It's not just another day

In my post on a Suffolk walk, I mentioned my ingratitude for not fully appreciating the gift of a beautiful morning. In many ways we find ourselves in a time where the certainties of established religions have less of a hold on us and yet so many still perceive (almost like a fragrance that we can't name) a call to the spiritual that we can't ignore. That call provides us with a moral compass of sorts, but also has a bias towards beauty and truth. Mary Oliver's sublime poem "Wild Geese" expresses some of what I mean. The poem is from Mary Oliver's book Dream Work published by Atlantic Monthly Press.

Geese by Simon Jones

Geese by Simon Jones

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Some things we see or hear resonate with us, and we recognise their value and importance. For me, one such truth is the importance of appreciation, and recognising the superfluity of the wealth we have.

This concept is beautifully and simply expressed by Brother David Steidl Rast in the video below, I thoroughly recommend it. The video starts with the words

You think this is just another day in your life. It's not just another day, it's the one day that is given you today.

Just remembering and living the truth of that would in itself be a remarkable achievement.

 
 

Reflecting on Reflections

For whatever reason, I've always been drawn to incorporating reflections in my photography, and in this I know I am certainly not alone. One of the most well known photographs with a reflection was that taken by that astonishing master of the photographic art, Henri Cartier-Bresson, recording a man leaping over (or into) a puddle. The photograph, entitled Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare was regarded by Time Magazine as the 'Photograph of the Century'. Without doubt it is a superb photograph, and certainly proves my point that you're in the best of company if you use reflections in your work.

Gare Saint Lazare. 1932.. © SERGIO LARRAIN/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Gare Saint Lazare. 1932.. © SERGIO LARRAIN/MAGNUM PHOTOS

Using reflections in my own photographs

Reflections work best for me to help give a certain mood to a photograph, or more often, to help emphasise abstraction and colour.

Dog Walkers reflected on Enstwistle Reservoir, Lancashire. © Simon Jones.

Manchester Street Scene, © Simon Jones.

Manchester Street Scene, © Simon Jones.

I find that the swirls, smudges and softening that reflections can bring to a photograph make it seem more impressionistic, and I particularly appreciate how digital camera seem to assist in this regard, as I find they are extremely good at capturing reflections faithfully.

The use of reflection in painting

Monet of course created some of the most famous (and exquisite) paintings that contained reflections, not least the beautiful Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond

Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond, Claude Monet

Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond, Claude Monet

As you might expect, reflection has been used extensively by a number of artists, not least by the incorporation of a mirror (or it's substitute) in the work. The following examples by Picasso, Manet, and Van Eyck being only a small sample.

The mirrored shield of Perseus

I couldn't leave this topic without mentioning one of my favourite references of the use of reflection in literature - the mirrored shield of Perseus. As you may remember, whomsoever dares to look at Medusa is turned to stone, a fate Perseus cleverly avoids by using his shining shield (a gift from Athena) to allow him to see her reflection only. Now that really would be a photograph worth seeing!

Further resources

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A walk in Suffolk

I recently enjoyed an early morning walk near Minsmere in Suffolk. The land was touched with a heavy dew and the silence seemed deeper than usual, the bird song louder, my presence more accepted. The stillness encouraged the recognition of connectedness, and it seemed that my sense of awareness and anticipation, time itself, was more luminous and authentic. I am sure many of you will recognise the feeling I am trying to explain and would seek, as I do, to encourage it's presence in their life.

I have taken many photographs in Suffolk, a county I love visiting and will return to again in this blog, but I would give them all to have one that reflected a sense of that early walk. I did stop to take photographs, and at the time felt they might reflect some of the beauty of the day, but when I looked at them later I felt disappointed. Writing this now I realise my ingratitude and greed, perhaps some things will, perhaps should, elude the possibility of reproduction. Despite that, I am grateful that the photograph below serves as an ordinary reminder of what for me will always be an extra-ordinary walk in Suffolk.

Leiston Abbey Chapel with views over Minsmere Levels, Simon Jones.

Leiston Abbey Chapel with views over Minsmere Levels, Simon Jones.

Creating the composite 'Mariabronn'

Creating the composite 'Mariabronn'

As well as being a keen photographer, I have also more recently taken an interest in creating photo composites. I won't repeat what I've already written about this art form, but would recommend anyone interested to have a look at my reference post on this subject. I hope you find the background and links to resources interesting.

What I wanted to do in this post is talk a little more about he process I went through in creating my latest composite which I have entitled 'Mariabronn' (the name of the monastery in the book upon which I based my work).

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Photographic Compositing - An introduction

Photographic Compositing - An introduction

Any reader of this blog will be aware of my interest in the photo composite as an art form, and it is certainly an area I wish to develop personally and write about more. This post is intended both as my "central reference" about photo compositing, and an account of my journey in trying to employ the technique in my own creative expression. 

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