“God is watching us…from a distance.” ― Julie Gold
Tina is our host for this week’s photo challenge, and she takes up an appropriate theme: Distance, using quotes from a song by Julie Gold. Tina mentions that Bette Midler made the song famous, but my favorite version was recorded by Nanci Griffith. She sings it like an activist, as a protest song. It puts the responsibility for wars, poverty, disease, and hunger squarely on us. When you look at planet Earth from a distance, you don’t see these things. They are human inventions.
You may argue with me about disease being a human invention. My point is simply that a virus or a bacteria is another organism in Nature. The value judgment on it is our concept.
That being said, what I’m thinking about distance right now is that it’s difficult. Last night, through the technology of Zoom, I spent two hours with my kids, my sister, and my niece who live a couple of thousand miles away on the West Coast. Yesterday was my middle daughter’s birthday; today is my niece’s; tomorrow is my daughter-in-law’s. We were trying to celebrate our life connection while social distancing. My plane tickets for the West Coast must be converted to credit, and I will miss seeing them for an indefinite time.
Distance, however, is just distance. It is part of the perspective of life and allows us to understand connection and proximity. I am hoping that we learn many valuable things during this time. I am hoping that I learn to appreciate and accept distance even while I long for closeness.
Here is a gallery of photos of my “Safer At Home” housemate. We’ve always sought out open spaces.
And here’s a gallery of my West Coast kids, to whom I’m working on getting closer. My plan is to move to Oregon at the end of June.
As you navigate the space of this interesting situation, may you be safe and well, holding close what you deem most dear while appreciating the vastness of this wonderful world.
“I believe everyone should have a broad picture of how the universe operates and our place in it. It is a basic human desire. And it also puts our worries in perspective.” ― Stephen Hawking
“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” ― Steven Wright
“Distance lends enchantment to the view.” ― Mark Twain
“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is — infinite.” ― William Blake
“Look at everything as though you are seeing it either for the first or last time, then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Thank you, Patti, for challenging us this week to change our perspective as we photograph our subjects and for reminding us that Ansel Adams said,
“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
Patti challenges us with silhouettes this week. “They are a marvelous technique to add to your photographic repertoire because they can add drama, mystery, emotion, and atmosphere to your photos. They can also tell a story to your viewers.” Here are my silhouette stories:
I took this photo of my husband on the beach at my grandmother’s cottage on Lake Michigan with the Cannon AE1 film camera he gave me for Christmas when I was 17. The location is a place rich with three generations of memories. The subject is familiar and much beloved to me, but sadly also a memory. Jim died in 2008 at the age of 47. The sunset lighting adds a layer of romantic yearning that completes the picture.
This silhouette is my youngest daughter on stage at the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. We were attending an opera comedy cabaret performance where the audience was seated at cafe tables onstage facing a smaller stage set up downstage. Emily has been in many musical comedy performances and studied play-writing in college. The theatrical setting and her curly hair are the perfect components of her personal silhouette.
Finally, here is a gallery of landscape silhouettes. The story here is that I love to be outside with my camera discovering how the light of the sky is a background for all that happens in the world. And the world is a wonderful place!
Ann-Christine’s dreamy landscapes focus the challenge subject this week.
Is Dreamy a place somehow more perfect, more fantastic, more extremely beautiful, more blissfully hospitable? I often picture myself relaxing into beautiful places as I drift off to sleep.
Is Dreamy a relationship that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and buoyant? Is it one super-special person (McDreamy)?
Is Dreamy a state of mind – free, floating, and peaceful?
In my life, all these things seem Dreamy…and yet, each one is illustrated here by a photograph I took of something right in front of me in the real world, while I was awake. Does that mean that I’m living my dream?
Must be. I am so incredibly lucky!
Amy at “The World Is A Book” has invited the Lens-Artists to share Landscapes this week, and has given us absolutely stunning examples from her own albums.
This is my favorite photographic subject.
When I was just 10 years old, I got my first camera – a Kodak Brownie Starmite – so that I could take pictures on our family vacation to Hawaii. I had seen mountains for the first time just two years prior on a family vacation to visit cousins in Colorado, and felt engulfed by a deep awe. I wanted to take the scenery home with me to Illinois, but had no camera then. I soaked in every vista, eyes and arms wide open. I was so excited to be able to take my own photos when I got to Hawaii.
