Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring means capital fun

God made two things inherently beautiful, and I think I know why: flowers, to be attractive to bees, and derelict buildings in rural settings, to be attractive to looters. These are probably the easiest things to photograph in the world. The degree of difficulty is very low, though. It's very hard to do something surprising in those settings.

Thus most flower and derelict building photographs are mediocre. Nothing wrong with that: mediocre art is pretty, and pleasing for being so. But good art succeeds in showing us something in a new way, in getting us to see the familiar as something strange. That's why I'm not a good photographer yet, just a mediocre one. That's OK - I'm still thinking about how to get better. And if photography is my medium--and it has to be, since I can't draw or paint my way out of a Cubist-themed dance party--it's not going to be an easy one. "Photorealism" is inherent to the genre and to the technology, so it makes it challenging to produce something good, at least using the definitions laid out above. (Think about it: some of the best photographs you've ever seen use blurring or double-imagery or some other camera trick, pushing aside photorealism in favor of something genuinely illuminating.) Some of Nicole's best pictures, using light or lines in an unexpected way, achieve this. I'm still working on it.

But hey, it's springtime and I'm in Washington DC for two weeks of research! The bees have sprung fully formed from the ether, the cherry blossoms are falling to the ground, and open windows allow us to be irritated by our neighbors' behavior in ways that we had forgotten we could be over the long winter. Few things I like more, at such a juncture, than a walk in the woods, in this case DC's Whitehaven Parkway, near Georgetown University. The result: mediocre photographs. Sorry.

PS: There's another way to take good photographs, namely, to take them of people. Human beings are often quite interesting when frozen in time. But I don't have the social fortitude to do that. So I'll have to think of something else.

PPS: I didn't mean it about God; I meant the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

PPPS: I did try to take "good" pictures. I found these mushrooms on a log. The result is maybe mediocre+.

PPPPS: I went out twice today, and got rained on twice. It's been sunny the rest of the day. What does this mean? God didn't like my Flying Spaghetti Monster joke? But I hadn't even made it yet...but it's God...maybe he knew I'd make it.

PPPPPS: Maybe the Flying Spaghetti Monster didn't like my God reference in line 1, and that's why I got rained on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seeing your Spring Beauties reminds me to get out to Palisades Kepler and Woodpecker Trail to see if they're out yet in Iowa. Such lovely early wildflowers. The yellow ones are pretty, too, but I can't see enough of the stem, leaves and petals to tell whether I can recognize them or not. I did get out the Wildflowers book you gave me to check. Around here, usually spring beauties are all alone.
This is my first time hearing about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I'll have to tell our Evolution faculty about it...