Tag Archives: Arts

Romanticizing the Past – Ponderings, Gabs, and Tragic Realizations

4 Nov

Fuzzy Socks by Candlelight

Let’s take a break –

The East Coast has gone back in time and I’ve been wearing extra thick fuzzy socks. No, not for Halloween-I‘m talking about power outages and no heat. The culprit: Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy swept through the East Coast in the USA and, sadly, took a lot with it, including my romantic fantasies of the past. As much as I would like to deny it, my frail demeanor wouldn’t survive two days in cold, medieval, castle-adorn Europe. Forget about the plague, war, and famine – I’m talking about COLD and lack of electricity.

The idea of sitting in a cozy bed, warmed by heating pans while reading by candlelight and staring out an arched castle window is all very romantic in my head. But, having fearfully clambered up my house’s dark staircase, armed only with candlelight and wrought with visions of bumping into a an even more deranged manifestation of Freddy Krueger for the past two days, I welcome the 21st century with all its lights and technology and talk of an impending robot revolution with open arms. I like my comfort – I enjoy it. Generally speaking, I do enjoy my occasional fanciful thoughts about medieval life (being dressed in lavish gowns by maids every morning, playing archery with Robin Hood, eating dinner at the Roundtable, and learning how to sword fight) but I often forget about the many downsides of medieval living, like being born into a peasant family or bathing once a month or no internet.

While agonizing over these kinks in my fantastical visions of the past, I realized that we often romanticize what we do not know or cannot perfectly recall. We almost always fill the holes of uncertainty and ignorance with positive ideas of heroic acts of valor or mysterious novelties that make us happy or hopeful or nostalgic or whatever we may desire at that instance.  Not that this is anything new: some past so-called “heroes,” historic events and even our own personal memories have been distorted by the passage of time and our own desire for feeling good. This calls to question: how valuable is the truth? And, is it possible to have completely unbiased, factual information?

Living in the dark ages for the past few days helped me come to a certain realization: Sometimes, the idea is better than the reality. But, to what extent does this matter? After all, ideas are a source of inspiration as well as hope.  I never honestly believed that living in medieval times would genuinely be romantic (may be a little), but my ideas of those times and of the past in general offer me a method of escape as well as an appreciation for what I do have right now (like heat, electricity, and internet).  Sandy may have demolished my romantic fantasies of castle ridden medieval life, but, while wearing my extra thick fuzzy socks and researching castles and their history on the internet, Sandy has taught me an important lesson: Remember the past and enjoy its novelties, but don’t forget about what you have in the present either.
PS: I’m not sure if extra thick fuzzy socks would be readily available in medieval Europe.

Begin With Me: Part 1

23 Oct

I am no professional photographer – nowhere near it for that matter (I only just recently started learning how to use a manual camera). However, I do believe that, for the level I am at, I have a fairly good eye for composition. In addition, I not only have an extreme passion for editing photos (probably even more than taking them), but also (I think) a good eye for what effects/tweaks etc. may look good or interesting on a photograph in post and what may not.

In starting this blog, I feel it necessary to first look at my own work and critique it before critiquing or discussing others’. And so, we begin with me: The photos I’ll mainly be looking at right now are from my trip to the UK in July 2011. For those who don’t know me too well, I’m a bit of a Brit-Obsesso so I was completely in my element on this trip. I wanted to photograph anything and everything – better to have more than less right? I especially wanted to explore Cornwall and its relationship with the Arthurian Legend. Naturally, we first visited Tintagel where, legend has it, is King Arthur’s birth place but also got the opportunity to discover places such as St. Michael’s Mount, The Eden Project, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Stonehenge, Bath as well as some of the local, quaint towns in each area. While this trip was a vacation (with my parents), it was the first time I felt liberated by my surroundings; every stone, every wall, every bridge, every tea shop, and every doorway seemed exciting. Each place wreaked of history and nostalgia and I wanted to know every inch of its past. Places and objects of the past seem to have that effect on you, perhaps because rediscovery ensures that the past remains with us and that nothing is lost between the cracks and wrinkles made by time. And what better way is there to freeze the past than by photographing it? Often times, if you’re lucky, photographs capture something (a mood, an object, an idea) that you didn’t notice in the first place.

Confession: First off, it’s important to note that the below images were taken with an automatic digital camera. As a result, I thought it best to tackle analyzing the composition of the photos, an element that (for the most part) was in my control, rather than elements such as aperture or shutter speed.

With that out-of-the-way, I thought I would start off with a couple landscape shots before jumping to photographs of the main castle ruins and sites. Some of my favourite subjects to photograph are usually long, winding roads/pathways or spiral staircases because of the vast depth of field they give to a photo. They seem to imbue a sense of infinite mystery…and with mystery always comes curiosity. It’s as though the photograph is pulling you in:

3 elements: Symmetry, Lines, & a deep depth of field. I always felt symmetry & lines were helpful elements in drawing one’s attention to the main focus point of an image – I tried using the symmetrical railings on either side of the bridge along with a deep depth of field to focus your eyes on the length & depth of the bridge. This focus, in combination with the photo’s landscape, lends itself to a sense of mystery and wonder. The sides of the bridge, overpowered by the nature that surrounds them, are crawling with overgrown ivy & foliage. It’s not just a photograph – it tells a story. It makes you wonder where the bridge leads, what it’s for, and what mysteries lie in its past. It’s the viewer’s job to imagine the answers.  Location: The Arthurian Centre, Camelford, Cornwall, UK

Low Angles: I tried to shoot this staircase from a low angle, elongating the staircase and also slightly exaggerating the size of the nearby stones, which adds that bizarre and fantastical mood to the photo.   Location: St. Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall, UK

More to come soon!

Sources used: http://digital-photography-school.com/5-elements-of-composition-in-photography#

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