I remember feeling a crushing disappointment when I discovered that the little printed picture didn’t quite take in all that I wanted to fill it. I still feel that way, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying.
What do I love about landscapes? Long views give me a sense of freedom, a sense of the vast beauty of the world.
When I was a kid, my parents took me to the Field Museum in Chicago to watch travelogue presentations. I would emerge from the hall bounding like a gazelle. I loved the open spaces filled with natural wonders, like an alpine meadow of wildflowers begging me to run through them.There is nothing as exhilarating to me as a panoramic view of Earth.
It’s so difficult to get all that BIGNESS into a two dimensional frame.
I wish I had a lens that could do it justice.
There’s that “pinch me, I can’t believe I’m here” excitement of actually feeling the space around you in a beautifully large setting that’s impossible to get into a photo.
But I keep trying because I don’t want to let go of that feeling…ever.
I think I want my soul to be a huge landscape.
I am pleased that Joshua Tree National Park and Jeff Sinon were both mentioned in this challenge. I happen to be fans of both! And of Wilderness, of course. (There’s a page dedicated to Wilderness above – please take a look!)
Landscape has been an inspiration for me from a very young age. My father used to take me for walks in the Morton Arboretum in the far western Chicago suburbs. I was overjoyed to be set free running across open expanses of rolling lawn dotted with dandelions and trees. Suburban landscapes are quite domestic, though. I longed for something wilder.
I would stare out my second floor bedroom window towards the west, imagining that the frontier started just beyond the GAR Memorial Forest Preserve and the Des Plaines river. I finally learned that there were just more suburbs on the other side. Then, when I was 10, we went to Colorado to visit my cousins, and I saw a mountain for the first time. It was like all the magic of a fairy tale come true, more majesty than I could take in with my arms spread wide and my feet clambering tirelessly upward!
When I was 14, we moved to California, and I discovered a diversity of landscapes to love – the shore, the deserts, the redwood forests, the foothills and the Sierras.
By my 30th birthday, I had moved back to the Midwest to raise my four children in a less dramatic but safer environment. I fell in love again with the prairie.
But Wilderness calls me to the North Woods and the West whenever I can travel, and these landscapes are the ones I want to photograph with more care and passion (and better equipment!) in the future.
This is my passion. Landscapes – wide open spaces, gently rolling hills, big sky. When I was a little girl, my family went on outings to places like the Morton Arboretum. We would follow a walking path and come upon an open field of dandelions or daffodils, and I simply couldn’t contain myself. I would take off running, cartwheeling, spinning and singing….like Julie Andrews in the opening shots of “The Sound of Music”. Freedom and joy as big as all outdoors is the feeling that landscapes give me. I have met a few expert landscape photographers on the blog scene. They go above and beyond (literally) to get spectacular shots. I am not likely to be up at 3am to climb a snowy peak. I take my camera where I’m going and shoot the scenes that present themselves. I am still picking up techniques for making those shots more compelling. One is to have something really interesting in the foreground:
It’s more challenging to get depth and interest in a scene without those things. Of course, equipment plays a part. I don’t use a tripod; I don’t have a special lens. I end up with more flat, snapshot-type scenes. They’re missing a bit of drama, I suppose. Something to work on.
“Look wider still” was a slogan used by the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in the 70s for their program curriculum. My mother was a leader at that time and this phrase stuck with her. She connected it to all sorts of insights and still does, even now when she is just about to become an octogenarian. I’ve always thought of this phrase as it relates to the way I am stimulated and entranced by a panoramic view. As a very young girl, I loved looking at a spreading seascape or landscape. I was born in Massachusetts, grew up in Illinois, vacationed in Michigan at a beach cottage, and then lived in California for 15 years. My personal panoramas are waves on the horizon, infinite prairies and fields, and vast mountain ranges. These always make me feel that there is a bigger picture. My anxieties are founded in the smaller loops of stress and the claustrophobia that comes from forgetting to look up. The best way to look wider, to look up, to get a healthier perspective, is to climb to the top of something. James Taylor might suggest going up on a roof, but I prefer to be in a natural setting. Up there, I feel calmer, more peaceful, like I belong to something bigger, more ancient and more durable. There my petty problems fade away, and I breathe easier.
© 2014, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved