Posts Tagged ‘photography’

The other fellows

April 14th, 2011 by Dale Hobson

wildlife photosI’ve had a great time this morning, going back through photo submissions looking for the best shots of North Country wildlife. Once I got the collection done, I couldn’t move on to my next task, but kept looking through the slideshow over and over.

There’s something deeply fascinating about our fellow creatures. They have a directness and grace that comes hard to amped-up apes like us. When we encounter them, it’s hard to look away. We’re wired that way by ten thousand generations in the wild, but also–the wild ones are more beautiful and strange than the limited manmade indoor world of everyday.

I would like to say we love them for themselves alone, but not so, I think. Instead, we project ourselves into the mirror of them. In Joe Woody’s photo of a Merganser family on Lake Ozonia, I see my red-headed one-time neighbor, Mrs. Larsen, followed by her carrot-topped sons. Larry Masters photo of an ermine popping up from a drift shows the serious hyper-vigilance of any boy (me) in a snowball fight.

And while it’s harder, perhaps, to identify directly with birds, bugs, reptiles and such, we project onto them archetypal human qualities, totems still to modern day shamans. There’s the confident power of Carl Raden’s landing osprey, the sloth of Sandy Hildreth’s napping turtle, the pure freedom of Rose Turner’s snow geese, the lip-licking bloodlust of Howard Linke’s marten.

If there were only humans in all the world, we’d have no idea of who we are.

Photographic memory

May 28th, 2009 by Dale Hobson

As Photo of the Day editor at NCPR, I get a unique, if skewed look at the North Country. Skewed by the predilections of our contributors, I mean–for beautiful landscapes, colorful fauna and flora, for the outdoor life and children and pets–all the things that become the jewels in family photo albums. Nothing wrong with that–I have an eye for the pretty shot myself. But just as a family photo album shows a sanitized version of family life, so the Photo of the Day shows a North Country absent many of its dimensions, and most notably rare–the picture that tells a story.

Which is why I get excited when I receive a contribution that perfectly captures a narrative, such as Lizette Haenel’s portrait of a soldier at Monday’s Memorial Day observance in Canton. I received many from that event– flags and formations and wreaths and salutes. But Lizette’s soldier is seated by himself in a section of folding chairs, deep in thought. His only neighbor is a neatly folded flag. You can tell he is about to get up and address the crowd–his notes are held in both hands. But his gaze is not toward the paper, rather he looks into that middle distance where memory resides. The picture tells you everything that he will say.

Winter on the wall

January 8th, 2009 by Dale Hobson

It’s hard to say what makes a great photo. If it can hang on your bedroom wall for years without vanishing into the wallpaper, and without becoming an annoyance, that’s a clue. The one on my wall is a close-up of a single pine spray, spiky below, but soft on top with new snow.

I’ve seen similar, but this has nothing but the essence–sprig, snow, nothing else. Deepest green, purest white. The focus is sharp, the way one can see the sharp edge of distant mountains though the clear lens of icy air. It looks cold, without making me feel cold–perhaps because I usually contemplate it from under the comforter, while sipping morning coffee. I can smell the clean pine scent above the springwater tang of winter wind, but I don’t need to burden myself with a parka or clown-walk back toward the river on snowshoes.

And that’s a blessing for one whose ageing bones prefer to have a good thaw shovel the walk, and likes best to watch the whipping wind through a double-glazed window. Looks picture perfect. Think I’ll get some more coffee.