Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Eloquent Eye

This week-end while trying to solve the mystery of the calf that disappeared (no, we have not figured it out), I watched two programs that really stirred my imagination in different and yet similar ways.

The first came from Netflix, Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye. Stieglitz, born in 1864, was a photographer, gallery owner, promoter of the arts, complex man, lover of Georgia O'Keeffe (and a few other women although the film skipped over that), and one of the first to see photography as part of what some call the fine arts.

The film originally was on PBS, American Masters series. It explored Stieglitz's beginnings, his drive, his contradictions, and the artists with whom he was contemporary and with whom he both supported, befriended, and sometimes ended the relationship.

I was sitting back on the sofa from where I generally watch television when I realized I had to get closer to the screen. I never do that, but I had to see more details of those photographs. I always admire the work of photographers but particularly back when Stieglitz was learning to make the media into what it became and when it took so much more skill to get a quality photograph.

Stieglitz said that only the photograph can capture the moment. That doesn't mean a painting cannot evoke the same feelings but the painter on location is working with a series of moments and in a studio using memories and drawings. The photograph is the one thing that instantly stops a moment in time and tries to capture it-- not that anything really can. We have a memory of what we experienced and it travels with us but do we cloud that memory with other ones, with what we brought with us?

After returning from the beach, Parapluie and I discussed the way we both were there, often photographing the same things even though not at the same time, but did we see the same things? Do any of us see what another does even when we look at a photograph or painting?

That knowledge always frustrates me when I post photos here because computers change proportions and colors from one to another. I don't even see them the same from my laptop to this computer. I cannot possibly know what anybody else will see.

A photo cannot bring back the smell of the sea, the feel of the wind against skin, the texture of the sand under feet or hands, the roughness of the rocks, the squishiness of the sponges, the coldness of the water in the tidal pools. It can trigger a memory of those things. Even for someone who was not beside me when I snapped these photos, it will remind them of their own similar time at the ocean or even what they imagine it would be like if they have never visited a beach.

I don't think this quote was in the film but I particularly like it from Alfred Stiegtlitz: In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.

These photos are the first from the trip last week to the Oregon Coast. These are the little vignettes, the tiny things that particularly draw me to tidal pools. I love how the pools and rocks change with each high and low tide, the movement of the starfish, the colors with how the light strikes them. Of all the things I enjoy at the coast, tidal pools have to be high on the list.

The ocean is huge. The feelings it inspires are of the infinite, but for me the tiniest little sea creatures are equally inspiring. It is all about life, death, existence, survival, innovation, and creation. The cove from which these photos came is a very healthy ecosystem and its energy was particularly high with the lowest tides of the year exposing places humans only rarely see.


Parapluie said...

I love this tide pool photo series. You have a magnificent eye for the beauty of marine life teaming in the tidal region.
I see a difference in what we photographed. Yours is focused on the healthy areas of the beach. After reviewing my photographs I have to say that I see some human impact on the region next to the high water line. The runoff from the houses is darkening areas of the sandstone just below the sea wall. Life is crushed by beach walkers on the rocks of the tide pools. So the photographs go beyond art to documenting life that may not survie too much loving of it.

Rain said...

Interesting observation. This is one of the healthiest tidal pool areas I have seen and that's because it has very limited human contact unlike many other places I have been where people are all over the tidal pools and rocks. I waded into the tidal pool areas but tried to tread very carefully where I walked and FarmBoss said it wouldn't hurt the anemone to walk on them. I wasn't so sure but then something else likely would have eaten them as that is the way of the sea.

We noticed how the starfish have made a difference in the mussel population. They are healthy and large above the line starfish can reach and few below it. We got one photo of a starfish eating a mussel, which was cool but I opted not to include it in this series.

The ocean is about creation and destruction, death and life, and you cannot look at it without thinking of the potential for both. I have seen a lot of places along the coast where i thought man had contaminated it but this area seemed pretty pristine still to me and the runoff was more a product of natural runoff that you could see without houses above also-- but who knows for sure without chemical testing, which likely the state does do as if there is unhealthy runoff, they put up signs.

robin andrea said...

Beautiful photos, rain. You do capture the awe-inspiring nature of the coastline. How lucky to have been there during a minus-tide.

I often use photoshop in an attempt to convey what I actually saw when I was photographing, but that still doesn't compensate for computer screens altering colors. Even from one photo application to another, the light and contrast, color and saturation changes. Still something inherent the moment is there, which is why we love snapping those photos.

Ingineer66 said...

Great photos. I love wandering around tidal pool areas.

Darlene said...

Wonderful photos. I love the blue of the tidal pools. I need to keep this post to study the photos over and over again. You have such a good eye for the texture found in nature.

Photography is a way to keep the pristine images of areas that will probably become polluted in time.

Kay Dennison said...