Friday, October 19, 2007

On the Art of Finding Rust in Landscapes

A few months ago, I posted an entry about my family's blackberry-picking trip, during which I managed to snag some shots of rusted relics in an old barn and peeling paint off an old door (startling the proprietors of the farm into thinking they had a madman on their property, interested more in old doors than blackberry bushes!) Well, a similar thing happened to me this past weekend, though thankfully minus any startled proprietors this time ;-) Perhaps there is a pattern to my madness...

Our most recent outing was apple picking this past weekend at Stribling Orchard, in northern Virginia. And again, though I took a few pictures of the kids and even helped out with a bit of the picking, my "photographer's eye" soon strayed elsewhere, with nary an apple in sight. Eventually I stumbled (quite literally, while backing out of a hole in the ground I accidentally stuck my foot into) across a dilapidated barn with some old equipment. My eyes immediately popped open with anticipation and excitement. Rust, beautiful rust! I was in heaven :-)

I am reminded of a story I once heard during a documentary on Brett Weston, the second of Edward Weston's sons and, of course, an accomplished photographer in his own right. Brett, who like his dad, spent most of his time taking photographs in California (in places like Point Lobos and Big Sur), was one day invited by a friend to join him on a trip to Europe. Agreeing to go, after some cajoling, Brett and his friend visited Ireland, then Scotland, and later London. But Brett's eye, perhaps even more so than his father's, was tuned strongly toward abstraction. Thus, despite traveling though some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet before arriving in London, Brett had not once pulled out his camera to take pictures! "And what did he eventually come home to California with?", you may be wondering. Why, rust, of course! Brett had been so mesmerized by a patch of rust on the London bridge, that on one of the very last days of their trip, he finally whipped out his camera and spent several hours in photographic ecstasy, exploring nothing but a small dilapidated metal plate.

All fine-art photographers have been afflicted with this strange disease at one time or another (though some more so than others, much to the amusement and consternation of their understanding spouses ;-)


katie said...

rust ? what is rust? what do we see?
do we see just rust or do we imagine what was there before; who was there when no rust was present; or just the pattern reveals something to us and not to others or.... the beauty is in the eye of beholder! Blessed is one who sees and who hears...ttlm

Paul said...

I think that we all have our 'afflictions'. Mine is wood. Not the processed wood, mind you, but fallen tree stumps. There is so much life there. I see both the beginning and the end as well as the whole cycle of life there. I don't spend a lot of time photographing it, but I do spend a lot of time looking at it and the way that the light falls upon it.

I'm glad that you stopped by my site and very glad that I stopped here. You have some very interesting posts. I'm off to read more!