The spring in color

It’s the high time of spring. There’s a continuous explosion of color. I have watched the small wood anemones come and go, just days ago. Now they’re already replaced by the bluebells. Some patches of forest are still making the transition from white to blue and, for a while, they coexist.

I like to go out early and see how the colors are transformed, enhanced, nuanced by the morning light. I usually have the camera with me and most times I will come back with some photos. But there’s only so much I can capture on camera.

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Lights out

As the sun goes down, as the shadows grow longer, I find myself among the trees. Alone but not lonely. Just being there, noticing how the light changes, how the smell of the forest changes.

There is nothing else to be done, nowhere else I need to be. Just breathing here with the trees. Being one of them, with my roots getting deeper into the ground. Being so inconspicuous that squirrels would come out, climb on me and play on my arms and shoulders.

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The Secret Life of Trees

Alone at the edge of the forest.

Sap quietly circulating everywhere, like a myriad of creeks finding their way through every twist and turn. Rising through the trunks, splitting at every crossroads, distributing itself evenly through the branches. Feeding everything.

A sea of trees communicating and cooperating through subterranean networks of fungi. One giant organism living, breathing, regulating itself, interacting with the environment. A web of life bringing together plants, fungi, insects, animals. Lifeblood flowing everywhere, unseen and unheard.

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The little things

“Perhaps it’s true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house—the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture—must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstituted. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then so is ordinariness. Things are ordinary around us when we feel ordinary. We project it onto things.

It’s easier to take it if we manage to convince ourselves that it’s about how things are, not about how we are.

This week’s Lens Artists challenge, hosted by I. J. Khanewala, is the ordinary.

Closed doors

There are visible doors that remain closed forever. And there are invisible doors that become visible only when they close.

Once upon a time, a man from the countryside wanted to get access to law (or justice). The access was through a guarded door. Every time he was trying to get in, the doorkeeper was telling him he cannot let him in just yet. Months passed, then years, but the door remained closed.

The man started bribing the doorkeeper and he spent everything he had just to be able to return to the gate with an ever higher bribe. The man got old. Just before dying, he asked the doorkeeper why he never saw anybody else trying to enter through that door, since all people seem to be seeking the law. The doorkeeper replied:

“No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.”

There’s something haunting about this story, first published by Franz Kafka in 1915 and then included in his novel “The Trial”. And even if you can’t quite put your finger on it, you recognize and react instinctively to its strangeness.

It’s as if looking inside a deep, endless well. As if looking inside yourself.

It reminded me of a Romanian folk tale I’ve mentioned some time ago. The tale starts like many other tales, with a hero embarking on a personal quest. In this case, the hero sets out to find immortality. But as the story advances, things turn dark and unpredictable. Although the hero emerges victorious from all the fights and traps he finds along the way, he does not find what he’s looking for. When he returns home, he finds Death itself waiting for him. But it’s not the Grim Reaper of everybody and nobody in particular. It is his own Death, waiting just for him.

Like any good story, Kafka’s parable is open to interpretations. Is it about justice, state authority, the crushing power of impersonal rules? Yes, but not only. Is it about alienation? Yes, but not only. The story is richer than any particular interpretation or moral message you could draw from it.

Maybe that’s what stories do. They speak about doors – about change, transformation, passage to something different. But they are not necessarily meant to help you open that door, only to make you realize it’s your door.

This responds to this week’s Lens Artists challenge, “Seen Better Days”, graciously hosted by Tina.

Autumn mood

I’ve assembled a short series of photos about autumn light and colors.

What they have in common is the presence of that soft, warm sunlight that falls on things almost horizontally. There’s a special muted intensity to it. Bright but not harsh. Caressing rather than burning.

Obviously, they also have in common the forest. It’s the place where the change of seasons and the passing of time are visible in a very direct and tangible way.

There are obvious changes such as the color of the foliage, but there are also countless minute changes in the microscopic life on the ground and the smells of the forest.

All the photos below have been taken in Belgium in the last two years.

This is in response to this week’s Lens Artists Challenge, Colors of Autumn, hosted by Amy.

Artificial Light

I used to photograph in natural settings most of the time. Natural light was a given, with some exceptions when I wanted to experiment, especially when shooting in very low light.

Then I started photographing in urban settings more and more. I love walking around early in the morning or late at night. I like the backstreets that feel as if they are still part of an old, forgotten city frozen in time. I like the energy of city life – not the crowds but the small gestures and happenings at the margins. I like to see the city calming down and, in a way, coming back to itself after all the agitation and shouting are gone. I like to observe people going about their lives.

These photos respond to this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge, Artificial Light, proposed by Ann-Christine.

Brussels, 2020
Belgian countryside, 2019
Lisbon, 2020