Last night, while my wife, Elizabeth and I walked our dog, we noticed how the drifting clouds lent an eerie sensation to the sky as they revealed and covered the moon. I returned shortly with my tripod and new Canon Powershot S100 to see how the camera would handle a night shot.
Originally, I simply wanted to see if I could shoot the moon in various illuminated cloud configurations. I shot for about 20 minutes or so with the lens fully extended—several with the moon between pine boughs, some with it between the roof peak and chimney of my neighbor’s house. Then I noticed a single window light directly under the moon. I stepped back and recomposed so the window would be an element within the frame. I also set my camera to “P” mode to see what would happen (see below for photo file data). This is what I got:
I emailed the photo to my photographer friend, John Todaro, who got back to me early this morning by email and phone. Essentially, he said that he had a visceral reaction to this image. He said it evoked a deep sense of nostalgia and the passing of time.
I thought about that and recognized a correlation with his response—a synchrony—considering we have spoken about the passing of time, nostalgia, and the brevity of our lives on several occasions during the last several years. Regarding perception, we see what we are prepared to see, we see what we need to see. His feelings reflected his disposition, but I immediately understood they did so for me as well. I also recognize that someone else could have a very different interpretation or experience, or for that matter, none at all. It depends on what you bring to it. Recently, I photographed a scene which I see as depicting ongoing time—past, present, and future. It is my shot of “Life’s Path” in my blog entry Abbey of Genesee). In a way, this photo shows that I had a pre-disposition to fully appreciate John Todaro’s interpretation.
When speaking on the phone, we again discussed the notion of nostalgia, of looking back, but also that of looking forward. We both agreed these notions influence the choices we make regarding how we now spend our time.
In Western Culture, time is viewed as finite. Some sociologists have commented that it is a commodity—we spend it, save it, squander it, and earn it. Personally, I am at the point in life whereby I recognize my time bank is diminishing. So, when I look forward I am more apt to spend my time with more care and conscientiousness (and I hope with a continued sense of spontaneity and lack of pre-occupation with the inevitable).
There’s always been a notion by artists that creativity is a reflection of one’s inner self. That which is created is the manifestation of one’s self concept. It’s also been recognized that one can get a better glimpse of their own self concept by looking more carefully at what one creates. When I take photos, I do not analyze the metaphorical meaning of the scene. I shoot scenes that I connect with. I recognize a connection because there is a resonance. It doesn’t always occur, but I appreciate it when it does. In terms of what an image may mean, it may be days, months, or years later that I discover a figurative meaning associated with an image. And as often as not, no meaning surfaces.
In the case of the “House across the street,” I have a more immediate appreciation and connection with a photo I took after walking my dog last night and having a chat with my friend, John, this morning.
—photo file data: Image shot in P mode. ISO 1600, ƒ/2.0, 1/8th sec, pattern (matrix) metering, on tripod.