Thursday, May 01, 2008

Myths, mirrors and ponds

click photo to enlarge
When, as a child, I first heard the Greek myth about Narcissus and Echo, I found it interesting but highly improbable! Was I really expected to believe that this thirsty young man was so vain that he wouldn't drink from the pond he knelt over for fear of spoiling his own reflection, and so died for want of water? Yeah right! As we might say today.

The other thought that it prompted was, "Who invented the first mirror?" If dark pools of water were the place where man first saw a reflected image of himself, who took this concept a step further and made a portable, solid mirror? Today, by the wonder that is Wikipedia we can read that polished obsidian (a naturally occurring volcanic glass) was used for this purpose in Anatolia (modern Turkey) in 6000 BC. Further, that the Mesopotamians had polished copper mirrors in 4000 BC. And that metal-coated glass mirrors are thought to have been invented in Sidon (modern Lebanon) in the first century AD. Thereafter developments in coating glass improved over the centuries until today's mirrors with coatings of aluminium or silver came into general use.

But, the ready availability of cheap, high quality mirrors hasn't banished the fascination we have with reflections in water. I think many people have garden ponds, not only for the animals, plants and the different surface they add to a plot, but for the reflections and quality of light that they bring. Ponds change character with the weather, season and time of day, just like the rest of the garden, and their reflections change too.

Today's photograph is of the pond in my garden. It shows the water lily leaves that have started to grow strongly and break through the surface of the water. It also shows the wind-disturbed reflection of a dark and broken sky shortly before a heavy shower disturbed the surface of the water. I thought it had a nice semi-abstract quality, and it was with the shapes, colours and tones in mind that I took the shot, not as a representation of lilies. I've taken shots of reflections here before, usually featuring a willow tree, but today the sky and the lilies seemed to offer something better.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f16
Shutter Speed: 1/80
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On