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Thread: A Thousand Words Are Worth A Picture

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    Default A Thousand Words Are Worth A Picture

    So, perhaps, it also makes sense to invert the well-worn cliche. I'm thinking of some words by Walt Whitman. Cameras had come on the scene a few decades before his maturity, but they were uncommon, quite unlike the present. Thus, in almost every context, it was words that were evocative of pictures. They called up images by speaking to the image-ination (and still do, of course). I've been reading Whitman's Specimen Days, which is a large collection of his briefer and lesser known writings, many of them in diary form. Here's his description of a brief sighting that stirred in him thoughts of the mystery and magic of Nature, this on Feb. 13, 1880:
    ~Ken

    "As I was crossing the Delaware today, saw a large flock of wild geese, right overhead, not very high up, ranged in V-shape, in relief againsgt the noon clouds of light smoke-color. Had a captital though momentary view of them, and then of their course on and on sourtheast, till gradually fading. Queer thoughts melted into me the two or three minutes, or less, seeing these creatures cleaving the sky --the spacious, airy realm-- even the prevailing smoke-gray color everywhere, (no sun shining)-- the waters below-- the rapid flight of the birds, appearing for just a minute-- flashing to me such a hint of the whole spread of Nature, with her eternal unsophisticated freshness, her never-visited recesses of sea, sky, shore --and then disappearing in the distance."
    Last edited by kmont; 12-28-2015 at 08:58 PM.

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    Default Re: A Thousand Words Are Worth A Picture

    Nice, Ken, and so true!
    I myself have often thought it would be better to just observe and enjoy than to try to capture what I see. It was certainly that way the time we had a total solar eclipse here a number of years ago. After wasting maybe one of the two minutes of totality trying to take a picture of it with a Nikkormat with a 135 on it, (all I had at the time), I just stood in awe of what I was seeing and experiencing, and that is firmly embedded in my mind. I am sure if I put my mind to it I could describe it far better than any picture I could have taken.
    Still, the urge to capture what we see is strong, and looking back at birds we have seen years ago brings back all kinds of memories of the time and place etc. But it would naturally be totally different for someone else who doesn't have the same associations. A picture might trigger other associations, just as Whitman's words do. We have all seen wild geese, and his description conjures up mental images out of out subconscious of what we ourselves have seen, and they would be very different from those of someone who has never seen wild geese.
    Interesting subject. Food for thought.

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    Default Re: A Thousand Words Are Worth A Picture

    KMont
    A most interesting topic and quote and strange that it involves geese- Years ago I read 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest'
    and the one description that stayed with me all this time was also about geese - It painted such a great 'photo' in my minds eye -
    One of the inmates is looking out of the dorm and this is his description and it drew me into the scene and I never forgot it -
    I believe it fits this topic perfectly- I hope it does!
    Thanks for posting-
    Monty

    "I listened for a long time. Then, from a long way off, I heard a high, laughing gabble, faint and coming closer. Canada honkers going south for the winter. I remembered all the hunting and belly-crawling I’d ever done trying to kill a honker, and that I never got one.
    I tried to look where the dog was looking to see if I could find the flock, but it was too dark. The honking came closer and closer till it seemed like they must be flying right through the dorm, right over my head. Then they crossed the moon — a black, weaving necklace, drawn into a V by that lead goose. For an instant that lead goose was right in the center of that circle, bigger than the others, a black cross opening and closing, then he pulled his V out of sight into the sky once more.
    I listened to them fade away till all I could hear was my memory of the sound.”
    Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
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    Default Re: A Thousand Words Are Worth A Picture

    Dan Said: "I myself have often thought it would be better to just observe and enjoy than to try to capture what I see."

    So True!

    Reminds me of a time, long ago, when I was cross country skiing just outside Twin Falls Idaho. At the time I was shooting with film and always carried my Nikon Sp Rangefinder. I had stopped to get a closer look along a canyon rim, noticing the mist below corkscrewing along the dappled canyon walls. Trying to be Very Careful not to join the scenery below I stopped and started photographing the events below me. Slowly yet suddenly, a mature Bald Eagle arose from below, riding the thermals up the canyon walls. It appeared in my view finder just below and about 15 yards away. I was mesmerized as it eerily floated before me.......slowly turning its head and looking at me. Some time along that journey with the Eagle I had put my camera aside, not having taken 1 shot of it. I realized this as it started to sail back and forth in the misty vortex of the moment. The momentary thought of.....Take A Picture.......arose and vanished behind the veil of such a gift of those moments. Surely, I could have captured the Eagle on film but in doing so I would have missed more..... so much more.....not even words can describe the emotions during that time. In thinking about Robert Frosts poem, The Road Not Taken, I can say in that time...The Picture Not Taken......"And that has made all the difference."

    ~Cheers~

    Ron

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    Default Re: A Thousand Words Are Worth A Picture

    Daniel, Thanks; glad you found the subject to be of interest, as I knew you would. Thanks, too, for your own reflections: very well said, indeed! (I had a similar exprience with a solar eclipse and can really relate to that.)

    Monty, Thanks for including the Kesey quotation: very good and very appropriate!

    Ron, Even though words are inadequate for such things, you related your own experience in Idaho in such a wonderful manner. I can see why you were moved by it all, as I would be, also. "The picture not taken," the "gift of those moments" about astonishing Nature --may we all have such things in the deep well of memory on which to draw.
    ~Ken

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