She whispers my name... Only I can hear

Sunday, July 06, 2008

She Sings to Me

There is a place I know
Not far from here
More than just
A place…

The night was warm
I was coming home
From an evening out
Feeling a bit down

It was an easy choice
To change my route
And follow the river home

I pulled the car over
When I came to that place
I got out and began walking
In the moonlight

Catching the Beaver
He slapped his tail
Loudly on the water
At my approach

Shimmering rings
Spread outwards
Here and there
In silence

As he and the others
Made themselves scarce

In a moment he reappeared
Slapped again
And looked carefully
At me
Sizing me up

He then followed me
Matching my stride
As I walked beside
The river

The river…

She is a mighty presence
Along this particular stretch
Almost a mile wide
Reflecting the silent moonlight

You cannot walk here
And not feel it
Feel it deep down
In your soul

If you are open
And perhaps a bit lucky

She will feel you too

It was here that the river
First spoke to me
A few years ago

I had come there to meditate
I became aware of the rivers presence
I felt her strongly
In my heart

She helped me in those days
And she helped me
Again that night
Singing of love
And all the sorrows
We hold in our hearts
And how lucky we are to have them
So as to learn wisdom


adi said...

the wisdom is to move on, that everything is transitory, and every moment, every experience will pass and that nothing will remain still, perhaps, apart from death.

Lydia said...

So very beautiful. Exactly what I needed to read this early morning hour. To be reminded that the sorrows in my heart are enriching, so comforting, so true.

Lynn said...

What a lovely poem Bobb. My DH often takes the Delta/Sacramento River drive home from work on Fridays even though it takes much longer than the freeway route. It relaxes him, he enjoys the two ferryboat rides it offers, and the fish he sees jumping out of the water...even an occasional/rare whale siting! Glad that beaver beat his tail and woke you out of your down spot.

Lynn said...

PS: I love your photos too, just the ones I would have taken as well. Especially the woman painting...she's good...takes the whole scene home with her on canvas. Love the reeds and cat tails too and old tree stump...all very very beautiful.

Hopper said...

nights of travel that rushed along and went like a river obeying its call to the sea... I waded out knee deep... felt the sand and stones beneath my bare feet... the sound of the reeds rustling in the breeze... so supple... so soft... the cat-tails pattering the shore the dragonflies... and I for a breath watch the two sides... the stars and the trees... the moon and the tides... my kayak on a barachois... my eyes upon Venus...


lovely poem bobb... flowing and gentle like the river the words emulate... and the pictures add to the piece as a whole... especially like the reeds...

thanks for sharing friend...


Lydia said...

The photo additions to this post are gorgeous. I love those cattails!

human being said...

you paint both with your words and with your camera...

as a teen, once my sister and i tried to cross a river... we couldn't... since then i have repeatedly found out how she sings softly and fills your hands with lots of gifts when you just walk along it...

Bobbb... can't just say you understand the river very well... seems she understands you more...

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

Spoken like the river itself Adi
Thanks for stopping by

Thank you Lydia
The river is a great reminder
She never lets me forget
It is the whole of experience
That makes life worthwhile

Glad you liked the cattails
They were just begging to be photographed

I could not resist photographing the woman
She was using wet oil pastels
And painting with no other tools than her own fingers

Thanks for the words Jon
Always appreciated
Nice reflections

Yes indeed dear HB
The river understands me quite well
We have some strong bonds in common
Including a love of birds…

Hopper said...

Hi Bobb...

thanks so much for your thoughts on photography... I've been thinking that I am sort of self taught... trial end error (mostly error!) has been my method lately... I take lots of shots... trying to see what the lens sees instead of what my eye sees... and I've been getting some help from a new friend of mine who's something of a photographer himself... though he's still working on the finer points... and maybe you could give me a push in a direction with a question we've ben hashing out lately...

seems like lots of photography books and writing and teaching talks about the photo telling a story... they say it speaks of something... well aside from the elements of the craft, how does one go about taking a shot that tells a story... I know that's sort of like asking a poet where inspiration comes from (usually I tell fledgling writers that inspiration grows on the inspiration tree, a magical plant that few are lucky enough to find in a lifetime of looking ;)... but really though... is it the image that the photo captures (say a boy in an upstairs window of a house that's riddled with bullet holes) that tells the story or is it the composition of the piece that tells the story... can a stone tell a story in a photo??? do you even know what I mean??? I'm not too sure I'm able to be clear about this... but your comments have been very helpful so far and I'd love to hear anything else you'd be willing to say on the topic...

thanks again Bobb... and I'll talk to you again soon...


Honour said...

