22 October 2012

Your Own Pleasure; Not the Approval of Others

From late August 2011 until August of this year, I did almost nothing of consequence except write. I posted nothing of that writing here, which explains the dearth of entries in this blog during that period. Perhaps I should have posted more of that writing here, but that is neither here nor there now. I am an old fashioned man in many respects. Attempting to write in the English language as well as I can while at the same time developing a thought logically and clearly, which are actually the same thing, gives me a great deal of pleasure. This is true even though the thoughts I attempt to express are for the most part frivolous and of no real consequence. That is of no moment to me because everything about life seems to be frivolous and of no real consequence to me from the larger point of view.

In August of this year I stopped writing anything at all heady. It seemed as if as each month passed the effort became more difficult. I fear that trend will continue now for the duration. Whatever the case, there followed this recent frolic of mine with photography. It has been an intense frolic at times what with attempting to learn as much as I could in as short a time as possible. I am now back to writing once again, however. It is as difficult or more so than when I left it in August. I need a break. What better break could there be than to chat with virtual friends about photographs?

Real photographers, both men and women, abide by a code. They seldom speak about their photographs. The idea is that their photographs must speak for themselves when put out there for others to see. In my own case, however, I have never claimed to be a real photographer. I feel no compunctions at all about talking at length about photographs including ones that I myself have taken.

Before I went back to search out the image of smoggy Mexico City that appears here just before the greeting to the Danes, I had completely forgotten that I had cropped it severely back then. This time when I stumbled upon the complete image, I knew immediately what to do with it. That image is obviously all about light. This is a subject that has come to fascinate me in my own amateurish way. How light passes through the atmosphere in difference conditions. How light strikes objects. How light plays on objects. In fact it is a subject that soon becomes endlessly fascinating once one takes the time and begins to notice.

During the time frame when those Mexico City snapshots were taken, I was shooting small resolution photographs on a pocket camera. The camera had the capacity for higher resolution photographs, but I simply did not know any better. I had no idea at the time what the term “resolution” meant let alone any idea about the implications of that meaning. All I knew was that if I set the camera to take the smallest images possible, I could put more images on the little disk before the camera had to be offloaded. Oh, how I wish I had some larger resolution versions of a few of those photos today! What is done is done, however, as is the case with so many other things.

No matter how modest one's talent in taking pictures, if one takes hundreds or even thousands of pictures, which I did during that era . . . and if one keeps them all, which I did—they are all easily stored on my exterior hard drive because the files are so small . . . then in later years one can go back and find many photos that one had completely forgotten ever existed. Here is the good part. Some very few of those forgotten photos will be good ones, with real potential. Complete accidents they were at the time, but the beautiful thing is that it makes no difference whether good pictures were accidents at the time they were taken or not.

The uncropped version of the photo of the smog in Mexico City is an easy example of this because the light there works in a somewhat dramatic fashion. It hits you over the head. I would like to show you two other less dramatic photos of light, accidents that I had completely forgotten but bumped into again recently when combing that exterior hard drive for other photos for sentimental reasons. Both of these were taken inside the National Palace in Mexico City.

I could not believe that I had taken this photograph when I first encountered it again. I double checked to make sure that I had not downloaded it from some other source. The strange perspective appeals to me now. The light makes the photograph though, particularly the reflections on the floor. It was a complete accident at the time it was taken.

The other photograph is even less dramatic.

Such an easy picture to look past. Yet, I find the light on the wall, on the banister, on the floor, on the door to be hypnotic the more I look at it. All of that was caught by luck as well as catching this stark scene with only one figure descending the stairway. Again, I would so love to have a large resolution version of this photograph.

I published those two photographs in the other blog not too long ago. Not one person expressed their approval of either one. I was not taken aback by this. It is to be expected. Drama or sweetness is what people crave in photographs. And of course, they are all in a great hurry. There is something important in that, I think. We all crave approval. It is the nature of the beast. One of the keys to real contentment in life, however, is to stop caring what other people think, stop looking to others for approval. To put it bluntly, the less one cares about other people, the easier it is to find contentment. Those two photos are pleasing to me. That is all I need.

Perhaps you should print off philosophical entries from this blog such as this one. Store them in a safe place for later reference. Old Stephen is not going to be around forever for you, you know.

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