Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Those of you with a Language of Love 2009 calendar from Love's Freeway might recognize the shell and glass shard pictured here. Being so very small and light, they are among the precious few Irish Sea treasures that returned with me to Boston two months ago. But what's with the 25-cent piece? you may ask.

It is not news to friends of the Freeway that I have a penchant for if not fascination with shooting subjects at close range. With my camera came
who knew? an exceptional quality macro setting. When I started using it, the gasps commenced: I'd open on screen to a rich world previously unseen--and unseeable--by my naked eye. That's wondrous for me, for sure. But I realize that part of my amazement is in marveling that such intricate worlds exist in such tiny forms, and I've been wondering if some of that marvelousness might get lost in translation. Hence the quarter (above) and the green pea (below). Yes, this is a beautiful seashell in its own right. But in my view, there's a lot more to its story.

The shell is periwinkle sized, smaller than a quarter, slightly larger than George Washington's head. So? Well, on a long walk in late-day light on Claremont Beach in Howth, County Fingal, Ireland, it is easily overlooked. Ditto the shard of glass. And they might have escaped my notice except that I stopped. I had found a place in sun, away from the ever-present Irish wind, and sat. The light was golden and all but pouring like honey over everything in my sight. I wanted to adore it. Maybe I wanted to store it--for the darker, rainier Dublin days, or for some future day when Ireland was thousands of miles away. Sitting put me in closer proximity to the sand, and when these two objects lying upon it caught my eye, one thing led to another. Before long I had composed a still life of them. Something about the golden sun, the orange of the shell, and the orange and gold in the glass had me curious what that all might produce in combination.

I tried a few shots, not expecting much. The light was beautiful but not that strong, and my subject was so darn small; still I figured it was worth a try. I wouldn't have guessed my essay would yield anything worthy of a gasp, never mind a place on the next year's calendar. But it did. It's this month's image, in fact.

So that's the story that isn't apparent to someone flipping through or glimpsing the calendar. And I offer it for a little visual perspective, if not for the reminder that there really is always more than meets the eye.


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