I love Black & White photography.
My brother turned me on to this variant, some five years ago. It was September and the gardens at the Park & Tilford mall in North Vancouver were still vibrant with Plant Life. It was just a suggestion, and *bingo* … I had discovered a new world of the subtlety of angles, patterns, contrasts – the shifting of Shape & Shadow.
One of the studies I did that day, was a group of Datura Blossoms. I know little about these things, except perhaps some obscure connection to long-gone aboriginal rituals involving mixes of this plants hallucinogenic and toxic components for ceremonial use. Let’s just say: the plant has historic personality.
But, more than historic nuance, this plant is dazzling, erotic, deadly innocent and angelically sinful. It’s an eyeful for anyone with a lens and a happy finger.
The Datura conjures up many metaphors. We can begin here and play with words and poetry, but we’d surely run out of air.
She’s a Princess, a Queen, a Vampire, a High Priestess, a Serial Killer and a Monogamous Lover, all wrapped into one. Something unearthly about her delights. Something that both seduces the soul, and sends shrill shivers up the spinal column.
She invites you into her Folds, poor insect … and you are never seen again – in Heaven or on Earth!
One gets lost in Divine Speculation here: the Curves, the Implications, the Kleenex in the Wind, the Promises of Love after Death, the hymn of rising voices of a congregation unseen. Drink in her Distance, her Coolness, her Opiates, Forget your Vows … and let go, for once and for all, of the Great Steering Wheel of Life.
Okay, back to photography: oh how boring! Compared to an altered-state orgasm of Lofty Potentials, photography is just a lost form of “grabbing the Now”… or as Castaneda’s mentor Don Juan would say:
“All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when his cubic centimeter of chance pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess to pick it up….. A warrior….. is always alert and tight and has the spring, the gumption to grab it”
So, riding in ecstasy, we continue above the Treetops. We examine the mundane principles of photography: shutter speed, focal depth, ISO settings, and we fall asleep beside an old Black & White TV set, snoring: our beer and hot-dog has gotten warm and cold, respectively. We lapse into dreaming and realize that the photo was a complete illusion: the black and white spectrum refers to shadow and light that we carry inside of us: one, trapping our soul in a complex labyrinth of addictions, assumptions and distractions; the other seeking to launch us, fly us, explode us beyond our mundane and human agendas.
So, let us with humility and grace, bring together art and science, and have them rest peacefully in the same white-gloved hand. The true art is to understand the limitations of science. And the true science is to blow away the doorways and walls that limit the art of being human.
There is really nothing more that can be said of the sacred geometry of these beings. They are simply meant to be seen: known, admired, in their complexity, their poetry and their purity.
Most of life has the potential to make us reflect: awareness of what we carry on the inside, and how we move with it through our lives. Life itself is an interaction of Light and Shadow. Everything we do, say, be, become, remember … is due to the coupling of opposite forces to produce material reality. The real gift is to understand the play of Light and Shadow – not merely on the outside – but on the inside. This is where our consciousness or unconsciousness germinates and affects our own lives and all we interact with in our circle of reality.
May Photography carry on. My Photography certainly will. But, I speak more highly of the art of seeing – not only in Photography, but in the Art of Life Itself. Your “shutter speed” is the breathing space between the vicarious onslaught of thoughts, internal dialogue. Your “aperture” is the window of how wide you can open your eyes to truth. Your ISO is your sensitivity to Available Light. Available Insight. Available Delight.
May your everyday pictures echo the wisdom of a thousand silent words.