicately resonated with color. My feeling was that all that aqua produced a lavender echo in my eye, and on the sensor. And it is that magic of color seeing that has always seduced me.
Nature takes hold wherever it can, it is, after all, nature’s dominion that we live in. So when I stand in front of something as simple as an ivy covered wall, naked in this season, I see the vivacious complexity of it all, and thrill to the marvel of it once again in yet another form. I imagined a print of it at 8 or 10 feet, and see how something so simple can also convey great power, depending upon its scale.
I pulled into an empty lot to turn the car around and swung into line with the back wall of a cemetery filled with crazy topiary bushes and trees. But what really called out to me at this late hour of the day, was the enormous pile of stones banked near the wall. There was something so funereal about the pile and the way it was stacked and ordered, that i got out to walk around it and take it all in. The scene became more mysterious as the light faded and the stones emanated a ghostly radiance. I guess it was just right for a cemetery.
What a riot of color this restaurant was! Earlier in the week I was taken with the barely discernible lavender tones in a green pool, and was questioning color’s way of working in a subtractive or additive way. But here, the mix and bounce and reflection and blending of colors was a whole lesson in primaries and complementary colors, and the wait for our food to arrive was taken up with the beauty of how light transforms wherever we are and what we see.
The world often throws metaphors, similes, analogies, and other language cues out to us in its own effortless manner, all we have to do is be alert to the throw and the camera becomes a great catcher’s mitt. Since baseball season has just begun perhaps that is an apt metaphor.
The simile here, was breathtaking in its simplicity even at 60 miles an hour. I got it in a blink. The cloud of cherry blossoms and the oncoming layers of mist and cloud rolling down from the cold reaches of the hills beyond, into the warmth of the valley.