Other Worldly?

When we look at nature straight up it can seem beautiful, bland, familiar, ugly, particularly when it’s the “nature” we see every day. On vacation, far away from the familiar, perhaps, when we don’t have familiar categories for we’re experiencing, things can seem other worldly.

This image is familiar and beautiful, a small late in a housing development just east of Ada Village in Michigan. Even on a gray day, it’s pretty.

One of the things I enjoy about photography is trying to see things in ways that de-familiarize it, whether the built environment or non-human world. All of the images below are from the Grand River Nature Area east of Ada Village.

The first group of images are all long exposures–about 20-30 seconds–of reflections of trees in the Grand River. I was not sure what I’d get from the images. What I got struck me as akin to flames.

I also spent some time in the wetlands in the nature area. These images are not beautiful in any conventional sense. You can look for the familiar in them. But they’re interesting, in a way that we often don’t notice.

These images lead me to see nature as lines and tones. I’m not sure what a environmental biologist or activist would think of that. I wonder whether the habit of looking at the natural and constructed environments with an eye to de-familiarizing them would help us to better notice unexpected beauty, interest, and damage and stress.

Here’s two more:

Finally, one more of the river. It’s not as eye-catching as the other images, but I find myself drawn to the colors and to the sharp roots at the bottom, center-left.

That’s it for this week. COVID-19 numbers looked a bit better in some parts of the Michigan this week. So there’s reason to hope. But stay vigilant and disciplined. The new variants are more deadly and spread more easily. Hospitals are still strained and will be for some time, often with younger patients, not just those in the 40s and 50s, but even 20s and 30s. COVID seems to scorn the idea that if you’re young you’re safe.

But do have hope.

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