March 14, 2017

A Photo Essay

For the Final Project for my Environmental Literature class I chose to do a photo essay about the ways nature can teach us life lessons. I wanted to share these five images as I have become close to after typing so much about them. Here is a (somewhat) condensed version of what I'm saying in each photo.

Letting Lessons Flow

Image One

The first image is of my friend, Sarah. We were on the outside deck of the ferry coming back to the city from Bainbridge Island. Like many days in Seattle, it was cloudy and sprinkling rain. The wind was harsh as we were on the water. Everything is much more intense while near water. It’s almost like there is something in the water that makes you want to feel, notice, and experience it much more deeply than if you were anywhere else. I believe I was able to capture this raw image because of the uninhibited feeling that took me. When I look at this portrait, I see the art of letting go by letting the wind take you. The way Sarah’s hand rests in the left third of the frame gives your eyes a movement to the right, to be read like a book. As your eyes move across the image, it begins to add more depth across richer tones. By shooting at a low aperture, the depth of field was deep, meaning the more acute focus on parts of Sarah’s hair and much less on others, tells the story of the wind, how it was blustery and nothing was on the same focal plane. Turning this image into black and white helps pull out the emotion of the moment. When images are simply black and white, instead of having the viewer's eye distracted by color and shade, one can tune into the mood that evokes the heart of the idea or concept. The imperfections of this image makes it perfect. The imperfections of humans are shown through moments like these, that are full of passion and beauty. Nature is the driving force behind what I see as beautiful which creates my natural, outdoorsy, artistic style.

Image Two

This image was of a field light out my window. The light in the top right corner of the frame could represent the sun and how it shines through to humans. A viewer’s eye is first directed there because of the light surrounded by the blacks in the image. The raindrops on the window are just like the many different people in the world, as not one person is the same, a raindrop does not have a true match either. Just as Thomas Merton describes in his piece, Rain and the Rhinoceros, when the rain comes down, it doesn’t think of where it will land or why it is falling. It just does its thing, it rains. “Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody…” (546), it is simply being itself. Just like the light in the back, it is whole, one, shining down, selling nothing, judging nobody or discriminating who will get its light. It is just showing it’s light, exactly how we all should individually shine our own unique sparkle of our individual soul.

Image Three

In the top right corner of this photo of the water, I see a nondescript line where the highlights turn into shadows. The contrast in this image is very noticeable, due to the edit in black and white. We see lighter specks in the dark as we see dark spots in the light. This is a representation of nature’s yin and yang. There is good and bad in the world. We cannot have the good without the bad, and we cannot have the bad without the good. The desert is an example of a place that is barren, yet a beautiful landscape which gets often overlooked. This takes a special kind of eye to find the “good” in the “bad” and realize that there are treasures to be found wherever one is.

Image Four
The water droplets captured in mid-air in this photo remind me of the stars in the night sky. The background being mostly dark, the water reflects a whiter light that make them stand out. The passage, “They do not see that the streets shine beautifully, that they themselves are walking on stars and water, that they are running in skies…” (Merton), from Rain and the Rhinoceros, is a description of the city folk running around when it’s raining going about their business, thinking the rain is making it harder for them to get things done. These people do not have the eye of a someone who sees this rain as a festival. Merton celebrates this moment while being in the rain, his bucket of joy in his heart is being filled with the rain. Ultimately, the question becomes, why not celebrate this festival of the rain falling down to the ground which comes from the sky and observe its meaninglessness while looking at the bigger picture? These raindrops bring life to the city, and connect the ground to the sky.

Image Five

Raindrops create ripples which have the potential to create waves. The power of just one raindrop, or one person, has the ability to change the energy of a place. These ripples that we can create as humans should inspire us to do what we love and spread our talents, just as ripples spread until they do not last any longer. When one does what they are meant to do, love flows from their hearts because they feel connected to the people and places they have always meant to be shown. I have always felt a particularly close connection to nature, and particularly water, in its many forms. Whether it be skiing on snow, being born in the rainy city of Seattle, falling asleep easily by the sound of rain and the gentle rock of a boat, or hiking to lakes and waterfalls in the summer just to swim, water connects me to my passions.

xo, Hallie

Work Cited
Merton, Thomas. "Rain and the Rhinoceros." The Norton Book of Nature Writing. By Robert 
              Finch and John Elder. College ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1990. 546-553. Print.

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