Bobb, I am pleased to finally meet your river that you have spoken of before ... she holds wisdom and stillness for you -- and now for all of us. Thanks for the introduction ...

human being said...

yesterday i was talking with one of my students on the phone... she was asking me about a recurrent dream she had: river...

after explaining about the significance of rivers in our dreams, i told her perhaps her dreams wanted to tell her just to flow... and not to ask anything in this phase...
she agreed.
then i was reminded of your commnet on one of my posts...

"The river does not ask
It just flows"

and then this poem...
now i'm here to read this once again and thank you for your inspiring wisdom flowing like a river in our lives...

also thank you Bobbb for your other precious comments... i really appreciate them... you are a very understanding friend...

regarding BBC... you are right... but i thought about that analogy you had in your poem...
think magpies too are created with a purpose...
don't we need every now and then to be shit upon?
blessings and peace

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

True true Human Being
And I have caught my share
Of bird droppings
In life.

More often than not
I have grown
Or both
From the experience

I was hard, I know
But it had nothing to do
With Magpies, Owls, or even Crows

It was the symbolic reference
To violence against women

That was wrong

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

seems like lots of photography books and writing and teaching talks about the photo telling a story... they say it speaks of something... well aside from the elements of the craft, how does one go about taking a shot that tells a story... I know that's sort of like asking a poet where inspiration comes from (usually I tell fledgling writers that inspiration grows on the inspiration tree, a magical plant that few are lucky enough to find in a lifetime of looking ;)... but really though... is it the image that the photo captures (say a boy in an upstairs window of a house that's riddled with bullet holes) that tells the story or is it the composition of the piece that tells the story... can a stone tell a story in a photo???

Tough question, but I’ll do what I can

As for the books, yes I own a few; they can offer a wealth of technical information. However they also generally perpetuate a pedestrian, even stereotypic, culture surrounding the photographic world.
Portrait photography
Landscape photography
Sports Photography

Of course this undoubtedly means that there are 7 – 20 pages devoted to the sub category of nude photography including a few tasteful yet titillating examples, so at least they are entertaining.

These books sell more and can be found in your local Barns & Noble

Kodak used to publish studio and darkroom guides
I liked these as they were chock filled with useful data, lighting and camera techniques.
They may still be available.

So how does one go about taking a picture that tells a story?

Can one go about telling a story with a picture?

You bet

Journalists do it all the time.

Sports photographers too
Half a dozen good examples spring to my mind almost immediately.
The Hindenburg
Kent State
Viet Nam
Tank Man

I’m sure you can recall the images I have in mind
LIFE magazine covers…

There are of course other ways a picture can tell a story, but…

First off
I don’t believe a picture HAS to tell a story
Images can mean different things to different people

So deliberately telling a story with just one image can be a challenge.
Like telling a story with music and no words
(Peter and the Wolf)

For me this aspect of catching and displaying images comes in two varieties
The contrived
And the serendipitous

I am definitely more of a follower of the serendipitous school.

However, any wedding photographer should be well schooled in both.
Bridal parties have definite notions as to certain contrived images they will want in the album.

Often with contrived photos, the image is very appealing
But if it doesn’t seem genuine, than the only story it tells, is one of the photographer arranging objects in order to photograph them.

Of course there is nothing wrong with that – but the artists point may have escaped.

If you are the kind of person to go to Disney World and walk up to all the little signs that say “Picture Taking Spot” - Why bother?
Just borrow my negatives, run yourself off a set of prints, save yourself the time and expense, and tell your friends you were there.
(Pre contrived pictures)

So if you do go there – look for opportunities to set up your own shots
If you can catch Goofy smoking outside the men’s room – send me a copy.

As a photographer your tools include light – and lighting can be used to evoke certain moods, as can color.

There are some good books on lighting techniques and composition, some of them border on psychology.

Composition, along with framing, angle, lighting, contrast, focus…
Is just one of the qualities of the over all image but it is not everything.

Certainly it has its place in helping to tell a story.

But what works?

What works on you?

You might want to study some of the greats.

Look at the
portraits and you tell me if he could tell a story about each of his subjects.
He was a genius with sets / backgrounds, mood, light, and pose.

Rent the movie Citizen Cain (or better yet, buy it)
If your PC plays DVD’s – watch it there up close to the screen
If you have never seen Citizen Cain – watch it straight through, with minimum interruption, at least once. (It’s long)

Watch it alone if possible.

Pay attention to how the movie makes you feel.

Now go back and watch again – with the sound off

Go to the parts that made you feel strongly and pay attention to the framing of the shots, and the lighting, and camera angles.

Do the images still evoke those feelings, even without sound?

This film set the standard for all cinematography hence and if you look – you will see why.

You could pull hundreds of excellent still lifes and portraits from it.
“Every frame, a work of art”

And never ever miss an opportunity to watch a Twilight Zone Marathon.

