The Unseen Riverbed

A Secret Language

I remember long ago looking at abstract patterns on a stream bed, and thinking these patterns must mean something. A sacred language, like Latin, Hebrew, Sanskrit, or Arabic, which could be read by someone.  A Zen garden, carefully tended, and meant to be contemplated for years.  

When I look at these images of dancing lights I think there is some hidden meaning, not just random chaos.   Our minds like to categorize things we don't understand as being meaningless, and people we don't understand as being invalid.  Instead of clinging to certainty, we should accept that we don't know everything, we can't explain everything, and that's okay.   At some point we may look at all life experiences as sacred, not profane.   Life is better when its a mystery.

Along the Edge

Along the Edge

This series of images were taken in the shallow water along the shore. We can see the intricate patterns of dancing sunlight on the rocks and sand of the riverbed. These images become abstract, as we can no longer recognize structure and forms. The patterns suggest things which seem familiar, but we can't be sure.

Water symbolizes the Unconscious, and the shore symbolizes the known mind. The interesting area is the transition from water to land, the edge between the Conscious and Unconscious mind. This is where intuition and creativity arise, where there are new possibilities. There is a balance between structure and chaos, the known and the Unknown.

Structure and Chaos

Ripples Gallery

Have you ever watched sunlight dancing on the bottom of a swimming pool? That is the concept for my recent gallery.  As light refracts thru water on a sunny day, it makes patterns on the riverbed. These patterns continually move and change. 

The dancing light follows the flow of the water and the breeze. The light patterns may flow for a few seconds, and then disappear. Images taken only one second apart may look very different. I look for an area where there is shallow, clear, moving water. 

I try to consider where does the viewers eye want to go? I try to place a large rock or an arrangement of smaller rocks near the center, as an anchor for the eye. A sweep of leading lines from a lower corner helps. I like to have different textures in different areas of the photo.  An orange colored rock stands out among blue rocks. 

Liquid Gold

Camera Settings

I use a circular polarizer to cut thru surface reflections and to be able to see the stream bed.

A faster shutter speed is necessary (1/250-1/500 sec) as the light patterns are moving quickly. I use Continuous shutter mode to capture a series of images when the light patterns are flowing.

I try to use f 5.6 to 8 to get a good depth of field, but still allow a fast shutter speed.

I use a high enough iso (640-1250) to adjust for the polarizer and fast shutter speed. It helps that I shoot these photos on a sunny day.

Eye of the Elephant Ganesha

Colors in Photoshop

My secret sauce is to add colors and contrast in Photoshop. I use the Gradient Map layer, and add brighter, warmer colors (yellow, orange) into the highlights, and darker, cooler colors (blues, greens) into the shadows.

Then I adjust the Blend Mode to get a nice color and contrast effect. Blend modes affect how the chosen colors blend with the photo, and add contrast to the image.

The Vivid Light Blend Mode gives bright colors and most contrast, as pure white and pure black are not affected.

If the image is already quite bright, I may use Color Burn Blend Mode, which gives a deep, rich color and high contrast. I also try Linear Light and Linear Burn, as these add more color into the blacks and whites.

Then I adjust the Opacity and Flow to dial in the effect.

Into the Deep

Art as a Bridge to the Unconscious

Jungian psychology differentiates the Unconscious from the Conscious mind.

It has been said there are the things we know, the things we know we don't know, and the things we don't know that we don't know. The first two are the Conscious mind, the last is the Unconscious.

What we can't accept is there are many more things we don't know than those we do know.

Abstract art helps us to suspend our disbelief, and make a leap from structure and certainty, into chaos and loss of control.  The mind's task is to make sense of what we find there, to create order from chaos.   

A Glimpse into Another World

Gallery Notes

All of these images are available as prints or wall art.  I suggest most would look best as prints on metal, which are ready to hang and virtually indestructible.  

I have made a few notes with the individual images, these can be found on the info tab of each picture.  

Feel free to email me if you are interested in prints or wall art.  These can be ordered directly from the Website,  but the many options can be confusing. 

Fine art prints also look great, but need to be matted and framed. 

Stones and Patterns

  • No Comments
Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In