Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Successive Rivulets - Get Closer

I try to shoot at least four times a week for my own personal work. Sometimes it's difficult to fit that in, but it is imperative to my mental health that I'm not always shooting for other people and other peoples aesthetics. While great photographs can be made all over the world, and some great photographs can only be made in very specific and exotic locales, I firmly believe that art is all around us if we only take the time to look for it. Many times, I often cover the same local territory over and over again, looking for something that has changed in the landscape, something I might have missed on previous trips, or something that my mood allows me to see in a different way.

There is a great section in the book Ansel Adams at 100 where prints of the same negative as Adams printed them many years apart are set on opposing pages of the book to compare the way that he handled the prints as his mood and his philosophy changed over time. "The negative is the score and the print is the performance." Adams was fond of saying. Not only does my mood and life experience change how I might interpret an image that I took many years ago, but it also changes the way I see the world around me at any given time for the very same reasons.

So many things other than just vision go into the way you perceive the world around you, and many times, it will be one of my other senses that kick in and allow me to photograph a scene that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. On an early morning walkabout through one of the cemeteries that I frequent, I was intrigued by the sound of running water where I had never noticed it before. I got off the path and followed the sound to a small stream that was running out of a duck pond. I don't know why I had never heard it before, but I hadn't. Maybe it was muffled by foliage, maybe the water had recently risen causing this overflow, or maybe the rocks at the bottom of the drop off had rearranged to make the sound of the splashing more audible.

As I walked up and down the stream looking for the photograph to present itself, I was lulled by the sound of the water. Like listening to someone who is whispering, the water pulled me in, urging me to get closer so that I wouldn't miss a single important sound. As I drew nearer, I began to feel a light mist of water on my skin. It was cool and comfortable and reassuring and I could feel that the image was near. The water went from taciturn and tranquil above the rocks, to clamorous and coarse below. It was this transition that I wanted to capture. It was as if the personality of the water was changing, becoming more aggressive as it worked its way into the abyss. The water wasn't timid. It plunged recklessly over the ledge and splattered on the rocks below. Gathering itself in a pool below these rocks, it regrouped and continued on its way, disappearing into the ground.

©2010 Scott Bulger, All Rights Reserved
ISO 100 ----- 200mm ----- f22 ----- 4.5 seconds


Jennifer R. Bernard said...


Great write up and another incredible image.


Hannah Phelps said...

Thank you for sharing the successive moments that lead to art.

Will Michael Photography said...

Spectacular image. Simple and elegant.

Lucy Corrander said...

If you hadn't said this is water, I wouldn't have known. I like its smoothness - and smoothness isn't something I associate with water so it's a bit disconcerting.

I like your phrase about walking thorough one of the cemeteries you frequent. I was frequenting one today. Wonderful places - though I hope not to be moving into one myself for a while yet.


Pat Tillett said...

great narrative and photo! I would have never guessed...

Mr. J said...

Great story to accompany the photograph. It's what I often speculate about when I see photos that aren't entirely clear at first glance.