Being home all day, every day, reading about death, hearing about people you know with Covid-19, has a way of narrowing and concentrating life, or at least that’s the way I’ve experienced it in the past week.
I’ve thought about what I care about. In the past, I’ve wondered whether, confronting disease and death, I’d fight or let life go. It’s still an abstract question, but less so. I can say that I’m much more conscious about what I love about life and the many people that I love.
When I looked over the pictures I’ve taken in the past week, I’m conscious that, as usual, they’re mostly landscapes and objects, taken on walks or when I notice something in the house that strikes me.
I walk this section of road regularly, every day lately. There’s always something to notice. Sometimes it’s another person walking–yesterday, an elderly woman picking up trash. Or its something about the light. In this image, the sharp contrasts of light and shadow. It was not quite this dark in reality, but this is what it felt like.
Another day is was the utility poles. I used to shoot them more. There’s something (to my eye) beautiful about them, even as they mar the landscape and sky. Here are two close variations on one of them.
This morning I took these, noticing the sun rising, while I had coffee. Sometimes I add contrast to an image or darken it a bit, to get what I see on the screen to match what was in my mind as I took the photograph. This morning, I had to reduce the contrast and lighten the sky. The color and contrast were too much on the screen.
If you don’t like “Photoshopping,” get over it. “Dodging” and “burning” to manipulate contrast were not invented by Photoshop, nor was “pushing” and “pulling” a photo. Ansel Adams and the f/64 group were great proponents of “transparently truthful” images, and they opposed “pictorialist” manipulation in the name of “art.” But Adams heavily manipulated his great landscapes, increasingly so over the decades. Check out this story and example.
You might be wondering where the “love” is in these images and this post. I’ve been thinking about that. I occasionally take images of people, whether strangers or family and friends. Here’s some I did while running a refreshment station on a 50/100 mile bike tour. And here’s a few from a Christmas trip, of strangers and family. But mostly I do landscapes and cityscapes. I’m drawn more to them, both in what I shoot myself and the images from other photographers that I spend time studying.
The love is for life. For the natural and built worlds around me. For art. I often listen to music as I photograph and post-process images. And for the people in my life, both near and far. Social distancing and narrowing my photography to my home and the square mile around it, both, have heightened my awareness of my love for life.
That conclusion might seem anti-climactic. It feels anything but that to me.