You think time can’t be stopped? It can. And there are better ways than stomping on your watch. One surefire method is to find a place on earth that is itself timeless, claim the spot alone at dawn and let yourself be absorbed into the stillness of the scene. That was my experience a few years back on an early December morning in Acadia as time adjourned, and the only conscious reflection came from light on the water.
Time passing is concern for many of us. But evidently, it wasn’t for Einstein because he discovered time is just an illusion we have because we move so slowly here on earth. And Groucho Marx didn’t take it very seriously, saying: “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”
I do think about time, especially my last four and half years in retirement where days and weeks can rush by quickly. Don’t think Yogi was specifically referring to retirement, but it can get late early out here.
One of the antidotes to time for me has been looking for, and capturing, scenes like the one above. But the very concept of photography slows me down as well when I think about it. In effect, I’ve been stopping moments of light and freezing them onto a digital sensor inside a magic box. Stopping time (which experts agree doesn’t exist) by capturing light which in itself is something quite inexplicable according to scientists, because it is both a particle and a wave at the same time. Tell me thinking about this stuff wouldn’t slow your day down.
And then there’s ruminating about the process whereby we use our eyes to see color. Sunlight is colorless but the specialized cones in our retinas process the reflected light from an apple to get the brain to “see” red. Didn’t your brain decelerate a bit, dawdling around such thoughts? Pausing, getting caught up a bit in the wonder of how things work?
Slowing time as a goal became more apparent when I started thinking about some of the themes in the images I've selected as my favorites. Photos I’m going to print and frame for an upcoming exhibition. Even though these pictures were quite disparate in content, what they held in common was the effect I hoped for on the viewer – the story behind the photo that might cause someone to pause and extend a moment.
For me as a photographer, I have two things in mind presenting an image to viewers. First, to snag your attention by showing you something you probably haven’t seen before. I say probably because, although you may have seen the scene or the object before, hopefully I’ve gathered and recorded its reflective light in such a way that’s new for you.
The second objective is a bit loftier and far more challenging. To provoke an emotional reaction, a sense of wonder, perhaps stirring your own reflections on the what, where, why, and how of things. Picasso put it best, in far grander words: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
I have selected nine other images in my collection of favorites. They don’t share a topical theme – though half of them were taken in Acadia National Park. In the field what they all had in common for me was a visceral grab for my attention, a vital visual connection, maybe even best described as a confrontation. Each of them had a way of slowing down time for me by making me stop and wonder about the story behind them. Some evoked feelings of timelessness and some of time passing. Others had a comfort in their constancy. Still others revealed incredible complexity or inexplicable natural beauty that captivated me for a time. And for one or two it was just the surprise of previously unknown detail that prolonged a moment.
Click here to see my favorite images. Upon reflection, I hope you see them in a similar light and hope they might even suspend time for you, at least for a little while.