Lets look at your photo of the driftwood, feathers and stones.

There is a contrived element to it
The objects are carefully arranged, and the angle chosen
Sneaking in from the background however, the water adds a serendipitous element as well.
There is good imagery here
Line form and shape
It has a nice natural color temperature.

But lets look at all the comments as well…
There were all kinds of stories
Welling up in the imaginations of your readers.
They saw things that you did not see.

There will be a balance between the stories you wish to tell
And the stories your viewers are going to extrapolate.
(People generally see what they want to see)

The more universal your imagery, the more direct your story.
For example – in your question – How do I know the holes in the house are bullet holes?
Find a way to show me

Perhaps you don’t want to be that explicit.
So maybe they are just holes, unless I happen to *think* they are bullet holes.

Then the picture will take on a different meaning to me after I have that thought.

Never discount the value of a good caption.
Your skill with words will help you here

And what about that stone?
Can it tell a story?
I think it can – although contrived; I would certainly entertain ideas for an image.

Contrived Images can be powerful.

How about a young woman
On the pier
In the rain
A dramatic moody sky
Hovering over unquiet waves

She is wearing a white dress,
Poppies in her hair

Holding a letter in one hand
She is crying
From the outstretched palm of her other hand
She is letting the heart shaped stone
Fall into the sea…

OK story time is over
Sure photos can tell a story
But they certainly don’t have to

When I did the photo of the dark rose
I didn’t have a story in mind
I liked the image and I wanted to see what I could do with it
As it approached the state it is in now – I thought of Human Beings story

My River pics are all serendipitous in nature
Though I did select the angles locations and framing / composition.

I’m not sure the cattails tell a story
But everyone liked them.
I did too

But the picture of the woman painting defiantly tells a story
She was easy to compose – I simply framed the scene SHE was painting, in my picture.

And of course the Mohawk herself is a powerful presence
So regardless of my intentions, she is telling her story.
Thus the wide angle shot.
I just let her do her thing; too bad it was so hazy that day
I had the UV filter on but not the polorizer
But she was magnificent none the less.
This is why I love serendipitous imagery.
Like the heart stone
There is always more there than you can see at first.

Story or not.

Duke said...

Can't beat a good river! They have always been my favourite bodies of water. Such peaceful places offering amazing biodiversity and all around hydration of the soul

Morgan said...

Aaaaah. I needed that. :-)

Hopper said...

Hi Bobb...

sorry again that it's been a while...

I did go and have a look at the online gallery for Eisenstadt... his shots are amazing... I'd be tempted to say that he was "just there in the right time" but after reading the stories that went along with each shot it becomes apparent that this is simply not true... HE ANTICIPATED... he somehow knew... but how did he know his shots would tell a story???

He saw the moments for what they were and captured them with the lens... and yes... his shots surely do tell stories... and when framed against history and other arts not only tell a story but are a kind of timeless expression... have a magic all their own...

I know that it's hard to tell why it is that a particular picture tells a story... and as you say there are so many contrived scenes that are shot (the weddings and whatnot)... and you speak about the elements of photography (light is the one I'm still struggling to get my head around!!!)... but forgive me for saying...

Yes the shots of the TANK MAN and KENT STATE and such tell a story... but isn't it the viewer that creates the story... isn't it a subjective/personal story... what each viewer would associate with the shot...???...???

Can it be that a shot on its own tells the tale???

I know that's like asking where inspiration comes from (the inspiration tree... DUH!?) and I appreciate the point you've made about Peter and the Wolf and how the music is in some ways transient and tells a universal story... but isn't it culturally based??? If one didn't appreciate the culture they wouldn't get the story... that music wouldn't mean a wolf was coming???

I don't know if this is anything that you can speak on... and I'm sorry again... I have spent some time thinking about these ideas and am lost in the implications...

Help me if you can please...

Your student...

Anonymous said...

Damn beavers. Always thinking the river just belongs to them. Just kidding. I would've liked to see him/her at the river. Perhaps it would've let me take a picture of it guarding the river so austerely.

Miladysa said...

"You cannot walk here
And not feel it
Feel it deep down
In your soul"

Amen :-D

Anonymous said...

How magical when you hear nature
singing..calling not anybody just you ...
You have been so far yet coming back is coming back home ....

I love the way you wrote this

Nasra Al Adawi

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

I’m glad you like rivers
You will find much river talk here

Long time no see
Farm keeping you busy?
Horseback riding becomes you

Yep you could get a picture – but he’s hard to see in the dark

Welcome back Milady
I thought of you when I posted some local stone here in Schenectady
Check out “Sixteen Miles” on my other blog

Thank you Nasra – and welcome back
Yes it is very much like coming home