Thursday, January 26, 2012


I'm a reasonably curious person. It may have started with the impact of reading "On Death and Dying" by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the remarkable psychiatrist who was the first I think to help me regularly contemplate my own death.

I was struck, and still am, by the recurring message of those who had had near-death experiences that the insight gained in their 'transition' was that our purpose here was to seek knowledge and to know love. I once looked after someone who had such an experience and the sincerity and clarity of her recall, once she trusted me, was beyond convincing; whatever the physiological processes and/or metaphysics involved, cause doesn't matter in light of the outcome.

Now I am a little bit wiser about what she (and they) meant by knowledge and love, and surely that doesn't need any elaboration. I think I have found my source; more another time. But I did absorb some thirst for learning and experience which has pushed me in pursuit of anything but treading water, risking maybe lack of depth in the drive to embrace too much - grazing might cover it.

Where was I? Curiousity. Like enrolling in courses. It's not just the subject matter but the other insights of who, when and where. Like the photography courses last year, of which there were three. I had a camera, and it worked on automatic. But what I didn't know about was who taught photography, who went to photography classes, and what else you could learn there, other than something about how to use the camera. I didn't realise how completely impossible it is to predict what other students (about ten per class) would be bringing to class each week in our assignments; how poor my judgements, dangerous judgements, would be in imagining their view of the world. As a learning experience that itself was enough.

So there were assignments, four per course, and at the end of each course a student could submit what they considered their best shot for consideration to be hung at the end of term student exhibition. That in itself holds many lessons - the need or not for approval, for one.

The first photo I submitted (Camera Craft 1) was an attempt to be too clever by half. It would be a shot of the (very patient) dog in front on a mirror without a reflection and it took forever to set up and work out. It wasn't selected to hang.

Next was Adobe Light Room. I was quite chuffed that I had negotiated my way through it all, and at the end could produce a triptych (from Dresden, beautiful Dresden, and labelled what's more) for all the world to see. It wasn't selected.

Finally, with Camera Craft 2 I made it to the wall with a shot of a man desperate to sell a flower to two Japanese women sitting street-side in front and just below us in a little French restaurant. K was mortified that I would dare bring the camera in but 'being there' was one of the requirements of this particular assignment. It's all about the lighting, and that was all about chance.

I can't help myself - I started German lessons last night. Fascinating teacher, a woman from Iran who has been living in Sydney for a year, and an interesting group of students, bipolar in age, one of whom came up to me and said "I know that (my) name, are you friends of ....." Here we go.


Susan Scheid said...

I was thinking, as I looked at the first two photographs, how good they were, and wondering why weren't they selected. But then I saw the third, with that immediacy. You taught me a lesson in photography right there.

Herringbone said...

I liked the light and chance observation. The whole post was thought provoking. I enjoy the writing style.

wanderer said...

Susan, I'm not one for teaching much about photography, but thank you. It's static vs meaningful, I think.

Herringbone, that you unscrambled some of that post omelette is gratifying, and a credit to you!