Friday, March 02, 2012

Lime trees, ageing and coincidence

click photo to enlarge
Like most people, during my younger years I saw the last quarter or so of my expected life span as something to be concerned about. Now that I'm entering that period I haven't banished all those worries about the possible course of my physical and mental health, but I have discovered that ageing can bring pleasures that the young don't always see.

I was reminded of this the other day when  I stopped off in Long Sutton to make my second visit to the lime tree avenue that leads to the local cemetery. I'd photographed it in August 2011 when the trees were in leaf, and I wondered what it offered when the branches were bare. A woman was walking her dog towards me and I made use of her presence as a complementary detail in my photographic composition. As she approached we exchanged greetings and fell into conversation. We learned that she was ninety years old, walked her aged, partially blind dog twice daily in a quite long circuit that included the avenue, and that, like us, she wasn't a native "Yellowbelly". We learned a little of her long life, the places she had lived, the things she liked to do and much else, all in the space of ten or fifteen minutes. As we went on our way I reflected that conversations of this sort with complete strangers, that are very common among older people, are much rarer with the young and middle-aged, and are often a real pleasure.

When I got home and started to process my photograph a thought that I'd had during my afternoon talk came back to me. Is the person I spoke to the same person that I'd included in my earlier photograph of the lime tree avenue? On close inspection of both photographs I find that, remarkably, it is! What are the chances? Probably greater than I might imagine, but an interesting coincidence nonetheless. And here's a further thought. A few weeks ago I was contacted by someone who had seen and heard about this particular avenue on television. She then searched for it on line with a view to going to photograph it, and finding my image, emailed me with a query about its precise location. I sent her a Google Maps link. What I'd be interested to know now is this: has she photographed it yet, and if she has, does her photograph include a white haired lady walking her dog?

I like to produce a sepia photograph every now and then because the effect pleases me. This photograph seemed to be a good opportunity to do so.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 80mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On


Anonymous said...

Sorry Tony but I think your strong wide white border is killing the image here. It is worse when clicking to enlarge. Spent a while using crude mask to get rid of the border and the picture just seems to jump back into life and is very effective then.
- John

Anonymous said...

A lovely photograph and an incredible coincidence to return there a year later and capture the same woman in the shot.  My life seems governed by coincidences to such an extent that it makes me wonder about the nature of things in the universe, where we might have come from, what is the meaning of existence, where are we going, and will the shops still be open when we get there.
LA :)

Tony Boughen said...

Hi John,

Ever since I've used the white border around images I've noticed that it works better with some than with others. However, what I've also noticed is that the ambient light in which you view this particular setup is probably more important. Consequently, for me it isn't usually an issue during daylight hours or when I have my desk lamp switched on (and it isn't with this image), but it can be in other lighting circumstances. The other factor that can have a bearing is how close your face is to the screen - closer is better.

I had a Comments conversation with someone a while ago regarding the white screen background that appears when you view an enlarged version of the image. This must have the effect of making your pupils smaller, ambient light has less effect, and consequently your perception of detail is reduced. Black would certainly be better, but unfortunately there seems to be no way to change from white.


Tony Boughen said...

Thanks LA.

I think that as we age our repeated experience of coincidences makes us regard them with less wonder than we do when we are younger.

On the subject of coincidence I was once preparing to give a talk on quotations and didn't include this one that I like because it is probably of minority appeal. It's by the novelist, Vladimir Nabokov:
“A certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish - but there was no diamond inside. That’s what I like about coincidence.”


Jan said...

Difficult to say which I like better—your photo and coincidences, or you quoting Nabokov and the complete randomness of it all. Beautiful capture, Tony.

Tony Boughen said...

Thanks Jan. I've always found life an intriguing puzzle. The trouble (or delight) is that just when you think you've got it worked out it pulls a fast one on you.