Monday, November 24, 2008

The world in a puddle

click photo to enlarge
"...imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for."
Douglas Adams (1952-2001), English author and satirist

If mankind is to disappear from this world perhaps it won't be, as some imagine, a gradual decline with pockets of people hanging on until finally the last Adam and the last Eve expire. Maybe, as Douglas Adams' quote that uses the water in a puddle as a metaphor for mankind suggests, it will be sudden, a surprise, something we don't see coming. However, I don't foresee the earth being destroyed by part of a Vogon constructor fleet making room for a hyperspace bypass, as in Adams' book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: rapidly accelerating climate change, a pandemic or a meteor impact seem the current favourites!

I came across the above quotation a while ago, quite incidentally, when looking for something else. But it stayed with me, like many of the best quotations, because it offered a different perspective on a familiar idea. The way Adams plays with and extends the metaphor is clever, humorous and thought provoking. It also shows, in a small way, how good prose and fiction can make powerful, perhaps even more telling, contributions to a debate that most think of as the province of science and politics.

But enough of all that doom and gloom, and on to the gloom in which I took this photograph! The blueness comes from the fast-fading light of evening. As I passed the puddle the yellow of the leaves seemed to glow against it, and I grabbed the image. A wide open lens and a touch of negative EV gave me just enough speed to maintain a sharp shot and keep the camera at 100 ISO.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22mm (44mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/20
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On