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The Viewfinder

By Gary Randall

The Viewfinder

I like to realize something every day. That is just how my mind works. I am prone to lengths of silence while thoughts pass by: things I wonder about, worry about or am simply pondering an experience, big or small.
Sometimes my thoughts start in one place and lead to something completely different. Sometimes the original thought is forgotten once I arrive at where it took me. I was once told that it is a sign of a creative mind. It is why I was caught daydreaming while staring through the window when I was in grade school.
I was walking my little dog Hazel along the shore of the Sandy River the other day and decided to take my camera along with me. I brought only one lens, my 70-200 zoom. I did not think that I would need my wide-angle lens because it is Winter, and the dormant forest was not inspiring me. I thought that I would take some tighter framed images of details that I might see along the way.

It turned out that nothing inspired me much at all, but I was enjoying the hike along the river with my dog. We stopped at a nice small but sandy beach to let Hazel wade in the water and drag sticks around. I sat there trying to find something that would prompt me to take a photo. I took a couple of some moss with a small fern emerging from it and some of the trunks of the alder tree forest, looking for some sort of pleasant rhythm or pattern. As I sat next to the river on a smooth boulder my attention was drawn to the water. The reflection of the sky on the surface of the water caught my attention.

The water of the river was rushing over the tops of submerged rocks and pouring over others in small cascades, and each disruption of the flow of water created a unique pattern on the surface. It did not take me long to notice that most of the patterns created in the reflection were chaotic, but oddly, before the water flow would get to the anomaly, there were lineal patterns like sound waves moving away, upstream, of the obstacle. I sat there wondering why the water was disrupted before it even got to the rock.

I lifted my camera and started taking abstract photos of the surface of the river. It was engaging and, after I started to see past everything but the patterns, fun. I saw shapes, patterns and even imagined that the shapes resembled objects like a hummingbird or a galloping horse, a bit like seeing objects in clouds or holes in ceiling tiles. I am not sure if I will take the photos seriously, but I had a fun time taking photos of the water and an occasional photo of Hazel.

Once I returned home, I downloaded the photos and started to notice, and wonder again, about the resonant, stationary ripples that I had noticed while down at the river. As with many things that I ponder, I went to Google and started reading about Fluid Dynamics and why a continuous stream of water forms ripples before colliding with an object. It was fascinating but way down the road from the original purpose of going down to the river with my camera – but that is just how my mind works.

My advice when you are uninspired is to just let your artistic mind wander. Do not put expectations on the outcome because the best outcome might not be what you expected, and you might learn something new.

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