A skim of morning ice is the acme of ephemerality, catch it while you can. Here’s what I found soon after sunrise today:
My first thought was a mirroring, and it’s a nice enough image,
with the expected array of creatures:
And then I saw the familiar illusion in the northwest corner:
So how did it get there? Or was it even ever there
, or was it just in my Mind’s Eye? Where did it go
? Non-trivial questions.
And a bit later I discovered this in the southern end of the original image:
The jury is still out on what it is, though I’m tempted to see it as a 1950s hood ornament.
Sand is an ephemeral medium, intermediate in particle size between the rock which is its parent material and the ever-finer slurry of yet-further abraded silicacious dust. Easily transported by wind and water, sand flows in turbulent and chaotic motion. The emergent forms are transitory: winds and waves build and re-build patterns, sifting particles by size and weight to build dunes and ridges. The willing eye may find aesthetic pleasure in the incessant sculpting and deposition, and the imagination may be awakened to find creatures whose brief lives are rarely documented. Here are a few examples from the last week’s expeditions to Drift Inn beach, less than 2 miles from home (and see a larger sand gallery including examples from the last decade or so).
This image contains the marvelous detail below:
The lady below seems to bloom from the swirl of the upper image:
and another, a begowned goat-faced personage with claws:
A dragon materializes:
…and a rather dopey yellow being arrives as the upper image is unfolded:
February in Maine means stoking the fires several times a day. These days it’s just one woodstove, but still a fair amount of wood moves from woodshed to house every day. Each piece has some specifics, like species (mostly maple, oak, birch) and mass (a 15 lb knot burns longer than 3 5 lb sticks), and of course there’s an art to placement and draft adjustment. In addition, there’s the occasional personality who takes refuge in the carefully-stacked woodpile. I choose to think of such visitors as looking forward to the transcendence that immolation brings, and to their further lives into which their constituent atoms are recycled (and one might apply the same expectation to other forms of organic life too…). So here are some of today’s potential immolatees:
I just remembered another verse of Ken Stallcup’s wonderful anthropologist/linguist song, cited in a post last April and now updated with the missing bits included.
But today’s post really has to do with a succession of images emerging from an original capture yesterday at Drift Inn. The raw version as it came from the camera (a broken fragment of sea ice floating above sand):
and as adjusted (vibrancy, clarity, sharpness) and uploaded to Flickr:
and then I saw a figure within the original, and cropped and rotated:
and eventually with minor adjustments it resolved to this:
And then I wondered about that baleful yellow eye at the top, and did the by-now-familiar copy-flip-join to produce a mirror image:
And while we’re considering the experimental, a new perspective arrived yesterday in the form of a 10 mm fisheye lens that has no very serious purpose (or not yet, anyway) but does that thing of making me think differently about what I see via the medium of the camera. Among the experiments I tried was this:
Now, that’s all very meta: a photograph of a photograph, and probably of no consequence… but another example of where the feet wander as one stumbles from thing to thing.
One more image from that lens, which has pretty startling quality for not much $$:
(click on that image to zoom in, and then click again…)
We were out at Drift Inn just after sunrise this morning, incoming tide and very cold, but a successful venture for me, with a nice set of photographs
Most images evolve in Lightroom, and sometimes pass through GIMP before making it to Flickr. Case in point:
That one began with this not-very-promising image:
I pushed and prodded and tweaked and tried it in monochrome
before I went back to color and kept nudging until I was satisfied:
Yesterday’s trash pickup led me to a ditch on the Glenmere road which had some nice bits of ice. I had my new iPhone with me, and here’s what came from my first shot:
A bit of tweakage (crop, rotate, twiddle contrast and vibrance) produced this, in which my eyes see at least one creature, perhaps blue-faced and blonde-haired (YMMV, as usual):
Just a few feet away were these two:
And here’s a further evolution of the lattermost, in which the latent creature is revealed (or perhaps it’s creatures…):
Similar treatment of the penultimate other produces a being with pronounced Northwest Coast sensibilities:
And this version is even better:
And it’s only Tuesday.
Daniel Levin Becker’s Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature rolled in yesterday and transfixed me from the very first page:
I’ve known of OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, ‘Workshop for Potential Literature’) in a desultory sort of way for years, mostly via the work of Georges Perec (see Georges Perec provokes and Convivial Question and another genius) and largely thanks to my many years of friendship with Daniel Heïkalo, Oulipian avant la lettre. Becker introduces me to OuPhoPo, a Photographic avatar of the original institution, and a company of rats (“rats who build the labyrinth from which they plan to escape”) in which I feel I belong. “Cette association a pour de promouvoir la ‘Pataphysique de la photographie…”
are 3 examples of invocations of the playful, provocations to the literal and the staid.
And then in comes this bit of reality:
(from What Viral Shedding Looks Like During a Covid-19 Infection)
Much to think about. See Oulipo: freeing literature by tightening its rules from The Guardian.
As I begin to lay out the next Blurb book, I’m retracing the steps of my burgeoning engagement with persons and creatures in rock. It seems that it was more than five years ago (in March 2014) that I discovered the 12th Imam (who went into Occultation in 874 CE) on a stretch of beach rock:
I made a mirrored image of himself and his chiral twin, heads resting in the lap of a goddess (Bilquis
, I’m thinking):
I relocated the original image and rotated it a bit, then traced the lines of extravagant turban, beard, and eye-nose-mouth:
The great significance for me of this image is its contribution to my appreciation of ephemerality in the medium of rock. Months after the original capture of the Imam (in December 2014), I returned to the stretch of beach in search of the Imam. I found the rock, sure enough, but the Imam was simply not there:
Subsequently (as I compared the March and December images) I realized that the Imam’s mouth in the March image was in fact a strand of seaweed, whisked away by the next tide. I can
imagine a turban’d face in the December image, but it’s not nearly as classy as the Imam.
When I first processed this one
I saw the whole as a dog-like figure, but I completely missed seeing until today this marvelous face:
This sort of thing happens a lot, and is basically A Good Thing: there’s always more to be found in images and/or in one’s mind. The problem is often how to articulate, describe, convey what one descries. Another example from this morning, from the very same source material, in an unfolding I made a couple of days ago:
At first I saw the canine figure in the top third of the image, seemingly with forepaws raised in benediction, and the first thought was “ah! the God of Spaniels!”. And next I saw another and larger canine in the center of the image, and read that one as a fox. But this morning that central canine appeared as a spaniel in transports of delight, floppy ears flapping, smiling muzzle, and eyes expressing a degree of pleasure that I imagine for a young spaniel playing in surf. The figure I first saw, the God of, is a spectral presence, blessing the joy of the dog beneath.
Wholly imaginary, since the seed material was a stump, cut off flush with the ground:
and it may well be that nobody else sees what I see. And indeed, I had no idea there were spaniels to be descried when I snipped out a bit of the original image and mirrored it.