Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Change Your Perspective

“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.”

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Angles

Ann-Christine challenges us to illustrate the difference angles can make on our perception of the world. I am reminded of the ancient Indian story of the blind men and the elephant, retold in the poem by John Godfrey Saxe that begins like this: 

It was six men of Indostan 
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant 
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation 
Might satisfy his mind.

From my photo archives, I found an album of pictures taken five years ago next week on my “birthday cruise”. I had been working at Discovery World, a museum in Milwaukee that owns a replica of a 19th century cargo ship they named The Denis Sullivan. For my birthday, I was gifted a short trip out of the harbor and back to dock. There was absolutely no wind that day, so though we unfurled the sails, we didn’t go very far or very fast. In the calm, I found that taking photos from all different angles became the excitement of the day. 

 

My perspective on sailing Lake Michigan, therefore, was all about tranquility and discipline. The crew had everything “shipshape” and moved like clockwork. However, I’ve read accounts of shipwrecks on the lake that must have been the picture of chaos and terror.

Perspective makes a huge difference. In this complex world, we must remember the danger of a single story and humbly leave room in our imaginations for something outside of our own experience. 

So, oft in theologic wars 
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance 
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

The shadow side is dark but not evil.frame b wIt may look like a negative, but it is not bad.

might be giants

A shadow presents a contrasting view. 

shadow-bench

And may highlight something you might otherwise have missed. 

P1040142 (2)

So I try to appreciate the shadow side as well as the sunny side. After all, we need both in order to see the richness and depth in life.

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Shadow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

What a great thing to contemplate: scale.  How overwhelming our lives become when our scale references are distorted!  For example, how imposing our thoughts can seem on the landscape of our lives.   My daughter gave me an illustration of this: imagine someone holding a large book in front of your face and asking you what you saw.  You’d see the book and maybe a bit of the room from your peripheral vision.  Now, if you moved the book to one side, you’d still see the book, but you’d also see more of the room.  It’s hard to make thoughts go away, but you can take them out of the forefront.  That’s what meditation is about — being aware of your thoughts, but not letting them dominate your view.   We make so many mountains out of mole hills in this culture.  There is so much OMG; like MSG, it can make us feel lousy.  Media hyper-activity and fear-mongering is like that, I think.  We need to dial down the lens, deflate our egos, maintain a humble perspective.  We are one leaf on a vast and robust tree of life.   We are beautiful; the tree is beautiful.  We are not greater than or less than the rest. 

© 2015, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

Scale

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

“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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

Sand structureDribble castles, only inches tall

“Photos aren’t objective – they show what we want them to show.”  Concepts aren’t objective: they reflect our thinking.  Delusions aren’t objective.  Our thinking is only our thinking.  It is never the whole Truth.  Like castles in the sand, permanence is delusion, size is delusion.  Shifting perspective is the dance of the cosmos. (see this illustration of the Scale of the Universe)  “Solid stone is just sand and water, baby/sand and water and a million years gone by.” (Beth Nielson Chapman – in a song she wrote for her late husband; click here to listen)  Listening now, I wonder: what is ‘alone’? What is ‘death’?  Listening beyond the end of the song, I hear a cardinal singing outside.  I am not alone, and life is all around.  That’s what I really want to show.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

This week’s photo challenge is about a grouping of perspectives: the big picture, a relationship, and a detail.  I like the idea of shifting points of focus because awareness and depth probably can’t be captured at first glance in any circumstance.  Perhaps the way you approach a scene can tell you a lot about yourself.  When you go to a party and walk in the door, what grabs your attention first?  Do you look at the big picture – how the place is laid out, how crowded it is, what music is playing, what food fragrances are in the air – and get a feeling about it all at once?  Do you look for people you know and zero in on them?  Are you drawn to particular objects and familiar or quirky things about the decor?  If you find yourself spending time exclusively on one aspect, do you want to challenge yourself to turn to the others to see what you might be missing?  It might be an exercise in awareness worth looking into.  Here is a grouping of shots from my second year hosting the Wiencek family Thanksgiving: