Widen the lens – how?


side porch

Always, the unconscious is present, making this or that comment in our days, usually quite a bit ahead of our awareness. That’s part of the mystery, the fun, and the intrigue of making art.

But this picture made me wonder if there weren’t ways to build in a practice of less-conscious captures?

I mean something more than accepting that scrap of fabric that fell from somewhere and landed on a quilt, begging for inclusion. And I mean more than embracing a wicked mistake and owning it as part of a now-changed design.

I mean consciously building in a more random catalog. Anybody have any ideas about how to do this? Does anyone do this already (that they know of)? I’d love to hear.

The umbrella picture struck me because I shot it after composing a series of careful studies of the unfurling, magnificent hosta that line our sidewalk. I composed the way I usually do and had some thread of text forming in my head (something about the glory of spring and the changing tides of opinion — in this case regarding hosta — a pedestrian plant that I used to dislike, but now appreciate for its reliability and willingness to endure all kinds of stress — from rabbit-dining to cold shocks, mashing, and even clips by the lawn mower). As an afterthought, I snapped this dappled light and wet umbrella on my way in the door.

I liked this picture so much more than any of the careful shots, that I had to wonder what else I am missing by pointing my lens in predictable directions.  The rake with its signs of recent bed-clearing, the umbrella still wet with a spring rain, and most of all, the dappled  light… these elements collectively said “SPRING” better than my careful compositions. What ELSE am I missing by pointing my lens in ‘pretty’ directions? By deciding in advance what constitutes an image of something, in this case — spring?

And speaking of spring, here are some more shots of my neighborhood and front yard.


a snobby conflict about flamingos years ago led many in Newton to adorn their yards with them


our front yard – these pansies have suffered in the recent cold


one of my favorite nearby gardens


another beautiful garden on Oxford Road

On the route where these pictures were taken I found a lovely hole-ridden grey piece of something – I don’t want to gross anyone out, but it is probably a piece of Kleenex.


found object has become a ‘house’ quilt

More on that tomorrow! But here is a sneak peek:


light coming through

4 thoughts on “Widen the lens – how?

  1. Mo Crow

    oooh did you paint the tissue black and prick holes in it? and about the magic that is found in the things glimpsed from the corner of the eye, it’s best not to try to see them front on as they are shy and easily disappear, they like the slant…
    & love this line
    “sidelines shift towards the centre”
    said by Tom Phillips who made the ongpoing altered book “A Humament” that was also published by Thames & Hudson in what he named a democratic reproduction

  2. Nancy

    Dee~ I like to do both…compose a shot and just point the camera in the general direction (often while driving). One of my favorite things to do is to photograph ‘up’ from under the flowers, shrubs or trees. I love the surprise of these shots 🙂

  3. saskia

    as you probably know by now I take my photo’s with my phone and have no possibility of focusing, very often the reflection on it makes it impossible for me to see what I am shooting; once back home can I really see the results on the pc, often times disappointing but sometimes I look and say to myself What and Why this shot and then ah, yes ThatWasWhy and it has managed to capture the essence of a certain spot or object.
    I think you have to take many pictures and not overthink, if that’s possible.

    am Very Intrigued by the last pic: what and why and more please

  4. deedeemallon

    I didn’t paint the tissue. Machine stitched to a heavy cotton – (cotton duck perhaps?) then back lit… makes it look dark… the light is coming through the needle holes.

    Mo, I love the idea of these captures requiring a sidelong approach, so as not to scare them away!

    Literally changing one’s perspective, Nancy, is an ingenuous and straightforward way to get another view. Thanks for that reminder.

    Saskia – you rightly point out that phone pix offer a real opportunity to both shoot pictures when you might not otherwise, and also, the glare providing a kind of mystery… I find that, too.

    more on the Kleenex house tomorrow… just took another walk and found some more intriguing paper bits!


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