Sunday, August 31, 2008

Seeing vs. Believing


It's been a while since I've posted a shot of palm trees and sky. And telephone wires.

Before I looked at the photo I thought I had taken a picture of palm trees and sky in the shape of a V.

(Shouldn't we have found an alternative to wires by now? This is the 21st century. Wires seem so 19th century to me, tracing across the landscape like shoelaces, holding the world together. But that's beside the point.)

I've talked to other photographers about this; we think we see a shot. We point the camera, we even shoot. When we view the shot later, it's not what we had thought it was.

I didn't notice the wires before because they're so much a part of our landscape as to have become invisible. Until I looked at the photos. Wires everywhere.

And my V's not perfect, there's a gap in the left side.

It brings to mind a quote by the great photographer Dorothea Lange: "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." This is why you see photographers walking around making the little box with their hands and looking through it.

Obviously I'm still learning how to see without the camera. I'm also walking around all dreamy-eyed, because everything looks like a photo to me now. Since I've been taking pictures, I want to capture it all. But there's no urgency. There are plenty of telephone wires to photograph.

28 comments:

Laurie said...

I'm one of the weirdos who happen to love telephone wires. Your shoelace metaphor perfectly describes them for me. They're a little bit archaic but very necessary and, careful, we just might trip over them.

Lucky for us, you give us a photo every day so we can join you in your dreamy walk through life. Wires and all.

Islipian said...

I'm a sister in "not seeing til I see it in the photograph," believe me.

Interestingly, another blog I follow, ALSO posted a photo of power lines today! http://www.bluejake.com/archives/2008/08/31/sunnyside_wires.php (I hope that's ok to post here)

Jim said...

Just dont walk into a telephone pole while looking at the wires (that would make a great picture though).

Virginia said...

Count me in the sisterhood. I am famous for not "seeing" everything in the frame. I am especially guilty when I am photographing my grandchildren. It's all about their expression. Usually someone else has to clue me in regarding shadows, things that look like they are growing out of their heads etc. I like your photo today. I'm so use to wires, I honestly didn't notice.

JM said...

Everytime I see palmtrees I just have to click on the image! :-)
You are so right, Petrea! Wires are such an old fashioned ugly thing! How many times can't you get a proper picture because of them!?!?... Only a few times they deserve their own photo, but that is another matter...

pasadenaadjacent said...

Blue skies ...I miss them in the dog days of summer, wires or not! Like the quote.
Did you read that our (tall tall) avenue palms are at the end of their life cycle?

USelaine said...

That is like, soooo ellay, P.

Count me as a sister. Some of the best pictures I see are when I'm moving on the road and there's absolutely no place to stop - so a residual image stays in my memory for a while, driving me nuts...

Petrea said...

Thanks, all. Laurie, you are sweet.

The not-seeing sisters. Who knew?

P.A., I heard a whisper about this. Are the trees going to fall? A few homeowners need to know...

altadenahiker said...

Glad to see decorum has been restored...

J. said...

True vs. real. (3 words)

Coltrane_lives said...

To suspend a moment of life in a photo is really amazing when you think about it. And then to infuse that suspension with soul...wow! Not so easily achieved, but photographers/artists continue to pursue it because when you least expect it, MAGIC can happen. Keep pursuing. Ciao for now!

Trish said...

This is why I LOVE digital photo making. It allows me to take as many photos as I want and if I am missing something, like the wires in the shot, there is a darn good chance I will get them out of the shot in one or two of them.

What I do find on occasion is that sometimes, those little things that sneak in, MAKE the photo.

I'll keep clicking away.

I have to agree that the wires, while they can be photogenic, always somehow get in the way. The poles seem to take out a lot of drunk drivers too. In this day and age, we should be able to manage to get them underground!

Ms M said...

You have a "good eye" for photography; I really enjoy seeing your "take" on what's around you. The purple passionflower is gorgeous! And I like this shot of the lines of palms. Wires seem to be part of our lives; I can't take a sunset shot in my neighborhood sans wires. They are part of the "realism." :-)

Rose said...

Oh...
What a perfect sky...

pasadenaadjacent said...

It's a whisper to me too. You hear the alarm story on the front page but not the follow ups. What about Eucalyptus trees and that disease they suffer from, how are the bees doing?
Know a local horticulturist?

Petrea said...

Altadena, decorum? Not on my watch.

J., that was the original title. I'm saving it for something, don't know what.

Coltrane, perhaps not achieved in this shot. Those are the shots that make you gasp. It's different for every viewer. That goes to my theory that the artwork has no meaning on its own, and meaning happens somewhere between the work and the viewer's brain.

Trish, so true about the things that sneak in and make the shot. Also about drunk drivers...

Realism, Ms M. I could take more "real" shots of Pasadena. It's not all pretty, and I admit I lean towards the pretty stuff.

Rose, leave it to you to find something perfect. Welcome home.

PA: I heard nothing of danger to the eucalyptus trees. Bees I still read about in John's science magazines. But the palms, only whispers.

Palm Axis said...

It's true Red Gum Eucalyptus

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

The City of Pasadena has buried the wires along Ave 64, I believe. Someone pointed out to me that this is one of the entry points into Pasadena, so it's sort of a best-foot-forward public improvement project. Clearly the work on Arroyo Blvd. is in the same category (though the jury is out on the final product).

Putting wires underground costs beaucoup bucks. We don't have ice storms, and the occasional wind storm isn't enough to warrant putting funds into the effort.

meandering said...

I love the palm trees.

The telephone poles and all the wires...jury is out.

I do like them both when placed properly in a picture so the grow out of someones head.

Enjoy what is left of the weekend.

Petrea said...

Palm, six and a half years after the article was published, the trees I see on my regular walks seem fine. Maybe we don't hear about it anymore because the danger is past? I'm guessing.

WCGB, I imagine a wireless world. I know, I know, replacing infrastructure costs are huge. But I can dream.

Meandering, I've got plenty of pictures like that.

D.C. Confidential said...

If I remember correctly from when I lived in California, the reason wires run above ground is because they're easier and less expensive to repair after earthquakes. Too bad there isn't a better solution. California has beautiful, sunny, blue skies that are often obscured by utilities.

Great photo, btw! And count me into the sisterhood. I'm always finding surprises and unintended objects in my photos.

Petrea said...

Hi D.C. I hadn't thought of that. It makes sense.

Danial said...

hello.It's very look like california.

Petrea said...

Hi Danial, welcome. Yes, it's a typical California shot.

Vanda said...

Sometimes it's all about the wires. I took several version of this photo: http://valley-photo.com/content/valley_005_large.html
Originally it was the strange liquor store clown that attracted me, but then I realized the best image was where the whole jumble of lines and wires showed.

Petrea said...

Vanda, I know that clown. Vineland and Magnolia (or is it Burbank?). What a great shot. I recognize a few of the places you've shot; you found pictures I never thought of. What an eye you have. I really enjoyed your photos. Great website.

Vanda said...

Thanks. :) It's Burbank. I like your site.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Vanda. I like yours, too.