Monday, March 25, 2013

The strength of trees, the fragility of glass

The strength of trees is impressive, They bend just enough to withstand considerable winds, and send their roots wide to survive periods of drought. Unless struck by lightning or weakened by infestation (or attacked by chain saws) they tend to survive a very long time, during which they do many things important for animal and plant life.

When I look at a tree, I'm aware of some aspects of its structure, of how it grows, and I even have a rudimentary understanding of photosynthesis (though I studied such things when I was young, before making the decision to devote the working part of my life to the arts). This fits perfectly with liking to view in the abstract, with no purpose beyond pleasure. To me, no matter how much knowledge and understanding one can acquire, it only adds to the pure sensory enjoyment of the world around us. It's the same with something as "simple" as viewing the night sky in a dark, clear environment. The feeling of awe is much like what we experience as children, but becomes even greater when, for example, we spend enough effort studying astronomy and math to gain some appreciation of the vastness of cosmic distances, the depth of time. These are so many orders of magnitude greater than what we experience directly in our brief lives on this tiny planet!

Well...looking upward from the roots at that massive trunk shows some of the strength, as well as the fractal patterns of branching. Below, I took two approaches to highlighting the delicate twigs at the end of the progression.

And now for something completely different. Glass is obviously frangible, and can easily be transformed from a flat plate to a pile of shards. Sometimes the pattern of breaks can lead to something interesting to look at, at least for a nutty photographer intrigued by reflections and geometry. I suppose I  could say something about the trees outliving the artificial structure, or the wood deteriorating because it has been separated from its organism and is no longer living. For me, though, this is pretty much an abstract composition. It's a collection of found objects, whose shapes intrigued me, but only when I contrived to view them from an oddly skewed perspective.

The curves in what you would be right to assume are essentially straight objects (wooden boards, metal window frame components) are the result of using a fisheye lens. Unlike a typical rectilinear lens, a fisheye is designed to curve all lines that do not go through the central axis. The bending enables a very wide field of coverage. They were initially intended to photograph the full sky, or a very large portion, for meteorological studies.

By the way, notice that one rod goes diagonally almost exactly through the center, and is rendered as straight. I love the contrast between that and all the curves!



  1. HI, Jess. Caught up on the blog today, and as always enjoyed the prose as much as the photography. Bravo!


    1. Thanks for following, and thanks for reading!


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