Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Butterfly In Shadow And Everything

This afternoon I was standing around outside and a Monarch butterfly flew past. The butterfly flew past me, fluttered around, and flew back to me and landed on a bush right next to me. I didn’t have any sugar water to give it, but I did have my camera handy so I took a photo. The butterfly only gave me time for one photo then it flew away.

I suspect the butterfly was cooling off for a moment during a very hot afternoon. It landed specifically in a shadow area of the bush, and it kept its wings together and erect where the breeze could blow over them.

It made for a difficult photograph, because the colors on the outside of the wings are not as intense as the colors on the inside. And I needed to quickly get my camera to expose for the shadow values, rather than the bright sunlight on green leaves all around the shadows. I think the camera did okay. Could have been better. But everything happened very fast and I only got one chance.

I love when little moments like this happen. And I’m really glad I’m comfortable enough with photography to have a chance at capturing an image, something, of the moment when it happens.

That being said, I can’t help but think that this would be a good subject for a watercolor sketch or painting.

But I know I don’t have the energy to do a watercolor if I already have a photograph.

And I don’t really know if I consider watercolors to be more attractive than a photograph. I like photographs.

I think I’m kind of obsessed with the metaphysics of this situation.

And I don’t even know if real metaphysics exist that apply to this “situation.”

I mean, I guess the underlying issue in my mind is: If I take a photograph, even a photograph that I “pre-visualize” and carefully compose, the process is still reasonably quick. My concentration is only focused for moments or minutes.

But creating a painting, even a careful sketch, requires hours of concentration.

The focused effort involved in painting extends over a much longer time-frame than in a photograph.

Now, a practical question is: So what?

I mean, who cares how long a person concentrates?

And I don’t know of any clear answer to that. However, the issue to my thinking touches on, for instance, what physicist Rupert Sheldrake calls formative causation, and what alchemists and magicians have struggled with for centuries.

There is this pervasive notion in the fringe science world, in the New Age world, in the world of real magic, that prolonged effort and application of will power can create some functional change to the reality around us. It’s the notion that there are some kind of presently not understood intangible “fields” around us and when we concentrate we contribute—in some unknown, unspecified way—to these fields.

Resonance of some kind. Persistence of some kind.

It seems to me—without me having any evidence for it—that because painting simply takes more thought and more work and more time, a painting must hold more value than a photograph.

It seems like that to me. However, as I’ve said, I like photography.

But I wonder if I’m being seduced by technology.

I wonder if in the long run—whatever that might turn out to be—I am contributing to the impoverishment of existence itself around us by embracing the quick results of photography rather than the more skill-intensive and time-intensive activities of drawing and painting.

I have no idea.

But I regard this as one of the very core issues of this blog, so I know this will come up again.

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