Saturday, December 4, 2010

Always Expose for the Shadows of the Subject

"Always expose for the shadows of the subject..."   so says my 1948 focal guide retrieved from storage a few weeks ago.  Somehow the advice suggests other connotations....the realms of metaphor... " always expose for the shadow of the subject."

The other day  it was the Walter T. Foster painting book, Seapower that got me thinking this way.
I had looked at the  10" x 14" teaching book  with absolutely no intentions of trying to paint the ocean or the cliffs I live above and yet I

enjoyed perusing the step by step paintings and the tips and clues to doing the same.
"If you continually think in large masses of light and shadow ..."    "Always think and paint the large masses first..."   "...pick out the lighting...then you will know exactly where you are going."
  So if you know where the light emanates from, you will know where you are going; that makes more than sense to me.

Later in the day, out and about on the land,  I found  the painting advice impacting how I saw the ocean waves, the light on the rocks, the blue of the sky.  Lessons for painters are first and foremost, lessons for the eye.

Writers must see carefully too and one's eye must be attuned to many realms.  It's good to be able to see one's own framework of understanding, to filter the light from the dark.  Every heart frames reality in its own terms, its own limits.  To have an impact it needn't be large, but there must be an intersection with other frames of reality other than one's own.

I look at the sea.  Clouds are stretched like peach tinged taffy along the horizon. Light is scattered across the waters so white and shimmering  in areas that the eye can barely absorb the beauty without reflexively looking away.   I can change my visual perspective and for a moment the waters in front of me appear like a bowl, but I know the horizon is distance beyond my scope.

There's a boat out there carrying its own reality across the waters, but to me it is little more than a dark speck.  We are often in each other's view, but seeing eye to eye, well the eyes and the heart can take a lot training. 

Such are the topics that have been on my mind lately.  You might enjoy the essay I  wrote this week and posted on Write Purpose  "Why We do the Things We Do "

Now that I have read  my old focal guide, I want to see if I can translate it to my digital camera.   My  notes to my self need to say.."Always be aware of your tendency to just point and shoot on automatic..."   and of course that too has metaphorical implications; I'm not just talking about taking pictures.



I appreciate the reminder to look at things carefully, and know where the light eminates from . . . especially this Advent season.


GretchenJoanna said...

Hmmm...just today I was becoming aware of my own point-and-shoot tendencies...I do that instead of being slow to speak and quick to hear. Your metaphor will help me keep that thought beyond this day.

Carol............. said...

I really enjoyed your post and the messages it translates...I have at times just verbally pointed and shot and ended up in a heap of trouble LOL.

The book looks be able to paint like that...(sigh).

Rachel Federman said...

Gosh, I need this lesson especially tonight. After reading your generous and amazingly insightful response to my blog largely informed by your blog, I felt (feel) somewhat horrified and embarrassed. I'd written too quickly, I pointed and shot, without thinking through, adjusting for shadows/nuance.