The saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, implies that when one finds oneself speechless it may be because what one is seeing is difficult to describe with words only. But sometimes it seems that a picture conjures up a thousand words.
Do words gather in your mind in the form of questions when looking at these two images? I often wonder if I am a rare soul who is excited by such scenes. This blog has shown me that I’m not alone in my pleasures; your “likes” have proved this to be true. Coming upon this fallen, decaying tree during a morning walk through the forest preserve immediately raised question after question in my mind. How long has it been fallen? What caused it to fall? What happened to the rest of the bark? How long has the bark been hanging loosely? Why is the bark falling now? How often does this happen? Why is the mid-region bark the longest remaining on the trunk? How many animals have used it as a bridge? What animals have been eating the bark or living on it?
An endless jumble of words filled my head as I moved toward the collapsing tree scene. Contrasts -small plants, large trees, textures-smooth, rough, tree surfaces- vertical ,horizontal, more contrasts-dark and light plant parts, new and old-life and death, young and aged, habitats-micro-macro. Evidence and mystery.
The science teacher in me was collecting observational data to better understand the history of this preserve. The explorer in me is compiling plans for deeper explorations here.
The writer in me is conjuring up labels for the images. Always changing, life in death, demise, ruin amongst life, tree of life, life cycles, autumnal fall.
Words sharpen our understandings of what we see. Stopping to translate our sights into words brings deeper appreciation for and new awareness of what we are viewing. It is an exercise well worth the effort. Honing this skill results in richer experiences for one’s self and those that read our words. It is a challenge that I give me pleasure.
I happened to watch the documentary on Bill Cunningham the other night, a New York hat designer turned writer turned photographer. He found that his words could benefit from pictures. Words and images are an inseparable pair; mimicking our mind’s effort to make sense of what our eyes perceive.
- “He started out as a hat maker and when hats went out of fashion in the ’60s he had to find something to do so he started writing about fashion and [one time] he wanted a photograph for his columns and a friend of his who was a photographer said ‘Oh, here’s a little camera — use it like a pen to document what you’re writing about’ and it just completely opened up the rest of his life for him.” Documentary on Bill Cunningham, the New York photographer: