Saturday, November 08, 2008

Silver birch bark

click photo to enlarge
There are times when we see words as if for the first time. You know the occasions: you're writing something and you include a word, but it doesn't look right. You stare at it, and think, "I'm sure I've spelt it correctly", but the more you look the more wrong it seems. Then, instead of seeing the form of the whole word you start to see parts and individual letters, and you have to check with a source to see if, in fact, you have spelt the word properly because it looks like a word you've never seen before. This happens with me periodically, and apparently it's a widely experienced phenomenon.

The ability to see things as if for the first time, is a wonderful gift - though not necessarily with words when writing! But, to rediscover the magic of a person's face, an object or a place, and experience the sensations of that first look, can be wonderful. People report this feeling after a near-death experience, after coming through major surgery, or when facing a death sentence. But for some it can happen in the normal course of events. Many artists seem to be able to summon up the experience, and perhaps it can be taught or acquired. I find that it comes upon me in much the same way as I described with words; reasonably regularly, but of its own volition.

The other day I was looking at the bark of a silver birch tree before taking a photograph. The more I looked for a section that offered an interesting composition, the more the bark looked strange, odd, new and fascinating. I've looked at silver birches many times, so there was no good reason for these feelings, but I certainly enjoyed them. I chose the part above because I "saw" three-dimensional structures in the thin, papery bark - stepped, sedimentary cliffs, fractured stone, plains with outcropping rock; and running up to these angular zig-zags that looked like the leading points of an advancing army passing across a desert, seen from high above. Fanciful? Certainly. Fun? Undoubtedly. A bit weird? Probably!!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On